The Bulgarian journalist, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who revealed in an article published on July 2 in the Bulgarian newspaper “Trud Daily” (Labor) that the flights of Azerbaijani companies supplied arms to the soldiers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been fired! According to the journalist, the security services of Bulgaria interrogated her on 24 August about his revelations about the supply of arms from Azerbaijan to Daech and Al Nusra by flights from the Azerbaijani company Silk Way. After the interrogation, she was removed from the newspaper “Trud Daily” by her editorial staff. D. Gaytandzhieva said he wanted to continue his investigation into this particularly sensitive issue. His writing did not give him time.
According to an extensive investigative report published by the Bulgarian Trud newspaper, during the last three years, at least 350 diplomatic flights on board Silk Way Airlines—an Azerbaijani state-run company—have transported weapons for war conflicts across the world.
Reported by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva who received a trove of documents from an anonymous Twitter account—Annonymous Bulgaria—the article says that Silk Way Airlines has carried tens of tons of heavy weapons and ammunition headed to terrorists under the cover of diplomatic flights.
The leaked files include correspondence between the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria with attached documents for weapons deals and diplomatic clearance for overflight and/or landing in Bulgaria and many other European countries, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, to name a few.
According to the documents, Silk Way Airlines offered diplomatic flights to private companies and arms manufacturers from the US, Balkans, and Israel, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq.
Diplomatic flights are exempt of checks, air bills, and taxes, meaning that Silk Way airplanes freely transported hundreds of tons of weapons to different locations around the world without regulation. They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes.
According to the documents, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has sent instructions to its embassies in Bulgaria and many other European countries to request diplomatic clearance for Silk Way Airlines flights.
“Some of the weapons that Azerbaijan carried on diplomatic flights were used by its military in Nagorno-Karabakh against Armenia. In 2016, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of using white phosphorus. Armenia denied the allegations and in turn accused Azerbaijan of fabrication, as the only piece of evidence was based on a single unexploded grenade found by Azerbaijan’s soldiers. According to the documents from the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Sofia, white phosphorus munitions were carried on a diplomatic flight via Baku the previous year,” the report reads.
U.S. sends $1 billion worth of weapons
“Among the main customers of the “diplomatic flights for weapons” service provided by Silk Way Airlines are American companies, which supply weapons to the US army and US Special Operations Command. The common element in these cases is that they all supply non-US standard weapons; hence, the weapons are not used by the US forces,” said the report.
“According to the register of federal contracts, over the last 3 years American companies were awarded $1 billion contracts in total under a special US government program for non-US standard weapon supplies. All of them used Silk Way Airlines for the transport of weapons. In some cases when Silk Way was short of aircraft due to a busy schedule, Azerbaijan Air Force aircraft transported the military cargo, although the weapons never reached Azerbaijan,” reported Gaytandzhieva.
Artsakh Presidential Spokesman Responds
After the publication of the Truda report, Artsakh Presidential spokesperson David Babayan told Public Radio of Armenia that the “Azerbaijan established ties with terrorism at the time it gained independence.”
“This is a well-known fact to everyone, especially the special services of the countries, which immediately deal with the Islamic State and the threat of terrorism,” Babayan told Public Radio of Armenia.
“Chechen militants were getting treated in Azerbaijan during the first and second Chechen wars. It was also providing medical services to Mujahideen during the Afghan war and the Grey Wolves Turkish extremist group, as well as other groupings, which were fighting against Artsakh during the first Artsakh war and the four-day war in April,” said Babayan.
He stressed however that merely reporting the facts was not enough and concrete actions should be taken based on the revelations.
“The international community has a lot to do here. The international community should take measures,” he told Public Radio of Armenia, adding that “we often see adverse developments instead.” “They entrust Baku to host first European Games, the Formula 1, a number of forums and conferences instead of taking anti-terrorist measures against the country.”
“These developments are the logical outcome of the world’s silence in response to Aliyev’s statement on the intention to down civilian planes flying between Stepanakert and Yerevan,” said Babayan, adding that “an evil grows into an epidemics if not uprooted at the beginning. Azerbaijan is one of the countries spreading the epidemics, one of the cradles of international terrorism.”
Employees of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet are being tried on charges including the alleged support of “terrorist organizations.” The case is seen as a indicator of the state of the Turkish justice system.
The Cumhuriyet journalists may be looking at very long jail sentences. The defendants, whose trial began on Monday, could get between seven-and-a-half and 43 years in prison. What exactly they are charged with, however, remains unclear.
The group includes some of the best known names in Turkish media, such as the Kadri Gursel, the paper’s chief editor Murat Sabuncu, cartoonist Musa Kart, and investigative reporter Ahmet Sik.
According to the prosecutors, the 19 reporters are on trial for “aiding an armed terrorist group without being mebers of it.” Two of these groups are named: the movement around the preacher Fethullah Gulen, and the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. Critics slammed the accusations as vague.
“Kadri Gursel […] is one of the country’s leading writers and opinion-formers,” DW’s Dorian Jones from said on Monday Istanbul. “He wrote a column for a very prominent newspaper and was ousted because of a tweet the president (Erdogan) didn’t like.”
“He is accused of not only supporting the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, which has kidnapped him two decades ago, but on top of that he is also accused of supporting the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is a person Kadri Gursel has written expansively about, exposing and criticizing for many years,” Jones told DW News.
The first week of the group trial is likely to be taken up by prosecutors reading out the indictment and defense lawyers giving their opening statements. At the end of this segment, however, the judges will decide whether to release some of the defendants on bail. Twelve of the reporters are currently in jail, five have already been released from custody pending the outcome of the trial, and the last two, including Cumhuriyet former editor-in-chief Can Dundar, are being tried in absentia. Dundar is currently in Germany.
The case of Ahmet Sik gives some indication of the sort of thing the public prosecutor’s office deems to be such an offense. Sik, an investigative journalist, was arrested at the end of December 2016. The public prosecutor referenced posts on his Twitter account as grounds for the arrest. Anadolu reported that the investigation was based on claims that Sik was “denigrating the Republic of Turkey, its judicial bodies, military and security organization” and “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” in his Twitter postings and in some articles he had published in the Cumhuriyet daily.
Sik went after Gulen at wrong time
What Ahmed Sik did was primarily to ask questions and highlight inconsistencies in government propaganda. For example, in some of his tweets he considered the case of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. Karlov was shot on 19 November, 2016, by a former policeman with jihadi motives. The government says the gunman was a follower of the Gulen movement. In that case, Sik asked on Twitter, how did they explain the fact that the assassin was a police officer?
Sik also addressed the arrest of the actor, director and politician Sırrı Sureyya Onder, who represented the pro-Kurdish opposition HDP in the Turkish parliament. Together with former deputy prime minister of Turkey, Yalcin Akdogan, Onder published a statement proposing a possible solution for the Kurdish conflict. The member of parliament was then arrested and charged with supporting a terrorist organization. Sik’s conclusion: “If the action which [Peoples’ Democratic Party MP] Sırrı Sureyya Onder is being charged with is a crime, isn’t there supposed to be a bunch of suspects, starting with those sitting in the [Presidential] Palace?”
Sik had already spent a year in prison in 2011 and 2012. Back then, his crime was to criticize the Gulen movement’s influence within the apparatus of state – precisely what Erdogan is doing today. The only difference is that, at that time, Erdogan and Gulen were still the best of friends.
A Turkish journalist and editor for CNN Turk, Sedar Korocu, has published an exclusively important document on the Armenian Genocide.
The archive record, bearing the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate’s seal, contains a message by Archbishob Zaven Ter-Yaghyayan, the supreme religious leader at the time, reporting the demise of Karapet G Zarmanyan, a native of Erzurum who was exiled from home under the Turkish authorities’ decree. The document reveals that Zarmanyan passed away in March 1916 in the vicinities of Mosul (Iraq).
The Turkish journalist notes that Patriarch Yaghyayan, who was born in Baghdad, was exiled to his home city after the Patriarchate’s closure in 1916 and was able to return to Constantinople only three years laterafter the Young Turk government’s overthrow .
After his return, he faced the difficult task of conveying the sad news of the missing Armenians’ death (during the march into exile) to their families.
A French language document about Zarmanyan’s demise contains also the name of his wife and daughters, who were reported alive at the time.
The Turkish journalist is hopeful to find living descendants of the Zarmanyan family after the archive document’s publication.
The Federation of Arab Journalists (FAJ) has announced that more than Iraqi journalists have lost their lives and sustained injuries while covering fierce battles between Iraqi government forces and Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the run-up to the liberation of the country’s second largest city from the extremists.
The Cairo-based FAJ, in a statement released on Thursday, announced that forty-seven journalists were killed, while fifty-five others were wounded while accompanying security troops during battles in Mosul and reporting on the skirmishes.
The federation also extended its deep felicitations to the Iraqi journalists, who covered the details of the battles in Mosul, praising government troops’ victory over Daesh there.
On June 24, French journalist Véronique Robert died from wounds she had sustained earlier in a mine explosion in the western part of Mosul as she was covering Iraqi government forces’ advances against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Sophie Pommier, a spokeswoman for the French Embassy in Baghdad, said Robert lost her life at a hospital in the French capital Paris.
The late journalist had been repatriated and transferred to the hospital on Friday after being operated in Baghdad.
State-owned France Television said Robert had covered numerous conflicts and expressed its “sincere condolences.”
French video journalist Stephan Villeneuve and Iraqi Kurdish journalist Bakhtiyar Haddad, who were working with Robert, were killed in the June 19 explosion in Mosul. Haddad died moments after the blast and Villeneuve died hours later from his wounds.
They were reporting for investigative news program Envoye Special broadcast by France 2 national television channel.
Reporter Samuel Forey, who worked for a number of French media organizations, including French daily Le Figaro, also suffered light injuries in the act of terror.
The Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy said Haddad had been injured three times before as he covered the war in Mosul.
In February, Iraqi Kurdish correspondent Shifa Gardi, 30, was killed in a roadside bomb blast while covering clashes between Iraqi government forces and Daesh terrorists just south of Mosul for the Kurdish-language Rudaw television network. Her colleague, Younis Mustafa was wounded.
A human being dismissing objective facts of history must be devoid of dignity, a Turkish writer publisher said today, condemning his government’s policy of Armenian Genocide denial.
At a news conference in Yerevan, Zeynel Abidin Kyzykyaprak also addressed the recent March of Justice (organized by the opposition People’s Democratic Party’s leader), describing it as an unprecedented event in the country’s history.
“The People’s Democratic Party more than lived up to its potential. I characterize that party’s March for Justice as a real victory,” he said.
Asked by Tert.am whether Turkey now sees any alternative to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the publisher said he knows that the problem is real for the opposition “which is still undecided about choosing a leader”.
Asked to comment on the recently proposed bill envisaging sanctions over genocide remarks in the Turkish parliament, Kyzykyaprak replied, “It is practically difficult to predetermine anything in Turkey, but I don’t think anything of the kind will be signed into law. The National Movement party, which initiated the [draft] law, scolds the Justice and Development party every time, calling for a protection of national interests. But I don’t think Justice and Development will take that step to give [the bill] a legal effect,” he said, noting that no legal act in the Turkish legislation bans the use of “Armenian Genocide” in essence.
“A human being denying true happenings of history must be devoid of dignity. If you are a state in the world civilization, you must, first of all, deserve respect,” the publisher added.
At least 32 journalists at the G20 summit in Hamburg had their accreditations taken off them by German police without explanation, sparking press freedom concerns. Some had worked in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.
At least four of the journalists who had their press accreditations confiscated by police at the G20 summitlast Friday had worked in the Kurdish regions of southeastern Turkey, raising suspicions in the German media that the Turkish government may have pressured German authorities into shutting them out.
According to reports by German public broadcaster ARD and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the journalists’ press passes were taken off them without explanation, even after they had been in and out of the secured area around the conference center in Hamburg where the summit was held.
Chris Grodotzki, a photographer for Germany’s Der Spiegel, told DW that he had picked up his accreditation normally on Wednesday, but on trying to re-enter the conference center on Friday had been faced with police officers carrying a two-page list of names that they said they had been given by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).
He said the officers had been systematically checking all journalists going into the center. “Then they told me they can’t let me go in, and put me in a closed tent to one side, where I sat for a while, and then the superiors came and told me that the accreditation had been cancelled,” said Grodotzki. He added that he was not asked any questions by the officers, and that they themselves did not seem to know why the accreditations were being confiscated.
The German government has refused to release the list for “data protection” reasons, though Grodotzki said it was no problem for him to see it at the time, and believes that suggestion that 32 names were on it – reported in the press – sounded accurate.
No reason given
Nine of the journalists, who were mostly German, were later told in writing by the BKA that they were being shut out of the event “in consultation between the participating authorities.”
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, four of these nine had previously worked in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, though German government spokesman Steffen Seibert insisted on Tuesday that the authorities mentioned in the letter were all German – and did not belong to any foreign government.
One of the journalists, Björn Kietzmann, a photojournalist at the Action Press agency who had worked for the taz newspaper among others, had previously photographed fighting at the Syrian border city of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border. The same was true of Chris Grodotzki, a photographer for Germany’s Der Spiegel.
Kietzmann tweeted that his accreditation had been confiscated by the BKA on Friday:
Similarly, Willi Effenberger, a photographer for the Junge Welt newspaper who also had his accreditation confiscated, told the taz newspaper that he had once been arrested in Turkey, and had taken photos in Diyarbakir, one of the largest Kurdish-dominated cities of southeastern Turkey.
Adil Yigit, a Turkish journalist for the Avrupa Postasi outlet, who also had his accreditation confiscated, told the taz newspaper, “I think the Turkish side is behind this. The head of the Turkish secret service Hakan Fidan was with [Turkish President] Erdogan in Hamburg on Thursday. I took photos of both of them and reported on it. I think the Turkish intelligence agency passed that on to their German colleagues.”
At Monday’s regular government press conference, German Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth refused to say what security risks the journalists represented at the G20, or even what kinds of security risks journalists might represent, on the grounds that this would infringe the privacy rights of the journalists involved.
Dimroth insisted, however, that the confiscation was “in no form meant as a criticism of their reporting.” The confiscations were “exclusively for security reasons.”
Five Egyptian journalists who visited Armenia on the first regular flight of “Air Cairo” Airlines, visited number of Armenia’s sightseeing, Garni, Geghard, Lake Sevan, Tsakhkadzor, Echmiadzin, and Matenadaran Scientific Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts named after Mesrop Mashtots.
The Egyptian journalists also visited Tsitsernakaberd Memorial complex to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Hakob Berberyan, who accompanied the foreigners, told Panorama.am the journalist themselves wished to visit the Memorial complex.
“They knew well the story of the Armenian Genocide,” Berberyan added.
Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist who was abducted by strangers in the evening of 29 May in Tbilisi, reappears 24 hours later in a prison in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan , From which he had fled the authoritarian regime to seek refuge in Georgia. His lawyer said he risked ill-treatment and torture in the Azeri prison where he was detained and was taken to the border crossing between Georgia and Azerbaijan, Arbitrary and illegal. Local activists and his lawyer say the journalist was kept in detention in a prison of the Azerbaijani Border Guard Investigation Unit. The journalist took refuge with his wife in Georgia in 2015, fearing for his safety because of his investigations into the corruption of President Ilham Aliyev and his entourage.
However, Mukhtarli’s lawyer was able to speak briefly with him in the detention center where he was detained on 31 May. The lawyer indicates that the unknown persons who kidnapped A.Mukhtarli in Tbilisi were in civilian clothes and spoke in Georgian. The attackers immediately hindered their victim, whom they beat repeatedly as they drove him to the suburbs of the Georgian capital. They allegedly changed vehicles twice before crossing the border with Azerbaijan. A.Mukhtarli told his lawyer that they would have slipped 10,000 Euros into his pocket just before crossing the border, so that the Azerbaijani police had a pretext to stop him because of trafficking. A.Mukhtarli also said that he had been treated more brutally still on the Azerbaijani side of the border.
Levan Asatiani, a representative of Amnesty International in the South Caucasus, who is currently in Tbilisi, said that “this is a very worrying event in a country already known for its repression of journalists And human rights defenders “, adding that” Afgan Mukhtarli must be released immediately and unconditionally and free from torture and other ill-treatment “. “He is a prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned for the sole reason that he was working as a journalist,” said the human rights defender, explicitly questioning the Georgian authorities, who maintain excellent Relations with the Azeri regime, in particular because of the close economic links between Baku and Tbilisi. “It appears that the Georgian authorities were also complicit in the kidnapping of Afgan Mukhtarli and his forcible return to Azerbaijan. His family told Amnesty International that he was often followed by men speaking in Azeri in the streets of Tbilisi, where he was clearly under surveillance. Georgia must promptly and impartially investigate the exact circumstances of the kidnapping and ensure that the perpetrators of this odious operation are held accountable, “said Asatiani.
For their part, Georgian journalists, worried about the fate of their colleague, asked the government for explanations concerning this case. Together with local NGOs, Georgian journalists mobilized to show their support for the journalist and plan to gather in front of the government headquarters in Tbilisi to challenge ministers on the circumstances of the abduction. Georgia Online reported that the organizers of the demonstration are calling on all those concerned by this operation, which violates all human rights and international law rules to join them. “Join us and express your indignation at the disappearance of our Azerbaijani colleague who has lived in Georgia for the past two years. Join us and express your support for this by demanding explanations from the Georgian government, “said the text of the appeal.
Gari © armenews.com