Azerbaijani president confronts BBC reporter over freedom of the press and Julian Assange

by WorldTribune Staff, May 7, 2021

Scenes from a BBC interview that occurred last November with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev now are going viral. In a testy exchange with BBC correspondent Orla Guerin, Aliyev confronted the leftist reporter with something she did not expect.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

Aliyev: “How do you assess what happened to Mr. Assange? Is it a reflection of free media in your country?”

Guerin: “We are not here to discuss my country.”

Aliyev: “No let’s discuss” (repeatedly).

Aliyev: “In order to accuse me saying that Armenians will not having free media here, let’s talk about Assange. How many years [had] he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy? And for what? And where is he now? For journalistic activity, you kept this person hostage, actually killing him morally and physically. You did it, not us. And now he’s in prison. So, you have no moral right to talk about free media when you do these things.”

Guerin: “Returning to the conflict.”

Aliyev: “Yeah, better return to the conflict because this is not what you like.”

The violence that erupted last September between Azeris and Armenians over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh was the latest in a prolonged conflict. But what really attracted Western audiences to the unedited clips of President Aliyev was his observation of the deceptive tactics utilized by the international media.

“In your question, accusing me, it is not a question – it is [an] accusation.” Aliyev continued, “You talk like a prosecutor. Why? If you are so democratic and so objective?”

The BBC’s original November 9th posting of the interview deceptively left out any mention of Assange leaving viewers to wonder what other exchanges were edited.

The four and half minute posting was well under the 48 minute interview that was posted in its entirety by the Azerbaijan State News Agency.

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