WASHINGTON, DC — As concerns are raised of Russia attempting to influence the U.S. presidential election by hacking campaign emails, one purloined record also reveal another country, namely Azerbaijan, doing the same.
After reviewing emails on WikiLeaks, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) discovered correspondence among campaign staffers discussing the legality of accepting donations from foreign governments, such as Azerbaijan, by Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registrants. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.
The Assembly had previously raised concerns about potentially illegal activities of U.S. groups with ties to foreign entities in Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the House Committee on Ethics concluded that 9 members of Congress and more than two dozen staff members accepted a trip that was improperly paid for by foreign corporations in Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Azerbaijan’s strategy is to influence U.S. policymakers as the Aliyev regime continues to deprive its citizens of basic human rights and freedoms. On October 20, Human Rights Watch reported that the Azerbaijani government has renewed its vicious crackdown on critics and independent groups. Per this report, “Arrests in Azerbaijan increased sharply as activists and other citizens spoke out about the economic downturn, currency devaluation, and inflation in early 2016, and ahead of a September constitutional referendum that expanded presidential powers, Human Rights Watch found.”