Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli, who has had his books burned by authorities, sent the following statement to Index on Censorship regarding his detention on 30 March 2016:
On 30 March, I, accompanied by my son, planned to travel to Venice via Frankfurt to participate in the Incroci di Civilta literature festival as a guest speaker.
When I arrived at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport, around 4am local time, the border service said I could not travel, but provided no reason for the denial and detained me for five hours, well after the plane departed at 5.11am.
My bags, which had already been checked in, were taken off the plane and searched. At around 9:30am I was transferred into the custody of airport police and falsely accused of creating a public disturbance, hindering the work of border guards and harassing other passengers. I was held in police custody for over 10 hours and interrogated.
Later in the evening, the head of shift of the border service, an athletically built young man, made a new absurd accusation that I, a 78-year-old writer in poor health and suffering from a heart condition, punched him in the chest with such great strength that it caused a hematoma. This supposedly happened in a small room with no surveillance cameras during a personal search while my son was briefly outside.
I have been told that a criminal case against me was opened by the airport police under Criminal Code Article 222.1 “hooliganism”.
Absurdly and illogically, this alleged incident of punching a border guard happened well after the plane departed and was later used by the border service as an explanation for denying the border crossing before the plane had left!
I was released from police custody at around 8pm local time. My foreign passport was retained by police and only returned on the next day.
New fiction, translated into English for the first time, by author Akram Aylisli will appear in the next issue of Index on Censorship magazine