STATEMENT
Azerbaijan: Index calls for the immediate release of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli

The exiled Azerbaijani journalist disappeared from Georgia and reappeared in Azerbaijan, where he is now facing persecution

31 May 2017
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP
Azerbaijan journalist Afgan Mukhtarli

Afgan Mukhtarli. Credit: Meydan TV

Index on Censorship is extremely concerned at the news of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli being detained and facing prosecution in Azerbaijan after being disappeared from Georgia.

Freelance Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was reported missing in Tbilisi, Georgia on the evening of 29 May by his wife Leyla Mustafayeva. Eurasianet reported that Mustafayeva said that her husband last called her when he was just a few blocks away from their home, but he never showed up.

The Georgian police stated on 30 May that a search was underway for the journalist, but later, the independent Azeri news agency Turan reported that the Azerbaijani border service department detained Mukhtarli.

Independent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova confirmed that Mukhtarli was kidnapped from his neighbourhood where he was forced into a car, his hands were tied and he was beaten. Mukhtarli sustained serious injuries. His lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told the Committee to Protect Journalists: “He was beaten, has a broken nose, bruises all over his head and right eye, his rib may be broken.”

He was then taken across the border into Azerbaijan by car without his passport.

Mukhtarli is being charged with trespassing, smuggling and resistance to law-enforcement (violations of Articles 318.1, 206.1 and 315.2 of the criminal code), his lawyer confirmed. The Azerbaijani police also claim Mukhtarli was in possession of 10,000 EUR during the police search.

“Georgia has long been perceived as a safe haven for Azerbaijani dissidents, but the disappearance of Afgan Mukhtarli and other incidents are deeply concerning,” Melody Patry, Index’s head of advocacy said. “The charges brought by Azerbaijan’s prosecutors against Mukhtarli are spurious and Index calls for his immediate and unconditional release. We further call on the Georgian authorities to swiftly investigate the kidnapping of the journalist.”

Mukhtarli, who has contributed to various independent outlets, including Meydan TV,  fled to Georgia from Azerbaijan in 2015, after receiving threats over his investigative reporting on corruption in the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

Twelve days before, the journalist said in an interview with independent online news outlet Jam News, that he and his wife, who is also a journalist and an activist, were both under surveillance.

Azerbaijani journalist and human rights activist Mehman Huseynov released from prison

Index on Censorship welcomes the release of Azerbaijani journalist and human rights activist Mehman Huseynov.

Index renews calls for Azerbaijan to release journalist Afgan Mukhtarli

Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli fled the country in fear in 2014 but in May 2017 he vanished while in Tbilisi, Georgia, and reappeared the following day back in his home country

Escalating repression against Mehman Huseynov

Member and partner NGOs of 13 Human Rights Houses issue a joint letter calling for urgent action from the international community to ensure the life, health, and rights of imprisoned Azerbaijani photojournalist, video blogger, and human rights defender Mehman Huseynov.

Send a letter to imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Seymur Hezi

The editors of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award-winning newspaper Azadliq have launched a letter-writing campaign to journalist Seymur Hezi, who is in prison.

Comments are closed.