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