Azerbaijani journalist threatened at knifepoint

Aytan Mammadova speaks about the attack and shows where the assailant held her by the neck during an interview on 9 May, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Image: Meydan TV

Journalist Ayten Mammadova was threatened at knifepoint last night in her apartment building while returning home with her daughter.

An unknown man held a knife to her throat, puncturing her skin in two places, threatened her daughter, and demanded Mammadova stop writing about court cases. Ayten Mammadova’s most publicized case is the case of the abduction of 10-year-old Narmin Guliyeva in the village of Dondar Gushchu, Tovuz region, and the discovery of a burnt body in the village 47 days later.

The neighbor of Narmin, Ilkin Suleymanov, is being tried for her murder, but the journalists believes he is being used as a scapegoat to cover up the actual perpetrator or perpetrators.

Mammadova said she also received a similar threatening call at their home 20 days ago. She believes that this attack and the phone call may be related to her coverage of the case.

Interior Ministry press service spokesperson Elshad Hajiyev stated they have opened a criminal case into the attack and the Media Development Agency also contacted Mammadova, and said they had been in contact with the Interior Ministry about the incident.

While police violence and detentions are not unusual for journalists in Azerbaijan, physical, near-lethal and lethal attacks on journalists by those other than uniformed police are relatively rare in comparison. At first glance, the attack and threatening of Mammadova brings to mind a more lethal attack, specifically the murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov in his apartment building in 2005.

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