In a letter written on July 26 from Rusitavi prison, in Tbilisi, the former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia, Soso Gogashvili, declared that Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarli was abducted on the orders of former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
He also gave the names of the three people who carried out the kidnapping and emphasized that all the evidence in the case was destroyed by the Operational-Technical Department of the State Security Service.
Soso Gogashvili was arrested in his house in the Georgian capital during a special operation in early July.
Nemat Karimli, lawyer of Mukhtarli, told Meydan TV while commenting on the letter, that “petitions were filed in the court proceedings of journalist Afghan Mukhtarli in Azerbaijan. But the decisions made in all court instances are illegal. In any case, after the start of certain processes in Georgia, there will be opportunities to conduct some legal procedures in Azerbaijan”.
Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarli had been living in Georgia with a residence permit since 2015. On May 29, 2017, he was kidnapped and abducted back to Azerbaijan, where he was arrested the next day. According to Mukhtarli, he was detained in Tbilisi, tortured, forcibly brought to the border and handed over to the Azerbaijani side. Moreover, 10,000 euros were planted in his pocket.
The government of Azerbaijan charged the journalist with unproportioned and life-threatening use of force against an official authority, crossing the state border without documents or outside the state border checkpoints and smuggling. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Back then, International human rights organizations recognized Afghan Mukhtarli as a political prisoner.
On March 17, 2020, the journalist was unexpectedly released from prison and immediately sent to Germany. He was not even allowed to say goodbye to his relatives in Azerbaijan.
In his statements at that time, Afgan Mukhtarli stated that the authorities simply changed his preventive measure – replacing prison with exile from the country.
Prime Minister of Georgia between 2012 and 2013 and founder of the Georgian Dream Party, Bidzina Ivanishvili is a billionaire and the richest man of his country. Even though he stepped out of politics, Ivanishvili remains one of the most influential people in the Georgian political arena.