Freelance journalist Natig Javadli was called in for questioning today as a witness in the criminal case against Afgan Mukhtarli, an investigative journalist who worked with Meydan TV.
Javadli told journalists that he was interrogated at the General Prosecutor’s Office about Mukhtarli and the Meydan TV criminal case, but could not reveal any further information.
This is not the first interrogation run by the General Prosecutor’s Office in relation to this high profile case. Recently, three members of the Musavat political party – Gulaga Aslanli, Head of its Executive Office, Isa Gambar, head of its National Strategic Thinking Center, and Arif Hajili, the party’s chairman – have all been called in for questioning. Journalists Khadija Ismayil and Sevinj Vagifqizi have also been interrogated.
Afgan Mukhtarli’s case has received global attention. The investigative journalist, who had been living in exile in Tbilisi, Georgia, has been charged with smuggling, violence towards a police officer, and crossing the Georgia-Azerbaijan border illegally.
Mukhtarli denies the accusations, claiming that he was kidnapped in Tbilisi, beaten and tortured and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan. During this time, he asserts, 10,000 euros was planted on his person, to be found later by the police and presented as evidence of smuggling.
According to information released by local law enforcement, Mukhtarli was detained by officers of the State Border Service at 22:40 (local time) on May 29 in the Balakan district of Azerbaijan. He resisted arrest, assaulting police officers. A search of his person revealed a large amount of cash.
He now faces charges under Articles 318 (illegal border crossing), 206 (smuggling) and 315.2 (resistance or application of violence concerning the representative of authority) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
A number of international human rights organizations have published statements condemning the arrest and calling for his immediate release.