On June 19, the chairman of the Intellectuals Movement, Eldaniz Guliyev, faced more than two hours of questioning in the General Prosecutor’s Office for Grave Crimes.
The interrogation focused on the criminal case against the Deputy Chairwoman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Gozal Bayramli. Bayramli, was detained at a border checkpoint with Georgia on May 25, after border officials reported finding 12,000 US dollars in her luggage. She denies the charges.
“The investigation is focused on the money that was, allegedly brought (into Azerbaijan) by Bayramli, and (officials are trying) tries to find out whether or not we knew about this. I told them that these kind of falsified cases only damage the image of the country, and that the case is just an attempt to blacken an honest woman,” says Guliyev.
During recent days, opposition party leaders, journalists, and civil society activists have been summoned for questioning. All of them report being similar sorts of questions, about Gozel Bayramli; the case against the Azerbaijani journalist abducted in Tbilisi, Afghan Mukhtarli, and funding sources of political parties, media, and non-governmental organizations.
“Bayramli’s criminal case is absurd, false and fabricated. Her arrest was announced in an article written by one of the state’s mouthpieces,” commented the chairman of the National Front Party, Ali Kerimli, following three hours of questioning on the subject.
On the same day, former chairman of the Musavat Party, Isa Gambar, was questioned about the case against investigative journalist Afgan A.Mukhtarli.
Mukhtarli was kidnapped on May 29 in Tbilisi, subsequently resurfacing in police custody Baku.
On May 4, an article appeared on a government-run news site exposing “underground” Azerbaijani activists living in Tbilisi.
In the article, Mukhtarli was mentioned, along with well-known surgeon Farman Jeyranov and the Deputy Chairwoman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan Gozel Bayramli. Jeyranov and Bayramli have both recently been detained by the Azerbaijani authorities.