Reporters Without Borders and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe have issued a statement in connection with the abduction of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi.
“The Georgian authorities must immediately explain what happened to Afghan Mukhtarli, and provide security guarantees to other Azerbaijani dissidents based in Georgia,” the organization said.
“It does not matter who abducted Mukhtarli – the Azerbaijani operatives or the Georgian security forces: it is a very serious incident that will not be left without consequences. We demand the immediate release of Afgan Mukhtarli, who was tortured and ill-treated. The use of fabricated accusations against independent journalists is standard practice in Azerbaijan, the ruling regime once again has showed that it can create problems outside the country, and it’s time to answer for all these actions”, the statement says.
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muiznieks said, “I am shocked by what happened to Afghan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist who was abducted and severely beaten in Tbilisi, and forcibly transferred to Azerbaijan where he was arrested, accused of smuggling and of illegally crossing the border”.
According to him, “There are very serious violations that require maximum attention and an urgent reaction on the part of the Georgian authorities, who must conduct a prompt and transparent investigation and take the necessary measures based on the results of the investigation. In turn, the Azerbaijani authorities must immediately release Mukhtarli and fully ensure his rights”, stressed Mujnieks.
Known for his critical articles against the Azerbaijani authorities, Afgan Mukhtarli lived in Tbilisi with his family for several years, from where he was abducted on May 29 and secretly brought to Azerbaijan.
On May 30, charges were brought against Afgan Mukhtarli under articles 318.1 (illegal crossing of the state border), 206.1 (smuggling) and 315.2 (resistance to a representative of the government using violence dangerous to life and health) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.