Wife of kidnapped journalist leaves Tbilisi

Jailed journalist Afgan Mukhtarli's wife Leyla Mustafayeva has arrived in Berlin from Tbilisi together with her four-year-old daughter. Mustafayeva told Meydan TV that she left Georgia because she did not feel safe and was monitored there.

The jailed journalist's wife had informed Georgian law-enforcement agencies about her safety concerns numerous times, presenting evidence that she was being monitored. The monitoring became even more intensive after Azerbaijani Interior Minister Ramil Usubov visited Tbilisi.

On 29 May Afgan Mukhtarli disappeared in Tbilisi, Georgia, only to reappear under arrest in Baku. Azerbaijani authorities have charged Mukhtarli with crossing the border into Azerbaijan illegally, smuggling (he was allegedly carrying $10,000 at the time of his arrest), and resisting the orders of a police officer. The journalist himself has stated that he was kidnapped in Tbilisi and brought to Azerbaijan against his will.

Authorities have stated that Mukhtarli’s case is now part of a larger criminal investigation against Meydan TV. Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General has charged Meydan TV with illegal commercial activities, large-scale tax evasion, and interfering in elections. Meydan TV co-founder Emin Milli commented in 2016 on the criminal investigation, saying, "We consider this a declaration of war against independent journalism in Azerbaijan."

Afgan Mukhtarli is an investigative journalist who has published several pieces at Meydan TV. His last contribution before his arrest was an article about politically-motivated kidnappings in Azerbaijan. Since his arrest, ifact.ge has completed an investigation that Mukhtarli was working on, republished here by Meydan TV.

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