EEAS Comments on Alleged Abduction & Illegal Detention of Azeri Journalist

The European External Action Service (EEAS) has released a statement regarding the kidnapping and detention of an Azerbaijani journalist, Afgan Mukhtarli, who was allegedly abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 put in pre-trial detention in Baku, Azerbaijan. The statement says that the alleged abduction of Azerbaijani nationals (including human rights defenders) residing in Georgia and their arrest and prosecution in Azerbaijan demands "swift, thorough and transparent investigation." The EEAS welcomes the beginning of a Georgian investigation into the case.

The statement adds that a review by Azerbaijan of all cases of incarceration related to the exercise of fundamental rightsincluding the freedom of expression—and immediate release all of those concerned is urgent, in accordance with Azerbaijan's international commitments. “We expect that the due process of law is respected, as well as the civil and political rights of citizens and those residing legally in states other than their own. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that 'No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.' The European Union will continue to follow these cases closely,” the statement reads.

Afgan Mukhtarli is a political migrant who left Azerbaijan three years ago. In Tbilisi, he has held protests in front of Azerbaijan’s embassy and recently wrote about the persecution of Azerbaijani activists in Georgia. He disappeared on May 29, and his family reported his disappearance to the police. On May 30 the journalist was found in the Baku police department. Mukhtarli told his lawyer that he was detained and forced into a car near his house in Tbilisi by Georgian Special Service officers. He said that he was beaten and 10,000 euros were planted on him. The Azerbaijani authorities accused him of illegal border crossing and smuggling.

The journalist’s wife, Leila Mustafayeva, says she has her husband’s passport and believes that he was abducted by Azerbaijan’s secret services and forcibly taken across the Georgian-Azerbaijani border. She added that it would be impossible to transfer Mukhtarli to Azerbaijan without cooperation from the Georgian authorities. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia launched an investigation under Article 143 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which regards cases pertaining to illegal deprivation of liberty.

On Saturday Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said the situation concerning Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli "undermines the country’s image, which is absolutely impermissible."

“My primary task is to make sure that every question is answered in the shortest period of time. An investigation has been launched into this incident, and it serves our state’s interests to ensure maximum transparency,” Kvirikashvili said.

The PM called on the country’s president to immediately grant citizenship to the family of Afgan Mukhtarli, however, the journalist’s wife has rejected the offer.


Thea Morrison


05 June 2017 12:05