18 Mar 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 30 May 2017 n° 61/2017 Azerbaijan

Exiled Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli Abducted, Detained and Faces Charges in Azerbaijan

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner Index Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ IPI PEN RSF
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Partner Index Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ IPI PEN RSF
Freelance Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was reported missing in Tbilisi, Georgia on the evening of 29 May 2017 by his wife Leyla Mustafayeva. Eurasianet reported that Mustafayeva said that her husband last called her when he was just a few blocks away from their home, but he never showed up. The Georgian police stated on 30 May that a search was underway for the journalist, but later, the independent Azeri news agency Turan reported that the Azerbaijani border service department detained Mukhtarli.

Independent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova confirmed that Mukhtarli was kidnapped from his neighbourhood where he was forced into a car, his hands were tied and he was beaten. Mukhtarli sustained serious injuries. His lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists: “He was beaten, has a broken nose, bruises all over his head and right eye, his rib may be broken.” He was then taken across the border into Azerbaijan by car without his passport.

Mukhtarli is being charged with trespassing, smuggling and resistance to law-enforcement (violations of Articles 318.1, 206.1 and 315.2 of the criminal code), his lawyer confirmed. The Azerbaijani police also claim Mukhtarli was in possession of 10,000 EUR during the police search. Mukhtarli, who has contributed to various independent outlets, including Meydan TV, fled to Georgia from Azerbaijan in 2015, after receiving threats over his investigative reporting on corruption in the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. Afgan Mukhtarli is now in pre-trial detention.
18 Mar 2020
On 17 March 2020, Afgan Mukhtarli has been released from prison and sentenced to a fine of 1000 AZN (around 534 €).
23 Sep 2019
According to reports, Afgan Mukhtarli, who continues to be held at Prison No.16, began a hunger strike on 22 September 2019. His strike is in protest at the ongoing mistreatment of his lawyer Nemet Karimli. On 20 September 2019, Karimli was illegally searched before and after seeing his client at the prison facility. The lawyer said that the prison employees used physical force to take his personal notes, before holding him inside the facility for 45-50 minutes. During that time, the prison administration read through his notes. Nemat Karimli has said that he will file an official complaint. Afgan Mukhtarli was placed in solitary confinement.
18 Sep 2018
On 18 September 2018, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld the sentence to 6 years of imprisonment issued by the Balakan District Court against Afgan Mukhtarli.
25 Apr 2018
On 24 April 2018, the Sheki Appeals Court rejected the appeal of Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.
12 Jan 2018
On 12 January 2018 Azerbaijan`s Balakan District Court sentenced Afgan Mukhtarli to 6 years in prison for illegal border crossing, smuggling and violent resistance to public officials.
17 Aug 2017
On 17 August 2017 the Nasimi District Court of Baku extended Afgan Mukhtarli`s pre-trial detention until 30 October 2017.
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to release all those detained because of the views they expressed, notably journalists.
15 Jan 2018
OSCE media freedom representative Désir condemns jailing of investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Azerbaijan
17 Jul 2017
The European Court of Human Rights began its consideration of Afgan Mukhtarli abduction case. On 8 June 2017, the Court sent a request for information to the Azerbaijani government.
20 Jun 2017
Volodymyr Ariev, PACE General Rapporteur on Media Freedom and the Safety of Journalists, calls for release of Afqan Mukhtarli
06 Jun 2017
Boriss Cilevics and Kerstin Lundgren, co-rapporteurs of the PACE, urge Georgian authorities to fully investigate abduction of Afqan Mukhtarli
02 Jun 2017
Commissioner for Human Rights "appalled by what happened to Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist, who has reportedly been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, where he is now facing prosecution for illegal crossing of the border and smuggling".

Key information :

Afgan Mukhtarli

A freelance Azerbaijani journalist who fled to Georgia in 2015 following threats to his life
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