Sentenced journalist latest victim of Azerbaijan’s ‘repressive apparatus of fear’

Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was sentenced to six years in prison today, following his arrest on trumped-up charges in Azerbaijan.

Mukhtarli fled from Azerbaijan to Georgia in 2014 following fear of persecution for his investigative journalism into corruption in the country’s government.

On May 29 2017, Mukhtarli vanished while in Tbilisi. He reappeared the next day back in Azerbaijan in custody, charged with illegally crossing the border, smuggling and resisting police.

Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International’s Regional Campaigner on South Caucasus, said:

“Afgan Mukhtarli is the latest victim of Azerbaijan’s repressive apparatus of fear which punishes anyone who dares to criticise the government.

“Today’s judgement casts a dark shadow, not only on the Azerbaijani authorities who brought these trumped-up charges, but also on the Georgian authorities who at the very least failed to prevent his illegal transfer from its territory.

“Afgan Mukhtarli is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Mukhtarli told his lawyer he was abducted by men speaking Georgian and wearing Georgian special law enforcement unit uniform.

Georgian authorities have since failed to effectively investigate Afgan Mukhtarli’s alleged abduction. Georgia outwardly denied involvement, but could not offer any alternative and trustworthy explanation as to how the journalist appeared across the border in Azerbaijan.

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