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Azeri journalist’s wife rejects offer of Georgian citizenship

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 6
The wife of Azeri journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who disappeared from Tbilisi and later was found detained in Baku, has rejected the offer of senior Georgian officials over granting her and her children Georgian citizenship.

The offer came after Mukhtarli, who had fled his homeland due to his investigations into high-ranking Azeri officials businesses. He was detained by the Azeri border service for the alleged smuggling of money and the illegal crossing of the Georgian-Azerbaijan border. The journalist’s wife and his lawyers claim the charges were invented, and Mukhtarli was handed to the Azerbaijani authorities by Georgian law enforcement agents.

Leila Mustafaeva gave her reason for rejecting Georgian citizenship as the preliminary attitude of the government of Georgia towards her family.

“I will not accept the citizenship of Georgia. I requested the permission of residency last year but I was assessed as being 'engaged in a dangerous activity'. As it seems, after my husband has been detained, I am no longer dangerous,” she said.

Georgia’s PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who is the only official who can grant citizenships, to make an exception and grant Mukhtarli’s wife and children Georgia’s citizenship. The President agreed.

Mukhtarli has lived in Georgia since 2015.

Meanwhile, the US Department of State has released a statement over the Mukhtarli case, expressing its concern.

“The United States is disturbed by the reported abduction in Tbilisi, Georgia, and subsequent arrest in Azerbaijan of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli on May 30. We are also troubled by the May 25 arrest in Azerbaijan of Popular Front Party deputy chairperson Gozal Bayramli.

“We urge the government of Azerbaijan to release all those incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms in accordance with its international and OSCE commitments.

“We are closely following the Georgian investigation into the reported abduction, and urge that it be full, transparent, and timely,” the statement reads.

The government of Georgia has strongly denied Georgia’s participation in the detention.

They stressed that many of those disliked by the Azeri government had lived in Georgia for years and no one has ever been handed to the Azerbaijani government.

Georgia is investigating the case, and the results of the investigation will be of utmost importance, as the case concerns the international image of the country.