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Detained Azeri journalist demands meeting with Georgia’s ambassador

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, June 12
Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who disappeared in Tbilisi on May 29 and then appeared in Baku having been detained the next day, is demanding the meeting with the Ambassador of Georgia to Azerbaijan, Teimuraz Sharashenidze.

Georgia’s Embassy has informed Meidan TV that they had information about the issue.

They say Ambassador Sharashenidze departed for Georgia several days ago and will return to Azerbaijan in a week.

“When he is back in Baku, he will make a comment on the journalist’s demand,” the embassy representatives said.

Meanwhile, Georgian opposition parties and NGOs, as well as Mukhtarli’s lawyer and wife, keep claiming that Mukhtarli - who had fled his homeland due to his investigations into senior ranking officials, was allegedly handed to Baku by Georgia’s law enforcers.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry and the State Security Service strongly deny the allegations.

They say that according to Azerbaijani law enforcers, Mukhratli illegally crossed the Georgia-Azerbaijani border and smuggled in foreign currency.

Ten of Georgia’s leading NGOs stressed that considering the political character of the incident and Mukhtarli’s allegation about the possible participation of the Georgian state authorities in his detention, “we have a well-grounded suspicion that the Azerbaijani journalist could not have been arrested in the territory of Georgia and transported to Azerbaijan without at least a willing ignorance or ineffective work of Georgian state institutions, if not with their active support and direct participation”.

They added it is particularly suspicious that an Azerbaijani citizen crossed the border without his ID documents.

“Despite well-grounded concerns that Mukhtarli may become a subject of torture, inhumane treatment or punishment, and a victim of political persecution in Azerbaijan, the state of Georgia failed to guarantee the safety and inviolability of persons who were under its control and even participated in illegal activities. It causes deep concern and violates the obligations of Georgia under international conventions and acts,” they added.

NGOs addressed the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to ensure an effective, timely, and impartial investigation into the case.

They also appealed to the Parliament of Georgia to ensure effective parliamentary control over Mukhtarli’s case.