Azeri Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli Freed From Prison
An Azerbaijani journalist was released on Tuesday after having served two of the six years he was sentenced to by a Baku court despite criticism from human rights organizations which claimed the charges were baseless.
“My brother Afgan Mukhtarli has been released, taken to the airport and flown to Germany,” Ramazan Mukhtarli posted on Facebook.
Mukhtarli disappeared from a Tbilisi street in May of 2017 and reappeared two days later in a Baku courtroom. He was found guilty of illegally crossing the border back into his native Azerbaijan, assaulting a border guard, and carrying 10,000 euro of undeclared currency.
Mukhtarli claims he was kidnapped in Georgia, forced across the border while someone pushed the money into his pocket.
Mukhtarli’s wife Leyla Mustafayeva told OCCRP that she was informed about the release 40 minutes after Mukhtarli boarded the plane.
“I knew in general that he would be released,” she said. “I don’t know why he was sent to Germany, I think the Government must answer that question. He wanted to stay in Azerbaijan for like 10 or 15 days. It seems they didn’t want him to stay in Azerbaijan.”
“I welcome the release of Azerbaijani journalist Afghan #Mukhtarli, who was abducted from Tbilisi in 2017,” said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir on Twitter.
“I intervened many times on his behalf to #Azerbaijan authorities. He is on his way to Germany and will be able to reunite with his wife, Leyla Mustafayeva, and daughter,” he said.