Authorities Arrest and Release Journalist at Azerbaijan-Georgia Border
22 June, 2017

Kamran Mahmudov, an Azerbaijani journalist who works closely with opposition media outlets, was arrested on June 22, 2017 at the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to Meydan TV, the authorities later released him.

The journalist was arrested at 5am at passport control on the border checkpoint and was escorted to the Gazakh District Police Department.

The lawyer for Azerbaijani media organization Meydan TV, Djavid Rzazadeh, reported his arrest.

The attorney was also at the border at that time: "He was taken to the Gazakh District Police Department. I had already crossed the border by car. He phoned and reported his detention and I went back. The first thing I was told is 'Kamran is wanted'."

According to the lawyer, the journalist was held in a temporary detention centre. He was not allowed to see his client.

A few hours later, police officers told the lawyer that Mahmudov was arrested under the Interior Ministry’s April 27, 2017 order and that he had been put on a list of individuals banned from leaving the country. The reasons why he had been included on the aforementioned list were not explained.

"Me and my friend, lawyer Djavid Rzazadeh were travelling to Georgia. At passport control, border guards held me longer than usual. Then they took me to the chief of the border service. He told me that there was an order to detain me and transfer me to the police. By 5:00 a.m., I was already at the Gazakh District Police Department," Kamran Mahudov told Caucasian Knot.

The journalist was released at 12:15 pm and advised to return to Baku.

“There are some things that still remain unclear to me. I don’t know the reason behind my arrest order. Given the government’s ‘attention’ to journalists, anything could be expected in our country,” Mahmudov told the Turan news agency upon his release, according to JamNews.

The journalist intends to use legal means, including appeals to the court, to obtain an explanation behind imposing a ban to prevent him from leaving the country and to seek the cancellation of this "unreasonable decision."

Kamran Mahmudov's detention follows the abduction and detention of Azerbaijani journalist in exile Afgan Mukhtarli, who disappeared from his home in Tbilisi on May 29, 2017 and appeared in custody in Azerbaijan two days later.

In an interview with Hromadske, Mukhtarli's wife claimed that Georgian authorities were also involved in her husband's kidnapping.

Journalist from 16 countries protested Muktarli's kidnapping outside of the Azerbaijani and Georgian embassies in Riga, Latvia, calling for his release. Representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have also appealed to the Azerbaijani authorities. Azerbaijani officials have yet to respond.

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