Journalists From 16 Countries Protest Against Kidnapping Of Azerbaijani Colleague
15 June, 2017

Journalists from 16 countries are calling for the release of Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarly. An independent journalist in exile, Mukhtarly was kidnapped in Georgia and smuggled back to neighboring Azerbaijan.

Representatives from the media made a statement on Mukhtarly and initiated a flashmob outside of the embassies of Azerbaijan and Georgia in Riga, Latvia on June 15, 2017.

Photo credit: Alfrēds Ulmanis

“We, journalists from 16 countries, call on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately release journalist Afghan Mukhtarly, who was kidnapped in Georgia on May 29, forcibly brought to Azerbaijan and held in prison,” the statement reads.

According to the statement’s signatories, the case against Mukhtarly is “an attempt to silence a journalist who was investigating corruption in the government of Azerbaijan.”

Photo credit: Angelina Kariakina / HROMADSKE

“We condemn Azerbaijan’s strengthening of the war against government critics, one manifestation of which was this kidnapping,” the statement reads.

The Azerbaijani authorities accused Mukhtarly of illegally crossing the border after the journalist was forcibly brought to Azerbaijan. Georgia has been ineffective and reluctant to investigate the kidnapping.

“We urge the international community to intervene and support Mukhtarly. Western partners of Azerbaijan and Georgia should be ashamed to ignore this outrageous attack on freedom of speech,” the journalists add.

Photo credit: Alfrēds Ulmanis

Journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Britain, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, the United States, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Estonia and France signed the appeal.

Afghan Mukhtarly works as a journalist for the Berlin-based Azerbaijani media organization Meydan.TV, which was forced to leave the country due to pressure and persecution. Mukhtarly was undertaking investigations, including into the family businesses of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

Read more: Stealing Billions Without Hiding It: Explaining Corruption in Azerbaijan & Central Asia