Tbilisi, May 30, 2017-- Independent Association of Georgian Journalists, member of IFJ, urges Georgian Government to take all possible measures in order to protect journalists. Recent abduction of Azeri journalist Afqan Muxtarli in Tbilisi raises serious concerns about safety of journalists.
On May 29 Azeri journalist Afqan Muxtarli who published several critical articles about President Aliev and his family, disappeared while traveling to home from restaurant where he met close friend. Later azeri media reported that Muxtarli was arrested and taken to the prison in Baku.
Afqan Muxtarli was seeking shelter in Georgia as Azeri government was planning his arrest due to reports about Aliev's family and corruption.
Georgian Government said it's special services were not involved in extradition. Therefore journalist was transferred illegally, forcefully.
IAGJ call Georgian and Azeri Governments to take measures to free Azeri journalist Afqan Muxtarli.
IAGJ called Georgian Government make public details of Muxtarli's disappearance and forceful return to Azerbaijan, and take all measures to ensure that other journalists in the country are safe.
IAGJ also called Government of Azerbaijan free Afqan Muxtarli, respect rights of journalist and media freedom.
"Azerbaijan is the strategic partner of Georgia and has great influence over Georgian society. Azeri community is widely represented in Georgia and it's very important for us to know that Azerbaijan respects freedom pf expression and rights of media", said Zviad Pochkhua, IAGJ President.
"Arrest of Afqan Muxtarli damages Georgia and Azerbaijan equally. Trust towards governments of Georgia and Azerbaijan now are questioned. Authorities need to respond adequately to questions raised", said Pochkhua.
Statement by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan.
“I am appalled by what happened to Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist, who has reportedly been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, where he is now facing prosecution for illegal crossing of the border and smuggling. Mr. Mukhtarli had been living in Georgia since 2015, when he left Azerbaijan to escape the government’s repression of critical voices.
According to his lawyer, Mr Mukhtarli affirms that money was put in his pocket by his abductors and alleges that they also ill-treated him. These are very serious allegations that require the utmost attention and urgent reaction by the Georgian authorities, which should carry out an effective, rapid and independent investigation into the events and take the necessary measures to act upon the results of the enquiry. In the meantime, Azerbaijan’s authorities must release Mr Mukhtarli without delay and ensure that he fully enjoys his human rights, including the protection from torture and ill-treatment.”