An Azerbaijani investigative journalist who vanished May 29 from Tbilisi, Georgia, is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment after resurfacing on the 30th in custody across the border in Baku, Azerbaijan, after what he described to his lawyer as a harrowing cross-border abduction, according to Amnesty International.
Afgan Mukhtarli, whose wife reported him missing on May 29, is known to be in the custody of the Investigative Unit of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan, according to local activists and his lawyer. The couple had gone into exile in Georgia in 2015 amid fears for their safety over his investigations into Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s alleged links to corruption.
Chairman of the European Center for Press and Media Freedom and SCOOP coordinator, Henrik Kaufholz, strongly condemns the abduction and Georgia’s failure to protect exiled journalists:
“Time after time in recent months, Azerbaijani journalists in Georgia have been harassed by local law enforcement, denied re-entry into the country or have not had their residence permits renewed. The ECPMF considers this conduct by the Georgian government to be entirely irreconcilable with their commitments vis-avis the European Union in the recent association negotiations. We urge the Georgian government to live up to its responsibilities and we call on the EU Commission and on EU member states to take immediate action and remind Georgia of its promises.”