International Community Must Respond to Reporter’s Kidnapping, Says Armenian Lawmaker

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YEREVAN (Armenpress) — The Azerbaijani kidnapping of Tbilisi-based opposition reporter Afgan Mukhtarli to Baku has received worldwide attention, Armen Ashotyan, chairman of the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee said on Facebook.

“This issue is also relevant in terms of guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and rights on citizens of Armenia and Artsakh and foreigners who are blacklisted by Azerbaijan. The strict response of the US State Department and the EU External Action Service once again emphasized the vivid and apparent reality of violation of fundamental human rights in Azerbaijan,” Ashotyan said.

He emphasized that the full investigation into this incident is not only an internal affair of Georgia, but also a gauntlet thrown down by Azerbaijan before the international community.

Mukhtarli is a known critic of the Azerbaijani authorities’ policies. Since 2015, he was forced to settle in Tbilisi. He disappeared on May 29 from Tbilisi, and later appeared in Baku and was jailed.

He said he was kidnapped from downtown Tbilisi by unknown people wearing civilian clothing, who were speaking Georgian.

He was forced into a car and taken out of Georgia, heavily battered, blindfolded and taken to another vehicle. He was then forced to a third vehicle, already on the Azerbaijani border, where he heard the kidnappers talk in Azerbaijani. The kidnappers framed him by putting a large amount of cash in his pocket, and now he is charged with smuggling and illegal border crossing. His attorney has already met him, and said that his client has bruises on his face. Afghan told his attorney that he has severe pain in the chest area, presumably fractured ribs. A Baku court has remanded Mukhtarli in custody for three months.

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