Afghan Mukhtarly. Photo: © Meydan TV https://www.hrw.org/

08 October 2018, 12:21

Afghan Mukhtarly

He has made public an important public issue by publishing his investigation into kidnappings of journalists in Azerbaijan.

Activities

In the evening on May 29, 2017, Afghan Mukhtarly was kidnapped in central Tbilisi and forcibly transported to Azerbaijan. By irony, the last article of the Azerbaijani investigative journalist, published before his kidnapping, namely, on January 26, 2017, was entitled "Politically motivated kidnappings in Azerbaijan".

In his article, the journalist presented the stories and testimonies of five critics of the Azerbaijani authorities – of political activists and journalists, who had been kidnapped and tortured.

Thus, on January 9, 2017, people in civilian clothes kidnapped Mekhman Guseinov, a blogger and the director of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS). Mr Mukhtarly explained, by quoting Ulvi Gasanly, a board member of the "Nida" Civil Movement, why it was a kidnapping, and not just detention: "When we were at the 22nd police station, Mekhman was there; however, policemen failed to inform us or his family members that Mekhman had been detained. On the contrary, they concealed this fact."

The detention on January 16 of Rakhim Veliev, a "Nida" activist, was also treated by Mukhtarly as kidnapping. "Veliev was kidnapped straight from the street and taken first to the 18th police station, and then to the Narimanov District Police Department. There, policemen tortured him and demanded to delete his statuses from the Facebook social network," Mukhtarly described the events, referring to Elchin Sadygov, an advocate.

Afghan Mukhtarly also told about the kidnappings of journalists Ramin Deko, Seimur Khazi and Shirin Abbasov, as well as about the kidnappings in July 2014 of Faradj Kerimli and his brother Siradj, members of the "Musavat" Party.

Besides, as wrote Afghan Mukhtarly, in March 2006, Fikret Guseinli, a correspondent of the "Azadliq" newspaper, was severely beaten up and stabbed.

Bakheddin Khaziev, the editor of the "Bizim Yol" (Our Way) newspaper, was also attacked. In May 2006, unidentified men threw him into a car, put a bag over his head and began beating him. Both journalists were "punished" for their critical articles, Mukhtarly has stated.

In conclusion, Afghan Mukhtarly drew attention to the fact that in 2003, 2008 and 2013, the organization "Reporters Without Borders" (RWB) put the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliev, on the list of "Press Predators"; while in the democracy index of the international organization named "The Economist Intelligence Unit", Azerbaijan was placed 148th among 165 countries – in the last place among the Caucasian countries.

Although Mukhtarly himself associated his persecution with his corruption investigations in the Azerbaijani power, it is quite possible that the above article was one of the reasons for his kidnapping.

Biography

Afghan Mukhtarly was born on January 9, 1974, in the village of Ashagy Tala of the Zagatala District of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR).

He received his higher education as a lawyer in Georgia.

He works as a journalist, public activist and human rights defender for the "Yeni Musavat" and İWPR newspapers, and for the "Meydan TV", collaborated with the international journalistic network OCCRP (The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project).

He was awarded the Pavel Sheremet and Andrei Sakharov Prizes.

He and his wife, Leyla Mustafaeva, also a journalist, have two children.

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