Imprisoned investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli has been questioned with respect to criminal proceedings launched against Gozal Bayramli, deputy chair of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party (PFAP).
Mukhtarli wrote about this in a letter he sent to Bastainfo. He said that during the questioning he was asked about Dashgin Aghalarli, who currently resides in Georgia, and Farman Jeyranli, the founder of the clinic Lancet, who is in jail in Georgia.
Afgan Mukhtarli is being held in Baku Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 1. He said in his letter that the investigator mainly asked him questions about his relations with Gozal Bayramli and Gozal Bayramli’s meetings in Georgia:
“In response to the questions, I said that Gozal khanim had been arrested as a result of being slandered. People working for the government had planted money in her bag. I do not know if Gozal Bayramli had attended any events in Georgia.
“The essence of the questions shows clearly once again that the Azerbaijani government monitors Dashgin Agalarli and Azerbaijani activists and journalists living in Georgia. Azerbaijan is persistent in bringing Azerbaijani activists and journalists to Azerbaijan at any cost, either by having them arrested or by abducting them.”
Mukhtarli wrote that the questions the Azerbaijani Prosecutor’s Office asked him about Farman Jeyranli suggested that the doctor was arrested on orders from the Azerbaijani government. The journalist addressed international organizations:
“Farman Jeyranli is a political prisoner. I am asking international organizations – the European Union and the Council of Europe – to keep an eye on the safety of Azerbaijani activists and journalists who live in Georgia. I also ask them to increase pressure on the Georgian government to make it unconditionally release Farman Jeyranli soon.”
Afgan Mukhtarli was mysteriously taken from Tbilisi to Baku on 29 May.
The journalist says he was abducted in Georgia, while authorities say that he had illegally crossed the border and was detained in Azerbaijan.
He is charged with the use of force against a representative of the government, illegal crossing of the border, and smuggling.
Georgia also launched criminal proceedings after Afgan Mukhtarli was taken to Azerbaijan and arrested. The president of this country received the journalist’s wife to hear her complaints.
Afgan Mukhtarli’s case has been combined with criminal proceedings launched against Meydan TV.
Gozal Bayramli was detained a few days before he was arrested. She was detained upon her return from Georgia on 25 May.
The investigations and research department of the State Border Service launched criminal proceedings under Article 206.1 (smuggling) of the Criminal Code.
On 26 May, the Sabail district court sentenced her to three months in prison. Later, the duration of the arrest was extended.
An official statement alleges that $12,000 were found undeclared in her baggage when she was travelling back from Georgia.
Gozal Bayramli and the PFAP, which she represents, believe that the arrest was politically motivated.
Farman Jeyranli, who was arrested on 22 May, is charged under Point 1 of Article 247 of the Criminal Code (concealing of information that is dangerous for one’s life and health) and Part 3 of Point B of Article 180 (attempted mass fraud).
Jeyranli said that the charges against him are trumped up and that he has nothing to do with what he is accused of. He said that his arrest was politically motivated and that he is not liable for the acts listed in the official charges.
The defense said the fraud charge is unfounded.