Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, expressed “profound concern over the alleged abduction and ill-treatment in custody of Azerbaijani journalist and human rights defender Afgan Mukhtarli.”
“The allegations of the ill-treatment of Afgan Mukhtarli and the circumstances of his return to Azerbaijan should be thoroughly investigated to establish the facts of his case, and should be duly considered in judicial review,” the ODIHR Director said on June 8. “Any identified abuses of power or criminal actions by law-enforcement authorities should be investigated, and anyone responsible for such actions should be held legally responsible.”
“ODIHR will continue to follow this exceptional case,” Director Link added. “If the criminal charges against Afgan Mukhtarli are shown to be based on contrived evidence, or actions compelled under duress or ill-treatment, the authorities must swiftly drop the case against him and release him.”
Similar messages were voiced by Bärbel Kofler, German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, who issued a statement on June 6, saying she is “deeply concerned by reports concerning the abduction of the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was living in exile in Georgia, and his unlawful detention by Azerbaijan’s security authorities.”
“This case must therefore be investigated quickly and transparently, both by the Georgian and Azerbaijani sides,” Kofler said and added that she welcomes the investigation launched by the Georgian Government.
Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist, who went missing on May 29 from Tbilisi and appeared in a detention facility in Baku a day later, said on May 30 that he was forced into a car close to his house in Tbilisi by unidentified persons, whom he believes were representatives of the Georgian security services, and was later taken across the border to Azerbaijan.