Society 15:54 10/02/2018 Region

Afgan Mukhtarli says he is the victim of business interests of Azerbaijani president and Georgian businessman

Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli asserts that his kidnapping from Tbilisi last year took place with the direct participation of influential businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili (the former prime minister of Georgia) and with the agreement of current Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Jam News reported.

Mukhtarli, who was sentenced to six years in prison in Azerbaijan, was released for two days from prison in order to attend a memorial ceremony for his close relatives. At the end of December last year, Mukhtarli’s sister and her two children were found dead in their apartment. An official investigation was conducted which stated the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mukhtarli gave an interview to Rustavi 2 shortly after being released, and said that before he was kidnapped from Tbilisi he was busy with research looking into the mutual business interests of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“While I was in Georgia, I was studying the businesses of Ilham Aliyev. He has big assets in the tourism sphere in Georgia. He has several hotels and land plots in Georgia. He owns the Silk Way airline company and the Silk Way organization in Georgia. His main partner in Georgia is Bidzina Ivanishvili. I am a victim mainly of their business interests. I encountered problems when I touched upon this issue,” stated Mukhtarli.

The journalist claims that his kidnapping in Georgia was agreed upon with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

“The judicial process in Georgia is transparent. That’s why, obeying the rule of law, Georgia was unable to hand me over to Azerbaijan, and for that reason they had to kidnap me. Without the permission of the Prime Minister they would not have been able to get me across the border,” stated Mukhtarli.

Mukhtarli says he intends to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“Kvirikashvili must take responsibility for what has been done,” says Mukhtarli.

Mukhtarli’s statements did not miss the attention of Georgian officials.

“After saying such words, I am entirely indifferent to the fate of Afgan Mukhtarli. He is acting dishonorably to my country and its authorities,” said Zviad Kvachantirazde, a representative of the parliamentary majority.

“I am critical of the fact that the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping has still not been clarified, and, consequently, we do not know how he was kidnapped, even if he was kidnapped at all … Is there any evidence of his kidnapping, of what he and his spouse talk about? No, no evidence! For that reason, all their statements are irresponsible,” says Kvachantiradze.

“Afgan Mukhtarli’s statement which says that he was kidnapped and given over to the Azerbaijani side on the order of the Prime Minister is rather absurd,” says the Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, Tamar Khulordava. She says that there are suspicions that these statements are being promulgated by individuals who are interested in worsening relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia.

To remind, Afgan Mukhtarli, an investigative journalist and human rights activist who had been living in Tbilisi, Georgia since 2015, went missing on 29 May. He was kidnapped in the Georgian capital Tbilisi by a group of unknown men, beaten up and taken forcibly to the Azeri-Georgian border, where he was detained by Azeri police.

The European Parliament, the US Department of State and number of international watchdogs called for immediate and unconditional release of the journalist, citing risks of torture and other ill-treatment in a detention facility in Baku persecuting Mukhtarli solely for his work as a journalist.



Source Panorama.am
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