US demands release of investigative reporter held by Azerbaijan

Journalists attend a rally Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, to support an Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 and now is in detention in the Azerbaijan capital Baku. (AP)

The US State Department has demanded that Azerbaijan release an investigative journalist who was reportedly abducted this week in Georgia and then handed over to Azerbaijan, where he was placed in detention.

“The United States is disturbed by the reported abduction in Tbilisi, Georgia, and subsequent arrest in Azerbaijan of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli on May 30,” said a statement from State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

The statement also expressed concern over the May 25 arrest in Azerbaijan of Gozal Bayramli, deputy chair of the opposition Popular Front Party.

It urged Azerbaijan “to release all those incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms.”

The State Department and international non-governmental organizations regularly criticize Azerbaijan for infringing on human rights and press freedom. Just as regularly, the administration of President Ilham Aliyev rejects the complaints.

The State Department said it was “closely following” the investigation of 43-year-old Mukhtarli and said it should be timely and transparent.

The government in Tbilisi denied any link to the abduction.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49