Senior UK politician’s concern for jailed journalist Afghan Mukhtarli

By Jane Whyatt

British Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan has expressed conern over the imprisoned investigative journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, in a written answer published on the House of Commons website. Sir Alan is Number Two at the Foreign Office, second in command to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. He is the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas.

Senior UK politician's concern for Afgan Mukhtarli Sir Alan Duncan. Photo: Chris McAndrew, Official portrait of Sir Alan Duncan crop 2, CC BY 3.0

We have serious concerns about Afghan Mukhtarli's alleged abduction in Georgia. Our Embassy in Tbilisi has raised the circumstances of Mr Mukhtarli's abduction with the Georgian authorities, and we have urged the Georgian Government to conduct an open and transparent investigation into this incident as soon as possible. 

We also consider Afghan Mukhtarli's trial and sentencing at the Balakan District Court in Azerbaijan to be politically motivated and part of a pattern of convictions of journalists, political and human rights activists in Azerbaijan. We continue to call on the Government of Azerbaijan to review the case urgently. Our Embassy in Baku will continue to raise Afghan Mukhtarli's case with the Azerbaijani authorities, including any allegations of mistreatment in prison. We are aware of Mr Mukhtarli's request to attend the funerals of family members who died recently in tragic circumstances.

Sir Alan’s statement refers to the unexplained deaths on New Year’s Eve 2017 of Afgan Mukhtarli’s sister Nurana and two of his nieces. The journalist has requested permission to attend their memorial service.

Meydan TV under cyber-attack 

Meanwhile his former employer, Meydan TV, has been hit by a cyber attack that wiped out one-fifth of its Facebook posts. This follows an earlier incident in which Meydan TV videos were removed from YouTube because of alleged copyright infringement – even though the content had been created by Meydan’s own reporters and  complied with the ’fair use’ rules.They believe this is an example of a new tactic by the Azerbeijani government and tey have reported on other examples of independent journalists and news websites being targeted with DDoS attacks ( DDOs stands for Distributed Denial of Service: this occurs when a website is bombarded with automated requests from hostile users, causing the website to crash).

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