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07.12.2017

UK MPs demand fair trial for kidnapped journalist

By Jane Whyatt

Eleven British Members of Parliament from almost all the different political parties are backing a motion in support of kidnapped journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.

UK MPs demand fair treatment for Afgan Mukhtarli Early Day Motion in support of kidnapped journalist

The MPs are reminding Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that Azerbaijan, where Mukhtarli is being held, has signed the European Convention on Human Rights. Their message is:  “to advise the Azerbaijani Government that the role of journalism should be respected and that fears of reports of wrongdoing within government should not lead to persecution of the messengers.“ Inspired by Sir Peter Bottomley, a veteran Conservative former Cabinet Minister, the Early Day Motion expresses concern about the fair treatment of Mukhtarli. He is an investigative journalist who was probing allegations of corruption involving the Azerbaijani President and First Family. Under pressure from the authorities, he fled to Georgia with his journalist wife Leyla Mustafayeva and their child. It was there that the abductors snatched him from the street in the Georgian capital Tbilisi  on 29th May 2017 and drove him to Azerbaijan.

Allegations of torture in pre-trial detention

After six months in pre-trial detention, during which time Mukhtarli is believed to have been tortured, his trial has started in Balakan, a remote border region. The Azerbaijani authorities accuse him of illegally crossing the frontier and currency smuggling.

At the hearing, his former colleague, the award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova took part in the trial. She told the BBC Azerbaijan service that Mukhtarli’s defence requested that fingerprints be taken from the banknotes that are alleged to have been smuggled and that footage from cameras at the border posts be taken as evidence. These requests were not allowed by the court.

Mukhtarli is due to appear in court again on 14th December.





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