The US Department of State issued an official statement on January 12 urging the government of Azerbaijan to release imprisoned journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.
Mukhtarli was kidnapped from Tbilisi in May 2017, where he was living in self-imposed exile, by Azerbaijani security forces. A Baku court sentenced him to a six-year prison term on January 12 for resisting police, illegally crossing the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, and smuggling 10,000 euro across the border. Mukhtarli denies the charges.
In its official statement, the US Department of State repeats its calls on the Government of Georgia to have a transparent and timely investigation into Afgan Mukhtarli’s abduction.
The full version of the statement reads as follows:
“The United States is disturbed by the January 12 sentencing of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli to a six-year prison term. Mr. Mukhtarli was reportedly abducted in Georgia on May 30 and subsequently arrested in Azerbaijan on smuggling and related charges, widely considered to be politically motivated.
We urge the government of Azerbaijan to release Mr. Mukhtarli and all those incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms.
We continue to closely follow the Georgian investigation into the reported abduction, and reiterate our call that it be full, transparent, and timely.”
Mukhtarli’s wife, Leyla Mustafaeva blamed Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and the Georgian government for taking part in the cross-border crime: