Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili commented on the case of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was kidnapped from Tbilisi in May, during a minority hearing in Parliament today. The Prime Minister was responding to a question asked by Movement for Liberty - European Georgia MP Elene Khoshtaria.
Mukhtarli, who was living in self-imposed exile in Georgia, was kidnapped by Azerbaijani security forces and brought to Baku, when he remains in detention on trumped up charges of smuggling money. Civil society loudly criticized the Georgian government, believing the government was complicit in the abduction as Mukhtarli was forcefully taken across the border without a passport.
“We admit that this was a very serious failure. Such a thing should not have happened. However the exact truth is still unknown. The fact itself [of the kidnapping] is a big failure. I think the response from our government -- we fired the chiefs of border police and counterintelligence -- was absolutely adequate. Their guilt wasn’t proven yet, however they have taken political responsibility for this case. The investigation is still ahead. We have approached Azerbaijani law enforcement authorities to exchange information as much as we can. No one can say what the result of the investigation will be. That’s why I will not take Mr. Mukhtarli’s statements as absolute truth,” Kvirikashvili said.
Mukhtarli’s lawyer had accused the Georgian government of violating international law by allowing Azerbaijani special forces to detain Mukhtarli while he was on Georgian territory. High-ranking Georgian officials including the prime minister, interior minister, and justice minister denied allegations that the Georgian authorities had any involvement in or knowledge of the abduction.