EU urges Baku to respect freedom of speech

“The six-year sentence handed down to Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Azerbaijan by a court in Balakan on 12 January poses serious questions as regards the exercise of fundamental rights including the freedom of expression and media and due process of law in Azerbaijan, ” –  says the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the sentencing of the journalist.

“The alleged abduction of Mr Mukhtarli in Georgia followed by his arrest and prosecution in Azerbaijan continues to demand thorough and transparent investigation.”

“All cases of incarceration related to the exercise of fundamental rights should be reviewed urgently by Azerbaijan, followed by the release all of those concerned, in line with Azerbaijan’s international commitments.”

The OSCE has condemned the jailing of Azerbaijan journalist, and expressed hope the verdict to be overturned on appeal.

The US State Department issued a statement, being “disturbed” by sentencing of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli,  and urged Azerbaijan to release him:

A day after the journalist went missing in сaptial city of neighbouring Georgia, Tbilisi, in May 2017, Azerbaijani authorities declared him in custody in Baku on suspicion of smuggling and crossing the border illegally.

Muxtarli’s lawyers, Elcin Sadiqov and Nemat Karimli, told the court that their client was “abducted” in Georgia and illegally brought into Azerbaijan.

Defending  Mr Mukhtarli  both  lawyers insist the case is politically motivated and requested to drop all charges.

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