Azerbaijan has expelled a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher after barring him from entering the country to attend the trial of two rights activists.
The New York-based group says officials gave no reason for holding Georgi Gogia for 31 hours at Baku’s international airport and for sending him back to Georgia on March 31.
HRW Europe and Central Asia director Hugh Williamson said barring Gogia from attending hearings for Rasul Cafarov and Intiqam Aliyev “shows just how far Azerbaijan’s authorities have taken their crackdown on human rights.”
Human rights lawyer Aliyev is on trial on charges of tax evasion, abuse of power, illegal business activities, and embezzlement.
Jafarov faces similar charges. He had planned a campaign to draw attention to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan ahead of the European Games, which Azerbaijan will host in June.
HRW says President Ilham Aliyev's government has used a range of bogus criminal charges in the last year to arrest or imprison at least 35 human rights defenders, political and civil activists, journalists, and bloggers.