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EU Lawmaker Wants Independent Probe Into Case Of Azerbaijani Journalist


German member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms (file photo)

TBILISI -- A European Parliament member who is visiting Georgia has called for an independent investigation into the treatment of an Azerbijani journalist who says he was abducted in Tbilisi and taken to Azerbaijan against his will.

German lawmaker Rebecca Harms spoke to RFE/RL in Tbilisi on July 17.

Harms said that she plans to speak to Azerbaijani authorities about Afqan Muxtarli, who is now in pretrial detention in Azerbaijan.

Muxtarli and his wife fled to Georgia in 2015, fearing for their safety in connection with his reporting on suspected corruption in President Ilham Aliyev's circle.

Muxtarli, 43, was reported missing in Tbilisi on May 29, and Azerbaijani authorities later said he was in custody in Baku on suspicion of illegally crossing the border and smuggling money.

His wife, Leyla Mustafayeva, told journalists on July 16 that she provided Tbilisi police with photographs of Azerbaijani citizens who might have been following her husband in Tbilisi before he went missing.

EU and U.S. officials have expressed concerns over Muxtarli's safety and called on Azerbaijani authorities to release the journalist.

International rights defenders and Western governments have criticized longtime president Aliyev's government over persistent clampdowns targeting independent journalists and activists.

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