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Azerbaijan Deports Former Tehran Regime Foe To Iran

BAKU -- The relatives of an elderly Iranian citizen who fought against the Iranian regime some 25 years ago say Azerbaijani border guards have deported him to Iran, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The relatives say Mahmud Ardahali, 71, was detained with a friend in Azerbaijan's western Qazakh district on July 15 and shortly thereafter deported to Iran.

Ardahali had no documents with him when he was apprehended. His friend was later released.

Ardahali's Azerbaijani wife, Gular Mursalayeva, told RFE/RL on July 27 that they had made contact with him via the Internet. On July 23, his daughter received an e-mail that said, among other things: "Don't waste time searching [in Azerbaijan] for your father, he is in Iran."

Mursalayeva said Ardahali is currently under house arrest at a friend's home in Iran and is awaiting a court decision on his case, which she said could lead to his execution.

Mursalayeva said her husband was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for political activity after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"He led an armed political movement and fought against the Iranian regime," she said.

Ardahali left Iran in 1988, lived in Turkey and Germany, and arrived in Azerbaijan in 1991. He has two children with Mursulayeva, who is his second wife.

She added that Ardahali was duped and taken back to Iran once before, where he was taken into custody. "He managed to escape during his trial in 2002,' she said, "otherwise he might have been executed."

Mursalayeva said Ardahali had appealed to several Azerbaijani bodies to obtain official documents, but the migration office did not give him either Azerbaijani citizenship or any other document.

Azerbaijani Migration Service deputy head Zarnishan Ahmadova told RFE/RL she knew nothing about Ardahali's deportation. She advised Mursalayeva to make an appeal to the service.

Independent legal analyst Erkin Qadirli noted that the European Human Rights Convention prohibits inhumane treatment or torture of prisoners.

"If any country is aware that a political migrant can face real danger [in another country] but hands him back anyway, it is violating the third provision of the [European rights] convention," Qadirli said. "In the event that the immigrant may face danger in Iran and the Azerbaijani government has returned him intentionally, it will have violated that provision."

Read more in Azeri here