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RFE/RL Azerbaijani Reporter Deported From Exclave Via Iran


RFE/RL correspondent Yafez Hasanov
RFE/RL correspondent Yafez Hasanov
BAKU -- An RFE/RL correspondent has been deported from the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan through Iran after investigating the death of a man reportedly accused of spying for Tehran, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Yafez Hasanov traveled to Naxcivan on August 30 to interview family members of Turac Zeynalov, who was found dead at the territory's Ministry of National Security after being summoned there last week. Zeynalov's family said he was accused of "working for Iran."

Hasanov told RFE/RL that three men in a vehicle commonly used by state security agents stopped him on the street on August 31 and told him to get in.

"When I asked who they were, they didn’t say anything. They forced me into the car, took away my passport and demanded me to switch off my mobile," he said.

Hasanov said the men warned him not to report about the case since Zeynalov was "a traitor."

He said they drove him to the border and told him to return to Baku via Iran, warning him not to return to Naxcivan or "it would cost" him. Hasanov got a taxi in Iran and arrived in Baku on September 1.

RFE/RL is considered an illegal organization in Iran.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service sent a letter today to Azerbaijan's Human Rights Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova to ask her to investigate the incident.

Suleymanova has also asked the prosecutor-general and national security minister to investigate Zeynalov's death and report back to her.

RFE/RL President Steven Korn called the incident "outrageous, dangerous, and criminal," and said that "it warrants an explanation from the Azerbaijani government."