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Journalism Watchdog Calls For Release Of Azerbaijani Reporter

Afqan Muxtarli is brought to court in Baku in June.
Afqan Muxtarli is brought to court in Baku in June.

The journalism watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for the immediate release of Afqan Muxtarli, an investigative journalist who was abducted in Georgia and detained in Azerbaijan three months ago.

The group on August 29 condemned Baku's "persecution of independent journalists like Muxtarli," who had been living in exile in Tbilisi when he was kidnapped on May 29.

The group said Muxtarli was in good health despite being diabetic and having high blood pressure, but his lawyers and wife say he has lost 21 kilograms since his abduction and has at times been denied medical access and family visits.

A Baku court just extended his provisional detention until October 21, the group said.

Muxtarli's "detention is a disgrace for both Azerbaijan and Georgia," said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. "Not only is no one able to explain how it began, but now it is being extended in defiance of the most elementary humanitarian principles."

"We again appeal to the Azerbaijani authorities to free this journalist at once and to drop the trumped-up charges brought against him. And the Georgian authorities must shed all possible light on how he came to be abducted,” Bihr said.

Muxtarli, who worked for the Meydan TV independent news website, often wrote about high-level government corruption.