A few days before disappearing, Afgan Mukhtarli mentioned in an interview with JAMnews that it was unsafe to stay in Georgia
Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli is still missing after leaving his apartment yesterday in Tbilisi. His wife, Leila Mustafayeva, has already informed the police. Afgan has been living in Tbilisi for more than a year, reportedly due to issues with the Azerbaijani government related to his journalistic activity.
Last week, JAMnews prepared a comprehensive report on Azerbaijani political refugees having found shelter in Georgia, with Afgan being one of the characters of the report. In his conversation with JAMnews, he reported that Azerbaijani activists had been experiencing difficulties from the Georgian authorities over the last 6-7 months.
JAMnews contacted a friend of Afgan, Dashgin Agararli, an Azeri activist who is also seeking political shelter in Georgia and currently resides in Tbilisi.
He appears to be the last person to have seen his missing fellow journalist:
“It was just over 7 pm, we were sitting in the “Local Taste” café on Liberty Square. Afgan called his wife and asked whether he should fetch anything on his way home. His wife told him to buy bread. Immediately after the phone call we went outside. I remained at the nearby station, while Afgan was supposed to cross the street. My route taxi came shortly and I left. That was the last time anybody saw Afgan, and he didn’t return to his place,” Agararli says.
According to him, there had recently been increased persecution of journalists that has fled from Azerbaijan and who are now living in Georgia.
“We have constantly felt like we are being surveiled, with some people permanently shadowing us. Afgan once managed to photograph them. They weren’t Georgians, and spoke Azerbaijani, and we could make out snatches of conversation due to the extremely short distance between us,” he says.
JAMnews contacted the MIA Press Service, who reported that the information will be published later.