Azerbaijani political emigrant arrested after arriving home
Opposition Musavat party member Azad Hasanov was arrested on 12 October two days after returning to Baku from Lithuania on charges of drug trafficking. His fellow party members consider the arrest to be political.
Hasanov has actively participated in the activities of Musavat since 2003, was detained several times by the police and in 2014 was granted political asylum in Lithuania.
On 10 October 2018 he returned to Azerbaijan to visit his father who was seriously ill. He safely crossed the border, visited his father, and the next day went to the mosque to pray. After exiting the mosque, several people in civilian clothes nabbed Hasanov, shoved him into a vehicle and took him to an unknown destination.
It only became known the next day that he had been arrested. The prosecution claims that Hasanov was found to have four grams of heroin in his possession, which carries a prison term of five to 12 years.
Lawyer Osman Kazimov stated that the grounds for the accusation were dubious, and that the rights of Hasanov, such as being allowed to contact his relatives, were not respected during the arrest.
The Khatai District Court confirmed Hasanov’s arrest. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs refused to comment on the arrest, citing a lack of information.
Hasanov’s wife, Tarana, stated that he continued his opposition activities while living in Lithuania.
“When he left for Baku to visit his father, he only bought a one-way ticket. He said [what if] they say [something], and suddenly they won’t let me back? I think he foresaw this arrest,” says Tarana Hasanova and adds that she intends to appeal to the Lithuanian state structures for help.
This is not the first time that opposition activists in Azerbaijan have been arrested for drug trafficking. The most prominent case was that of Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov who received 10 years in prison in 2016 on a similar charge.
Video: Ibrahimov and Mammadov’s mothers talk about their sons’ arrest