Afgan Mukhtari's wife rejects Georgian citizenship offered by PM
The Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, called on the country’s president to immediately grant citizenship to the family of Afgan Mukhtarli, the Azerbaijani journalist who was recently abducted in Georgia and later found in detention in Baku. However, Afgan Mukhtarli’s wife, Leila Mustafaeva, has rejected the offer.
According to Leila Mustafaeva, she appealed for a residence permit in Georgia a year ago, but her request was turned down, whereas naturalization is absolutely unacceptable for her.
“It implies that we should give up on our country’s citizenship, and I don’t want to do this. Last year, I appealed for a residence permit in Georgia, but I was told that we were involved in some dangerous activities and my appeal was rejected. So, what has changed now? Am I no longer a dangerous person? I would like to call on journalists to refrain from staging a show for the journalist’s [her husband -ed] abduction case. And also, law-enforcement agencies should investigate the case more carefully,” said Mustafaeva.
As Leila Mustafaeva told JAMnews, she had a conversation with the Georgian Interior Minister, during which she personally turned down the citizenship offer. The discussion also focused on the ongoing investigation and the Mukhtarli family safety issue.
“He [the Interior Minister] said they would spare no effort to ensure our safety, and, if necessary, would take some additional measures, including the allocation of additional border guard officers and installation of CCTV cameras, etc.
“As for the investigation, until yesterday we haven’t had any information on the progress of the investigation. As the Interior Minister reported, they had already seized the CCTV camera records,” said Mustafaeva.
Leila Mustafaeva is in Tbilisi now and is expected to stay here for a certain period of time. Leila Mustafaeva says it will be safer to live in Tbilisi while the investigation into her husband’s case is underway.
Premier Kvirikashvili released a special statement on 3 June, saying the situation surrounding the case was damaging the country’s image. In his words, it was in the Georgian state’s interest to ensure maximum transparency of the investigation.
“As a nation, we have gone through a hard path [been through tough times -ed] and made great progress, and today we are a democratic, constitutional state aspiring to join European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, sharing their values, upholding the rule of law, and protecting human rights. We will in no way give up this achievement, and we will spare no effort to protect the rights of every individual irrespective of their citizenship or political affiliation.
“I would also like to state that the Government of Georgia and the Ministry of Justice are fully prepared to support the wife and children of Afgan Mukhtarli in resolving all necessary legal procedures, upon their request. I also ask the President of Georgia to make an exception in light of this extraordinary situation and grant, as soon as possible, Georgian citizenship to Afgan Mukhtarli’s wife and children,” stated Kvirikashvili.
Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani opposition journalist and activist, left Azerbaijan in 2014 and moved to Georgia, where he was granted a residence permit. While in Azerbaijan, he was frequently subjected to governmental pressure due to his journalistic activity. Some of his claims are currently under discussion in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). He has recently been cooperating with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Meydan.tv.
Afgan Mukhtarli disappeared in Tbilisi late on 29 May, and was later found to have been detained by Azerbaijani law-enforcers. Meanwhile, Mukhtarli claims that he was abducted by Georgian special service officers, who put a bag over his head and transferred him to the Azerbaijani law-enforcers. The Baku court sentenced him to a three-month pre-trial detention for border trespassing, smuggling and resisting law-enforcers. Mukhtarli claims that the ‘smuggled’ amount of EUR 10,000 was placed in his pocket at the border.