Rauf Mirkadyrov: Azerbaijani Authorities Should Drop Charges of Espionage against Me

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on September 17 will announce a decision on the complaint of Azerbaijani journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov against the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey, the European Court said.

 

The case concerns his arrest and imprisonment on charges of high treason. During Mirkadyrov’s residence in Turkey, the authorities of this country in April 2014 deprived him of his journalistic accreditation and residence permit, after which he was deported to Azerbaijan.

 

Will the process in the European Court affect the international image of Azerbaijan, did Mirkadyrov receive a proposal to make peace with official Baku, can Baku take revenge on Mirkadyrov through his relatives living here, or declare him on the international wanted list?

 

Rauf Mirkadyrov answered these questions from Turan from Zurich (Switzerland).

 

“First, I’ll make it clear,” Mirkadyrov says. “At the moment, the European Court is going to announce the decision on my first complaint, concerning the illegal arrest in Turkey and my transfer to Azerbaijan. It was a kidnapping, an illegal process, since I left Turkey before the end of my permitted stay. I did not violate my status in Turkey.

 

 

I was leaving by bus to Georgia, but it was stopped by submachine gunners, they took me out of the vehicle in front of my 4-year-old daughter, so can you imagine her shock? We were not allowed to meet with a lawyer or go to court. In Turkey, you can do this even at night. They were not sure that the judge would deny them the right to arrest me.

 

In the morning I was put on a plane and sent to Baku, and it was a joint operation of the law enforcement agencies of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and in fact it was a kidnapping.

 

This is my first complaint to the European Court. I made this complaint while still in detention in Baku.

 

The second complaint concerns the government of Azerbaijan, actions during the investigation and trial. It is about violations of the law by the investigator and the judge. This complaint was filed several years ago. I did not take these complaints, despite the fact that I was released and I live in Switzerland. Therefore, I did not withdraw the claims, because human rights violations concern not only me. The more lawsuits for violation of human rights, the fewer such crimes.

 

I lost two years of my life due to the fault of the Azerbaijani law enforcement system. My health is undermined, I am constantly being treated for various diseases, my family experienced a huge shock, and I lost my father. My family was not allowed to leave Turkey for Switzerland. They spent the whole day at the Turkish airport and after the intervention of European diplomats they were able to take off on an evening flight. Such things cannot be forgotten and cannot be forgiven.

 

 

-What are you trying to achieve?

 

– I am still officially considered a traitor to the Motherland, an Armenian spy. This charge must be dropped, and I will sue them until my name is cleared.

 

It’s not just about me. There are many violations of human rights in our country. An example is Tofig Yagublu. Both his daughters were in prison, one died, and he is a political prisoner, a war hero. Instead of showing his family as an example for all Azerbaijanis to follow, the authorities seek to destroy and morally break the Yagublu family. This must end. Such litigation should be ongoing.

 

After my release, the German Ambassador told me that it is very difficult to prove the espionage charge to a journalist because the journalist works with information. In my case, a journalist was arrested and convicted for espionage, and then released. And they released me as a petty hooligan, under a conditional article.

 

Anyone in Azerbaijan can be convicted of anything. This is absurd, grotesque. We have to end this absurdity. There is no rule of law in the country. If we remain silent, this will happen to many, we will open the way for new crimes. It is necessary to create an atmosphere of intolerance towards such events, at least through external pressure on the country’s authorities.

 

– Aren’t you afraid that you might be put on the wanted list, as they did in relation to a number of political emigrants recently?

 

-Azerbaijan can put me on the wanted list. But I have the status of a political emigrant. If a wanted list is announced, I will turn to the Swiss authorities and they will achieve the cancellation of the search. You cannot declare a wanted list in Interpol for persons with the status of a politically persecuted person.

 

 

– Under what conditions are you ready to make peace with the authorities?

 

– I have not received any offers to make peace with the Azerbaijani authorities. The question is purely legal. The point is that I am charged with a grave crime against the state, this charge should be dropped. Azerbaijan can, on its own initiative, consider my case and drop this charge. Then a second lawsuit can be avoided. If these issues find their legal solution in Azerbaijan, there will be no need to appeal to the European Court.

 

I received hints through friends and acquaintances about the possibility of my return to Azerbaijan and work in my homeland. But I cannot trust the authorities, who officially consider me a criminal. They have violated such agreements many times.

 

-Will the process in the European Court affect the international image of Azerbaijan?

 

– I understand that my complaints are unlikely to change anything in the international image of Azerbaijan. This image is below the baseboard. The story of Tofig Yagublu is a vivid confirmation. We need to think about how to improve this image, for this we need to make a decision on my and other issues, so that in the future new political prisoners do not appear. Consideration of such processes in the European Court is a step towards correcting the legal situation in Azerbaijan.

 

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In December 2015, the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced Mirkadyrov to six years in prison. In March 2016, the Baku Court of Appeal replaced the actual sentence with a suspended sentence.

 

During pre-trial detention, he was banned from telephone conversations, meetings and correspondence with anyone other than lawyers. Local courts dismissed his pre-trial detention and restraint appeals.

 

In July 2014, the Ministry of National Security and the General Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement in which, without any court decision, they presented Mirkadyrov as an agent of the Armenian intelligence service.

 

The applicant asked for recognizing a violation by the Azerbaijani government of his rights under Art. 5 (right to liberty and security), 6.2 (presumption of innocence), art. 8 (right to respect for private and family life), p. 10 (freedom of expression) and art. 18 (Limits on the use of restrictions on rights) and a violation by the Turkish government of Art. 5 and 10.

 

Source: Turan News Agency

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