Azerbaijani journalist abducted in Georgia, lawyer says

Leyla Mustafayeva, wife of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 and now is in detention in Baku, attends a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
Updated 31 May 2017
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Azerbaijani journalist abducted in Georgia, lawyer says

BAKU, Azerbaijan: An independent Azerbaijani journalist has been abducted from Georgia, where he had been living, and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
A court in this former Soviet republic was due to hold a hearing later on Wednesday to arrest Afgan Mukhtarli, who is facing charges of smuggling and crossing the border illegally.
Mukhtarli, who is also a civil rights activist, had been living in neighboring Georgia for two years. His lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told The Associated Press the journalist was abducted outside his home Monday evening, beaten up and taken to the land border between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Sadigov claimed that the journalist’s captors planted 10,000 euros ($11,180) on him, which led to the charges.
Eldar Sultanov, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office, said the journalist was detained late on Monday “after illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border” with a large sum of money.
Mukhtarli left Azerbaijan in 2015, around the time when several Azerbaijani journalists working for foreign or local independent media faced charges of tax evasion.
Mukhtarli’s wife, Leila Mustafayeva, told the AP she was waiting for her husband at home Monday evening but he never showed up. Mustafayeva said her husband had been investigating Georgian business ties of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family.
“Naturally, this created resentment in the presidential family,” she said, insisting that her husband’s disappearance is connected to his investigation.
Several dozen journalists rallied in the capital, Tbilisi, demanding that Georgian authorities explain how they allowed the reported abduction to happen.
Giorgi Gogia, Human Rights Watch director of South Caucasus, in a statement described Mukhtarli’s disappearance as another step in the Azerbaijani government’s “relentless crackdown on critics.”


Head of Qatari opposition to launch community debate center in London

Updated 28 min 6 sec ago
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Head of Qatari opposition to launch community debate center in London

​LONDON: Khalid Al-Hail, spokesperson of the Qatari Opposition Movement, announced on Sunday the launch of his Majlis (Arab-styled Community Debate Center) in London, with the inauguration ceremony expected later this month.
​“I believe it is a great idea to launch this Majlis; where people can informally meet within an intellectually-inspiring and friendly atmosphere, to discuss, debate and exchange views and ideas on various political, strategic, and social issues.” said Al-Hail.
​“What’s more, I believe this initiative will be paramount in bringing together the British and Arabs residing in this country together, and help foster relations and accomplish a better mutual understanding, and strengthen the values of peaceful co-existence and tolerance.” Al-Hail added.

​“We also aim to enlighten the Qatari case, and introduce the views, values, and endeavours of the Qatari Opposition, in addition to creating a platform for constructive networking between Qataris and Arabs on the one side, and British experts and public opinion makers,” Al-Hail said.
​He also said “to achieve those goals, we will carry out various daily activities with live coverage, including speeches delivered by experts followed by Q&A sessions, presentations, documentaries, and round-table discussions.”
The Qatari Opposition Movement is a political movement striving for a peaceful change of the Qatari regime, and for a constitutional monarchy that embraces the time-honored values of the Qatari people, establishes a rule of law and institutions, and democracy in the country.