Azerbaijani journalist who vanished from Tbilisi in 2017 granted victim’s status

Until now, Afgan Mukhtarli was involved in the investigation process only as a witness. Photo: Tornike Mandaria/RFE/RL., 23 Apr 2021 - 14:31, Tbilisi,Georgia

Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted by unidentified individuals from Tbilisi on May 29, 2017 and surfaced in an Azerbaijani prison several days later, has been granted victim’s status, reports human rights organisation Rights Georgia.

Until now, Mukhtarli was involved in the investigation process only as a witness.

Four years after the abduction, the prosecutor's office granted Mukhtarli victim’s status, which means legal recognition by the state that the journalist was definitely abducted from Tbilisi with the participation of several people. Now that he has been granted the status, Mukhtarli has the right to request special protection if his close relative’s/family members' lives, health and/or property are in danger”, Mukhtarli’s lawyer Archil Chopikashvili told

In addition, the investigation is now looking into ‘deprivation of liberty with prior agreement by a group’, instead of ‘illegal deprivation of liberty.’

In a Facebook post published on April 20 Mukhtarli wrote that although serious progress had been made by the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office, he does not believe the investigation will be fair.

Mukhtarli, who accuses Georgian law enforcement agencies and the Azerbaijani authorities of kidnapping him from Tbilisi, arrived from Germany to Georgia on April 7 to testify to the country’s Prosecutor’s Office about his disappearance from Tbilisi back in 2017. 

In addition to his testimony, Mukhtarli has guided investigators along the route of his abduction from Tbilisi to the Lagodekhi-Belakani section of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border, where he was handed over to the Azerbaijani side.

During questioning at the Prosecutor’s Office on April 9, Mukhtarli named several individuals, involving Azerbaijani and Georgian high-officials, who allegedly were involved in his abduction from Tbilisi. 

Afgan Mukhtarli and his family went into exile in Georgia in 2015 amid fears for their safety over Mukhtarli’s investigations into Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family businesses.

Mukhtarli was reported missing by his wife in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on the evening of May 29, 2017.

The next morning, regional media reported that Mukhtarli had ended up in the custody of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan.

Soon after his abduction Mukhtarli accused Georgia’s law enforcement agencies of helping Azerbaijan to abduct him.

Mukhtarli was sentenced to six years in Azerbaijani prison but was released in March 2020, after which he travelled to Germany, where his family had been granted asylum.