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March 9, 2018  15:10

CPJ alarmed as Azeri opposition journalist battered in Kiev, faces extradition to Baku

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Ukraine to allow Fikret Huseynli, a journalist of Azerbaijani origin and a Dutch national, to leave the country safely.

STEPANAKERT, MARCH 9, ARTSAKHPRESS-ARMENPRESS:Huseynli, a correspondent for the Azeri opposition Turan TV channel, was attacked by unknown assailants at an apartment building he was renting in Kiev, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Ukrainian authorities on October 14, 2017, detained Huseynli, under an Interpol red notice requested by Azerbaijan. Ukraine law enforcement agencies confiscated his travel documents as he was attempting to fly out of Kiev.

A Kiev court on October 27 ordered the journalist's release on bail, but ruled that Huseynli should remain in Ukraine for two months while the prosecutor general's office investigated Azerbaijan's extradition request.

Ukrainian courts have twice extended the investigation term; the new deadline is March 20, 2018, according to the journalist.

In Azerbaijan, Huseynli is wanted for allegedly illegally crossing the border, fraud, and forgery. Speaking to CPJ, he denied all the charges, and said the prosecution was related to his journalism. The correspondent has covered Azeri pressures on opposition politicians, corruption, and has criticized the country’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Huseynli said his assailants were speaking both Ukrainian and Azeri.

They beat him with their hands and knocked him to the floor, bruising his legs and throat, and breaking his dental bridge.

"We call on Ukrainian authorities to immediately return travel documents to Fikret Huseynli and allow him to leave Ukraine," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "Kiev must not be complicit with Azerbaijan authorities' persecution of critics beyond its borders. We also call on Ukrainian police to investigate the March 5 physical attack on Huseynli, and bring the perpetrators to justice

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