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Activist arrested in Azerbaijan following deportation from Germany

21 April 2022
Samir Ashurov. Image via Facebook.

An Azerbaijani political activist who had sought asylum in Germany has been arrested three weeks after German authorities deported him.

Samir Ashurov, 38, was detained by Azerbaijani police on Wednesday. He is accused of stabbing a man named Elshan. 

On Thursday, Ashurov’s lawyer told Turan that he had been charged with deliberate causing of serious harm to health and faced 6–11 years in prison if convicted. He has been remanded into custody for four months.

Ashurov was deported along with his wife, Nurana Ashurova, on 29 March, according to Ashurov, after the German authorities denied their asylum request.

In a post on Facebook, Ashurova said that her husband had called her on Tuesday evening to say he was coming home, after which he could not be reached. 

‘In the morning, the news came that Samir was in the Nizami District Police Department and is suspected of stabbing a stranger’, she wrote.

Nurana Ashurova also said her husband was on hunger strike and had been tortured while in detention. ‘[He] has marks on his chest and head’, she said.

‘It is very clear that this is an “ordered arrest”, and it is known that it is a fabrication’, she added.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Elshad Hajiyev told Turan that the allegations of torture were understandable and defensive in nature. ‘These are his own marks. Samir Ashurov could never be pressured by the police’, he said.

Following his return to Azerbaijan, Ashurov was summoned to the Prosecutor General’s Office as a witness in an illegal migration case. In an interview with journalists on the same day, Ashurov speculated that he would be arrested on false charges in the coming days.

Ashurov first sought asylum in Germany in 2018 after being arrested twice on charges of disobeying police after taking part in anti-government protests.

At the time, he was a member of the opposition ReAl Party. 

Ashurov continued to take part in protests against the Azerbaijani government in Germany.

In recent years, dozens of Azerbaijani political activists have been deported from European countries, especially Germany.

There have been numerous reports on social media that those being returned have faced pressure from the police, though the authorities deny this.

In the past year, at least four people who were deported from Germany to Azerbaijan have been arrested on drug charges, which their relatives insist are fabricated. 

The government claims there are no political arrests or prisoners in Azerbaijan.

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