A Ukrainian court has ruled to hold Azerbaijani journalist Fikrat Huseynli in custody for an additional 18 days, while they consider an Azerbaijani extradition request.
Kyiv’s Boryspil City Court made the ruling on 17 October, three days after the journalist was detained at Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport.
Huseynli fled Azerbaijan in 2008 and received political asylum in the Netherland, he now has Dutch citizenship. He was detained on 14 October accused by the authorities in Baku of fraud and ‘illegally crossing the border’. He was planning to travel to Düsseldorf from Kyiv.
According to Caucasian Knot, Huseynli was told at the border control he is wanted on an Interpol red notice issued by Azerbaijan.
Huseynli has denied the accusations against him, claiming he is being persecuted for his journalistic work. ‘They detained me and accused me of illegally crossing the border of Azerbaijan’, he wrote on Facebook.
According to Huseynli’s lawyer Yalchin Gahraman, the defence ‘did not have time to submit documents which would prove that Huseynli has been persecuted in Azerbaijan for his professional journalistic activities’.
The Dutch Consul in Kyiv say they are preparing documents confirming that Huseynli has been granted asylum in the country, Gahraman told Caucasian Knot.
Huseynli has reportedly been transferred to Lukyanivska Prison, a pre-detention facility in Kyiv’s central neighbourhood.
Rights group Freedom House said the journalist was detained ‘due to Azerbaijan’s misuse of Interpol’, and urged Ukrainian authorities to release him.
‘The accusations of Huseynli’s wrongdoing cited by Interpol show how Azerbaijan and other authoritarian governments abuse the Interpol system to persecute political opponents, journalists, and human rights activists’, Marc Behrendt, director of Eurasia programmes at Freedom House, stated on 17 October. He called on Interpol to ‘carefully investigate’ each request for a ‘Red Notice’ to prevent these abuses.