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Azerbaijani journalist ‘threatened at knifepoint’ over child murder investigation

10 May 2022
Ayten Mammadova at her home following the attack. Image via Meydan TV.

An Azerbaijani journalist has said she was threatened at knifepoint to stop her from investigating the abduction and murder of a 10-year-old girl.

According to Aytan Mammadova, she was attacked by an unknown assailant on the night of 8 May in the elevator of her home in Baku.

‘He grabbed my neck and held a knife to my throat. He said, “you will not write about the case” ’, Mammadova told reporters. ‘He threatened my daughter, but did not specify what he was threatening me about’.

Immediately after the attack, the journalist dialed the emergency number, and the police arrived at the scene shortly after to take Mammadova’s statement. The next day, the journalist underwent medical examinations.

Mammadova said she was threatened for reporting on the abduction of 10-year-old Narmin Guliyeva in the village of Dondar Guschchu in the region of Tovuz. Authorities discovered the child’s burnt body in the village in January 2020, 47 days after her abduction. 

On Sunday, Interior Ministry spokesperson Elshad Hajiyev confirmed that the ministry was investigating the attack under article 134 of the criminal code — threat to murder or causing of serious harm to health.

The attack drew condemnations from international rights groups, the US Embassy, and the Council of Europe.

‘I condemn last night’s attack by a man who threatened Azerbaijan journalist Aytan Mammadova with a knife to her throat. I call for swift and thorough investigations’, Theresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media tweeted on Sunday. ‘Such abhorrent acts of intimidation are not acceptable. Journalists must be able to do their work in a safe manner.’

A group of Azerbaijani journalists and editors also appealed to President Ilham Aliyev and law enforcement officials in regard to the attack on Mammadova. 

Meanwhile, a group of activists are organising a peaceful march on 14 May from the centre of Baku to the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters to protest violence and impunity against prominent Azerbaijani figures.

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