Calls For Gubad Ibadoghlu's Release Grow in U.S. Congress, Amid Lawmakers' Secret Meeting With Ilham Aliyev

Calls For Gubad Ibadoghlu's Release Grow in U.S. Congress, Amid Lawmakers' Secret Meeting With Ilham Aliyev

On February 14, David Rouzer, a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina, along with fellow lawmakers introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu's unconditional release from Azerbaijani jail. Three weeks later, there is growing congressional support for this action, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

The bipartisan resolution, H. RES. 1012, now has 24 co-sponsors with recent additions of Democrat Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (California), as well as two other Republican Representatives: Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania) and Chuck Fleischmann (Tennessee). Both expressed their support last week.

The authors condemn the treatment of Dr. Ibadoghlu, a respected academic and economist who has been detained in Baku since last summer, by the Azerbaijani government:  their practice of wrongful detention, and their suppression of academic freedom. They urge Dr. Ibadoghlu’s immediate and unconditional release.

The resolution also urges the Secretary of State to continue prioritizing Dr. Ibadoghlu’s well-being and release in all engagements with the Azeri government.

Following its introduction last month, the resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where it awaits consideration. No word from the Committee leadership yet.

In the meantime, as TURAN's Washington correspondent has learned from congressional sources, some of the Committee members, including Joe Wilson, who serves on the Subcommittee on Europe, and chairs the Subcommittee on MENA and Central Asia, have apparently met with President Ilham Aliyev on February 17 in Munich, a meeting that has not been publicly disclosed before.

Wilson currently also chairs the Helsinki Commission, a bipartisan congressional agency that monitors human rights in the OSCE region. It wasn't immediately clear whether he has raised Mr. Ibadoghlu's case directly with President Aliyev.

Wilson was visiting in Munich as part of the U.S. congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Security Conference which was led by Chairman of House Intelligence Committee Mike Turner as well as others, such as leading democrat Jim Himes, and House Foreign Affairs Committee minority leader Gregory Meeks.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who last week joined his colleagues to co-sponsor "Ibadoghlu Resolution", was also in Munich as a part of the CODEL, but it's not clear whether he took part in the close-door meeting with Aliyev.

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