U.S. troubled by circumstances surrounding the arrest of Tofig Yagublu - State Department

The United States is troubled by circumstances surrounding the arrest of and charges against opposition leader Tofig Yagublu in Azerbaijan, a State Department spokesperson told TURAN's Washington correspondent on Thursday, April 2.

Mr. Yagublu has been detained since his arrest on 22 March on suspicion of “hooliganism”. His family and human rights groups are concerned about his health in detention amidst the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in Azerbaijan.

"We are following developments in the case closely and have raised our concerns with the Government of Azerbaijan. We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to release Mr. Yagublu and all other individuals who have been incarcerated for exercising their fundamental freedoms," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the United States supports fundamental freedoms and urges Azerbaijan to act in accordance with its international obligations and commitments in this area.  

"As governments around the world respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we urge them to avoid restrictions on essential human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the ability of the free press to provide information to the public about the crisis and the government's response.  Restricting these rights and freedoms would harm the public's trust in us as leaders, at a time when trust is most needed. Transparency and reliable data are essential to health and human safety during a pandemic," the spokesperson said.

Yagublu is a member of the opposition party Musavat and a senior politician in the National Council of Democratic Forces, a coalition of leading opposition parties and activists. He often raises concerns about the state of human rights in Azerbaijan.

On March 23, a Baku court ordered Yagublu to be held for three months in pretrial custody pending an investigation into charges of "hooliganism committed with a weapon or an object used as a weapon."

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said on March 25 that Yagublu was arrested on spurious charges, days after President Ilham Aliyev suggested he would use anti-coronavirus measures against the country's political opposition.

Alex Raufoglu
Washington D.C.


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