Azerbaijani Journalist Sentenced in Widely Criticized Case

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — A court in Azerbaijan has sentenced an investigative journalist to six years in prison in the case criticized by human rights groups.

The court on Friday convicted Afgan Mukhtarli on charges of smuggling, illegal border crossing and violently resisting arrest. Mukhtarli, who has been in custody since his arrest in May, rejected the charges as trumped up.

Mukhtarli said he was abducted outside his home in neighboring Georgia where he lived at the time, beaten up and taken to the border with Azerbaijan. He said his captors also planted 10,000 euros (about $12,000) on him.

Mukhtarli’s lawyer, Neymet Kerimli, said he would appeal the verdict.

International rights groups have described the case of Mukhtarli, who exposed high-level official corruption, as part of crackdown on dissent and independent media in Azerbaijan.

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