AZERBAIJAN / Detained April 19, 2014 – March 17, 2016
UPDATE: Released on March 17, 2016 after his sentence was commuted to a five-year suspended sentence.
Rauf Mirkadirov, who had been part of efforts to build “citizen diplomacy” between Azerbaijan and Armenia, two countries still technically at war because of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and dispute, was imprisoned on espionage charges. When arrested, Mirkadirov was a journalist, based in Ankara, Turkey, working for the Baku-based daily, Zerkalo (Mirror). His articles and op-eds were often critical of both the Azerbaijani authorities and the Turkish government. His deportation from Turkey and arrest in Azerbaijan took place a few days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Baku.