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2022, 23 May, Bazar ertəsi, Bakı vaxtı 14:29

'I Was Threatened With Rape', Says Azeri Human Rights Activist, Leyla Yunus

Leyla Yunus surronded by Azeri security officials in front of her home
Prominent Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus has been released from detention by authorities after she was questioned by investigators and her Baku-based Peace and Democracy Institute offices were searched on April, 29.

Today, Leyla Yunus told RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service that she was threatened with rape by officials from the Prosecutor's Office.

"On April 28, an official from the Prosecutor Office called me and extorted a direct threat by saying that "If I don't not sign the papers, I will be raped in the presence of my husband Arif ( Arif Yunus) and he will be raped with the bottle in front of me."

"I am not surprised by this. I hear these type of stories from people that I have been defending all these years.", she said.

Eldar Sultanov, the press officer of the Procesutor-General told RFE/RL: "If Yunus could provide the number of caller, we would investigate this claim."

The Prosecutor- General's office said Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus were detained on April 28 in Baku airport because they "tried to flee the country" after being summoned as witnesses in a criminal case.

She was released the following day.

The Prosecutor-General's statement, issued on April 30, did not elaborate on the criminal case. Nonetheless, it said a criminal investigation is continuing.

Yunus says investigators asked her about her ties with journalist Rauf Mirqadirov, who is currently in pretrial detention on charges of spying for Armenia.

"My and my husband's passports are taken away. Illegally. All my documents were searched and seized. They are cooking a case against me. Pathetically", said Yunus.

Leyla Yunus has been actively involved for years in people-to-people diplomacy with Armenian rights activists.

In Washington DC, Richard Morningstar, the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan described the recent attacks against Azeri peace activists as a mistake:

"We support Track II efforts to build people to people contacts between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. These kinds of confidence building measures can help prepare citizens of both countries for peace.

We are troubled by last week’s arrest of well - known journalist Rauf Mirkadirov and the investigation begun on Monday of Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif Yunusov. Leyla has been released after hours of questioning, but both are still under investigation.

All three have been strong proponents of the Track II process and the Azerbaijani Government ’s actions will have a chilling effect on any
contact between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. We think this is a mistake."

Read Ambassador's Full Speech here

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