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AFGAN MUKHTARLI: I WAS ARRESTED ON ORDERS FROM ILHAM ALIYEV

The Azeri Times

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On 14 December, the trial of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli continued at the Balakan District Court. In May this year, Mukhtarli had mysteriously disappeared from Georgia, where he was living, and later resurfaced in Baku – under arrest. The journalist says he was abducted, tortured, and forcefully brought to Azerbaijan, with 10,000 Euro planted in his pockets.

The Azerbaijani government accuses him under Article 315.2 of the Criminal Code, resisting a government representative or using force against them. In addition, he was charged under Articles 318.1 and 206.1, which concern illegal border crossing and smuggling. International human rights organizations have named Afgan Mukhtarli a political prisoner.

Reporters who arrived to cover the trial were denied entry. The defendant’s side criticized this as a violation of the open trial format, but judge Humbat Salimov ignored the objections.

Meydan TV spoke to lawyer Elchin Sadigov, who reported that before the hearing started, Mukharli’s defense lawyers once more requested that he would be allowed to leave the courtroom cage and sit next to them. Even though the same request had been approved during the previous hearing on 30 November, their motion was denied.

One of the defense lawyers, Nemat Karimli, further objected to the presence of police officers in the courtroom. He argued that conducting the trial under surveillance of the police would constitute pressure, but the judge rejected his request to remove the police officers from the courtroom.

Afterwards, a motion filed by Sadigov, in which he requested that documents concerning Mukhtarli’s presumption of innocence should be attached to the materials of the case, was discussed and approved. The motion concerned a statement issued by the State Border Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office immediately after Mukhtarli got arrested. It claims that he got detained while trying to cross the border illegally, and that money was found on him. The defense lawyer criticized that issuing this statement would violate Mukhtarli’s right to presumption of innocence.

After public prosecutor Gurbat Mammadov announced the charges, Mukhtarli had the chance to speak. He explained that he was abducted in Georgia and brought to Azerbaijan, emphasizing that he experienced torture:

“I was arrested for writing investigative reports about businesses owned by the president’s family. Ilham Aliyev personally ordered my arrest.”

This is how Mukhtarli described the day he was arrested:

“As I walked towards my home, three people in plain clothes approached me. When they tried to push me into their car, I resisted. They beat me as they put me in the car. When the car left [Tbilisi], they put a sack over my head. After driving for a while, they stopped and removed the sack. I thought they were going to kill me. At that moment, I recalled [murdered journalists] Rasim [Aliyev] and Rafig Taghi. That’s why I said to them, please, do not kill me with a knife, kill me with a bullet. They said, don’t worry, we’re not going to do anything to you. Then, they put the sack back over my head, taped my mouth, and drove for a little more. At one point, we changed cars. From an Azerbaijani song that was playing in that car, I understood that I was in Azerbaijan now. As we traveled, one of the people in the car called someone to say, ‘Mr General, we have brought the mullah and are heading to the wake.’ After driving for a little while, they got me out of the car, put me in some place, and removed the sack from my head. I understood from the room I was in, that they had brought me to a military base. From there, they brought me to Baku.”

Elchin Sadigov said that four further witnesses and an alleged victim were heard:

“The conflicting testimonies of the victim and witnesses prove that this criminal case is obviously fraudulent. In addition, while the trial was going on, the door was left open and the witnesses could hear what was happening in the courtroom. Our objection to this was only accepted when just one witness was speaking. Afgan said that those statements were lies and called on them to tell the truth.”

After a break, the judge announced that the trial would be postponed until 10.30 on 28 December.

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Politics

People Got So Mad About This ‘Sexy’ Handmaid’s Tale Costume That the Company Is No Longer Selling It

A “sexy” Halloween costume inspired by the dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale is no longer being sold after receiving a barrage of online criticism for sexualizing the show’s subject matter — women subjugated by an oppressive government. The online retailer Yandy, which designed and sold the costume, issued an apology Thursday following…

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People Got So Mad About This ‘Sexy’ Handmaid’s Tale Costume That the Company Is No Longer Selling It

A “sexy” Halloween costume inspired by the dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale is no longer being sold after receiving a barrage of online criticism for sexualizing the show’s subject matter — women subjugated by an oppressive government.

The online retailer Yandy, which designed and sold the costume, issued an apology Thursday following the backlash. “Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that [the costume] is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than empowerment,” the company wrote in a statement shared on Twitter.

“This is unfortunate as it was not our intention on any level. Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image,” the statement continued. “Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”

Before being taken down, the costume’s product description read: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume featuring a red mini dress, a matching cloak with an attached hood, and a white bonnet headpiece.”

In the Handmaid’s Tale, women have had their rights eroded by an authoritarian government, which forces them to bear children and effectively act as slaves. The main character describes herself as a “two-legged womb.”

Many Twitter users quickly pointed out the costume was problematic given the show’s subject matter. “This is so far from the point,” one wrote.

“Our society doesn’t take the rape of real women seriously, why should they take the rape of fictional women seriously?” another person tweeted.

Dressing up in the handmaid’s signature red capes has become a symbol of women’s resistance in the real world in recent months. Earlier this month, dozens of women donned the crimson capes and protested at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

This is far from the first controversial Halloween costume that has forced a company to roll back its product. In 2016, Disney stopped selling a controversial Moana costume after people said its brown skin was racist.

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Azerbaijan

Opposition activist sentenced to 6 years in Azerbaijan

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On 18 September, the Baku Court for Serious Crimes sentenced a member of the youth committee of the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party (PFAP), Orkhan Bakhishli, to six years in prison.

Bakhishli was detained by men in plain clothes in downtown Baku on the evening of 7 May. On 10 May, the Yasamal District Court in Baku charged the youth activist with drug possession and ordered his detention for four months.

The PFAP has claimed that the charges against Bakhishli are trumped up and politically motivated. Several days before his arrest, on 3 May at a World Press Freedom Day event at the grave of journalist Elmar Huseynov, who was shot and killed in 2005, Bakhishli accused the Azerbaijani government of Huseynov’s murder.

Human rights activists consider Bakhishli a political prisoner. Previously, he served 30 days of administrative detention after being arrested ahead of a 31 March opposition rally.

In recent years, activists Ahsan Nuruzadeh, Murad Adilov, Bayram Mammadov, Giyas Ibrahimov, Elgiz Gahramanov, blogger Rashad Ramazanov and others have also been jailed on charges of drug possession.

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Politics

Jimmy Butler Trade Rumors: T-Wolves Star Requests Deal, Gives Shortlist of Teams

Tim Warner/Getty ImagesMinnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler has reportedly requested a trade ahead of the 2018-19 NBA season.On Wednesday, Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported Butler has provided the T-Wolves with a list of the “one to three teams” with whom he’d be willing to sign a contract extension.According to ESPN’s Adrian…

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Jimmy Butler Trade Rumors: T-Wolves Star Requests Deal, Gives Shortlist of Teams
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 25:  Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts in the first half during Game Five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler has reportedly requested a trade ahead of the 2018-19 NBA season.

On Wednesday, Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported Butler has provided the T-Wolves with a list of the “one to three teams” with whom he’d be willing to sign a contract extension.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Butler’s three preferred trade destinations are the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.

Minnesota acquired the 29-year-old Marquette product in June 2017 in a blockbuster deal with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 47.4 percent from the field across 59 appearances last year.

Although Butler enjoyed on-court success, ranking 18th in the NBA in player efficiency rating, there have been rumblings about his unhappiness within the squad.

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In July, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Butler was “frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates—specifically Karl-Anthony Towns—[and] does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves.”

Per Cowley, the four-time All-Star selection is also keen on linking up with Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving next offseason—both players can decline player options in their contract to become free agents in 2019—to create a potential superteam in the Eastern Conference.

Krawczynski noted Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau was “initially resistant” to the idea of a trade, but Butler remains hopeful of moving to a new team as the new season approaches.

Krawczynski also reported the request has “very little” to do with the reported issues with Towns and Andrew Wiggins and is more related to contract concerns.

Butler is scheduled to receive a $18.7 million base salary for the 2018-19 season, which ranks 12th among shooting guards, seven spots behind Wiggins, per Spotrac.

It’s unclear whether there’s enough time to complete a major trade before the campaign gets underway in less than a month. The Wolves are set to open the preseason against the Golden State Warriors on Sept. 29, and their regular season begins Oct. 17 when they take on the San Antonio Spurs.

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