The arrest of Azerbaijani economist Gubad Ibadoglu has been making headlines for over a month now. On August 25th, it was revealed that he is facing a new accusation of religious extremism. This marks the third accusation against him in the last month. Ibadoglu was arrested on July 23rd along with his wife Irada Bayramova as they were returning to their dacha in the Saray village of Baku. They were separately taken to the Department for Combating Organized Crime where they both faced harsh interrogations.
Gubad Ibadoglu is a renowned economist and the creator and chairman of the opposition party “Democracy and Prosperity Party.” For many years, he has been working with the country’s civil society and various NGOs. His arrest has been widely criticized by organizations like Amnesty International, who have called for his immediate and unconditional release.
On the evening of July 23rd, Ibadoglu and his wife were separately taken to the Department for Combating Organized Crime (UBOP). At that time, information spread through Azerbaijani pro-government media and Turkish outlets that Ibadoglu was accused of having links with FETO, an organization recognized by Turkish authorities as a terrorist. Later that night, a search was conducted in the economist’s former apartment, which he now uses as an office, and it was announced that 20,000 counterfeit dollars had been found.
On July 24th, in addition to Gubad Ibadoglu, three more individuals were detained on suspicion of links to FETO. Pretrial detention for a period of 4 months was ordered for each of them. Allegedly, these individuals, detained on suspicion of FETO connections, mentioned in their statements that they had collaborated with Ibadoglu.
According to the accusation against the economist, he allegedly handed counterfeit dollars to Anar Aliyev for safekeeping. However, as stated by Anar Aliyev’s mother, they are not familiar with Gubad Ibadoglu and do not know what dollars look like. This raises questions about the legitimacy of the accusations and the motives behind Ibadoglu’s arrest.
Ibadoglu’s arrest has been widely condemned both within and outside Azerbaijan. It is seen as an attempt by the ruling Aliyev government to silence opposition voices and limit the scope of political activity in the country. The new accusation of religious extremism against him is particularly concerning as it further limits the space for critical voices in Azerbaijan.
The arrest of Gubad Ibadoglu is a worrying development in Azerbaijan’s political landscape. The accusations against him seem flimsy at best and raise questions about the motives behind his arrest. The new accusation of religious extremism against him is particularly concerning as it further limits the space for critical voices in Azerbaijan. It is important that the international community remains vocal in their condemnation of Ibadoglu’s arrest and push for his immediate and unconditional release.