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Whistleblower placed in psychiatric hospital for denouncing corruption

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 11 September 2009, a Nakhchivan City resident, Mahammad Gurbanov, 55, was placed in a psychiatric hospital by employees of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Internal Affairs Ministry after he complained to the authorities and to the press about corruption and incompetence among employees of the Sadarak customs station. The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety's (IRFS) regional correspondent learned of Gurbanov's detention from his wife, Farida Ismayilova.

According to Ismayilova, her husband was taken to the Internal Affairs Ministry on 11 September. In the evening, he called and told her that he had been forcefully placed in a psychiatric hospital by the police. Gurbanov had complained to state organizations and talked to the press about Sadarak Customs Department Head Mirmahammad Seyidov because he had demanded that Gurbanov pay an illegal additional sum for products he brought into the country in February. Food products in the amount of 300 AZN (approx. US$373) were confiscated, according to his wife.

Although the psychiatric hospital confirmed that Gurbanov had been placed there by the police, they did not allow anyone to visit him. Gurbanov shouted through the window bars of the hospital, "I was threatened in the Internal Affairs Ministry. They made me sign a document forcefully stating that I myself want to stay in the psychiatric hospital. Unless I am released in two days, I will commit suicide."

The Nakhchivan AR Internal Affairs Ministry did not respond to the IRFS correspondent's questions regarding Gurbanov's case.

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