ISTANBUL — Azerbaijani opposition activist Bayram Mammadov has been found dead in Istanbul amid unclear circumstances, prompting Turkish police to launch an investigation.
Mammadov’s friends wrote on social media on May 4 that the body of the Azerbaijani opposition NIDA youth movement member was found “in the sea” two days earlier.
One of Mammadov’s friends in Istanbul, Elgih Qahraman, told the Turan news agency that police are investigating the case and are considering all possible causes.
Mammadov, along with another pro-democracy activist, Giyas Ibrahimov, made headlines in May 2016 after painting “Happy Slaves’ Day” on a monument in Baku to late President Heydar Aliyev, the father of the current president.
Both were subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges, which both have denied. Mammadov had said he was tortured into making a confession.
Amnesty International has recognized the two activists as prisoners of conscience, saying that the drug charges against them were fabricated with the purpose of punishing them for their political activities.
In March 2019, President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Mammadov and Ibrahimov in an amnesty along with more than 400 people who had been convicted of crimes in the South Caucasus nation.