Azerbaijan formally protests Iran over detained poets
Azerbaijan sent a diplomatic note to Iran on Tuesday after two Azerbaijani citizens were detained in the neighboring country.
The Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran and its consulate in Tabriz, the capital of Iran's East Azerbaijan province, sent the official note to Iran's Foreign Ministry due to the disappearance of two young Azerbaijani poets named Ferid Hüseyn and Şehriyar del Gerani (Hacızade) after they entered Iran on May 2.
According to information released by Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry, Hüseyn and Hacızade visited Iran to participate in a poetry contest and were detained by unknown persons in civilian clothing in the city of Tabriz. The incident, however, has not been confirmed by the Iranian authorities.
Elman Abdullayev, a spokesman for Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry, said in a statement to the press that despite Azerbaijan's repeated requests for information regarding the situation of the missing poets, there has been no response from Iran.
“We pulled out all the stops for the return of our missing citizens to Azerbaijan, as we value each and every one of our citizens,” said Abdullayev.
As Azerbaijan has now requested the information twice with no response, it appears that the Iranian side is deliberately keeping silent on the issue.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran have been tense in recent months, after Tehran accused Azerbaijan of assisting Israeli intelligence in the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist.
In February and March, the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security carried out several clandestine operations that revealed that Iranian spies and intelligence agents in Baku were preparing terrorist acts.
Tehran has accused Azerbaijan, which borders Iran and has friendly relations with the United States and Israel, of colluding with Israeli intelligence in the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in January.
Tehran has also blasted Baku over media reports speculating that Azerbaijan may have been in talks to lease its airfields to Israel for a possible air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Recently hundreds of Azerbaijanis staged a demonstration near the Iranian Embassy in Baku to protest Iran, calling Azerbaijan's southern neighbor a threat. This was followed by the recall of Iran's ambassador to Azerbaijan as Baku accused Iran of carrying out an anti-Azerbaijani campaign ahead of the Eurovision song contest.