Yusifova, 31, was arrested in December 2022 after traveling from Turkey to Iran. She was initially accused of holding improper identification documents, but she later faced drug-related and “espionage” charges.
In an interview with IranWire, her mother said that she was held for some time in solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison, during which she was completely cut off from her family, she was denied access to legal representation, and she endured mental torture.
In her last phone call with her mother, Yusifova said that the prison guards and interrogators administered her drugs that severely affected her mental well-being. The call abruptly ended after a few minutes when Yusifova asked her mother to publicize the harassment she had faced.
Due to escalating pressure and relentless harassment from prison guards, as well as the drugs administered to her, she was recently transferred to a psychiatric hospital, her mother said.
In June, Yusifova appeared before Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Abulqasem Salavati.
The judge acquitted her of the drug-related charges but instead accused her of “espionage,” without presenting any evidence. In the absence of legal representation, Yusifova denied the accusations against her.
After the court session, Yusifova was interrogated again and the investigators informed her she was cleared of the charges and would soon be released.
Various judicial and security institutions of the Islamic Republic assured Yusifova’s mother that she had been acquitted of all the charges and would be released soon. They also advised her to refrain from intervening in her daughter’s case.
Victim of Diplomatic Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan
Baku and Tehran have often had strained relations. Tensions reached a new level in January, when Azerbaijan halted the operation of its embassy in Tehran after what it called a “terrorist attack” that killed the diplomatic mission’s head of security and wounded two others. Baku blamed the attack on the Iranian secret services.
As tensions between the Islamic Republic and Azerbaijan escalated, the Iranian authorities failed to deliver on their promises to release Yusifova.
“Every time that the tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan increased, the interrogators and prison guards humiliated my daughter. They repeatedly denied her the right to make phone calls and subjected her to increasing levels of torture,” her mother said.
According to her, the abuse of Yusifova has recently intensified, causing a decline in her physical and mental condition.
In a letter dated June 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan assured Yusifova’s mother that it would address her “unjustifiable” detention, “inhumane treatment,” and “torture” via the Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan.
Yusifova is not the only Azerbaijani citizen held in Iran on espionage charges.
Farid Safarli, an Azerbaijani student, went missing in March after traveling to Iran reportedly to meet his Iranian girlfriend.
Local media affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that he is accused of “espionage.”