French citizen arrested in Azerbaijan on espionage allegations

Azerbaijan-France. Source: MMES Studio/shutterstock

Tensions escalated between France and Azerbaijan following the arrest of French citizen Martin Ryan on espionage charges in Baku.

The dispute reached a new level of complexity, with both nations asserting their positions, as reported by officials from both sides.

Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to France, Leyla Abdullayeva, disclosed that Ryan was detained under suspicion of espionage, leading to demands from Paris for his immediate release. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the arrest and highlighted ongoing consular assistance provided to Ryan, emphasizing their concern and urging his release.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Ryan’s charges under Article 276 of their Criminal Code and emphasized compliance with national laws and international obligations throughout the investigation. Aykhan Hajizadeh, a ministry spokesperson, dismissed France’s assertions of unjustified detention as baseless, framing them as interference in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs.

In response to Azerbaijan’s accusations, Martin Ryan, CEO of Mercorama LC and a French businessman in Baku, firmly denied the espionage allegations through his lawyer, Nizami Aliyev. Aliyev asserted that Ryan maintains his innocence and claimed that France may have been deceived by undisclosed entities.

Aykhan Hajizadeh also highlighted the refusal of the French embassy in Azerbaijan to cooperate with the investigation, resulting in the declaration of two embassy employees as undesirable persons by Azerbaijan.

In December last year, Baku expelled two French diplomats, alleging misconduct inconsistent with their diplomatic status. France responded by summoning Abdullayeva and announcing the expulsion of two Azerbaijani diplomats in retaliation.

The situation remains at an impasse, with both nations at odds over the arrest and subsequent diplomatic actions. The conflicting narratives and the gravity of espionage allegations have escalated the standoff, intensifying diplomatic friction between France and Azerbaijan.

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