Washington - An Azerbaijani student studying in Germany has disappeared after traveling to Iran to meet his girlfriend, according to his family.
Farid Safarli's mother, who is currently in Iran searching for him, told VOA that Iranian law enforcement agencies have not given her any information about him.
'There was no information about Farid in the system of law enforcement agencies. Some agencies even refused to check the system," Dilara Asgarova told VOA.
"They said that if Farid had committed a misdemeanor, there would have been information about him in the system. But information about felonies does not appear in the system. I asked what constitutes a felony? And they said espionage and other crimes. So, we have not been able to get any information about Farid so far."
Asgarova said she has hired a lawyer in Iran to help her search.
According to the press service of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry was notified on March 9 that Farid Safarli, a citizen of Azerbaijan and a student at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, went to Iran on February 20 but his family has not heard from him since March 4.
Safarli's mother said she knows her son's phone was active on March 6 and 10.
'Farid's phone was turned on at one point in time. His Telegram account showed that he was active. I called immediately, but no one picked up,' Asgarova told VOA.
Safarli met his girlfriend, who is an Iranian citizen, in Jena, Germany, where she was participating in a medical training program at a local university. She left for Iran after her training ended, his mother told VOA.
'After the training, she returned to Iran. Nevertheless, they maintained connection via phone calls. They decided to meet in Istanbul. Farid went to Istanbul, but she could not get her visa at the time. So, Farid went to Iran from Istanbul,' she said.
Asgarova, who earlier had traveled to Germany in her search for her son, said German police were able to get access to the information on Safarli's laptop that she found in his apartment.
"They recovered phone numbers, photos, names, part of [the girlfriend's] surname, workplace, just a lot of information about Farid's girlfriend,' she said.
German police also confirmed with Pegasus Airlines that Safarli had not flown anywhere since arriving in Tehran last month.
'The police said that they received information from the airline company that Farid Safarli had not taken any flights out of Tehran. They sent a letter to the Iranian Embassy in Germany, inquiring about Farid. But the Iranian Embassy has not yet responded to the police.'
Asgarova, who then left for Iran, said she has received conflicting information from the staff of the hospital in Iran, where her son's girlfriend was said to be working as an intern.
"First when I called them, they told me she had taken leave and had not gone to work for 20 days. Those 20 days coincide with the time my son went missing. But when I got to the hospital, the situation changed. They said she never worked there," Asgarova told VOA.
The spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, Aykhan Hajizada, told VOA that the ministry has sent a diplomatic note to the Iranian Embassy requesting information about the matter. But the embassy has not responded yet.
'The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a note to the Iranian Embassy in our country in order to clarify the mentioned information and is currently waiting for a response from the other side,' he said.
Asgarova said she has appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, asking them to take more measures to ensure that İran responds to their diplomatic note.
"Maybe they can use the mediation of other countries. They should apply to international organizations. What if Iran stays silent forever? Are we going to sit and wait for their answer forever?" she asked.
"As a mother, I am very worried about the fate of my son. I am extremely worried. Maybe my son is in prison here in Tehran, a hundred meters away from me. But I can't get any information from him. No one is giving me any information."
International human rights groups for years have cataloged the Iranian government's systematic use of enforced disappearances against thousands of people, often women, ethnic and religious minorities and others seen as a threat by the state. Some are freed after years of detention but others have been executed following sham trials.
This story originated in VOA's Azerbaijani Service, with Parvana Bayramova contributing.