Fri, 26 Apr 2019

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Azerbaijani capital to call for the release of a jailed anticorruption blogger and other people they consider political prisoners.

Those taking part in the sanctioned rally in Baku on January 19 demanded President Ilham Aliyevs government release Mehman Huseynov and other political prisoners.

Calls for Huseynov's release have intensified inside and outside Azerbaijan since he was targeted with a new charge late last month, just weeks before his expected release from prison.

He is accused of 'resisting a representative of the authorities with the use of violence dangerous to [the representative's] health and life.'

Huseynov himself and several other political prisoners have started hunger strikes in protest.

Mehman Huseynov (file photo)

Huseynov is already serving a two-year prison term on libel charges that he and his supporters considered to be politically motivated.

Rights groups and Western governments have urged the Azerbaijani authorities to release political prisoners for years, and have accused the government of fabricating criminal cases to stifle dissent and media freedom.

Aliyev, who has ruled the oil-producing former Soviet republic of almost 10 million people with an iron fist since shortly before his long-ruling father's death in 2003, has shrugged off the criticism.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

In an environment of total government control over national television and radio channels, Radio Azadliq has a firm reputation as the only source of unbiased information and the most professional media outlet in Azerbaijan.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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