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Azerbaijan: Bloggers’ appeal rejected

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Politics, Youth

Media Helping Media reports that appeals by Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli [1], two video bloggers and youth activists currently held in pre-trial detention in Azerbaijan on what many consider to be politically motivated charges, were yesterday rejected [2].

The latest court action was to appeal the violation of the presumption of innocence by law enforcement agencies before a proper investigation and trial had been conducted.

The trial is expected to be held on or around September 8. If found guilty they could face two and a half years behind bars.

The denied appeal was tweeted by the OL! Youth Movement. One of the two, Adnan Hajizadeh, was a founder of the group.

ol_tweet [3]

Meanwhile. the OL! blog says that the Albanian Mjaft! youth movement has joined dozens of other international organizations and groups in decrying the detention of the activist-bloggers.

Mjaft notes that at this point the question is not simply criticizing the situation, but rather offering direct support to those “who stand for the values we all believe in.” Mjaft supports Adnan and Emin by saying: “this is not an isolated struggle of the activists in Azerbaijan. This is our common struggle to break with our past political legacy.”

Another organization closely following the case is Reporters without Borders who also spread news of the appeal's rejection on its blog [4] as well as cast further doubts about the legality of the action against the two men.

The two bloggers have been jailed for two months pending trial on clearly trumped-up charges of hooliganism. According to a diplomatic source, President Ilham Aliyev referred to them as “hooligans” during a meeting with an official delegation from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The two bloggers have still not been allowed to receive a visit from family members since their arrest on 8 July. Today’s hearing was held because closed doors. Zadeh’s lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, said he would appeal against today’s ruling.

In a recent interview [5] with Global Voices Online, International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) Secretary General Bart Woord said that he believes the decision to eventually sentence the two blogger-activists to two or three years imprisonment has already been taken.