Azerbaijan releases human rights activist from jail News
Azerbaijan releases human rights activist from jail

[JURIST] Azeri human rights lawyer and advocate Intigam Aliyev [JURIST news archive] was freed from jail [press release, in Azerbaijani] on Monday. The Azerbaijan Supreme Court [official website] reduced his sentence from over seven years to a five year-probation period. Aliyev had been charged [Reuters report] with tax evasion, abuse of office and illegal entrepreneurship. Amnesty International Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia Denis Krivosheev stated [press release] that Aliyev’s “release is welcome, but he must now be fully cleared of all charges and allowed to resume his work. Without this, there will be no justice for this resolute defender of human rights in Azerbaijan.”

The human rights situation in Azerbaijan has drawn heavy criticism from the UN and various rights groups the past few years. In April the US State Department condemned [JURIST report] the imprisonment of Aliyev and called for his release. Aliyev was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison and a three-year ban from holding public office on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of power. The statement also called the charges “questionable,” while Aliyev himself called them “politically motivated.” Aliyev’s lawyer released a statement [JURIST report] after his arrest in 2011, saying, “his detention was connected with his activity as human rights defender, and the purpose of this is to silence him down, based on a political instruction from above.” Also in April Human Rights Watch reported the conviction [JURIST report] of leading human rights activist Rasul Jafarov and called for his immediate release.