July 30 2014
Azerbaijan charges prominent rights activist with treason
Prominent Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus was charged
Wednesday with treason, her lawyer Dzhavad Dzhavadov said.
The award-winning campaigner was also charged with tax evasion,
large-scale fraud and falsifying documents.
Her husband Arif, an independent political analyst, was also charged
with treason and fraud, Dzhavadov added.
Earlier in the day Yunus was bundled into a car in the courtyard of
her apartment building in Baku and taken away by three plain-clothes
men, family spokesman Yusif Agayev said.
A fierce critic of Azerbaijan’s poor rights record, Yunus is head of
one of Azerbaijan’s leading rights groups, the Institute for Peace and
Democracy in Baku.
She was detained and questioned for several hours in April.
Yunus has long worked with Armenian activists advocating the
reconciliation of the two countries, which have been locked in a
decades-long conflict over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.
She has won several foreign prizes and honours for her work.
Any display of dissent in Azerbaijan is usually met with a tough
Rights groups say the government has been clamping down on opponents
since President Ilham Aliyev’s re-election last year.
Aliyev, 52, secured a third term in October polls — seen as flawed by
international observers — extending his family’s decades-long grip on
power in the tightly controlled Caspian Sea nation.
He first took power in 2003 following a disputed election after the
death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and
communist-era leader. (AFP)