The Baku Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from opposition politician Gozal Bayramli on 7 June, to be released from pretrial detention and be placed under house arrest.
Bayramli’s lawyer, Zibeyda Sadigova, said that her client cannot receive the medical treatment she needs while in prison. ‘Bayramli has undergone three surgeries. So, we requested her release at least for humanitarian reasons’, Caucasian Knot quoted Sadigova.
Bayramli, who is deputy head of the opposition Popular Front Party, was detained on 25 May while crossing the Georgian–Azerbaijani border for allegedly smuggling €12,000 ($13,400) in cash. She has rejected the accusations, calling them politically motivated.
According to RFE/RL, many members of the Popular Front have been arrested and some imprisoned over the past few years, on what their supporters call bogus charges. Party head Ali Karimli has come under intense criticism from government-controlled media.
Azerbaijani pro-government website Haqqin.az, which is thought to be controlled by the government’s Chief of Intelligence, has published several pieces claiming that opposition figures in exile in Georgia are planning to overthrow President Aliyev’s regime. A recent article published on 3 June discusses an alleged scheme involving Bayramli, imprisoned journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, and others, claiming that ‘all the tracks lead to Ali Karimli’.
Mukhtarli, who was critical of Azerbaijan’s authorities, was abducted from Tbilisi and taken to Baku, where he is being held in pretrial detention for allegedly smuggling €10,000 ($11,200), ‘border trespass’, and ‘disobeying border guards’.
Georgian and international rights groups and journalists say that these cases illustrate Azerbaijan’s crackdown on anyone critical of Aliyev’s regime.
The European Union, as well as a number of international human rights organisations, have urged Azerbaijan to release detained opposition figures. The US State Department said on 3 June that the United States is ‘troubled’ by the detention of Bayramli.
[Read on OC Media: Jailed Azerbaijani journalist Nijat Amiraslanov ‘tortured, has lost teeth’]
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