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EU Welcomes Baku Court Ruling To Release Yunus On Health Grounds

  • RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

The European Union has welcomed the decision of a Baku court to release human rights activist Arif Yunus on health grounds, calling the ruling "a welcome and positive humanitarian gesture."

The EU on November 13 issued a statement praising the ruling by the Baku Court of Appeals, saying that it hopes "further steps will follow."

The statement also says the EU "is ready to further deepen and broaden" its dialogue and cooperation with Azerbaijan.

Yunus was arrested in 2014 on suspicion of spying for Armenia.

In August, he was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion.

His wife, Leyla Yunus, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in jail on the same charges.

Their cases relating to charges of treason are still pending.

Yunus's legal situation remains unchanged despite his release, and before leaving the courthouse he was required to sign a document that bars him from leaving Baku.

The sentences for the couple, both of whom suffer from health problems and who had worked for the unregistered Peace and Democracy Institute in Baku, were denounced as a travesty of justice by international human rights groups.

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