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Freed Opposition Leader Prevented From Leaving Azerbaijan

  • RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

BAKU -- An Azerbaijani opposition leader who was freed from jail on a presidential clemency in March has not been allowed to leave Azerbaijan.

Tofiq Yaqublu, deputy chairman of the opposition Musavat party, was not allowed to cross the border on May 19 while trying to travel to neighboring Georgia by car.

Yaqublu's lawyer, Nemat Kerimli, said border guards told his client that he had been included on the list of individuals who are banned from leaving Azerbaijan.

But Kerimli said Yaqublu had received an official note from the Prosecutor-General's Office in April saying that Yaqublu's ban on traveling abroad had been lifted.

Yaqublu spent two years in prison until his release on March 17 on a presidential clemency.

Analysts say President Ilham Aliyev's pardons of some political prisoners in March were an apparent move to deflect Western criticism of Azerbaijan's poor human rights record.

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