A top official with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has welcomed Azerbaijan's recent release of some civil-society activists and journalists and called for the release of more people believed imprisoned for political reasons.
Michael Georg Link, head of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a March 19 press release that the release was "a positive, welcome step."
However, he urged Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev "to review the cases of others either currently imprisoned or under...restrictive orders, including [lawyer] Intiqam Aliyev, [investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor] Khadija Ismayilova, [and Republican Alternative movement head] Ilqar Mammadov."
President Aliyev on March 17 pardoned a total of 148 prisoners, including 13 people who have been listed by rights organizations as political prisoners.
Human rights organizations say there are still around 80 people imprisoned in Azerbaijan for political reasons.