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Iranian opposition supporters at an antigovernment protest in Tehran on December 27. (faces blurred by photographer Dara)
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has released a German citizen arrested during antigovernment riots on December 27 and plans to free a detained Syrian journalist, an Iranian news agency reported.

The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Tehran General Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying the German national was released late on January 8 while the Syrian journalist will be freed later today.

Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi on Ashura, a day of ritual Shi'ite mourning that fell on December 27.

It was the worst violence since protests in the immediate aftermath of a disputed presidential election in June. Opposition protesters say the vote was rigged in favor of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which the government denies.

The opposition website Rahesabz said on January 6 that more than 180 people, including 17 journalists, 10 Musavi aides, and some members of the outlawed Baha'i faith, were arrested in the aftermath of the December 27 protests.

A European diplomat was held for 24 hours.

Dolatabadi said that an unspecified number of Baha'is, whose faith is outlawed in Iran, will face trial this week. He did not give details.

"The German national was released last night and the Syrian reporter of Dubai Television will be released today," he said. He did not give any further information.

"The trial session of these Baha'is will be held during the current week at branch 28 of the Tehran Islamic revolutionary court," he added.

Dolatabadi said on January 8 that another five detainees Iran plans to try in connection with the antigovernment protests were members of the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an exile group opposed to Iran's Islamic system of government.
Bloggers Adnan Hajizada (left) and Emin Milli in court on December 22
An Azerbaijani court has postponed the hearing into an appeal by two bloggers jailed on what supporters say were politically motivated charges, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli were sentenced in November to two and 2 1/2 years in jail on hooliganism charges after a scuffle at a restaurant during the summer.

Both maintain that they were attacked in the restaurant in a politically motivated provocation related to their criticism of the government.

At a brief hearing in Baku today, both men protested as their alleged victims, Babak Huseynov and Vusal Mammadov, did not appear in court.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for January 22.

Hajizada and Milli requested the men's presence at the hearing. The judge accepted their request and said Huseynov and Mammadov would be called to court to attend the next hearing scheduled for January 22.

International organizations and activists have called the charges against Hajizada and Milli politically motivated and the European Parliament last month called for their immediate release in a resolution critical of media freedom in Azerbaijan.

Both men are active in youth groups that have been highly critical of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

One group recently circulated a video of a press conference with an activist in a donkey suit that mocked government corruption.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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