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Journalist Fikret Faramazoglu and four activists were arrested on May 22.
Four Azerbaijani youth activists detained during a protest on May 22 have been sentenced to up to eight days of administrative arrest, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The four, together with journalist Fikrat Faramazoglu, were apprehended during a rally on Baku Boulevard to demand the release of jailed fellow activists, including Baxtiyar Haciyev, Cabbar Savalan, and Rufat Hacibeyli.

The protesters also demanded the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev.

Azerbaijan Popular Front Party youth committee Chairman Abulfaz Qurbanli said Orxan Carciyev and Emin Farhadi were sentenced to eight days and Camil Haciyev and Agasi Shakiroglu to seven days' administrative arrest.

Faramazoglu was released later on May 22.

The protesters were members of the Committee to Protect Rights of Political Prisoners, an umbrella group on which various political parties and public organizations are represented.

Haciyev was sentenced last week to two years in prison on charges of draft evasion. Cabbar Savalan is serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for illegal possession of drugs.

The other activists were detained during opposition protests.

Human rights activists say their sentences were politically motivated.

Read more in Azeri here, including video from the protest
Yusuf Juma in a 2005 photo
TASHKENT -- Uzbek dissident poet Yusuf Juma, who was jailed for staging an antigovernment protest, has been released after serving three years of his five-year prison term, a human rights activist has told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

Abdurakhmon Tashanov, a member of the Tashkent-based Ezgulik (Goodness) human rights center, told RFE/RL today that Juma was brought from the notorious Jaslyk prison in western Uzbekistan to the central detention center in Tashkent several days ago.

He said that Juma was released from the detention center on May 18 and left Uzbekistan for the United States with his daughter on May 19.

Juma, 53, was sentenced to five years in jail in 2008 for "resisting police and injuring two policemen" during an antigovernment demonstration in the city of Bukhara.

Domestic and international human rights organizations had campaigned for Juma's release.

His family alleges that Juma was tortured in prison.

His wife, Gulnora, told a panel in Washington last year that prison officials had broken her husband's ribs, knocked his teeth out, and repeatedly broken his fingers to stop him writing.

According to Tashanov, Juma's early release from jail was based on an amnesty.

Read more in Uzbek here

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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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