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Behrouz Ghobadi in an undated photo
Iranian filmmaker Behrouz Ghobadi has been released from prison following a campaign demanding his release spearheaded by Amnesty International.

In a press release on January 23, Amnesty said he had been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location since his arrest on November 4, 2012.

Behrouz Ghobadi is the younger brother of internationally acclaimed film director and outspoken government critic Bahman Ghobadi, who lives in exile.

He has been accused of "acting against national security."

But his family says he has never been involved in politics and his only connection to dissident activities is working on several of his brother's films.

Amnesty describes Behrouz Ghobadi's detention as "one of a series of attacks on freedom of expression by the Iranian authorities."

The campaign to demand his release engaged prominent Hollywood directors and actors.
Christoph Strasser was denied entry into Azerbaijan.
STRASBOURG, France -- A controversial report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan has been voted down at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The vote on January 23 was 125 votes to 79.

The report was prepared by German Social Democrat Christoph Strasser, who has drawn up a list of 85 alleged political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

On January 23, in an addendum to the report, Strasser said 35 of the people on the list had since been released.

Azerbaijan's delegation has strongly opposed the report.

Delegates from a number of other countries had also voiced doubts about its usefulness, citing persistent ambiguities about the definition of a political prisoner as well as questions about whether some on the list are in prison.

Strasser, who was denied entry into Azerbaijan, has demanded that Baku resolve the cases of the people on the list without demanding admissions of guilt or public repentance as a condition.

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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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