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RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service journalist Khadija Ismayilova (file photo)
Police in Azerbaijan have detained more than a dozen journalists protesting the apparent renewal of a blackmail and intimidation campaign against RFE/RL investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

The reporters were released after being taken to a police station in the capital, Baku.

The journalists, most of them women, chanted slogans including "Khadija, we are with you!"

RELATED: Threats Escalate Against RFE/RL Reporter In Azerbaijan

Ismayilova's reports have implicated President Ilham Aliyev, who will run for a third term in October, and his family in improper financial activities worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ismayilova, who reports for the Azerbaijani Service of the U.S.-funded broadcaster, responded defiantly to the appearance on the Internet in early 2012 of an explicit video in which she was shown.

On August 1, RFE/RL called on Azerbaijani authorities to investigate the new video, which contains intimate and illegally obtained images of Ismayilova.
Ales Byalyatski in court in 2011
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus has urged the Belarusian government to "immediately and unconditionally" release imprisoned rights activist Ales Byalyatski.

Miklos Haraszti said in a statement issued on August 2 that Byalyatski's detention is "a symbol of the repression against human rights defenders."

Byalyatski, who helped found the opposition Popular Front and heads the human rights group, Vyasna (Spring), was sentenced in November 2011 to 4 1/2 years in prison on tax-evasion charges that his supporters say are politically motivated.

The charges stemmed from Byalyatski's alleged use of personal accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for rights activities in Belarus.

Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience and Western leaders have called for his unconditional release.

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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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RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

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