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Freedom House says the Azerbaijani government "should end its campaign of innuendo and threats against" lawyers Fariz Namazli (left) and Elcin Sadiqov.

An international human rights watchdog has called on the Azerbaijani government to stop what it calls the harassment of two lawyers known for representing political prisoners.

Robert Herman, vice president for international programs at the U.S.-based NGO Freedom House, said in a November 3 statement that the Azerbaijani government "should end its campaign of innuendo and threats against Elchin Sadiqov and Fariz Namazli, two of the few lawyers in the country who dare to represent political prisoners and bring attention to government wrongdoing."

Herman added that "the [Azerbaijani] government should stop mistreating lawyers for conducting their professional duties."

A pro-government media outlet in Azerbaijan posted articles on its website on November 2 accusing Sadiqov of being romantically involved with the wife of one of his clients.

Sadiqov said he also received violent threats while at the Interior Ministry and his wife, lawyer Zubeyda Sadiqova, has also received threats recently in regard to her husband's work.

Also on November 2, Namazli was told a complaint had been filed against him alleging that he assaulted someone while in court on October 20, in an incident during which Namazli himself had been the victim of an unprovoked attack.

Azerbaijan is rated as "Not Free" in Freedom House's overall freedom and media freedom indexes.

U.S. President Barack Obama is scaling the Guantanamo facility down by transferring detainees not considered a threat to foreign countries. (file photo)

Eight Afghans detained in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay have been imprisoned for years on the basis of "vague accusations" rife with "gross errors of fact," according to a new report.

The report, titled Kafka In Cuba, The Afghan Experience In Guantanamo, was published on November 3 by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), an independent, nonprofit research group.

AAN examined the cases of eight of the longest-serving Afghan detainees, all either still in Guantanamo Bay or recently moved to the United Arab Emirates.

The detainees, including a former flower seller and a doorman, were held over accusations ranging from being a Taliban financier to being a member of an Al-Qaeda bomb-making cell.

But the report said the U.S. military had been unable to substantiate accusations against any of them.

"Reading through the United States military and court documents outlining the allegations and evidence against these eight men, one enters a Kafkaesque world of strange, vague accusations, rife with hearsay, secret evidence, bad translations, gross errors of fact and testimony obtained under duress and torture", it said.

The report said the cases demonstrate the “perilousness of the power to arbitrarily detain,” which in Afghanistan has led to “miscarriages of justice,” a major factor in driving some Afghans toward insurgency.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who had pledged to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office in January, is scaling the facility down by transferring detainees not considered a threat to foreign countries.

Afghans make up more than one-quarter of the 781 men held in the prison.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa

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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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