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A court in the Russian city of St Petersburg has sentenced a man to 12 1/2 years in prison on charges of being a leader of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir organization.

Sergei Yablokov was found guilty of "organizing the activities of a terrorist group," his defense lawyer said on March 30.

The lawyer, Vladimir Spiridovich, said Yablokov pleaded guilty and "repented."

Yablokov was arrested along with another alleged leader of a Hizb-ut-Tahrir cell in St. Petersburg, Roman Ivanov in June 2014.

Ivanov is being tried separately.

Russia's Supreme Court banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2003, designating it a "terrorist organization."

The group is also banned across Central Asia.

Hizb- ut-Tahrir, a London-based Sunni political organization, seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax
Azerbaijani author Akram Aylisli (file photo)

BAKU -- Prominent Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli has been briefly detained by police at Baku International Airport and prevented from travelling abroad to an Italian literary festival.

The Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said Aylisli, 78, was detained in connection with "an incident" at the airport before being released. The ministry did not disclose further details.

Aylisli's son, Nacaf Naibov said border guards told his father that he is banned from leaving the country.

Aylisli has been under government pressure since the 2012 publication of his novel Stone Dreams that focused on clashes between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Baku and Nagorno-Karabakh, the mostly Armenian-populated region that broke away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s.

After the publication of the novel, the writer was officially stripped of his People's Writer title and his presidentially-awarded pension. He was also expelled from the Union of Azerbaijani Writers.

In 2013, a pro-government party offered a $12,700 reward to anyone who cuts off one of Aylisli's ears.

With reporting by

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