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Natig Jafarli immediately after his release

Azerbaijani authorities have released an opposition activist from jail, just weeks after his detention prompted international criticism in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.

Colleagues of Natig Jafarli, of the Republican Alternative Movement, said he was released from a Baku jail on September 9.

The head of the Republican movement, Ilqar Mammadov, remains in prison.

Jafarli was arrested on August 12, charged with “illegal entrepreneurship” and other charges that prosecutors said stemmed from a grant the Republican movement received from the U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, the National Democratic Institute.

The move comes ahead of a September 26 referendum scheduled in the tightly control South Caucasus country that will strengthen the authority of President Ilham Aliyev and likely prolong his rule.

The United States said it welcomed Jafarli's release and called for the release of Mammadov and others it considers to be political prisoners.

A Pakistani court has denied bail for the detained father of a British woman thought to have been the victim of a so-called honor killing.

Samia Shahid, a 28-year-old who held both Pakistani and British citizenship, was murdered in July during a visit with her family at a village in Pakistan's Punjab Province.

Regional police in the province announced the arrest of her father, Chaudhry Muhammad, as an accessory to murder.

Shahid’s first husband, Muhammad Shakeel, has been charged with raping and killing her.

Defense lawyer Mian Arif said on September 10 that his bail application was rejected by the court.

The next hearing has been schedule within the next week in the city of Jhelum.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and Dawn

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