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Access has been denied to the Asia-Plus website
DUSHANBE -- Internet access to Tajikistan's leading independent news agency Asia Plus remains cut off for a second day.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Tajik Communications Ministry official Beg Zuhurov claimed "maintenance reasons" were behind the loss of access, which began Tuesday.

Asia Plus, however, accuses authorities of blocking access because of some readers' comments, which were published on the website and seen by officials as being critical of authorities.

Asia Plus said negotiations are under way with officials to restore access, and the agency has pledged to publish its daily news bulletin on its Facebook page.

Earlier this year, Tajik officials blocked access to Facebook and several independent news agencies, citing "technical reasons."
Azerbaijani photographer Mehman Huseynov
BAKU -- Police in Azerbaijan have detained a pro-democracy photographer and blogger on charges of "hooliganism."

Mehman Huseynov, who was arrested on June 12, works for the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety campaign group and the independent Azeri Turan news agency.

His colleague, Elchin Sadiqov, told RFE/RL that Huseynov was charged with "hooliganism" for allegedly insulting and injuring police during an unauthorized opposition rally on the eve of last month's Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.

Azerbaijani opposition groups staged a series of unauthorized rallies during Eurovision in a bid to use the internationally watched event to highlight human-rights violations.

Human rights groups regularly rate the energy-rich Azerbaijani government's record as poor, citing incidents of police torture, people imprisoned for opposition to the government, and restrictions on free speech and assembly.

With reporting by AFP

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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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