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Azerbaijani photographer Mehman Huseynov after his release on June 13
BAKU -- An Azerbaijani pro-democracy photographer and blogger has been released a day after his arrest -- but with the charges against him increased.

Mehman Huseynov, who works for the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety campaign group and the independent Azerbaijani Turan news agency, told journalists after his release on June 13 that he has now been charged with "assaulting" police during an unauthorized opposition rally on the eve of last month's Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.

The assault charge could result in up to five years in jail if he is convicted.

Huseynov had initially been charged with "hooliganism."

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.
Abdolfattah Soltani
Amnesty International has called on Iran to "immediately and unconditionally" release prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani.

Soltani, who together with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi co-founded a rights center, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by an appeal court.

Rights watchdog Amnesty says Soltani has been pressured to "confess" on camera that his rights center had received funding from foreign sources to encourage a "soft revolution" in Iran -- which the lawyer denies.

Amnesty continues to call on Iranian authorities to allow human rights defenders carry out their work without fear of persecution or harassment.

Soltani who has been in jail since 2010, was first sentenced to 18 years in prison in March.

Several of Soltani's colleagues have been also sentenced to jail.

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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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