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Azerbaijani Satirist Released

Mirza Sakit after his release in Baku on April 9
Mirza Sakit after his release in Baku on April 9
After a long delay, Azerbaijani prison authorities have released opposition writer Mirza Sakit in accordance with a presidential pardon. He has been freed two months before the end of a 2 1/2-year sentence on drug charges.

As soon he was freed, Sakit told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that he is going back to his old job in the newspaper "Azadliq" and he is planning to write more about the miserable life in Azeri prisons.

He also said his first project will be a series of reports about corruption and rights violations in the prison system. The U.S. ambassador and human rights groups have welcomed his release.

Sakit's brother, "Azadliq" Editor in Chief Qanimat Zahid, is still in prison serving a four-year sentence. The cases against Zahid and Sakit are widely considered to have been politically motivated.

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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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