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Jailed Azerbaijani Blogger Selected For British Fellowship

Emin Milli, photographed in 2009, is serving a 2 1/2 year jail term.
Emin Milli, photographed in 2009, is serving a 2 1/2 year jail term.
BAKU -- Jailed Azerbaijani blogger Emin Milli has been offered a place in a prestigious British fellowship program designed for future leaders, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Professor Brian Brivati, the director of the London-based John Smith Memorial Trust, told RFE/RL that Milli has been offered a fellowship in their 2010 program.

Brivati said it is up to the trust's board to decide whether or not to defer the offer until 2012, when Milli is due to be released from jail after serving a 2 1/2 year sentence.

Milli and fellow blogger Adnan Hajizade were found guilty last year of hooliganism and inflicting bodily harm. They believe the charges against them were politically motivated in retaliation for their satirical reporting on Azerbaijani government policy.

Brivati described Milli as "an outstanding individual" who has "demonstrated leadership" in his field.

The John Smith Fellowship is named after a former leader of the Labour Party. It was established in 1996, two years after Smith's death.

The five-week program in the United Kingdom is aimed at young people from former Soviet republics who are working in politics, local government, or civil society. It focuses on principles of good governance, democracy, and social justice.