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Jailed Azerbaijani Blogger's Appeal Rejected

Jailed bloggers Emin Milli (left) and Adnan Hajizada
Jailed bloggers Emin Milli (left) and Adnan Hajizada
An Azerbaijani court has rejected an appeal by a jailed blogger seeking an early release from prison, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

A Baku district court said on July 26 that Adnan Hajizada -- who was sentenced in November along with fellow blogger Emin Milli after being found guilty of hooliganism -- should not be released from jail early because he has not admitted his guilt and did not exemplify good behavior since being imprisoned.

Defense lawyer Isakhan Ashurov appealed for Hajizada's early release after he served half of his two-year prison term. It is common in Azerbaijan for well-behaved prisoners convicted of lesser crimes to be released in such circumstances.

But prison officials Natig Hajiyev and Ali Nabiyev argued in court that Hajizada did not admit his guilt and although he spent most of his time reading and organizing intellectual activities in prison, he refused to paint some walls and clean the prison yard.

Hajizada said the claims by the prison officials were untrue and he did not believe the judge would release him, regardless of how good his behavior was in jail.

Hajizada and Milli were arrested in July 2009, shortly after filming and distributing a video using dressed-up donkeys to mock corruption within the government.

The hooliganism charges were based on a scuffle at a restaurant that the bloggers say was orchestrated by the police. Azerbaijan has ignored strong criticism from international organizations many Western governments over the cases of Hajizada and Milli.