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Jailed Azerbaijani Bloggers Face Additional Charge

Adnan Hajizade (left) and Emin Milli
Adnan Hajizade (left) and Emin Milli
Azerbaijani bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada, arrested last month on charges of hooliganism, have also been charged with assault, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The youth activists' attorney, Isaxan Ashurov, told RFE/RL that the charge was filed on August 21 at the end of the investigation into a July 8 incident in which the two were involved in a dispute at a restaurant in Baku.

The rights activists initially called the charges "fabricated" and refused to be interrogated by police.

Ashurov says that Qanimat Zahid, editor in chief of the opposition newspaper "Azadliq," was imprisoned for four years in 2007 on the same charges.

Milli and Hajizada were reportedly dining with friends in the restaurant when they were approached by two men who said they were offended by their conversation. The men then began hitting the activists.

All four were detained by police, but the unidentified men were released.

Milli, a member of the youth opposition group Alumni Network, and Hajizada, a member of the opposition group OL, remain in pretrial detention.

International organizations and some Western politicians have called for their release, saying that the incident is directly related to the bloggers' political activities.

A few days before the incident, OL put a video on YouTube, Facebook, and other websites showing a person dressed as a German donkey immigrating to Azerbaijan and praising the opportunities and rights that Azerbaijan offers donkeys.

But a question superimposed at the of the video asks, "What about the people's rights?"

The video (see below) was posted in the wake of an official report that the Azerbaijani government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars importing a dozen donkeys in a deal that may have masked corruption or the theft of public funds.