Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Azerbaijani authorities appear to be trying to silence members of a youth activist group.
In a statement
released on April 3, HRW's deputy Europe and Central Asia director, Rachel Denber, said that the recent arrests of seven activists on charges of illegal drugs and weapons possession "are clearly intended to intimidate other young activists critical of the government."
All seven are board members of Nida, a youth opposition movement that is active on social media.
HRW says they were detained in connection with a peaceful protest on March 10.
In the most recent arrests, the Nasimi District Court ordered pretrial detention for Nida board members Uzeyir Mammadli, Rashadat Akhundov, and Zaur Qurbanli.
HRW says Azerbaijani authorities have a record of pressing false charges, including drug possession, to intimidate and silence investigative journalists.