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Azerbaijan Jails Journalist For Five Years For Hooliganism

A journalist in Azerbaijan has been convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to five years in prison.

The Absheron district court handed down the sentence against Seymur Hezi on January 29.

Hezi is a journalist with the opposition newspaper Azadliq, a television anchor, and a member of the opposition Popular Front Party.

He has been held in jail since August on hooliganism charges.

His father, Mesgul Heziyev, said the court "simply carried out a politically motivated order."

Defense lawyer Adyl Ismailov said the verdict would be appealed.

Hezi was abducted and beaten by unidentified assailants in 2011. His captors warned him to end his opposition activities.

In its annual report published on January 29, Human Rights Watch says the Azerbaijani government "escalated repression" against its critics last year, "marking a dramatic deterioration in its already poor rights record."

It says Azerbaijani authorities convicted or imprisoned at least 33 human rights defenders, political and civil activists, journalists, and bloggers on politically motivated charges.

With reporting by Reuters

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