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Azerbaijani Activist Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison On 'Absurd' Terrorism Charges

Niyameddin Ahmadov
Niyameddin Ahmadov

BAKU -- A court in Baku has sentenced a member of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP) to 13 years in prison after finding him guilty of financing terrorism -- a charge he and his supporters have rejected as "absurd."

Niyameddin Ahmadov's relatives, friends, and colleagues were not allowed to be present in the courtroom when Judge Siyavus Haciyev pronounced the verdict and sentence on October 8.

In his last testimony at the trial, Ahmadov reiterated his innocence and called all charges against him unfounded.

His lawyers said the court's decision will be appealed.

Police detained several supporters of Ahmadov who had gathered in front of the Court for Serious Crimes in Baku.

Ahmadov is a bodyguard of AXCP's leader Ali Karimli.

He was detained in mid-April and initially found guilty of violating sanitary regulations introduced to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Ahmadov was sentenced to 30 days in jail on that charge.

He was later charged with financing terrorism.

Human rights groups in Azerbaijan recognized Ahmadov as a political prisoner.

Critics of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev say authorities of the energy-rich South Caucasus state frequently jail opposition activists, reporters, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates without grounds to silence dissent.

Aliyev, who has ruled Azerbaijan since shortly before the death of his predecessor, his father Heydar Aliyev, in 2003, has rejected the criticism.

With reporting by Turan

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