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Azerbaijan Jails Opposition Leader For Six Years

Azerbaijani opposition leader Faradj Kerimli (file photo)
Azerbaijani opposition leader Faradj Kerimli (file photo)

A court in Azerbaijan has jailed a leading opposition activist to six-and-a-half years in jail on drugs charges that have been described as politically motivated by government critics.

The serious crimes court in Baku found Faradj Kerimli, deputy head of the opposition party Musavat, guilty of large-scale narcotics dealing, his lawyer Neimat Kerimli said.

The lawyer said the defendant had already dismissed the charges as fabricated.

The attorney said Kerimli, who had run Musavat's website and Facebook page, used them as a platform to blow the whistle on widespread corruption in the regime of President Ilham Aliyev.

In March, Kerimli's brother, Siradj, was also sentenced to six years in prison.

Rights groups say the authorities have stepped up their campaign to stifle opposition since Aliyev's election to a third term in 2013.

Aliyev came to power in 2003 following an election seen as flawed by international observers.

He took over after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, who had ruled newly independent Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993.

Based on reporting by AFP

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