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Azerbaijani Journalist Says Five Years In Prison Did Not Change Him

Azerbaijani journalist Seymur Hazi (left) after his release from Prison on August 29.

BAKU -- An Azerbaijani journalist, who was released from prison after serving a five-year term for hooliganism, a charge he has rejected as politically motivated, says the incarceration did not make him change his views.

Before his arrest in August 2014, Seymur Hazi worked for the opposition newspaper Azadliq (Liberty). He was also a television anchor and is a member of the opposition Popular Front Party.

In January 2015, he was found guilty of hooliganism and handed a five-year prison term.

Amnesty International has recognized Hazi as a prisoner of conscience.

Hazi, who was released early on August 29, told his colleagues and relatives that the prison had not broken him.

"My attitude has not changed. It [my sentencing] was the authorities' order to make me stop talking... The authorities demonstrated that they cannot stand criticism and their only response to criticism is persecution," Hazi said.

In December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Hazi's arrest was illegal and ordered the Azerbaijani government to pay him 13,000 euros ($14,400) as compensation.