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Azerbaijan Prolongs Journalist Ismayilova's Pretrial Detention

Khadija Ismayil tries to greet supporters and journalists outside the Baku courtroom on Januarya 27, when she had her pretrial detention extended. (POOR QUALITY PHOTO)

BAKU -- A court in Azerbaijan has prolonged the pretrial detention period for Khadija Ismayilova, a jailed investigative journalist and contributor to RFE/RL.

The Sabayil District Court in Baku ruled on January 27 that Ismayilova's pretrial detention, which had been due to expire on February 5, will be extended for another two months.

Ismayilova was arrested on December 5 and ordered held in pretrial detention for two months on suspicion of inciting an attempted suicide. Her supporters say the case is politically motivated.

A day before Ismayilova's arrest, on December 4, Azeri Presidential Chief of Staff Ramiz Mehdiyev publicly accused Ismayilova of treason.

In late December, RFE/RL's bureau in Baku was ransacked and ordered closed by investigators, while dozens of RFE/RL's reporters were summoned to police for questioning related to their employment.

The European Union and U.S. officials have expressed concern over Baku's crackdown on activists and media.