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Iraqis, Azerbaijani, Ukrainian Movement Among Sakharov Prize Nominees

Leyla Yunus in a May 2013 photo

A law professor and a Christian religious leader in Iraq, an Azerbaijani rights defender, and Ukraine's pro-Western Euromaidan movement are among the nominees for the European Parliament’s 2014 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

The two Iraqi nominees -- Mahmud Al 'Asali and the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako -- have both spoken out against anti-Christian persecution in Iraq. Asali was killed in July.

Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus, who has been involved in people-to-people diplomacy with Armenian rights activists, is currently in pretrial detention on high treason charges.

The Euromaidan movement derived from a wave of pro-EU demonstrations across Ukraine that led to President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster in February.

Two European Parliament committees will shortlist three finalists next month.

The 50,000 euro ($64,200) Sakharov Prize is awarded annually to honor defenders of human rights and freedom of expression.

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