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Azerbaijani Opposition Journalist Released On Bail In Ukraine

Fikret Huseynli was stabbed, beaten, and left for dead by unknown assailants in Baku in 2006.
Fikret Huseynli was stabbed, beaten, and left for dead by unknown assailants in Baku in 2006.

KYIV -- A Ukrainian court has released on bail a self-exiled Azerbaijani opposition journalist, Ukrainian lawmaker Mykola Knyazhytskiy said on his Facebook page.

The court released Fikret Huseynli after he appealed a court decision to keep him jailed while the authorities in Kyiv determine whether he should be extradited to Baku.

Huseynli's release was confirmed to RFE/RL by his lawyer Dmitry Mazurok on October 27.

Huseynli was detained on October 14 by Ukrainian border guards while he was preparing to board a passenger flight from Kyiv to Germany.

The arrest warrant against Huseynli, issued by Azerbaijan, charged the opposition journalist with alleged fraud, falsification of official documents, and illegal migration.

Rights groups say Baku issued the arrest warrant for Huseynli as part of a wider effort to crack down on critics abroad.

Ukraine's border-guard service said he was arrested because his name appeared on Interpol's database of wanted persons.

Huseynli, who formerly worked for Azerbaijan's opposition Azadliq newspaper, fled to the Netherlands after he was stabbed, beaten, and left for dead by unknown assailants in Baku in 2006.

Azadliq says the attack was retaliation for reports on alleged government corruption in Baku.

Huseynli was granted political asylum by the Dutch government when he arrived there in early 2008 and has since obtained Dutch citizenship.

Huseynli now works as a correspondent for Turan TV, a Baku-based news website that is among the last opposition news organizations not to have been shut down by President Ilham Aliyev's government.

U.S.-based Freedom House has called on Ukraine to release him and stop any extradition procedures against him.

The director of Freedom House's Eurasia programs, Marc Behrendt, said on October 23 the case "reflects Azerbaijan's harassment of journalists rather than any actual criminal offense" by Huseynli.

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