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U.S. Alarm Over Detained Azeri Activist

Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus pictured in Baku back in 2006.

The United States has expressed alarm over the continued pre-trial detention of a leading human rights defender in Azerbaijan.

The U.S. State Department also said Leyla Yunus was not receiving medical attention despite her deteriorating health.

In a statement, spokesperson Jen Psaki urged authorities in Baku to release those detained for exercising fundamental rights, starting with those with serious medical conditions, including Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif.

Leyla Yunus, a 57-years-old fierce critic of Azerbaijan's poor rights record, was arrested on July 30. She was charged with high treason, spying for Armenia, illegal business activities, documents forgery and fraud.

Arif Yunus, 59, was charged with treason and fraud the same day and put in pre-trial detention as well.

Leyla Yunus, the founding director of the unregistered Peace and Democracy Institute in Baku, has been actively involved in people-to-people diplomacy with Armenian rights activists.