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Emil Kurbedinov

Freedom House has condemned the arrest of lawyer Emil Kurbedinov and his client Seyran Saliev by Russian-imposed prosecutors in Ukraine's Moscow-annexed Crimea region.

Robert Herman, the vice president for international programs at Freedom House, is demanding the immediate release of Kurbedinov and Saliev.

A court in the Crimea's capital of Simferopol on January 26 sentenced Kurbedinov to 10 days in jail for publishing video footage from a Hizb ut-Tahrir rally in 2013 -- the year before Russia illegally annexed Crimea.

Saliev was arrested the same day and could face terrorism charges.

Both Kurbedinov and Saliev are Crimean Tatars.

Russia has been heavily criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of Crimea's indigenous Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim people since Russia seized control of the Ukrainian region in March 2014.

Arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported.

The state media regulator said in a statement on January 26 that Amir Liaqat's daily show on the Bol television channel had been discontinued and prohibited from appearing on the channel "in any manner."

Pakistan has banned a popular television host after he said five bloggers who are missing were enemies who deserved to die under blasphemy laws.

The state media regulator said in a statement on January 26 that Amir Liaqat's daily show on the Bol television channel had been discontinued and prohibited from appearing on the channel "in any manner."

"Liaqat cannot call anyone an infidel or traitor," the statement said, adding that hate speech was a crime under Pakistani law.

In Pakistan blasphemy is a criminal offense that can result in the death penalty. Even being accused of blasphemy can lead to deadly attacks by religious vigilantes.

The five bloggers disappeared in separate incidents in the capital, Islamabad, and the cities of Lahore and Nankana Sahib earlier this month. The bloggers were known for their critical views of the country's military establishment and Islamic extremism.

On his show, Liaqat accused the five of blasphemy and also ridiculed other secular people, claiming they are enemies of the state and deserve to be killed.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bloggers' disappearances but rights groups say they suspect the bloggers were abducted by Pakistani intelligence agencies seeking to clamp down on dissent.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, AP, dpa, Reuters, and AFP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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