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U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson (file photo)

American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been jailed in Turkey for nearly two years on terrorism and spying charges, has been transferred to house arrest as his trial continues.

Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported on July 25 that the 50-year-old would be remanded in his home, but did not say when he would leave custody.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson's release and the case has strained relations with the United States.

Brunson, who was arrested in late 2016, faces up to 15 years in prison on the charge of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups," a reference to Kurdish separatists and a group that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

Brunson also faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the espionage charges against him.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000)

Iranian security forces have prevented devotees of fans of late poet Ahmad Shamlou, who pushed for greater freedoms and had some of his work banned under successive governments, from marking the 18th anniversary of his death.

Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that dozens of supporters of Shamlou attempted to hold a commemoration ceremony by his grave at a cemetery in the city or Karaj, west of Tehran, on July 24.

But security forces shut the gates of the cemetery in order to prevent any gathering at Shamlou's grave, a member of Iran's Writers Association who attempted to attend the event said.

Shamlou, who wrote poems describing an atmosphere of fear and repression following the 1979 revolution that brought the shah down and led to Islamic rule, is considered by many to have been Iran's most influential contemporary poet.

Some of his work was banned in Iran under the secular rule of the Western-backed shah.

Authorities have in past years repeatedly prevented people from marking Shamlou's death and remembering him at his grave in Karaj.

This year, eyewitnesses said the gates of the cemetery remained shut after security forces dispersed the crowd.

Reports said up to five people were detained, including two members of the Writers Association, which has in recent years come under pressure from authorities.

One of those detained was later released, reports said.

Shamlou was awarded the Freedom of Expression prize by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for his efforts in support of human rights.

He died in Tehran in 2000.

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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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