BAKU – Agence France-Presse
Prominent Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus was detained on July 30 and could face charges, a family spokesman said.
The award-winning campaigner was forced into a car in the courtyard of her apartment building in Baku and taken away by three plain-clothes men, said the spokesman, Yusif Agayev.
Yunus was taken to appear before prosecutors in the serious crimes office and “we believe she will be charged,” he added, although he said he did not know the charges could be. Yunus’ apartment was sealed off by police.
A fierce critic of Azerbaijan’s poor rights record, Yunus is head of one of Azerbaijan’s leading rights groups, the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Baku. She was detained and questioned for several hours in April.
Yunus has long worked with Armenian activists advocating the reconciliation of the two countries, which have been locked in a decades-long conflict over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region. She has won several foreign prizes and honours for her work.
Any display of dissent in Azerbaijan is usually met with a tough government response. Rights groups say the government has been clamping down on opponents since President Ilham Aliyev’s re-election last year.
Aliyev, 52, secured a third term in October polls – seen as flawed by international observers – extending his family’s decades-long grip on power in the tightly controlled Caspian Sea nation.
He first took power in 2003 following a disputed election after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and Communist-era leader.