US Senator Kent Conrad: These Arrests Were Likely Politically Motivated

WASHINGTON DC. August 4, 2009: In response to an inquiry from a constituency, US Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of Senate Budget Committee, made the following statement in a letter about the case of arrested Azerbaijani youth activists, Emin Milll and Adnan Hajizada:

As you know, youth democracy activists and bloggers Emin Milll and Adnan Hajizada were recently taken into custody by Azeri authorities and charged with hooliganism after they were involved in a fight that witnesses indicated they did not start.

The President of Azerbaijan has frequently faced criticism over the dwindling press freedoms in that country. In response, Internet use has risen, and these two men have been at the forefront of the effort to circumvent restrictions on the press in Azerbaijan. While government authorities deny it, it seems likely that these arrests were politically motivated. What's more, because the two men have been denied access to lawyers and medical care, it appears that the government is violating their basic rights.

In recent days both, American and German diplomats have expressed concerns about the arrests. Azeri authorities responded by asking the embassies to "stop interfering in the investigation." Please be assured that I will keep in mind your support for legislative action in condemnation of these arrests as relevant legislation comes before the Senate.

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