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Azeri Bloggers Charged in 'Donkey-Gate' Case

Youth activists Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli
Youth activists Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli
Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada, two prominent Azeri bloggers and youth activists, were arrested on July 9 after being assaulted by two men at a restaurant in Baku. Milli, a member of the youth opposition group Alumni Network, is active in social networks like Facebook. Hajizada is one of the founders of the OL! Youth group, which highlights the social problems of young people through popular videos on YouTube and social networking sites.

Hajizada had recently produced a video that was widely viewed on YouTube satirizing the Azeri government’s alleged willingness to pay exhorbitant fees to import donkeys. Rights groups say the charges were fabricated to punish the activists for their criticism of the government. Both are in pretrial detention on charges of hooliganism, which carries a sentence of one to five years in prison. On August 21, the two were also charged with assault.

International organizations and some Western diplomats have called for their release, saying that the incident is directly related to the bloggers' political activities.