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Detained Azerbaijani Opposition Journalist Appeals Ukrainian Court Ruling

KYIV -- A self-exiled Azerbaijani opposition journalist has appealed a Ukrainian court’s decision to keep him jailed while authorities in Kyiv determine whether he should be extradited to Baku.

The appeal in the case against Fikret Huseynli was registered on October 23 at a local court in Boryspil near Kyiv, his lawyer, Dmytro Mazurok told RFE/RL.

Huseynli was detained on October 14 by Ukrainian border guards while he was preparing to board a passenger flight from Kyiv to Germany.

The arrest warrant against Huseynli, issued by Azerbaijan, charged the opposition journalist with alleged fraud, falsification of official documents, and illegal migration.

Rights groups say Baku issued the arrest warrant for Huseynli as part of a wider effort to crack down on critics abroad.

Ukraine’s border guard service said he was arrested because his name appeared on Interpol’s database of wanted persons.

Huseynli, who formerly worked for Azerbaijan’s opposition Azadliq newspaper, fled to the Netherlands after he was stabbed, beaten, and left for dead by unknown assailants in Baku in 2006.

Azadliq says the attack was retaliation for reports on alleged government corruption in Baku.

Huseynli was granted political asylum by the Dutch government when he arrived there in early 2008 and has since obtained Dutch citizenship.

Huseynli now works as a correspondent for Turan TV, a Baku-based news website that is among the last opposition news organizations not to have been shut down by President Ilham Aliyev’s government.

Washington-based Freedom House says Ukraine should immediately release Huseynli and stop any extradition procedures against him.

The director of Freedom House’s Eurasia programs, Marc Behrendt, says the case “reflects Azerbaijan’s harassment of journalists rather than any actual criminal offense” by Huseynli.