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Azeri Opposition Leader’s Son Arrested Before Elections

An Azeri court sentenced opposition leader Ali Karimli’s son to 25 days in prison for “not obeying” police, a charge Karimli said was aimed at putting pressure on him before next month’s presidential election.

Turkel Karimli, a graduate of the U.K.’s University of Bristol, and two of his friends were detained late yesterday after they allegedly tore down campaign banners in the capital, Baku, Karimli’s People’s Front of Azerbaijan Party, or AXCP, said today in a statement on its website.

“AXCP views this as pressure against the party, democratic forces as a whole and Ali Karimli himself,” it said. The charges are “groundless and politically motivated.”

AXCP and its allies last month nominated Camil Hasanli, a historian and professor at Baku State University, to challenge President Ilham Aliyev in the Oct. 9 vote. Aliyev, 51, who succeeded his father in a disputed presidential ballot 10 years ago, is competing for a third term in office. His family has run the oil-rich Caspian Sea state for more than four decades.

The authorities are engaged in a “deliberate” and “abusive” strategy to limit dissent before the vote, Human Rights Watch said Sept. 2. The New York-based group also reported a “dramatic” deterioration in the government’s record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association in the last 18 months.

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