MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) – Azerbaijani authorities have detained a young opposition activist on alleged drug charges in an apparent crackdown on critics of President Ilham Aliyev, RFE/RL radio reported Monday.
Omar Mamedov, 19, an activist from the opposition Civic Solidarity Party (VHP) and a former member of the NIDA movement, was arrested on January 24 shortly after returning from Cyprus, where he studies at Cyprus International University.
RFE/RL cited VHP representative Samir Asadli as saying that a Baku court had ruled that Mamedov, who is known for criticizing and mocking Azerbaijani authorities in his blog posts, must be kept in pretrial detention for three months.
Mamedov could face up to 12 years in jail if convicted of illegal drug possession. His friends and relatives have already branded the charges against him as politically motivated.
The young blogger is among dozens of opposition activists and critics of the authorities who have been arrested and charged with possession of drugs and firearms.
Among the arrested last year were seven members of the NIDA movement, a youth organization whose name is Azeri for exclamation mark.
In its annual World Report 2014, New York-based Human Rights Watch sharply criticized Azerbaijan’s human rights record on a number of issues, including arrests of political activists and journalists.