Azerbaijan's President Orders Release of Politicians, Activists

(Bloomberg) -- Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree pardoning more than 400 people, including opposition politicians and pro-democracy youth activists who were listed as political prisoners by international human rights groups.

Fuad Qahramanli and Gozal Bayramli, deputy leaders of the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party, are among the pardoned, according to a statement on the presidential website. Pro-opposition youth activists Ilkin Rustamzada, Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov will also be released.

The pardoned are to be freed within 24 hours.

At least 43 human rights defenders, journalists, political and religious activists remained wrongfully imprisoned in Azerbaijan last year, according to Human Rights Watch. The
Azeri government denies having any political prisoners.

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