Two Azerbaijani bloggers have been arrested for uploading a video depicting a donkey giving a news-conference. The video was a parody of Azerbaijan's propaganda "news-conferences." The official charge is "hooliganism" and police say that the bloggers got involved in a "scuffle at a restaurant" but they deny having participated in any "scuffle" and insist that the arrest was political.
My father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan, near Baku, but I've never had the urge to go back and look up the spot.
Speaking to the BBC, Elsa Vidal – Europe desk officer with Reporters Without Borders – said that press freedoms in Azerbaijan were almost non-existent, making it "one of the black spots of the former USSR".
"The situation is still severe and local public servants enjoy virtual immunity from an investigation from the press when they try and expose corruption," she said.
"There are no grounds for the bloggers to be prosecuted. They should be released and all accusations should be dropped.
"The authorities have more to lose in jailing the bloggers than in freeing them, but who knows what will actually be said at the trial?" she added.
The UN Human Rights Committee also raised concerns about the arrests, saying there were "extensive limitations to the right to freedom of expression" in Azerbaijan.
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