BAKU — Prominent Azerbaijani human right activist Leyla Yunus has been charged with treason, fraud and tax evasion. Charges were brought against her husband Yusuf, too.
Yunus’s lawyer Xalid Bagirov told RFE/RL that officers of the Prosecutor General’s investigative directorate for serious crimes had detained his client near her house and brought her to the office by force on July 30.
A fierce critic of Azerbaijan’s poor rights record, Yunus is head of one of Azerbaijan’s leading rights groups, the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Baku.
Yunus has been actively involved for years in people-to-people diplomacy with Armenian rights activists advocating the reconciliation of the two countries. She has won several foreign prizes and honours for her work.
In April, Azerbaijani authorities prevented Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus from leaving the country, saying Leyla Yunus had been summoned as a witness in a probe against journalist Rauf Mirkadirov, who had been arrested for alleged spying for Armenia.
Prosecutor General’s office said later that Leyla Yunus avoids cooperating with investigators.
Any display of dissent in Azerbaijan is usually met with a tough government response. Rights groups say the government has been clamping down on opponents since President Ilham Aliyev’s re-election last year.