Azerbaijan hunts France-based democracy blogger

12th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Azerbaijan has issued an international warrant for the arrest of a France-based blogger who tried to organise pro-democracy protests through the social networking site Facebook, officials said Tuesday.

The interior ministry said that it was seeking the arrest of Azerbaijani blogger Elnur Majidli for allegedly calling for a violent overthrow of the government in the energy-rich ex-Soviet state.

Majidli -- an activist who currently lives in the French city of Strasbourg -- was one of the organisers of a "Great People's Day" protest via Facebook in March, which ended in around 40 arrests of young people in Baku.

But Majidli insisted that he was calling for peaceful protest, not a violent uprising.

"I am not against the state, I am against the current authorities of Azerbaijan, who trample on human rights and falsify elections," he said in comments reported by regional media on Tuesday.

In recent weeks, police in Azerbaijan have also broken up two opposition demonstrations, arresting dozens and sparking criticism from the US and the EU.

Opposition activists complain of a lack of democratic rights and free speech in Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim country which is an important supplier of oil and gas to the West.

But officials from the governing party of President Ilham Aliyev say that an unpopular opposition is trying to attract attention by causing chaos, and have warned Western critics not to interfere in Azerbaijan's internal affairs.

© 2011 AFP

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