Azerbaijan says U.S. State Department politicizes issue of human rights activist (UPDATE)

Politics Materials 2 August 2014 13:49 (UTC +04:00)

Details added (first version posted on 12:06)

Baku, Azerbaijan, August 2


Azerbaijan assesses the statement of the U.S. Department of State on the human rights activist Leyla Yunusova as the politicization of the issue, interference in the investigation of the case against her and an attempt to cast doubt on the independence of Azerbaijan's judicial system, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Nobody is persecuted in Azerbaijan for political views and activities. No one can consider himself above the law in Azerbaijan as in any other democratic state where the rule of law is ensured," the statement said.

"Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office and the Ministry of National Security made a statement on July 31 on the reasons of Yunusova's detention. Alongside with other charges, she is also charged with the high treason," the Foreign Ministry's statement said.

"The allegations about the restrictions on the activities of civil society in Azerbaijan, where over 3,000 non-governmental organizations operate, are biased and have nothing to do with reality," the ministry said, adding that its is inadmissible to put political pressure on Azerbaijan this way.

Regarding the allegations that the charges against Yunusova are related to the public diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry said that Azerbaijan has always supported conducting dialogue with the Armenian communities in Nagorno-Karabakh region to resolve the conflict in the shortest possible time.

"However, social activities and public diplomacy should be conducted in accordance with the Azerbaijani law", the ministry added.

"It would've been better if the U.S. Department of State, which always positions itself as the defender of the rule of law, based on the principles of international law and the decisions of international organizations, thought about imposing sanctions on Armenia, which occupied Azerbaijani territories, started a bloody ethnic cleansing and continues these acts today," the statement said.

Earlier, the U.S. has expressed deep concern about the arrest of human rights activist Leyla Yunusova and the charges brought against her.

"Criminal charges brought against the prominent human rights activist Leyla Yunusova and her spouse Arif Yunusov on July 30, cause deep concern and can lead to further restriction of peaceful activities of civil society in Azerbaijan, " the deputy spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Marie Harf said in her statement.

Yunusova and her husband Arif Yunusov are accused of secret collaboration with some citizens to coordinate with representatives of Armenian special services, according to the joint information disseminated by the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office and the Ministry of National Security on July 31.

"Leyla Yunusova and Arif Yunusov established relations with some Azerbaijani citizens, whose names were not disclosed, and the representatives of the Armenian special service," according to the statement. "They performed their task in gathering information for using it against Azerbaijan, including the current socio-political situation in the country, as well as in the fields of industry, energy, military-technical support, propaganda of the need to recognize the independence of the far-fetched "Nagorno-Karabakh regime" in exchange for the liberation of the occupied territories."