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Two Azerbaijani poets released by Iranian authorities

(RSF/IFEX) - 5 September 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is relieved by yesterday's announcement that Farid Huseyn and Shahriyar Hajizade, two Azerbaijani journalists and poets who had been detained arbitrarily in Iran for the past four months on spying charges, have finally been released.

"We are delighted that Huseyn and Hajizade are finally free as their ordeal had dragged on too long," Reporters Without Borders said. "The outcome, which has more of the hallmarks of a Cold War prisoner swap than a sober judicial decision, emphasizes the absurdity of the charges brought against them.

"We reiterate our call for the immediate release of Anar Bayramli, a correspondent for several Iranian media who is detained in Azerbaijan, and Said Matinpour, a journalist with an Iranian Azeri-language newspaper who is detained in
Iran. It is unacceptable that the Azerbaijani and Iranian government use journalists as bargaining chips."

Huseyn and Hajizade are currently in the Azerbaijani consulate in Tabriz, in northern Iran, and are expected to return to Baku in the course of the next two days. After they went missing in Tabriz on 2 May, while on their way back from a news conference in Tehran, the Iranian government took a month and a half to confirm that it had arrested them. They were subsequently charged with spying.

Employed by two Iranian government media, Fars News and Sahar TV, Bayramli was arrested in Baku on 17 February and was given a two-year jail sentence on the trumped-up charge of possessing drugs. His sentence was halved last month.

Matinpour, who worked for the Azeri-language weekly Yarpagh, was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of anti-government propaganda and "maintaining relations with foreigners" following his arrest on 11 July 2009.

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