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Opposition Activist Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison In Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani opposition activist Fuad Ahmadli

BAKU -- An activist of Azerbaijan's opposition Popular Front Party (AXCP) has been sentenced to four years in prison after a trial that he said was politically motivated.

The Baku Court for Serious Crimes on June 16 found Fuad Ahmadli guilty of giving to a third party illegally obtained personal data of a mobile operator's clients, and sentenced him the same day.

Ahmadli was arrested in August 2016 and charged with stealing the personal data of clients of mobile operator Azerfon, where he worked at the time.

Ahmadli told the court that the verdict was unfair and said the case against him was politically motivated, suggesting it was punishment for his activism.

"By handing down this this unfair and ordered-from-above verdict you are adding yourselves to history's dark pages," Ahmadli said, addressing the court.

Critics of longtime President Ilham Aliyev's government say authorities in the oil-rich Caspian Sea state frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing opposition activists, reporters, rights defenders, and civil-society advocates on trumped-up charges.