July 23, 2015: #SetThemFree Campaign Updates

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Azerbaijan: Court Date Set for Leyla and Arif Yunus – In Azerbaijan, the imprisoned human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus will go on trial on July 27, following year-long detentions on politically-motivated charges. In spite of their deteriorating health conditions, their powerful messages continue to resonate and will never be silenced, as echoed by fellow activist Emin Milli in this exclusive interview for the #SetThemFree campaign. Also, 16 U.S. Senators expressed their concerns on the diminishing space for both civil society and the freedom of press within Azerbaijan.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab Released – On July 13, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was released from his six-month sentence after being pardoned by King Hamad. He was arrested on April 2, 2015 for a series of tweets for exposing the government’s complicity in human rights violations, and faced a three-year jail sentence. Rajab has been detained on several occasions for his activism and has served several prison sentences since setting up the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002.

Ethiopia: Calls to Release Remaining Bloggers – Following more than a year in prison, five Ethiopian Zone 9 bloggers and journalists were finally released with all their charges dropped on July 8 and 9. The remaining four bloggers – Befeqadu Hailu, Natnael Feleke, Atnaf Berahane and Abel Wabela – still remain behind bars on terrorism charges. These arrests are part of a systematic repression of independent media in the country, and actions are ongoing to set the other political prisoners free.

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