Norway welcomes release of Azerbaijani human rights defender Leyla Yunus

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'I am pleased that Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif have now been let out of prison. Other Azerbaijani human rights defenders who have been jailed should now also be released. Some of them are also suffering from serious health problems and are in need of proper care,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

On 9 December, one of Azerbaijan's most high-profile human rights defenders, Leyla Yunus, was let out of prison. She is not allowed to leave Baku. Last month, her husband Arif Yunus, who was also in prison, was released, subject to the same restrictions. Both Leyla and Arif Yunus have serious health problems. In August, they were sentenced to eight and a half years and seven years in prison, respectively, for fraud, tax evasion, forgery of documents and illicit economic activities. Their guilty verdicts have been maintained, but the sentences have now been converted to five-year suspended sentences.

'Leyla and Arif Yunus have worked tirelessly for many years to promote fundamental human rights in Azerbaijan. Their efforts – and those of other human rights activists – should be given recognition, not met with imprisonment. We expect Azerbaijan to comply with its obligations to respect fundamental rights and freedoms,' said Mr Brende.