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Azerbaijan detains another youth activist on drug charges


Azerbaijan has remanded a prominent youth activist in pre-trial custody on drug charges dismissed on Monday as trumped up by opponents of veteran President Ilham Aliyev.

Omar Mammadov, 19, director of the Current youth movement, was ordered to stay in pre-trial detention for three months at a court hearing Saturday, Samir Asadli, head of umbrella opposition group Civil Solidarity told AFP.

Asadli said that Mammadov, who was arrested early last week, was well known for criticising the government of the strongman leader on Facebook.

Authorities in the oil-rich former Soviet state usually meet any signs of dissent with a harsh response and have jailed scores of opponents, including those posting criticism online.

Human Rights Watch has accused the government of using "bogus" drugs and weapons accusations to stifle dissent.

Rights groups say there is a continuing crackdown by Azerbaijan's government on its critics in the wake of Aliyev's re-election in October.

Aliyev secured a third term with some 85 percent of the vote at October 9 polls slammed as flawed by OSCE observers to extend his family's decades-long grip on power in the tightly-controlled Caspian Sea nation.

The 51-year-old Aliyev first took power in 2003 in a disputed election after the death of his father Heydar, a former KGB officer and Communist-era leader.