Azerbaijani journalist charged with spying for Armenia

Azerbaijan charged a prominent journalist on Monday with spying for its arch-foe Armenia and ordered him to spend three months in pre-trial detention.

Azerbaijan's prosecutor general's office said in a statement that Rauf Mirkadyrov had been charged with high treason after he "was recruited by the Armenian secret services in 2008 and supplied Yerevan with information on Azerbaijan's state secrets".

"He has been placed in pre-trial custody for three months," his lawyer Fuad Agayev told AFP.

Mirkadyrov is the politics correspondent for the independent Russian-language newspaper Zerkalo, or Mirror, which is published in Azerbaijan.

He was detained on Sunday in Azerbaijan's capital Baku after being deported the previous day from Turkey.

He had been based in Ankara for several years and published articles critical of both the Turkish and Azerbaijani leadership.

Zerkalo said in a statement on its website that the reason for Mirkadyrov's deportation was unclear.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a protracted conflict over Azerbaijan's disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.

In the 1990s the two countries fought a bloody war for control of the region and despite years of negotiations since a 1994 ceasefire a peace deal is yet to be signed.

Oil-rich Azerbaijan, a tightly controlled former Soviet country, is criticised by rights organisations for attacks on free speech under its strongman President Ilham Aliyev.