LONDON (Reuters) - An opposition blogger in Azerbaijan has been remanded in custody pending trial on hooliganism charges, prompting protests from his employer, oil major BP Plc, a media rights group said on its website.
Adnan Hajizade, a video blogger and member of the “OL!” opposition movement, was arrested along with youth activist Emin Milli at a cafe in Baku on July 8, after they were beaten up by two men, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.
The pair were remanded in custody by a judge for two months, RSF said.
The incident came ahead of Monday’s visit to Britain by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who is expected to meet government and BP officials.
Hadjizade suffered a broken nose in the attack and Milli sustained a leg and other injuries, RSF said.
Hadjiazde, 26, has worked for BP’s public relations team in Baku for several years. A spokesman for BP — one of the biggest foreign investors in Azerbaijan — said the company was making representations to the authorities.
“This is something BP is very concerned about and is taking very seriously,” a spokesman said.
Critics accuse Aliyev of adopting an increasingly authoritarian style including, in recent months, a plan to place curbs on non-governmental organizations.
Rights groups and Aliyev’s opponents accuse the West of muting its criticism on human rights because Azerbaijan is a supplier of oil and gas to the West in the strategically important South Caucasus.
Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Jon Boyle