A Richmond professor has responded to last Thursday's release of Adnan Hajizada, an alumnus who was arrested in July 2009 on charges of hooliganism and causing bodily harm.
Department of political science chairman Vincent Wang, who organized a letter from Richmond professors in support of Hajizada, said he had been elated to hear news of his release.
"I don't know if our letter helped, but I think that the international attention this case generated made it impossible for the autocratic Azeri regime to completely disregard outside pressure," Wang said. "I don't think he deserved such a harsh sentence for what he did."
An appeals court in Baku, Azerbaijan, released Hajizada after one year in prison following a fight that involved Hajizada and Milli in July 2009 outside of a local restaurant.
In an e-mail, Hajizada's father thanked human rights organizations and people responsible for promoting Hajizada and fellow activist Emin Milli's stories. He included a video of his son's release.
"Thanks to all your efforts, Adnan is free at last!" he said. "We wish you happiness and success in all your good beginnings."
Hajizada and Milli, both Internet bloggers, were originally sentenced to two and two-and-one-half years in prison, respectively, in November 2009. Hajizada had lost two appeals since his sentencing.
Milli was released Friday under similar terms.
"I hope young people like Adnan may soon be in position to make positive changes in his country," Wang said.
This story will be UPDATED with more information and quotes.
Contact staff writer Jimmy Young at firstname.lastname@example.org
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