BAKU — The Iranian Embassy in Baku has declined to comment on Azerbaijani allegations that Islamic activists arrested last week had set up a radical religious group with financial support from Baku’s Cultural Center of Iran, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reports.
A court in Baku on August 13 remanded the three members of the banned Islamic Party of Azerbaijan in pretrial detention for two months on weapons- and drug-possession charges.
The three men — party Deputy Chairman Arif Qaniyev, party member Abgul Suleymanov, and Ramin Bayramov, editor of the news website islam-azeri.az — were arrested on August 11.
They have been charged with illegal possession of weapons and drugs, crimes that are punishable by up to three years in prison.
But according to a joint statement on August 12 by the National Security Ministry and the Prosecutor-General’s Office, they are also suspected of unspecified “hostile activity against Azerbaijan.”
According to the National Security Ministry, Suleymanov created a radical Islamic group called Jafari with financial help from the Baku-based Cultural Center of Iran. The ministry alleged that “members of this unregistered group promoted religious radicalism and distributed leaflets among believers. Those leaf…