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Blogger Lapshin departs from Azerbaijan to Israel

September 14, 2017, 10:22 UTC+3

On September 11, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order pardoning Alexander Lapshin

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BAKU, September 14. /TASS/. Blogger Alexander Laphsin, who was granted a pardon by the Azerbaijani president on Monday, has left the country, the APA news agency reported on Thursday.

"On September 14, Alexander Lapshin departed from Baku to Tel Aviv accompanied by his mother," the agency said.

On September 11, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order pardoning Lapshin, who had been sentenced to three years behind bars over his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed border region between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In late July, Lapshin, who holds Russian and Israeli passports, requested the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that he be extradited to Israel. During court trials, he had pleaded not guilty saying that his visits to Nagorno-Karabakh had been merely tourist trips, while the information that he had published on his blog had nothing to do with politics, being just his tourist impressions.

After being pardoned, the blogger sent a thank-you letter to the Azerbaijani president saying that he deeply regretted what he had done. He also expressed hope that while resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, "Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity will be taken into consideration."

Lapshin was detained in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in December 2016 at Baku’s request. Azerbaijan accused him of visiting the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region without the Azeri authorities’ permission. He was flown to Baku and handed over to the Azerbaijani State Security Service. The Azerbaijani prosecutors launched a criminal case against Lapshin over his "repeated public anti-state calls" and "illegal crossing of Azerbaijan’s state border."

Nagorno-Karabakh sought independence from Azerbaijan at the end of the 1980s, which resulted in a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia that claimed the lives of 25,000-30,000 people in 1988-1994. Since then, the territory has been controlled by Armenia.

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