LONDON, November 10 (Compass) In a meeting with United States Ambassador to Azerbaijan Stanley Escudero, President Heidar Aliev ordered the revocation of court decisions expelling nine foreign nationals from Azerbaijan for alleged violation of the law on religion.During the November 8 meeting, which was shown on national television the same day and reported on the front pages of official newspapers the following day, President Aliev reaffirmed what he said was Azerbaijan's commitment to religious freedom.Asked specifically by Ambassador Escudero about the nine Christians, and whether this indicated that the deportation threat would be lifted, Aliev pledged that their cases would be resolved "affirmatively."The reversal follows pressure from abroad over the expulsions. President Aliev told Escudero he had considered his and four U.S. congressmen's appeals concerning the violation of human rights of certain religious communities in the country.The Norwegian Embassy in Baku had also taken up the cases with the Interior and Foreign Ministers and the Norwegian foreign minister had raised the cases during a visit to Baku.The human rights violations include a September 5 raid by officers from the police and National Security Ministry of a service at one of Baku's legally registered churches; 60 members of the congregation were arrested. On October 15, courts in Baku had ordered the deportation of eight foreign Christians for attending the service. The two Azeri Christians leading the service were accused of "resisting the police" and jailed for 15 days of administrative detention.Also ordered deported was Rev. Gunther Oborski, a German national who pastors the German Lutheran Church, which was raided by police and national security ...1
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