Azerbaijan has releasedan activist jailed last year after taking part in anti-government protests just two days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Baku.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was jailed in May 2011 for two years after using social media site Facebook to garner support for a democracy movement in the former Soviet country. Hajiyev headed an Arab Spring-inspired wave of peaceful demonstrations throughout the country.
"I am delighted to be released, but I repeat today that I do not agree with the charges on which I was arrested," Hajiyev told news agency AFP after his early release on Monday.
The country's Supreme Court decided on Monday that Hajiyev would be freed early for good behaviour after serving half of his two-year jail term.
US senators last month demanded Hajiyev's immediate release, saying his arrest and incarceration was a violation of freedom of expression and association.
Educated at Harvard, Hajiyev said his "arrest was politically motivated," and vowed to return to political activism. He stood as an independent candidate at parliamentary elections in November 2010, where he condemned President Ilham Aliyev and claimed the polls were rigged.
International election observers called the vote flawed, but Aliyev's governing party which won by a landslide said the election "conformed to European standards."
Rights activists in the country accuse Aliyev's ruling party of jailing opponents and gagging the media, cracking down on dissent, although the government insisted the country is free and democratic.
A number of protests broke out in Baku last month as the capital hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. Human rights violations, media censorship and democratic inadequacy's in the country gained unprecedented international media coverage during the event.
jlw/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)