A group of 16 U.S. Senators, led by Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), addressed Azeri President Ilham Aliyev with growing concern about “a systematic crackdown on human rights and independent civil society” in Azerbaijan, calling on him in a letter issued yesterday [full text here] to “provid[e] a more tolerant environment” for media, reopen RFE/RL’s Baku bureau, and release Khadija Ismayilova, the country’s most prominent investigative reporter, who was imprisoned on fabricated charges last December.

Iran, Cuba, Syria and Egypt Among Target Audiences for State of the Union Address Global Broadcast

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Va., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Washington, D.C. – President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio tomorrow night will be simulcast  around the globe via BBG broadcasters, bringing news of this fundamental element of U.S. democracy to key audiences in Iran, Cuba, Syria, Egypt, and other high priority countries via radio, television and the Internet.