A court in Azerbaijan has ordered the release of a human rights activist who spent the last two years in jail.

Intigam Aliyev was convicted last year of economic crimes that critics have dismissed as retaliation for his work.

His lawyer, Fariz Namazly, said the Supreme Court of this former Soviet republic issued a ruling Monday converting Aliyev's seven-year prison sentence into a five-year conditional one, which means his immediate release.

The ruling comes amid a flurry of other court decisions that triggered the release of 16 activists and journalists this month who have spent years in prison.

The Caspian Sea nation has come under criticism for a crackdown on human rights, with journalists and activists hit with charges they say are retaliation for their work exposing official abuses.