A court in Azerbaijan has begun considering a government demand to block access to the websites of several independent and opposition news organizations, including the local service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The news organizations are accused of advocating the violent overthrow of the government and promoting activities of radical religious groups, which they deny.

RFE/RL said in a report that its president considers the government's move an attempt at "blatant censorship that is intended to intimidate the independent press."

Cavad Cavadov, a lawyer for opposition newspaper Azadliq, told The Associated Press that none of the evidence presented in court on Monday supported the government's claims.

He said defense lawyers have asked the court to hear linguistic expertise of the news reports in question.