Azerbaijan: Journalist Khadija Ismayilova released on probation

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 29, 2012 shows Honoree Khadija Ismayilova attending the 2012 Courage in Journalism Awards hosted by the International Women's Media Foundation held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, California.   
Azerbaijan's top court on May 25, 2016 ordered the release of prominent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who was jailed on corruption charges last year that triggered an international uproar, her lawyer said. / AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Jason Merritt

The International and European Federations of Journalists welcome the Azerbaijani Supreme Court’s decision today to release investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who had been imprisoned on trumped-up charges since December 2014. The court converted Ismayilova’s jail term into a three-and-a half-year suspended term.

Khadija Ismayilova has already served 1.5 years in prison, held on politically motivated charges for her work exposing corruption. She now faces 3.5 years on probation, and a two-year ban on professional activities.

In September 2015, the Baku Court of Serious Crimes sentenced Ismayilova to seven-and-a-half years in prison on tax evasion and large-scale embezzlement charges.

The IFJ and EFJ call on Azerbaijani authorities to fully restore Kadija Ismayil’s rights, including her ability to work, and to release the three other journalists in prison in Azerbaijan:

  • Nijat Aliyev, arrested on May 20, 2012;
  • Araz Guliyev, arrested on September 8, 2012;
  • Seymur Hazi, arrested on August 29, 2014.

Ismayilova’s arrest was condemned by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe President Anne Brasseur, the US Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, RSF, the IFJ, the EFJ, Index on Censorship, the CPJ and many others. For most of these organisations, the arrest of Ismailova is nothing but intimidation, part of an ongoing campaign aimed at silencing free and critical voices in Azerbaijan.

(Picture credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images NA / AFP)

 

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