Azerbaijan: Harsh Sentence against Ismayilova Restricts Press Freedom
In response to a court in Baku, Azerbaijan sentencing journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 7.5 years imprisonment in retaliation for her reporting on pervasive government corruption, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Ismayilova’s being sentenced to prison after her conviction on preposterous charges shows the government’s intolerance of press freedom, especially when reporters focus on government wrong-doing,” said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. “President Aliyev seems determined to silence critics of a corrupt government. The United States and the European Union should not regard Aliyev as an ally unless his government begins to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.”
Ismayilova is a reporter for Azadliq Radio (the Azerbaijani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. She gained notice for investigating allegations of corruption by President Aliyev’s family. She was convicted on charges including tax evasion and embezzlement.
Some of Ismayilova's best investigative articles include:
- Prezidentin qızı banka necə sahib oldu?
- TeliaSonera’s Behind-The-Scenes Connection To Azerbaijani President's Daughters
- Azerbaijani Government Awarded Gold-Field Rights To President's Family
- Aliyev's Azerbaijani Empire Grows, As Daughter Joins The Game
- Azerbaijani President's Family Benefits From Eurovision Hall Construction
Another journalist, Rasim Aliyev, died August 9 after being beaten by unknown assailants. Aliyev was a member of the monitoring group Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, which the government forced to close in 2014.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.75 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
To learn more about Azerbaijan, read our Fact Sheet.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.