Azerbaijan: One Year Anniversary of Ismayilova’s Arrest Highlights Harsh Repression

To mark the one year anniversary of the arrest of Khadija Ismayilova, a renowned Azerbaijani investigative journalist, Freedom House released the following statement:

“Ismayilova’s arrest on December 5, 2014, resulting in a 7.5 year prison sentence on trumped-up charges, highlights the absence of rule of law and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan,” said Mark P. Lagon, president. “Ismayilova’s only crime was her principled position on exposing truth. Freedom House calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to unconditionally release Ismayilova and all other political prisoners, and drop the charges against them.” 

Background:
Ismayilova is a reporter for Azadliq Radio (the Azerbaijani branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Her investigative reporting focused on allegations of corruption by President Aliyev’s family.  In retaliation for her work, the RFE/RL office was raided and closed, and Ismayilova was convicted on false charges of tax evasion and embezzlement.

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 2015, 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.