This statement was originally published on europeanjournalists.org on 14 August 2019.
On August 7, the Azerbaijani Supreme Court decided to uphold the charges against investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who is accused of tax evasion. As she has been living under probation for three and a half years, the former correspondent of RadioFreeEurope / Radio Liberty sought an early termination of her probation sentence. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns the court’s decision and demands that the Azerbaijani authorities stop repressing her.
Since 2010, Ismayilova had been writing about cases of corruption linked to the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, until she was imprisoned in 2014 after a government-driven smear campaign against her. The journalist was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail, but set free after a year and a half due to harsh criticism by international human rights organizations. Since then, Ismayilova’s probationary sentence forbids her from travelling or working. Furthermore her bank accounts are frozen.
“I am concerned by the Supreme Court decision in Azerbaijan, rejecting Khadija Ismayilova’s petition for early termination of her probation period. The continued ban on her foreign travel is a serious hindrance on her professional activity as a journalist,” said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir.
“We are convinced that the constant harassment against Khadija Ismayilova is intended to silence her, [and] to prevent her from working. We call on the authorities to put an end to this latent censorship,” said EFJ General secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.
According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Azerbaijani government has accused her of “multiple offenses since 2014, from criminal libel to encouraging a colleague to commit suicide,” in order to intimidate her. Ismayilova won several prizes for her investigative journalism, such as the Right Livelihood Award, the PEN Freedom to Write Award and the Courage in Journalism Award.
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Source: MEDIA FEED