Facing possible arrest – interview with journalist Khadija Ismayil
Human rights activists:; Azerbaijani journalist is serving 7-year prison sentence undeservedly
A year ago, in December 2014, Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist from Radio Liberty / Free Europe, was arrested and tried in Baku. The trial over her has become the loudest of a number of court cases, which clearly show that the Azerbaijani authorities are systematically persecuting free-thinking citizens of the country. This topic was the subject of a hearing held at the Washington Capitol. Details in the video report.
A number of prominent human rights defenders were invited to the building of the US Congress to testify in the case of journalist Khadija Ismayilova and her other Azerbaijani colleagues who are being persecuted at home. The speakers recalled that Ismayilova’s arrest was preceded by the publication in the press of her articles on corruption in the highest echelons of power and on the capital that the family of Azerbaijani President Aliyev holds in the country’s leading industries and real estate abroad..
According to human rights activists, Khadija’s arrest was the revenge of the country’s leadership for these exposing articles. Initially, the woman was accused of allegedly intentionally driving a man to suicide..
But, as Nenad Pejic, vice-president of Radio Liberty / Free Europe, who spoke at the hearing, noted that this accusation turned out to be so ridiculous that a couple of months later the defendant was presented with new, equally unfounded, but more serious charges: tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurial activity and theft of state property.
During the hearing on Capitol Hill, it was noted that the charges against Khadija Ismayilova, as well as the entire trial, were not legitimate. Reporters, international observers and Khadija’s relatives were not allowed into the conference room. Not a single witness spoke out against the defendant. However, the guilty verdict was passed.
Ismailova was unjustly found guilty and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Director of the American branch of the organization Reporters Without Borders told Dolphine Algan that at least 12 journalists are being illegally detained in Azerbaijan at the arbitrary discretion of the authorities. All of them are ill-treated and their fate is a source of serious concern to human rights defenders.
They expect Western powers to increase their pressure on President Aliyev and his entourage to end repression of journalists..
“Many human rights organizations in the West have taken steps and made statements in support of Khadija,” said Nenad Pejic, vice president of Radio Liberty / Free Europe. – She has already received many international awards. However, with regard to the actions of the US government, I want to say that we, journalists, would like to see a more decisive approach of the authorities to this issue. “.
Radio Liberty / Free Europe is a direct victim of the arbitrariness of the Azerbaijani authorities. They literally dispersed the Baku bureau of the agency in connection with the initiated criminal investigation. Although charges have not yet been filed, the bureau’s employees have been repeatedly called “spies” and “traitors” in the official press. Agency office remains sealed.
Meanwhile, in the international ranking of countries where there is no freedom of speech, with the worst indicator of 100 points, Azerbaijan was assigned 84.
Journalist, reporter, columnist, producer; author and presenter of programs on Russian-language TV and radio; published over a thousand articles in various American publications; awarded for his work by the National Academy of Television Arts of the USA