Azerbaijan: Journalist Khadija Ismayilova free but conviction must be quashed

Khadija Ismayilova © Private

The release of jailed journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan today is a welcome step but she will not have obtained justice until her conviction is quashed, said Amnesty International.

Ismayilova, 39, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail on trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office, after a trial last September. Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court today reduced her sentence to a suspended term of three-and-a-half years after it reversed two of the initial four charges against her.

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Khadija Ismayilova must be fully acquitted if she is ever to obtain justice for her wrongful imprisonment.

“Numerous other prisoners of conscience are still in jail for exercising their right to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and must also be freed to break this dangerous pattern of fear and repression.”

Ismayilova, who worked for Radio Free Europe, was investigating and reporting on corruption at the highest levels in Azerbaijan's government, including family members of the president, Ilham Aliyev.

Amnesty recognised her as a prisoner of conscience and, along with other human rights groups, campaigned extensively for her release. She received the UNESCO World Press Freedom prize in earlier this month.

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