International organizations have urged the Azerbaijani government to lift a travel ban imposed on investigative journalist Khadija İsmayilova so that she can travel to the United Kingdom to bear testimony in the trial of her Romanian colleague from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
A joint statement released on 15 January by Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders UK and Transparency International UK said that the lawyers are trying to assist Ismayilova in travelling to the UK to give evidence in the trial of Paul Radu, who is also known as the co-founder and executive director of investigative reporting group OCCRP .
Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in September 2015 and was conditionally released in 2016. Since then she has been under a travel ban and cannot leave the country.
Daniel Bruce, chief executive of Transparency International UK, said that preventing Ismayilova from traveling abroad and giving evidence in her colleague´s trial was “a clear attempt to bully and silence those who dare expose the truth.”
“The ban should be immediately lifted, she should be acquitted of the bogus charges it stemmed from, and she should be allowed to travel to give testimony in this alarming case against another investigative journalist,” Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders, was quoted as saying.
Radu's trial will be held on 20 January. He is being sued for defamation by Azerbaijani MP Javanshir Feyziyev over two articles in OCCRP’s award-winning Azerbaijan Laundromat series about money-laundering out of Azerbaijan.