Today the judge of the Sabail District Court of Baku ordered the arrest of Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, on charges brought by the Baku Prosecutor’s Office. According to Article 125 of the Criminal Code, she faces two months of pre-trial detention. If convicted, Ismayilova faces a prison sentence from three to seven years.
Her lawyer, Elton Guliyev, called the charges “absurd”, adding that, “Khadija herself says that the charges are a product of her work as a journalist.”
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, condemned Khadija’s arrest: “The arrest of Ismayilova’s arrest is nothing but an orchestrated intimidation, which is part of an ongoing campaign aimed at silencing her free and critical voice.””
Ismayilova was first taken to the Prosecutor’s Office, where she was presented with the prosecutor’s request for her arrest. She was then taken to Sabail District Court. Tural Mustafayev has accused Ismayilova of driving him to attempt suicide.
Khadija Ismayilova is known for her investigative work in Azerbaijan exposing President Aliyev’s family businesses. She is also a radio host and investigative reporter with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
The next day, the Presidential Chief of Staff Ramiz Mehdiyev accused Khadija Ismayilova of treason, calling Azadliq Radio employees “spies”. In a 60-page statement titled “A world order of double standards and modern Azerbaijan”, Mehdiyev writes, “[The opposition’s] main concern is lip service to their bosses abroad, and maintaining good relations with them. Azadliq Radio’s journalist Khadija Ismayil is the best example. Together with her colleagues, she hosts anti-Azerbaijani shows, makes absurd statements, openly demonstrates a destructive attitude towards well-known members of the Azerbaijani community, and spreads insulting lies. It is clear that this sort of defiance pleases Ms. Ismayilova’s patrons abroad.”
He continues: “There is an understanding within society, that Radio Azadliq and its employees are on a disgusting path. There is no need to prove that provision of false information is the same as working for the foreign secret service. This is treason. This is what all journalists and people with healthy mind sets think. If the Khadija Ismayilova is a symbol of democracy, then it is awful to imagine what future awaits society.”
In a statement, RFE/RL’s Editor In Chief Nenad Pejic condemned the arrest of journalist. “The arrest and detention of Khadija Ismayilova is the latest attempt in a two-year campaign to silence a journalist who has investigated government corruption and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. The charges brought against her today are outrageous. Khadija is being punished for her journalism.”
Khadija was named one of the “Brave Thinkers of the World” by Atlantic magazine. In 2012, she received the “Gerd Bucerius Free Press of Eastern Europe Award”, and the U.S.-based International Women’s Media Foundation’s “Courage of Journalism Award”. She is also the recipient of the “
Global Shining Award
” for her work in exposing
“questionable business dealings”