It all begins in June of 2010, with Khadija Ismayil’s investigative story Aliyev's Azerbaijani Empire Grows as Daughter Joins the Game, which sent ripples across not only Azerbaijan but also the international community. The piece is the first in a series of investigative reports about the ruling family’s business interests, in the wake of the brutal murder of investigative reporter Elmar Huseynov in 2005.
Khadija’s next investigation, Azerbaijani President's Daughters Tied to Fast-Rising Telecoms Firm resonates powerfully once again within the local community.
A little while later, when Khadija Ismayil is out of the country for work, secret cameras are installed at her apartment. Khadija continues to work on her investigative stories and in 2012, on March 7, she receives a letter at her home address. In the envelope, the journalist finds pictures of an intimate nature and a warning letter, demanding that she cease all her investigative work. Unless she stops, warns the anonymous letter, the pictures and footage will go public.
Khadija will not be cowed. In an open letter published on Facebook, she says she will continue her work. A few days later, the video footage of her is circulated across social media platforms.
In 2012, three more stories, investigated by Khadija in partnership with other investigative journalists, are published.
Azerbaijan's President Awarded Family Stake In Gold Fields
Azerbaijani President's Family Benefits From Eurovision Hall Construction
Azeri Enclave In Czech Republic
Following the publication of two articles titled The Secrets of Baku’s Crystal Hall and Aliyev’s share in gold mines, the Azerbaijani Parliament approves an amendment to legislation on the right to obtain information (June 1 2012). According to the new amendments, information about company founders is considered a commercial secret. Some legal experts view this change as part of Azerbaijan’s transformation into an offshore haven.
In 2014, three more investigative stories by Khadija are published:
Arzu Aliyeva selling her Czech based company to an Azerbaijani civil servant
What you didn’t know about Pasha Holding
Among Azercell shareholders offshore companies belonging to Aliyev daughters
Following these investigative stories, a criminal case is opened against Khadija Ismayil based on complaints by Elman Hasanov (Turkoglu). Hasanov accuses Khadija of slander, relating to her claim that he was working for the government. Hasanov took this as a personal insult. In the meantime, the Prosecutor Office accuses Khadija of treason: specifically, the dissemination of state secrets.
On December 5, 2014 Khadija Ismayil is arrested following an indictment by the Baku City Prosecutor’s Office, at the Sabail District Court. She is charged under Article 125 of the Criminal Code (incitement to suicide).