[:en]In response to the August 7 decision of the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan to uphold politically motivated tax evasion charges against award-winning journalist Khadija Ismayilova, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold spurious charges against Khadija Ismayilova continues the Aliyev regime’s prolonged harassment of this dedicated journalist, and is yet another example of their efforts to silence criticism and dissent,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “President Aliyev is not fooling anyone. This decision should be immediately overturned, the charges should be dropped, the travel ban imposed on Ismayilova should be lifted, and her accounts should be unfrozen.”
Khadija Ismayilova is an award-winning investigative journalist for Radio Azadliq (the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Beginning in 2014, she was jailed for 583 days in retaliation for her reporting on allegations of corruption within Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family. In 2015, Ismayilova was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted on spurious charges including tax evasion and embezzlement. Following international pressure, she was released in 2016 with her sentence reduced to three-and-a-half years of probation, but she was prohibited from leaving the country and her bank accounts were frozen. Despite the challenges and danger she faces, she continues to work for freedom and democracy in Azerbaijan.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.