Award-winning journalist Khadija Ismayilova was arrested in December 2014 on charges of incitement to suicide, an accusation criticized by human rights organizations as “fabricated.”
On September 1, she was sentenced to seven and a half years on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion.
Khadija delivered a defiant closing statement in Baku court before her conviction saying a lengthy jail term would not deter her spirit.
She said the case against her is politically motivated and intended to end her investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government.
“I might be in prison, but the work will continue.
I am not sure what your intention is in holding this express court, but I think the repression machine is about to collapse. Surely, we can see this as a result of the collapse in the oil market, but there are other reasons as well. One of these reasons is us!
The government of Azerbaijan tried really hard and did all it could to accuse me of incitement to attempt suicide. But I came out stronger. They peeked into my personal life, but I didn't break. They blackmailed me, but I did not bow. Now I won't break under a 15- or even a 25-year sentence.
I won't talk at length about the charge based on Article 125. I was not the only one writing about growing suicide rates as a result of credit debt, police violence, and poverty. If Tural Mustafayev's attempt at suicide, as he testified in court, was not because of breaking up with his fiancée but due to his inability to find a job, then [President] Ilham Aliyev should be sitting here with me in the defendant's seat. Because Mustafayev complained he could not find a job even at pro-government media outlets.”
Khadija worked as an investigative journalist and radio host for the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free/Radio Liberty and until recently as the hosts of the daily debate show Isden Sonar. She is a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
How You Can Help