11 May 2020 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 30 Mar 2015 n° 74/2015 Azerbaijan

Trumped-up Charges to Silence an Investigative Journalist in Azerbaijan

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a leading figure in the battle for press freedom in Azerbaijan, was arrested on 5 December 2014 on a trumped-up charge of inciting a former colleague to commit suicide. Her preventive detention has been routinely extended ever since and on 13 February 2015, she was additionally charged with large-scale embezzlement, illegal trading, tax evasion and abuse of authority. The new charges follow a 26 December 2014 raid on the Baku bureau of Radio Azadliq (the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), which Ismayilova ran until just over four years ago. Radio Azadliq was closed and placed under seal after being searched.
RWB calls these charges frivolous and considers that Khadija Ismayilova's arrest is merely a punishment for her brave journalistic activities. An award-winning journalist, she is well known for deep investigations into the corruption at the highest levels of government. Ismayilova's arrest was condemned by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe President Anne Brasseur, the US Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, RSF, the IFJ, the EFJ, Index on Censorship, the CPJ and many others. For most of these organisations, the arrest of Ismailova is nothing but intimidation, part of an ongoing campaign aimed at silencing free and critical voices in Azerbaijan.
09 Aug 2019
On 7 August 2019, the Azerbaijani Supreme Court decided to uphold the charges against investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, and rejected her petition for early termination of probation period.
07 Feb 2018
On 30 January 2018, the Baku Court of Appeal refused to lift a travel ban on Khadija İsmayilova.
10 Aug 2016
On 8 August 2016, the Court for Serious Crimes ordered Khadija Ismayilova's suspended term to be shortened to 2 years and 3 months:
25 May 2016
On 25 May 2016, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court has ordered to release Khadija Ismayilova from custody after reducing her prison sentence from 7.5 years to a suspended term of 3.5 years.
25 Nov 2015
On 25 November 2015, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the court of first instance, sentencing Khadija Ismayilova to a 7.5 year prison term.
03 Sep 2015
On 1 September 2015, a Baku court sentenced Khadija Ismayilova to 7 and a half years in prison on charges of misappropriation and embezzlement, illegal business dealings, tax evasion and abuse of power. In her closing statement, Ms Ismayilova denounced the case against her as politically motivated with the aim of ending her investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government. The AEJ, Article 19, EFJ/IFJ and Reporters Without Borders jointly denounce the verdict and sentence against Khadiya Ismayilova as based on fabricated evidence and legally unsound. They call for the verdict to be reversed, for the case against Ismayilova to be dismissed, and for her immediate and unconditional release.
21 Aug 2015
Khadija Ismayilova's hearing began in Baku on 7th August, and culminated in a request on 21st August by the State Prosecutor to sentence her to 9 years in prison. The judge has adjourned the case until 26th August, when a verdict is likely to be delivered. The State Prosecutor's request to condemn Ismayilova to 9 years' imprisonment is a gross violation of human rights, given the lack of due process in the case and the absence of any credible evidence presented by the prosecution. Ismayilova has accused the court of rushing through her trial and not giving her sufficient chance to respond to the charges. Only some representatives of foreign embassies were allowed to attend the trial; and no independent media or civil society were present. The IFJ, the EFJ, ARTICLE 19, and AEJ urge the Azerbaijan authorities to reject the Prosecutor’s request and immediately free Khadija Ismayilova.
State replies
01 Jun 2015
Reply by the Government of Azerbaijan
11 May 2020
On 7 May 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Azerbaijan failed to protect Ismayilova’s right to privacy, saying the country's courts should have sanctioned a local newspaper for an article making salacious claims and commentary about her private and sexual life. The Court also awarded Ismayilova with a total of 6,000 euros for damages, costs, and expenses.
02 Mar 2020
On 27 February 2020, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Chamber judgment in the second case of Khadija Ismayilova against Azerbaijan. The Court held that the journalist had been arrested and detained without a reasonable suspicion of an offence. The Court found in particular that one of the charges against her – that she had incited a former colleague to commit suicide – was based on a complaint made under coercion and that other charges related to her work at Radio Azadliq were not backed up by facts. The Court concluded that the authorities’ actions against Ms Ismayilova had been driven by the intent to silence her and found several violations of the ECHR, including a violation of Article 18 in conjunction with Article 5.
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to release all those detained because of the views they expressed, notably journalists.
15 Jan 2019
On 10 January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in one of the cases filed by Khadija Imsayilova (as the target of a systematic smear campaign comprising threats, intimidations and gross violations of her privacy designed to prevent her from pursuing her journalistic work). The ECtHR found violations of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights by Azerbaijan in respect of these intrusions into the journalist's private life.
25 May 2016
Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
21 Jan 2016
CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Khadija Ismayilova
01 Sep 2015
PACE President deplores Khadija Ismayilova sentence in Azerbaijan
01 Sep 2015
Statement by the Spokesperson of Secretary General Jagland on the verdict in the case of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan
21 Aug 2015
Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
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