Award-winning journalist and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Khadija Ismayilova has been sentenced by an Azerbaijani court to seven-and-a-half years in prison for alleged tax evasion, illegal business activity, embezzlement and abuse of power. At the close of the trial, Ms. Ismayilova told the court, “It is not a coincidence that these charges were brought against me. After all, I have talked and written in detail about these very same crimes myself."
The United States is deeply troubled by the sentencing of Khadija Ismayilova. The U.S. is further concerned by reports of irregularities during the investigation and trial, including the apparent exclusion of witness testimony and other key evidence.
It is not a coincidence that these charges were brought against me. After all, I have talked and written in detail about these very same crimes myself."Khadija Ismayilova
This case is another example in a broad pattern of increasing restrictions on human rights in Azerbaijan, including curtailing the freedom of the press. As Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev himself recently noted, freedom of the mass media is an integral part of democratic principles and its violation is contrary to the interests of Azerbaijan.
U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner urged the government of Azerbaijan “to release Ms. Ismayilova and others incarcerated in connection with exercising their fundamental freedoms. The U.S. also calls on the government of Azerbaijan to adhere to its international obligations to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens.”