Transparency International is deeply concerned by the arrest and the charges brought by a court in Azerbaijan against Khadija Ismayilova (XadicaIsmayil), a journalist and human rights defender who specialises in reporting on corruption, and calls for her immediate release.
Ismayilova was arrested after months of harassment and sentenced to two months pre-trial detention on the charge of “inciting a man to take his life”. If convicted, she faces up to seven years in jail.
“Investigative journalism is essential in the fight against corruption and activists like Khadija Ismayilova should be supported in their work, not silenced,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.
The charges against Ismayilova appear flimsy at best. In February, she warned that she was in danger of arrest and that whatever charge brought against her, it would be a cover for the real reason: her investigations in to the business dealings of corruption networks in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is ranked 126 out of 175 in this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index with a score of 29 out of 100 indicating rampant corruption.
The arrest has been condemned by many media and human rights organisations including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Amnesty International, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.