Azerbaijan puts imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova on trial

2019-10-08 07:06:42

作者:郈扁

After almost eight months behind bars, the trial of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova on charges of libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity and abuse of power has begun in a Baku court.

Ismailova’s trial started today in the Azerbaijani capital’s Sabayil district court of grave crimes, the news agency reports. The presiding judge rejected two motions brought by Ismailova’s defence attorney, one to dismiss the criminal case and another to provide for audio and video recordings of the proceedings.

International human rights organisations, Ismayilova, and her supporters say the charges against her are politically motivated and are a form of retribution for her extensive reporting on the financial dealings of the president, Ilham Aliyev, and his family.

There have been widespread calls for the release of Ismayilova, a contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Pen American Center in May awarded her its , given annually to “an imprisoned writer persecuted for exercising her right to free expression”.

Ismayilova said in a that Azerbaijan is in the “midst of a human rights crisis”. She urged the international community to press Aliyev to release all political prisoners in the country.

The editor of RFE/RL,Nenad Pejic, said Ismayilova’s imprisonment “has nothing to do with any wrongdoing or law, it is about silencing Khadija and RFE/RL, by any means necessary, period.”

Ismayilova was taken into . Originally she was accused of trying to persuade another journalist to take their own life. Eventually, prosecutors charged her with libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of power. Her arrest followed a series of investigative reports that proved deeply embarrassing to the Aliyev administration.

Ismayilova’s investigations focused on apparent nepotism within the highest levels of Azerbaijan’s ruling establishment. In August 2010, for example, she wrote that the privatisation of many state airline services, including a bank, had completely bypassed procedures to ensure transparency.

Citing official documents, she and co-reporter Ulviyye Asadzade claimed that the bank’s new owners included relatives of highly placed officials; one , a daughter of President Aliyev; the other Zarifa Hamzayeva, wife of the airline’s head.

In another high-profile investigation, Ismayilova suggested that the first family was personally profiting from the construction of a new $134m concert venue, the Crystal Hall, which was being prepared to host that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Ismayilova’s investigative reporting played a role in an on RFE/RL. Authorities raided the Baku bureau in December without explanation and sealed it shut. They confiscated company documents and equipment, detained bureau staff without legal representation, and later expelled the bureau’s legal counsel from court proceedings.

RFE/RL closed the bureau in May, but continues to broadcast to from its headquarters in Prague.

精彩推荐:澳门最新网上赌场