New York, December 5, 2014–An Azerbaijani court in Baku today ordered the imprisonment of award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova for two months pending trial after a local man accused her of urging him to commit suicide, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling and calls on authorities in Azerbaijan to stop their prosecution of Ismayilova, who also faces charges of libel in a separate case.
“We call on Azerbaijani authorities to stop gagging reporters through trumped-up charges and arrests, and immediately release Khadija Ismayilova,” said Muzaffar Suleymanov, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia research associate. “The politicized nature of the arrest is obvious–an award-winning reporter is being harassed for her work in Azerbaijan.”
In an article published by the local press on Wednesday, Ramiz Mehdiyev, head of the presidential administration, accused Ismayilova of treason and espionage, according to news reports. Ismayilova, who hosts a daily program with Radio Azadlyg, the Azeri service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has often published exposés on government corruption. Authorities have consistently harassed Ismayilova through smear campaigns, prosecution, and travel bans, CPJ research shows.
CPJ has documented a pattern in which Azerbaijani authorities file trumped-up charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.