New York, August 7, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure due process in the trial against award-winning investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova. When Ismayilova appeared at Baku Court on Grave Crimes for the first substantive hearing in her case today, journalists, international observers, and the reporter’s family were barred from entering the courtroom, according to press reports.
“It is outrageous enough that Khadija Ismayilova is on trial on fabricated charges, but authorities are now preventing public access to the proceedings,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “This trial is a travesty of justice and we call on Azerbaijan to drop all charges against Ismayilova. If the trial must proceed, we call on officials in Baku to open it to observers to ensure fairness and transparency.”
According to regional independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel, court officials refused to allow members of Ismayilova’s family, as well as about 50 journalists, rights activists, and diplomats into the court, telling them there was not enough room. In court Ismayilova, who hosted a radio program on U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, denied charges of illegal business, tax evasion, abuse of power, embezzlement, and incitement to suicide, according to reports. If convicted she could face up to 12 years in prison. CPJ is part of a coalition of human rights groups that has condemned the charges against Ismayilova as being retaliatory for her reporting on corruption in the Azerbaijani government.
- Support Ismayilova and other jailed journalists with CPJ’s PressUncuffed campaign.