New York, May 25, 2016 — The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved at the Azerbaijani Supreme Court’s decision today to free investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who had been imprisoned on trumped-up charges since December 2014. The court converted Ismayilova’s jail term into a three-and-a half-year suspended term, Reuters reported.
The Baku Court of Serious Crimes in September 2015 sentenced Ismayilova to seven-and-a-half years in prison on tax evasion and embezzlement charges that CPJ considers to be retaliation for her reporting on corruption.
“Today’s ruling ordering Khadija Ismayilova freed is cause for celebration, but does not erase the rank injustice of her imprisonment for a year and a half on retaliatory charges,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on Azerbaijani authorities to remove the conditions on her freedom, and to release all journalists imprisoned for their work immediately.”
According to CPJ research, Azerbaijan ranks among the 10 most censored countries in the world. Azerbaijan held eight journalists in prison on December 1, 2015, when CPJ last conducted its global census of journalists jailed worldwide.