When doing your job as a reporter means jail
Khadija Ismayilova, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was jailed this week for seven and a half years in a trumped up trial clearly orchestrated in revenge for her work exposing the excesses of the Azeri ruling family under Ilham Aliyev. Ismayilova, who’s already been in custody for eight months while on trial for tax evasion and abuse of power, apparently laughed as the judge delivered the verdict. The judge then walked out while she was delivering her own statement.
ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle joined a chorus of international condemnation for the conviction and jailing of Ismayilova:
“Rather than prove any of the charges against Khadija, this trial has only served to further prove the systemic corruption Khadija herself has spent years investigating,” Ryle said. “Azerbaijan’s crackdown on journalists and rights activists should be a red flag to the international community.
“We commend Khadija’s continued courage in the face of these baseless accusations, and know that her bravery will motivate her colleagues and peers to continue her essential work, exposing corruption at the highest levels within Azerbaijan.”
“Mama, brace yourself, you have to be strong,” Ismayilova told her mother.
To understand quite the risks she took and why she was such an irritant to Aliyev I urge you to read her work. This piece for the ICIJ, bylined by Stefan Candea and with a lovely picture of Aliyev and his wife, sums up a great deal of it. Her colleagues at the OCCRP, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, produced this collection of her work and their own additions on what’s really going on with Azerbaijan.
"Khadija Ismayilova is a hero and we feather-bedded journalists here in the west should salute her,” wrote Roy Greenslade in The Guardian.