Khadija Ismayilova, an internationally respected investigative journalist in Azerbaijan, has published numerous pieces uncovering high-level corruption over the course of her career. The target of numerous government-inspired attacks on her credibility and privacy, Azerbaijani authorities charged her with “incitement to suicide” in December 2014 — and she has been detained ever since. The initial charges were withdrawn in favor of charges of tax evasion and embezzlement, for which she was convicted and sentenced to more than seven years in prison last September. Last summer, Ismayilova brought a claim (30778/15) before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging violations of Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 6 (right to fair trial), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (limitation on use of restrictions of rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The claim is being handled by Nani Jansen of Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI).
The government’s case against Ismayilova should be seen in the context of the intensive pressures put on journalists, activists, political opposition and others in Azerbaijan. I have communicated with the government on these cases, as has my predecessor and of course others in the European system. I decided to submit an amicus filing in the case. You can find that filling, in which I address the situation for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and some of the legal issues in the case, here.