BAKU (Guardian) — Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist who contributes to Radio Free Europe (RFE), is under custody on a charge her chief editor calls “outrageous.”
She has been sentenced by a court in Baku to two months of pre-trial detention for allegedly inciting a man to attempt suicide. If found guilty, she could face three to seven years in prison.
RFE’s chief editor, Nenad Pejic, said it was yet another attempt in a two-year campaign to silence Ismayilova, who has investigated government corruption and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. “Khadija is being punished for her journalism,” Pejic said.
The charge was brought the day after Ramiz Mehdiyev, chief of staff to Azeri president Ilham Aliyev, issued a 60-page statement accusing Ismayilova of “defiance” and displaying a “destructive attitude toward well-known members of the Azerbaijani community,” which “pleases [her] patrons abroad.”
The statement added that the Azerbaijani service of RFE (aka Radio Liberty) is on a “disgusting path” and that its employees work “for a foreign secret service.”