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Khadija Ismayilova

Azerbaijani investigative journalist and radio host

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Khadija Ismayilova is an Azerbaijani investigative journalist and radio host who worked with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project before her arrest in 2014. Ismayilova’s reporting focuses on government corruption and malfeasance, and she has written numerous stories exposing the unethical business practices of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev’s family and close friends. She was arrested in December 2014 on trumped up charges of incitement to suicide, and in September 2015 was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. Ismayilova denied all charges against her and her case was widely denounced by international human rights groups as a politically motivated attempt to silence Ismayilova and threaten other Azerbaijani journalists. In May 2016, she was released on probation. Ismayilova was awarded the 2012 International Women’s Media Federation’s Courage Award, the 2015 PEN America Press Freedom Award, and the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

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