Washington, DC - The United States is deeply troubled by today’s decision of an Azerbaijani court to sentence prominent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to seven and a half years in prison. We are further concerned by reports of irregularities during the investigation and trial, including the apparent exclusion of witness testimony and other key evidence.
This case is another example in a broad pattern of increasing restrictions on human rights in Azerbaijan, including curtailing the freedom of the press. As Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev himself recently noted, freedom of the mass media is an integral part of democratic principles, and its violation is contrary to the interests of Azerbaijan.
We urge the government of Azerbaijan to release Ms. Ismayilova and others incarcerated in connection with exercising their fundamental freedoms. We also call on the Government of Azerbaijan to adhere to its international obligations to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens.