Azerbaijani Reporter Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison

Azerbaijani Reporter Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison

Award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been sentenced by an Azerbaijan court to seven and a half years in prison.

A day before the verdict was announced the contributor to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) called Azerbaijan's government a "repression machine" at the close of her trial on corruption charges, dismissing her trial as a "scam" aimed to silence her.

LATEST: Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in Baku

Before she was cut off without finishing her remarks, Ismayilova told the court that her reporting proved President Ilham Aliyev had "squandered [the] state budget and his family members were direct beneficiaries."

Her investigative work has probed the alleged vast riches amassed by Aliyev and his family, leading to her arrest in December on charges including embezzlement and tax evasion.

Independent journalism

Ismayilova's supporters say the charges against her have been concocted by a government anxious to silence one of the few voices of independent journalism in the oil-rich former Soviet country.

Ismayilova, who has won awards for investigative reporting on high-level corruption in Azerbaijan, said the charges of libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of power are politically motivated retribution.

"Shame on you! What kind of a state is this? Even your cheap tricks did not work in building a criminal case against me," Ismayilova said in the final statement, according to a copy of prepared remarks that was obtained by RFE/RL.

She was unable to deliver the last section of her statement - in which she was to thank supporters and wish the judge a pleasant vacation following the trial "without an aching and silenced conscience."

Ismayilova vowed Monday that even a lengthy jail sentence would not stop her from speaking out, her lawyer, Fariz Namazly, told the French news agency AFP.

"They won't be able to force me to stay silent, even if they sentence me to 15 or 25 years," she said, according to Namazly.


Azerbaijani Reporter Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison Azerbaijani Reporter Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 7:34 PM Rating: 5

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