On 27 January, a court in Baku extended the pre-trial detention for the investigative journalist. As Azerbaijan continues its crackdown on civil society, Index on Censorship, Platform and 89up have launched a petition calling for the immediate release of journalists and rights activists.
If you live in the UK, the petition will send a letter to your MP asking them to sign Early Day Motion 718, calling on the government of Azerbaijan to release political prisoners in the country and uphold international human rights standards.
Ismayilova was arrested on 5 December 2014, amidst a renewed assault on civil rights in Azerbaijan by authorities. This comes ahead of the inaugural European Games which will be held in the country in June 2015.
In the past seven months, well-known human rights activists and journalists, including Leyla Yunus, Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Anar Mammadli and Seymur Hezi, have been arrested on spurious charges. In addition to politically-motivated arrests, attempts to silence critical voices also included raids on the offices of Radio Azadliq and the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) in Baku.
On 13 Feb, lawyer Fariz Namazly told Contact.az that new charges have been filed against Ismayilova. According to him, Ismayilova is charged under the Article: 179.3.2 (large-scale embezzlement), 192.2.2 (illegal business), 213.1 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of power.) The charges carry a possible sentence of 12 years.
On 6 March, Ismayilova’s pre-trial detention had been extended an additional two months, until May 24.
Action is needed to reverse the deteriorating environment for free expression in Azerbaijan.
Send a letter to your MP here.
Sign a petition calling on Azerbaijan to release political prisoners here.