BAKU — A court in Baku has ordered that an investigative journalist with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, Khadija Ismayilova, be held in pretrial detention for two months.
Ismayilova was summoned to appear in the Sabail District court in Baku court on December 5 over a case in which a man accused her of pressing him to commit suicide.
Nenad Pejic, the editor in chief of RFE/RL, condemned Ismayilova’s treatment.
“The arrest and detention of Khadija Ismayilova is the latest attempt in a two-year campaign to silence a journalist who has investigated government corruption and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan,” Pejic said. “The charges brought against her today are outrageous. Khadija is being punished for her journalism.”
The OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, also assailed Ismayilova’s arrest.
“The arrest of Ismayilova is nothing but orchestrated intimidation, which is a part of the ongoing campaign aimed at silencing her free and critical voice,” Mijatovic said.
“I repeat my call on the authorities in Azerbaijan to stop this practice, which is detrimental to media freedom,” Mijatovic said.
Ismayilova has also been charged in a separate case centering on a document that she posted on social media that indicated Azerbaijani secret services used an explicit, illegally filmed sex tape to blackmail an opposition activist into informing on other opposition figures.
On December 4, Azerbaijan’s Presidential Chief of Staff Ramiz Mehdiyev publicly accused Ismayilova of treason and called RFE/RL’s employees in the country spies.
Ismayilova sees the legal pressure as part of a broader crackdown against civil society by Azerbaijan’s government.
She is known for her extensive reporting on the business interests of President Ilham Aliyev’s family.
In October, Azerbaijani authorities prevented Ismayilova from traveling to Prague, where she had been due to attend an international conference.