Aserbaidschan: Investigativjournalistin zu langjähriger Haftstrafe verurteilt

14. September 2015 – Update #1 zu RAN 02/15

Der internationale PEN ist zutiefst besorgt über die Haftstrafe von siebeneinhalb Jahren, die gegen die Investigativjournalistin Khadija Ismayilova (Aserbaidschan) am 1. September 2015 verhängt wurde. Ismayilova wurde laut AFP wegen angeblicher „wirtschaftlicher Verbrechen, einschließlich illegaler Unternehmerschaft und Steuerhinterziehung“ verurteilt.

Khadija Ismayilova. Quelle: PEN International

Khadija Ismayilova. Quelle: PEN International

Der PEN geht davon aus, dass die Anzeige gegen Ismayilova politisch motiviert war und sich gegen ihre Arbeit zur Aufdeckung der Korruption in der oberen Gesellschaft Aserbaidschans richtet. Der PEN ruft zu Ismayilovas sofortiger und bedingungsloser Freilassung auf und fordert, dass die Verurteilung aufgehoben wird und dass die Kampagne der Einschüchterung, die gegen sie läuft, beendet wird.

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Bitte senden Sie Protestbriefe an den Botschafter von Aserbaidschan:

  • Drücken Sie Ihre Sorge über die siebeneinhalbjährige Haftstrafe aus, die gegen die Journalistin Khajida Ismayilova verhängt wurde. Der PEN geht davon aus, dass die Strafe politisch motiviert ist und dass Ismayilova lediglich wegen ihrer legitimen Arbeit als Journalistin inhaftiert wurde.
  • Fordern Sie die Behörden Aserbaidschans dazu auf, Ismayilova unverzüglich und bedingungslos freizulassen und ihre Verurteilung aufzuheben.
  • Erinnern Sie Aserbaidschan an die Verpflichtungen bezüglich Artikel 10 der europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention und Artikel 19 des Internationalen Pakts über bürgerliche und politische Rechte (denen Aserbaidschan als Unterzeichner angehört), das Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit zu schützen und Einschüchterungskampagnen gegen oppositionelle oder kritische Stimmen zu unterlassen.

Schreiben Sie an:

S.E. den Botschafter von Aserbaidschan
Herrn Parviz Shahbazov
Botschaft der Republik Aserbaidschan
Hubertusallee 43
14193 Berlin

Hintergrund (bereitgestellt vom internationalen PEN in englischer Sprache)

Khadija Ismayilova is an investigative journalist, a radio host for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, and is well known – both within Azerbaijan and internationally – for her exposures of high level corruption and for her criticism of the Azeri government’s crackdown on opposition voices. Because of her work, she has been the target of a relentless campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment over the last two years.

She was arrested on 5 December 2014, a day after she was charged under Article 125 of the Penal Code with provoking the alleged suicide attempt of a fellow opposition journalist. In April 2015, her accuser told Radio Free Europe that he had retracted his complaint. However, Ismayilova was subsequently charged with other offences, including embezzlement, abuse of power, tax evasion and illegal business ownership.  Her trial began in July 2015 after several months of pre-trial detention and she was convicted and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on 1 September 2015. Earlier, in February 2015, she was also convicted of defamation under Article 147.2 of the Penal Code by a former member of the Popular Front party who accused her of having defamed him in an article in which she exposed his work in subverting opposition organisations. Fined 2,500 manat (£1,500), her appeal against her conviction was postponed indefinitely in May 2015.

Ismayilova, who was awarded the 2015 Barbara Goldsmith award by PEN American Center, said in a letter from prison, “Do not let the government of Azerbaijan distract your attention from its record of corruption and abuse. Keep fighting for human rights, for those who are silenced. Keep fighting for right, and for good. Be loud, and be public. The people of Azerbaijan need to know that their rights are supported.”

A transcript of Ismayilova’s final statement to the court can be read here.

Previously, in February 2014, Ismayilova was called several times as a witness in an investigation into the leaking of state secrets, in which she was accused of handing files on Azeri opposition politicians to the US intelligence services; in October 2014 she was detained for several hours by the authorities at Baku airport on her way home from a meeting with Council of Europe officials in Strasbourg; in April 2013, videos secretly recorded in the journalist’s apartment were posted online; in March 2012, following her investigation into President Aliyev’s family’s alleged interests in lucrative construction projects in Baku ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest, she received anonymous threats and warnings to stop her investigation: when she refused, an explicit video (allegedly depicting her) was posted online.

PEN’s work on Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is seeing an unprecedented crackdown on civil society. The challenges faced by opposition voices or critical journalists are severe and frequent, and include death threats, surveillance, judicial harassment and violence. The Writers in Prison Committee Case List for 2014 lists 26 cases of Azeri journalists and writers imprisoned or otherwise harassed.

PEN International raised its free expression concerns relating to Azerbaijan in our joint submission to the United Nations’ 16th Universal Periodic Review session in 2013. During Azerbaijan’s session, PEN collaborated with Article 19 to host a side event entitled ‘Azerbaijan: the individual cost of freedom of expression,’ in which Khadija Ismayilova participated. PEN has also contributed to a number of joint public appeals calling on the Azeri authorities to end the campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment directed at Ismayilova. Khadija Ismayilova features in PEN’s annual Case List, which may be found here.

To read more on our concerns about Azerbaijan, please see the Resolution on Azerbaijan adopted at PEN International’s 80th World Congress, which took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2014.