Hyderabad: Khadija Ismayilova, the top investigative journalist of Azerbaijan was released from jail on Wednesday who was convicted of corruption charges last year.
Ismayilova, who is an author of a number of articles had became well known in Azerbaijan for a daily talk show on the Azeri service of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). She was released after a two-year legal battle that triggered international condemnation.
She had been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on trumped-up financial charges in September 2015, having been detained since December 2014. The remainder of her sentence was commuted to a three-year conditional sentence. She will be subject to a travel ban and other restrictions.
Ismayilova was eventually convicted of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of office. The main reason for which she was targeted, was her investigative reporting exposing corruption among Azerbaijan’s ruling elite.
After the release Ismayilova said that she would fight on to clear her name: “They dropped two charges and two charges are still remaining. I’m still convicted on illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion and I haven’t been doing any entrepreneurship”.
“The charges are false and illegal. So, I will of course go further to get them dropped as well.”
Ismayilova added that, despite appearances, the Azeri government was not softening its attitude towards its critics.
“There is a revolving door of the prison. They release two, they arrest three. So more people are getting arrested.
“You think this problem is getting solved. No, it’s not being solved. But sometimes the government is trying to satisfy the international critics and release some people.”
She told the reporters that her arrest had been solely for political reasons. “I will of course go further to the European Court (of Human Rights) and I will hold the Azerbaijani government responsible for keeping me in prison for a year-and-a-half, keeping me out of my job and (away from) my family”.