John Vaillant Writes to Khadija Ismayilova

John Vaillant and Khadija Ismayilova

For the 34th Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN Canada members and friends were invited to write and share letters to jailed writers. John Vaillant, author of The Jaguar’s Children and The Golden Spruce, wrote this note to Azerbaijani investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, who is serving a seven and a half years in prison. Read more letters to imprisoned writers here.

Dear Khadija,

I hope this message finds you in good health

I am a journalist and author based in Canada and it pains me to imagine the contrast in our circumstances. I know only the barest details of your story, but I want to express my solidarity with your desire, and your rights, to freely describe what you see happening around you.

Please know that many of your foreign colleagues are thinking of you now, and working for your timely release.

Wishing you courage and faith,

John Vaillant
Vancouver, British Columbia


Khadija Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova

Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion in Azerbaijan. Well known for her exposures of high level corruption and for her criticism of the Azerbaijani government’s crackdown on opposition voices, she has been the target of a relentless campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment over the last two years. Ismayilova was arrested on 5 December 2014, PEN believes Ismayilova’s imprisonment is politically-motivated response to her work exposing corruption at the highest levels of Azerbaijani society.
Social Media: @Khadija_Ismayil #FreeKhadija
Address: Baku Investigation Prison, Sabunchu district, section 2 settlement, AZ-1104, Baku Azerbaijan