Azerbaijani Journalist Khadija Ismayilova Released on Probation

By | May 26, 2016 at 11:12 am | No comments | News | Tags: , , , ,

PEN Canada welcomes the release of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, on probation. Ismayilova, who turns 40 on Friday, is an Honorary Member of PEN Canada.

Honorary Member of PEN Canada released on probation

Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, had been detained in Azerbaijan since December 2014. She began serving a seven and a half year prison sentence for  trumped-up financial charges in September 2015. The rest of her sentence has been commuted to a three-year conditional sentence and she will be subject to a travel ban and other restrictions. PEN continues to call for all such restrictions to be lifted.


Ismayilova was arrested on December 5, 2014 on charges that she had incited a former colleague to commit suicide. Though acquitted of those charges, the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office added bogus charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of power. Ismayilova was convicted and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on September 1, 2015, in a closed-door trial that was widely criticized for failing to meet international standards of due process and fairness. PEN believes Ismayilova was targeted for reporting that  corruption in Azerbaijan extended to the highest rungs of the government, including President Ilham Aliyev. The recently released “Panama Papers” has  substantiated her claims that Aliyev’s family had used offshore companies to hide their wealth and ownership of shares in Azeri businesses.

Ismayilova won the prestigious PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award at PEN America’s 2015 Literary Gala in New York. The award is given to an author or journalist in prison and is accompanied by a global campaign to demand the writer’s release. Ismayilova’s release makes her the 36th out of 40 jailed recipients of the PEN Freedom to Write Award over the last three decades who have subsequently been released from prison, due in part to the publicity generated by the Award.

Take Action

If you would like to support PEN’s advocacy for Khadija Ismayilova, join the global protest, coordinated by Sports for Rights campaign, on Friday 27 May 2016  Khadija Ismayilova’s 40th birthday – to celebrate her release, call for her full acquittal, and call for the release of the country’s dozens of remaining political prisoners. (There will be 40 parallel protests around the world.)

Canada protest for Khadija Ismayilova

City: Toronto
Location: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West
When: 27 May, 12:30-13:00
Sponsoring NGO: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Contact: Duncan Pike, or +1 (416) 515-9622, ext 262
For more information, click here.

Suggested Actions:

  • Read and share details of Khadija Ismayilova’s case with friends and colleagues and on social media #FreeKhadija;
  • Sign on to this Thunderclap organised by The Netherlands Helsinki Committee to take part in the mass distribution on social media of a #FreeKhadija protest video;
  • Download and print this birthday card part 1 and part 2 to take to your local protest in order to collect messages of solidarity and support.


© PEN Canada 2019 · 401 Richmond St. W., Suite 258, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3A8 · Phone: 416 703 8448
· Charitable Business Number 88916 2541 RR0001