WASHINGTON—In response to the verdict rendered against journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Baku today, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (MS), Co-Chairman of the Commission, issued the following statement:
“We are deeply troubled by today’s guilty verdict and sentencing of Ms. Ismayilova. She is being robbed of her freedom for exposing corruption within the Azerbaijani government. Her arrest last December and the subsequent shutdown of the RFE/RL bureau in Baku were direct attacks on media freedom. These actions directly contradict Azerbaijan’s many international obligations and domestic laws, including its commitments in the OSCE. We call on Azerbaijan to release Ms. Ismayilova and other prisoners of conscience immediately.”
Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, was arrested in December 2014 and charged with embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power, in addition to other charges.