Khadija Ismayilova To Be Honored Tonight In Sweden

The Swedish National Press Club will honor Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova in absentia tonight with its 2015 Freedom of Speech Award at a ceremony in Stockholm.

KhadijaKhadija Ismayilova Ismayilova has been detained in Baku since December of 2014 on what are widely believed to be politically motivated charges.

The award, given in honor of slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, lauds Ismayilova for her “tenacious investigative reporting and extraordinary bravery”.

Ismayilova has been accused of inciting a former colleague to attempt suicide. The colleague has since recanted, but she remains in detention and faces new charges of tax evasion, abuse of power and embezzlement. She was convicted of libel in a separate case and fined 2,500 manat (US$ 2,400) in February 2015, in the Binagadi district court in the capital city of Baku.

President Björn Häger of the Swedish National Press Club, Publicist Klubben, has denounced her arrest: “The imprisonment of Ismayilova is a violation of press freedom and a shameful attempt to discourage other journalists from revealing the regime’s abuse of power.”

The awards recognizes her work unveiling corruption within the regime of President Ilham Aliyev  of Azerbaijan. Ismayilova also worked with Swedish Television to uncover close ties between the ruling elite and the Swedish telecom company TeliaSonera. Her arrest has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international organizations.

The ceremony begins at 6:30 pm local time at the Kulturhuset cultural center in Stockholm and can be viewed online. Ismayilova will also be honored by the PEN American Center’s prestigious Freedom to Write Award in New York City on May 5, 2015.