Azerbaijan: Khadija Ismayilova's Appeal Suspended Indefinitely

A court in Baku has indefinitely postponed the appeal of jailed journalist Khadija Ismayilova in a defamation case, the Index on Censorship reports.

Khadija IsmayilovaThe appeal relates to a conviction and fine dealt to Ismayilova in February, which was part of a criminal libel case brought by former opposition leader Elman Hasanov.

She was found guilty of posting documents on Facebook that defamed Hasanov as a paid informant for the Ministry of National Security, among other libelous comments.

Ismayilova has argued that she did publish information about a paid informant, but that the name had been redacted. She denies all other libelous comment.

Ismayilova was arrested in December on separate charges after a former colleague accused her of goading him to attempt suicide. She has now been held in pre-trial detention on that charge for six months, with no trial date yet set. This libel case predates her arrest.

She has also been hit with a slew of other charges, including illegally operating a business, tax evasion, embezzlement, and abuse of power. International human rights watchdogs have said that the charges are politically motivated.

Ismayilova works as an investigative journalist, and has produced a series of hard-hitting stories revealing the business connections of President Aliyev and his family.

Ismayilova was recently awarded the PEN Freedom to Write Award, as well as the Swedish National Press Club’s 2015 Freedom of Speech Award.

In the Tuesday court hearing she urged fellow journalists to continue their work.

“I want to read investigation stories,” she said.

Leaving the court, Ismayilova told onlookers, “I am strong and you should be strong too.”