Khadija Ismayilova joined OCCRP in 2014 and is a senior investigator. She specializes in covering corruption in Azerbaijan and has done extensive reporting on the unethical business dealings of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family and friends. Because of this, she was arrested in 2014 on false tax evasion charges, and sentenced in 2015 to seven and a half years in prison. She was released after a successful appeal to Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court on May 25, 2016.
She was a lead investigator on OCCRP’s award-winning Azerbaijani Laundromat series. Previously, she hosted a program on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani service. A fearless reporter, she is the recipient of the 2012 Free Media Award from ZEIT-Stiftung, the 2012 Courage in Journalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the 2013 Global Shining Light Award, the 2015 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. and the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.