Ismayilova to be Honored by Fellowship Offered by OCCRP and RFE/RL

Published: 04 December 2015

khadija-on-phoneAward-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova


The Khadija Ismayilova Investigative Journalism Fellowship, a new seven-month program jointly sponsored by OCCRP and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), will support reporting projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that investigate persons in power and corruption.

Ismayilova, an OCCRP partner and RFE/RL talk show host, has reported extensively on corruption involving relatives and cronies of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

She is currently serving a 7.5-year sentence in Azerbaijan for embezzlement and tax fraud connected to her position with RFE/RL, but has denied all charges and says she has been prosecuted in retaliation for her investigative work.

The Khadija Ismayilova Fellow will be placed with an RFE/RL local bureau, with visits to RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters to receive training and mentoring in modern journalistic practices, and to conduct supervised research.

Specific training in investigative techniques and additional professional support will be provided by OCCRP and other partners.

The Fellowship can be used to produce a specific investigative report, or to advance an ongoing investigative project. Some work must be completed by the end of the Fellowship for publication by RFE/RL or its partners.

Fellows will receive visa support, round-trip travel to Prague, housing, insurance, and a monthly stipend.  Additional resources for research purposes may be available.

Completed applications must be submitted via email to by 0600 CET on Feb. 1, 2016.

The Fellowship will be awarded on a competitive basis to a citizen of: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Candidates should have previous experience in investigative journalism; have a proven ability to pursue and complete an original, investigative project; and provide a compelling and plausible proposal for an investigative report of interest to RFE/RL target audiences. English-language proficiency is also necessary.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1, 2016 and the Fellow will be announced on Feb. 19, 2016.  The term of the Fellowship is May 1 – Nov. 30, 2016.

The two news organizations announced the Fellowship during a special panel discussion Friday, timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Ismayilova’s arrest on Dec. 5, 2014, in Baku.