Moldova: Protesters Target Azerbaijani Embassy in Chisinau
Pro-media freedom advocates today protested outside Azerbaijan’s embassy in Moldova’s capital of Chisinau, demanding the Azerbaijani government release imprisoned investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, Moldovan newspaper Ziarul De Garda reported.
The protest came just hours after European Council president Donald Tusk travelled to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to promote better relations been Europe and a number of ex-Soviet countries including Azerbaijan and Moldova.
Ismayilova has been detained since last December by the regime of President Ilham Aliyev. She is facing discredited charges of pressuring a fellow journalist to attempt suicide, accusations which he has since withdrawn. Her next court appearance is Friday.
An OCCRP partner and Radio Liberty talk show host, Ismayilova reported extensively on high-level corruption in the Azerbaijani government before her arrest.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation In Europe (OSCE) has condemned the charges against her. Its Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, said last year, “The arrest of Ismailova is nothing but orchestrated intimidation, which is a part of the ongoing campaign aimed at silencing her free and critical voice.” The European Union delegation to the United Nations also said her arrest “is a step against the freedom of expression, key to any democratic society”. Amnesty International declared her a prisoner of conscience.
The oil-rich nation ranks 160th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Border’s Press Freedom Index. Human rights groups say that at least 80 people are currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan on politically motivated charges, including Ismayilova.