Ismayilova Marks 1 Year in Prison Today; New Stories Posted

One year ago today, investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, 39, was unjustly jailed in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.

free-khadija

Her colleagues today release new stories building on her work revealing corruption among Azerbaijan’s top officials and their friends. Click to see the latest stories, videos and infographics, posted in The Khadija Project, the global effort by investigative journalists to continue her work.

Nearly 70 journalists, researchers, and supporting organizations gathered in Istanbul in November to share skills, notes, and plans for future stories following up on Ismayilova’s work as part at the seventh annual conference of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Ismayilova, an OCCRP partner, was detained on Dec. 5, 2014, on trumped-up charges that included inciting a former colleague to attempt suicide (accusations later recanted). She was eventually convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement in another bogus case connected to her job as a talk show host at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

She vehemently denies all allegations, insisting that she is being prosecuted because her work exposing insider deals worth billions has annoyed Azerbaijan’s powerful president, Ilham Aliyev, and his inner circle of family and friends.

Ismayilova has been sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. Since her arrest, journalists for OCCRP have launched The Khadija Project to finish her work and send a single, stark message to those who would try to muzzle an independent press: “Until Khadija is free, we will be Khadija x 100.”

The project has so far completed nearly 20 investigative stories revealing massive corruption by the Azerbaijani ruling elite, including the revelation that the Aliyev family owns some of the best hotels in Baku; fabulously valuable properties in Russia, London and Dubai; and makes free use of several super-yachts owned by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).