OCCRP Reporter Receives IWMF "Courage" Award
OCCRP reporter Khadija Ismayilova was awarded the International Women's Media Foundation's 2012 "Courage in Journalism" award Wednesday for her work in Azerbaijan. Ismayilova hosts a weekly radio show on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about government and private sector corruption in Azerbaijan. She is also the Azerbaijan correspondent for OCCRP, where she has written recently about the unethical business dealings of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and the illegal investments of Azerbaijan's elite.
Ismayilova garnered international attention in March of this year, when she was threatened with an attempted blackmail scheme. She received an envelope of photos purporting to show her engaged in sexual relations with an unidentified man, and a note that accompanied the pictures read, "Whore, behave. Or you will be defamed."
Ismayilova did not back down, instead calling for a full government investigation into the harassment. When her requests were not met – and the pictures were published in papers connected to the ruling party – Ismayilova investigated on her own, finding that her house had been broken into multiple times and wired with audio and video surveillance equipment. Ismayilova says that the government was behind the threats.
The IWMF presents its annual "Courage in Journalism" awards to "brave women journalists who risk political persecution, injury and sometimes death in their efforts to expose corruption and champion human rights."
“Khadija is the embodiment of courage in reporting. I cannot think of a more appropriate winner and we are proud to be part of her work,” said Drew Sullivan, advising editor of OCCRP.
Ismayilova was also honored in February by the German ZEIT Foundation, which awarded her the Gerd Bucerius Prize for Free Press in Eastern Europe.