OCCRP Journalist Wins Global Shining Light Award

Published: 17 October 2013


Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project regional coordinator Khadija Ismayilova won a 2013 Global Shining Light Award Monday at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Ismayilova, working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), received the award with fellow RFE/RL correspondent Nushabe Fatullayeva and journalists Pavla Holcova and Jaromir Hason. The journalists were recognized for their investigation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family.

Azerbaijani’s press freedom has been called “appalling” by Reporters Without Borders, while OCCRP rated Ilham Aliyev as the crime and corruption "Person of the Year" in 2012. Ismayilova conducted her investigations under extreme duress as she suffered a campaign of harassment and blackmail. Officials turned a blind eye to Ismayilova's evidence and formal complaints and requests.

The smear campaign against Ismayilova prompted condemnation from several NGOs and the United States Embassy in Baku. Ismayilova had previously been the recipient of the Women's Courage in Journalism Award in connection with the harassment.

"The recognition of our work is further proof that the future of thorough, efficient, investigative journalism is in cross-border collaboration, in using cutting-edge technology and, first of all, in dedicated reporters and civic hackers working together," said Paul Radu, executive editor at OCCRP.

Another major OCCRP investigation into allegations of corruption against Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic received a Global Shining Light Award nomination. The two-year investigation, conducted by Miranda Patrucic, Valerie Hopkins, and Drew Sullivan of the OCCRP, also received recognition from the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

Additionally, OCCRP received a Daniel Pearl Award nomination for tracking the "Magnitsky Money," funds laundered across the world after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered the largest tax scam in Russian history. A Swedish public television investigation into the Swedish telecom company Teliasonera, featuring the work of OCCRP investigative reporter Miranda Patrucic, also received a nomination.

"I am proud that OCCRP has four different projects this year that have won or been named finalists for international awards." said Sullivan, editor at OCCRP. "Our partners and reporters are doing not only great in-depth investigative reporting but also a lot of it."

The OCCRP is a not-for-profit, joint program including 18 media outlets and dozens of international journalists with a focus on cross-border reporting.

The Global Shining Light Award is given to "investigative journalism in a developing or transitioning country, done under threat, duress, or in the direst of conditions."