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Khadija Ismayilova’s First Year in Prison and the Investigative Journalism Landscape in Eurasia

Azerbaijan -- Khadija Ismayilova
Azerbaijan -- Khadija Ismayilova

On December 5, 2014, investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova was arrested by Azeri officials on charges that are widely recognized as retribution for her reporting on corruption among Azerbaijan's leadership. In September, she was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.

RFE/RL marks Ismayilova's first year behind bars with an RFE/RLive Hangout that will provide an update on her case, and discuss developments relating to investigative journalism in the former Soviet states, including tools reporters are using and the efforts of those in policy positions to support them. A new initiative sponsored by RFE/RL and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project that aims to continue Ismayilova's work will be announced.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Washington, D.C.--11:00 a.m. / Prague--5:00 p.m.

Join us live on YouTube, and on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #RFERLive

Johann Bihr is the Head of Eastern Europe & Central Asia at Reporters Without Borders. He graduated from Paris’s Sorbonne University in 2007 with a degree in International Relations, and has worked for humanitarian NGOs in Central Asia.

John M. Donnelly joined Congressional Quarterly in 2004 and is now a senior writer, covering defense and foreign policy issues. He worked previously at Defense Week, where he won many awards for investigative journalism. He has written for numerous other publications, from the Los Angeles Times to the Economist magazine, and has been featured on broadcast news programs, including ABC World News Tonight and NBC’s Meet the Press. Donnelly has been active in the leadership of the National Press Club since 2001 and chairs its Press Freedom Committee. In June 2015, the National Press Club awarded Khadija Ismayilova its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award. He also served on the Standing Committee of Correspondents of the U.S. Congress, which accredits reporters. He is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Ilkin Mammadov, the Director of the Azerbaijani Service, joined RFE/RL in 2004, where he has covered major news events for the Service while playing a lead role in launching several of its signature programs on FM, TV, and the web. Prior to joining RFE/RL, he worked for Internews-Network and for several local TV stations in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mammadov holds an MBA degree from the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business, and a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baku State University.

Kyle Parker is a member of the senior professional staff of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he oversees the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Prior to his service in Congress, Kyle spent eight years on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe focusing on democracy, rule of law, and human rights in the post-Soviet space. From 1998 to 2006, Kyle worked in the non-profit sector promoting relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union through high-level political exchanges and Track II diplomacy.

Drew Sullivan is the director and editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an organization he founded together with investigative reporting centers, media outlets, and reporters from a dozen countries. In 2004, he founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and served as its editor and first director before the center became an independent, locally run organization. He also founded the Journalism Development Network, an innovative media development organization with programs in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Sullivan was a reporter or editor on work that won the Online Journalism Award for investigative reporting, the first- ever Global Shining Light Award, and other prizes.

Daisy Sindelar (Moderator) is RFE/RL's European Regional Director, overseeing the work of 10 language services. Sindelar joined RFE/RL in 2001 as an editor and correspondent in the Central Newsroom, where she covered the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. She has reported from Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Ukraine. Before coming to RFE/RL, she worked as managing editor at The Moscow Times and editor in chief of its sister publication, The St. Petersburg Times. She holds a degree in Russian history and philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, and has also studied at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.