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Jailed Azeri Journalist Receives PEN American Center Freedom Of Expression Award

Stat of the Day -- Khadija Ismayilova 152 days in jail

WASHINGTON -- This evening, the PEN American Center will present its prestigious 2015 Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award to jailed investigative reporter and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, who has been in a prison in Baku since December 5 on charges RFE/RL has said have "no basis in reality."

PEN, a New-York-based advocacy group that works to advance literature and defend free speech, gives the award annually to an imprisoned writer persecuted for exercising her right to free expression. Of the 39 honorees since 1987 who were in jail at the time they received the Award, 34 were later freed.

RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service Director Kenan Aliyev met with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power on Monday to discuss Ismayilova's imprisonment and issues related to media freedom in Azerbaijan, which was named "one of the worst offenders” in Freedom House's 2015 Freedom of the Press report, released last week. Aliyev appealed for Ismayilova’s immediate release and urged the international community not to “look away" at the country’s human rights abuses as it prepares to host the $8 billion European Games in June. Aliyev said, “Like Khadija, countless others who question the use of power and privilege in Azerbaijan -- not only journalists, but human rights defenders and lawyers – end up in jail or worse.”

On Thursday (May 7) at 10:00am, RFE/RL's Kenan Aliyev will participate in a ​discussion on Azerbaijan
at the National Endowment for Democracy.


Kenan Aliyev is also available for media interviews.
Please contact: Salma Bahramy at or +1.202.457.6917