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AIB Voices Concern For Journalists in Azerbaijan

AIB's Simon Spanswick at RFE/RL in Prague, 10Aug2011
AIB's Simon Spanswick at RFE/RL in Prague, 10Aug2011
In a statement prompted by recent allegations of spying against investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) expressed concern over her welfare.

“Azerbaijan has consistently created obstacles for journalists reporting from and within the country,” said AIB chief executive, Simon Spanswick. “AIB and its Members are concerned that Khadija Ismayilova is the subject of new charges that are without foundation. We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to drop the charges and allow Ms Ismayilova and all other journalists in the country to carry on their work free from intimidation and threats to their lives and those of their families.”

On Friday, Ismayilova was questioned for the third consecutive day by Azerbaijan's General Prosecutor's office for allegedly publishing state secrets on Facebook.

The proceedings follow allegations published by pro-government media on February 12 that she had passed secret files on members of the country's political establishment to U.S. congressional staffers in Baku.

The U.S. Embassy labeled the allegations "absurd."

U.S. Helsinki Commission co-chair Senator Ben Cardin called them "clearly fabricated" and "punitive."

Ismayilova has been the target of a sustained defamation campaign that began in March 2012 after she published investigative reports detailing the massive financial holdings of Azerbaijan's ruling family.

Click here for an RFE/RLive online discussion about investigative journalism in Azerbaijan with Nushabe Fatullayeva, RFE/RL Azerbaijani service reporter; Amb. Richard Kauzlarich, former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan; Hans Staiger, Program Consultant, International Center for Journalists; and Drew Sullivan, Editor, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.