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UN Rights Commissioner Demands Ismayilova's Release

Chisinau: A demonstrator holds a poster during a protest at the Azerbaijani Embassy against the verdict in the case of Khadija Ismayilova.3Sep2015

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for the immediate release of investigative reporter and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova as he expressed concern about the ongoing crackdown against civil society in Azerbaijan.

“I call for the immediate release of all those who have been deprived of their liberty simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly as well as for defending the rights of others,” he said in a statement issued on September 8.

“Ms. Ismayilova’s sentencing is just the latest example of the crackdown on independent voices in the country. Azerbaijani authorities have already jailed a number of other journalists, human rights defenders and activists, including Leyla and Arif Yunus, Intigam Aliyev, Anar Mammadli and Rasul Jafarov, on different questionable charges,” the High Commissioner said.

Ismayilova was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison on September 1, on charges that RFE/RL has said are retribution for her reporting on corruption linked to Azerbaijan's ruling family.

In her closing testimony, Ismayilova presented a point-by-point rejection of the charges against her and ridiculed the prosecution's failure to bring any proof to support their case.