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Radio host Khadija Ismayilova of Azerbaijan is free, sort of


Khadija Ismayilova in her Baku studio.

When last we checked in on Azerbaijani radio host and investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, she was languishing in prison. Courts had convicted and sentenced her to 7-1/2 in the slammer for “running an illegal business, tax evasion, abuse of power and embezzlement.”

Since then, Ismayilova has been freed and now lives under house arrest in Baku. On Thursday she spoke via webcast at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. about the repression that citizens and journalists in Azerbaijan face. Her comments came as the country prepares to vote on a constitutional referendum that would allow the president to dissolve parliament.

Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch summarizes Ismayilova’s remarks, which centered around her compilation of a list of attacks on Azerbaijani citizens:

Radio Rights Watch“The situation is still fluid, but so far police have detained at least 27 political activists and released 7 without charge.  Relatives and lawyers of several detainees expect administrative court hearings soon on unspecified charges. Most of those detained are from the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, whose leadership and rank-and-file membership has faced a slew of politically motivated arrests in recent years. A few are from the youth opposition group, NIDA (Azeri for exclamation point), which has also been hit with politically motivated arrests. Today, police camped out at the home of a NIDA activist on his wedding day, waiting for him. He wasn’t home and he never showed up.”

You can watch and listen to Ismayilova’s testimony here:

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