Democracy advocates at Freedom House, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, have called for an international campaign aimed at pressuring Azerbaijan to free jailed investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
In a blog published March 30, Freedom House’s Vice President for Research Arch Puddington said the campaign should be akin to efforts that recently led to the release of three jailed Al-Jazeera journalists by Egypt.
Puddington said criminal charges against Ismayilova, a contributor to RFE/RL, were a politically motivated “act of desperation” by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's government.
Puddington said the charges stem from Ismayilova’s investigative reports “on the rampant corruption among Azerbaijan’s political elite, particularly within the family” of Aliyev -- including the president’s two daughters.
He said Aliyev’s government "has been suffering from an acute case of paranoia since former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was forced from office by the Euromaidan protest movement" in Kyiv.
He also said Washington has a responsibility to use diplomacy to win Ismayilova’s release.