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A Look Back: Khadija Ismayilova's Life In Pictures

May 27 marks the 40th birthday of investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova. Two day's earlier, Azerbaijan's Supreme Court ordered the RFE/RL journalist's release from prison. Ismayilova had been detained since 2014 on charges widely believed to be related to her reports linking the family of President Ilham Aliyev to large-scale corruption.

Ismayilova at the age of 2. Last September, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan sentenced her to 7 1/2 years in prison on charges that included illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. Her supporters and international rights organizations called the charges politically motivated.
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Ismayilova at the age of 2. Last September, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan sentenced her to 7 1/2 years in prison on charges that included illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. Her supporters and international rights organizations called the charges politically motivated.

Ismayilova and her lawyers say the criminal case against her was retribution for her investigations. Ismayilova investigated corruption schemes connected to senior Azerbaijani officials, as well as the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
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Ismayilova and her lawyers say the criminal case against her was retribution for her investigations. Ismayilova investigated corruption schemes connected to senior Azerbaijani officials, as well as the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Ismayilova at the age of 9. In 2015, while in prison, she was honored with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom To Write Award. And in 2016, UNESCO recognized Ismayilova with the prestigious Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for promoting media freedom in the face of danger.
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Ismayilova at the age of 9. In 2015, while in prison, she was honored with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom To Write Award. And in 2016, UNESCO recognized Ismayilova with the prestigious Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for promoting media freedom in the face of danger.

Ismayilova's reporting connected the Azerbaijani government's awarding of rights to a lucrative gold mining operation to members of President Ilham Aliyev's family in 2012.
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Ismayilova's reporting connected the Azerbaijani government's awarding of rights to a lucrative gold mining operation to members of President Ilham Aliyev's family in 2012.

In 2014, Ismayilova published a report tracking a trail of owners and offshore companies that appeared to connect President Aliyev's two daughters to Azerbaijan's largest mobile-phone business, Azercell.
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In 2014, Ismayilova published a report tracking a trail of owners and offshore companies that appeared to connect President Aliyev's two daughters to Azerbaijan's largest mobile-phone business, Azercell.

Ismayilova's reports stated that President Aliyev's family owns at least six luxury hotels in Baku and that one of Aliyev’s daughters -- Leyla -- is the owner of a mansion in an expensive Moscow suburb.
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Ismayilova's reports stated that President Aliyev's family owns at least six luxury hotels in Baku and that one of Aliyev’s daughters -- Leyla -- is the owner of a mansion in an expensive Moscow suburb.

Ismayilova at the age of 27, a promising young journalist headed for international prominence. Before she was jailed, a blackmail and smear campaign failed to deter her from her investigative reporting and only motivated her to work harder.
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Ismayilova at the age of 27, a promising young journalist headed for international prominence. Before she was jailed, a blackmail and smear campaign failed to deter her from her investigative reporting and only motivated her to work harder.

Ismayilova and her supporters challenged her detention at the European Court for Human Rights. Renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney signed on to help lead the effort.
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Ismayilova and her supporters challenged her detention at the European Court for Human Rights. Renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney signed on to help lead the effort.

Ismayilova working in RFE/RL's Baku bureau in March 2012
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Ismayilova working in RFE/RL's Baku bureau in March 2012

In February 2014, Ismayilova was summoned by judicial authorities for questioning on suspicion of leaking state secrets to the United States.
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In February 2014, Ismayilova was summoned by judicial authorities for questioning on suspicion of leaking state secrets to the United States.

Moments after Ismayilova's release from prison in Baku on May 25, 2016
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Moments after Ismayilova's release from prison in Baku on May 25, 2016

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