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PEN To Honor Jailed Azerbaijani Journalist Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova

Khadija Ismayilova, a jailed Azerbaijani investigative journalist and contributor to RFE/RL, will be honored with a prestigious media freedom award next month.

The PEN American Center said Ismayilova has been chosen to receive the 2015 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award on May 5.

"Khadija Ismayilova is an award-winning reporter whose hard-hitting investigations have revealed corruption at the highest levels of power in Azerbaijan, including the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev," PEN said in a statement on April 15.

Ismayilova was arrested on December 5 on suspicion of inciting a man to attempt suicide.

PEN said the charges were "trumped-up" and followed "years of escalating harassment by government and pro-government forces."

The complainant in that case has asked prosecutors to withdraw his complaint, but new charges were brought against Ismayilova in February alleging tax evasion, illegal business activities, and abuse of power.

She denies wrongdoing and says all the charges are politically motivated.

Her jailing has been widely condemned by international rights groups as part of a campaign by Aliyev's government to intimidate and silence independent activists and journalists in the oil-producing former Soviet republic.