National Press Club

National Press Club Calls on Azerbaijan to Free Jailed Journalists

September 2, 2015 | By John Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

The National Press Club called on Azerbaijan to free journalists jailed in that country on spurious charges.

On Sept. 1, an Azeri court sentenced Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter who has written for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other news organizations, to seven and a half years in jail, ostensibly for illegal business activity, tax evasion, embezzlement and abuse of power. She has been imprisoned since December 2014.

"Ismayilova has been sentenced to jail for one reason: because she wrote critical stories about official corruption," said John Hughes, the National Press Club’s president. "There’s only one solution to this problem: let her go."

Ismayilova is a recipient of the National Press Club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award for 2015.

At least seven other journalists are said to be imprisoned in Azerbaijan on similarly trumped up charges, according to reporters’ advocacy groups.

The National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club speaks out for journalists rights and in favor of transparency.