Thursday, May 26, 2016
After 537 days in prison, the Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released on probation on the 25th of May.

In September 2015, Khadija was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on false financial charges. The Supreme Court changed this yesterday to a 3.5 year suspended sentence, followed by the immediate release of Khadija.

Khadija had been in prison since December 2014 based on unfounded and politically motivated charges. Initially accused of incitement to suicide, she was eventually convicted for illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office. However, many belief that the real reason behind her prosecution was her investigative reporting on corruption among the ruling elite in Azerbaijan: The same type of crimes that she was falsely convicted for herself.

Several campaigns demanding Khadija's release had already been initiated, among which the #FreeKhadija Thunderclap by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee that is taking place tomorrow on the 27th of May, which is Khadija's 40th birthday.

Although Khadija Ismayilova is out of prison now, her freedom is still limited. She is subject to several restrictions, among which a travel ban and a 2-year period in which she is not allowed to practice her profession.

Many other journalists and human rights activists are still imprisoned. Steps that have been taken to deal with the widespread corruption and human rights abuses in Azerbaijan are not sufficient. Therefore, although Khadija is released, many campaigns will continue, to ensure that all charges on Khadija and other recently released journalists are dropped and to call for the release of all political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Join the #FreeKhadija Thunderclap!