Ignoring Human Rights in Azerbaijan

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Last December, I wrote here about Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter jailed in retaliation for her reporting about official corruption in the oil rich dictatorship of Azerbaijan. From jail, Ismayilova had written an unflinching but cheerful New Year’s greeting to her friends while the government was bringing a case against her for the bizarre charge of “inciting suicide.” Without regret or self-pity, she wrote: “Yes, there is a price to pay,” she wrote at the time. “But it is worth it!” Now, the regime is making Ismayilova pay a higher price. On September 1st, she was sentenced to seven and one half years in prison.

Ismayilova got under the skin of Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, with a 2011 article for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that linked his daughters to the main shareholders of a telecom firm that was launched without a competitive process. His regime retaliated with harassment and blackmail. When that didn’t work, they brought new charges of embezzlement and abuse of power.

Other reports have traced suspicious amounts of wealth and commercial ties to Aliyev family. A 2010 Washington Post story by Andrew Higgins traced expensive Dubai real estate held in the name of their then pre-teen younger brother.

- The remainder of this post can be read for free at Democracy Road, FPI Senior Fellow Ellen Bork's blog at World Affairs Journal

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