Hope things are well with you. As you know I live in Cairo now, but I am still very much connected to events in Baku. Here is a disturbing piece of news I got from one of my colleagues, an investigative reporter Khadija Ismayil, who was blackmailed by the authorities today. Khadija Ismayil is a journalist of very high caliber, professional and uncompromising in her integrity! For years, she has been investigating the subject of government corruption in Azerbaijan, a subject that nobody else dares to address in such thorough manner as she has done so far. Please see her statement below, as well as links to her articles. To be honest, given the gruesome state of affairs with civil society in Azerbaijan, I worry for Khadija's safety. I hope that she will stay safe and continue her important work. Please help spread the word and if any of you want to investigate this further, perhaps write a news blurb about it, or know anyone who might be relevant for something like this, please contact me or Emin Milli, activist and blogger who recently put a blog post about Khadija's situation here eminmilli.posterous.com
Emin Milli's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can put you in touch with Khadija directly too.
Here is a public statement of Khadija Ismayil:
"On March 7 I received a letter to my home address with threats and blackmail. It includes some photos of intimate character and a threat.
It says if I don’t stop working I will be hugely embarrassed. This threat is not a surprise for me. I have been doing investigative journalism for a long time. My investigation included the secret business of president Ilham Aliyev’s family and documented the facts of corruption on the highest level, disclosed the offshore businesses of members of the ruling family.
Currently I am working on several investigative reports. I have sent inquires to the Government offices about businesses of ruling family.
For a long time my journalistic activity has been the source of concern for the government. I have been a subject of attacks and slander in pro-government newspapers. I have been absurdly accused of having Armenian relatives and working for foreign intelligence.
Till now many of my colleagues have been subjected to blackmailed with discrediting information and I have been expecting new dirty blackmailing moves from people who are stealing the public money. I was envisioning this and was ready to face it. After receiving a letter today I am convinced and determined that I can withstand any blackmail campaign against me. I will continue my professional activity and work. Because the journalist that respect its profession can not act otherwise.
I would like to repeat that this is not the first time that these acts of blackmail have been used against fellow journalists. The motives of these acts are very well know to public. It is done to silence people who are outspoken. There are a serious crimes behind these acts.
I may face more of these disgusting and dangerous steps against me. The Government must investigate these events. Taken into account the nature of my investigations and the source of criticism and attacks against me, I hope the president will carry responsibility for what may happen and provide protection for my security.
SELECTED REPORTS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Tracking president’s family business
For more than five years government of Azerbaijan lied to citizens about ownership of the mobile phone operator, naming German Siemens as an owner of Azerfon company, enjoying favorable conditions in the market, not available for competitors. The investigation reveals that president Aliyev’s daughters were behind Azerfon through shell companies in Panama.
President Aliyev’s family and the illegal privatization of the public airport
The investigation conducted with Ulviyya Asadzade documented how President IlhamAliyev’s family was involved in the illegal privatization of the public bank and other parts of state owned Azerbaijan Airlines company, to benefit the Aliyev family. The government never publicly announced the privatization. The report was declared “the best investigation of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty in 2010” among the 28 language services of the radio.
Barcelona of Iranian Turks
The feature highlights Iranian football team “Trakhtur”, which became a symbol of Azerbaijani turks’ struggle in Iran for cultural and linguistic rights. The story reports about arrests of ethnic rights champions, human rights movement and activists, using the stadium as a platform for voicing their problems.
Hidden infant mortality – the deaths caused by poverty in oil rich Azerbaijan
Radio documentary about infant mortality. The investigation reveals infant mortality cases, never appeared in official statistics explaining difference between government figures and independent assessment.
Shady electricity bid winner got presidential support
Investigation about corruption in tender procedures of contracting Turkish company Barmek for the Baku city Electricity Supply Management. The investigation revealed that the company obtained the contract thanks to the previous agreement among presidents of Azerbaijan and his friend, former president of Turkey.
Untold stories of BTC pipeline
Report about political games around BTC pipeline, negotiations behind the scenes, and never disclosed alternative plans of energy routes.