Azerbaijan: Khadija Ismayilova released from prison

English PEN warmly welcomes the news that Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been released on probation. Ismayilova, who turns 40 on Friday, had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on trumped-up financial charges in September 2015, having been detained since December 2014. The remainder of her sentence has been commuted to a three-year conditional sentence. She will be subject to a travel ban and other restrictions. PEN will continue to campaign for all restrictions against her to be lifted.

Global Action

This Friday, 27 May, English PEN will be joining a protest at the Embassy of Azerbaijan in London to celebrate Ismayilova’s release and her 40th birthday. More details here.

The event is part of a global action coordinated by the Sport for Rights campaign which will see events held in 40 cities around the world. As well as celebrating her release, supporters will be continuing to call for her full acquittal, and for the release of the country’s dozens of remaining political prisoners.

The planned protests span 23 countries: Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. For more details of these protests please visit the PEN International website.


If you are unable to join the global protest in person you can still take action for Khadija and other writers at risk in Azerbaijan:

Send messages of solidarity

If you would like to send a message to Khadija Ismayilova please do so via

Social media

On 27 May, Ismayilova’s supporters around the world will be tweeting using the hashtags #FreeKhadija and #HappyBirthdayKhadija – please join them. Protest participants will also be sharing their photos on a global Facebook event page, and the Sport for Rights campaign will be collating photos and information on its Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Write to the authorities:

Please write to the government of Azerbaijan calling for Khadija Ismayilova’s full acquittal and the immediate release of other writers who remain imprisoned in Azerbaijan.

Please send appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova on probation;
  • Calling for a full acquittal and for all restrictions against her to be lifted;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all others held in Azerbaijan solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression ;
  • Calling on Azerbaijan to comply with its obligations under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Azerbaijan is a state party) to protect the right to freedom of expression and cease its campaign of intimidation directed at opposition or critical voices.

Appeals to:

President Ilham Aliyev
Istiglaliyyat Street 19
1066 Baku
Republic of Azerbaijan
Fax +994124923543
Salutation: Your Excellency

Prosecutor General Zakir Qaralov
Office of the Prosecutor General
7 Rafibeyli Street
Baku AZ1001, Azerbaijan
Salutation: Dear Prosecutor General

Please also send copies your letters to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in London:

His Excellency Mr Tahir Taghizade

4 Kensington Court
W8 5DL
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7937 1783

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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