Khadija Ismayilova

Sentenced last year to sweep the streets for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova said with a smile she would be “cleaning this country of filth”, something she was quite used to. Ismayilova is known for her in-depth investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government. These include the presidential clan’s hold on the most profitable sectors of the economy and its investments in tax havens. A former head of the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, she works with a number of news organizations and her activities also extend to the international investigative journalism consortium, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The personal risk is considerable. In 2012 and 2013 she was the target of a smear campaign and blackmail attempt using explicit video footage. In February this year, there was a change of tactics and she was accused of spying. According to the public prosecutor who questioned her for three days in succession, she was alleged to have passed on state secrets to the US Congress. However, it would take more than that to persuade her to call off her investigations.

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