Statement on the detention of Azerbaijani journalist

Statement  on the detention of Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova

Sajjad who is President of the European Parliament a Delegation to the South Caucasus has expressed con earns over the arrest of Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty investigative journalist in Azerbaijan - Khadija Ismayilova.

The charges of which have been brought against her, raises fresh concerns about media freedom in the country, and there has been widespread calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the harassment of journalists and human rights activists.

 It is believed Ms Ismayilova's exposure of criminality and corruption amongst the country's ruling political elite is the real reason for her arrest. If convicted, Ms Ismayilova faces up to seven years in prison. Other journalists and human rights activists have already been jailed by the Azerbaijani authorities.

"I am deeply concerned by the arrest of investigative journalist Ms Khadija Ismayilova" said Sajjad.

"A free and vibrant press is a crucial cornerstone for a dynamic, open, and secure civil society, allowing citizens to seek information and hold their governments accountable.

A government which values and protects freedom of speech is a government which values and protects its citizens.

I call on Azerbaijan to fulfil its commitments as a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe which ensures the freedom of the press. As Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia Parliamentary Cooperation Committees, I will follow this issue closely.