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2024, 17 İyul, çərşənbə, Bakı vaxtı 17:21

Khadija Ismayil, “I Do Not Consider Anyone My Enemy, Even Ilham Aliyev”

Azerbaijan. Baku. Journalist Khadija Ismayilova
Azerbaijan. Baku. Journalist Khadija Ismayilova

On August 18, the trial in the case of the investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova continued at the Baku Court for Grave Crimes.

During the hearing, Khadija Ismayil said she would only answer the questions on the article 125 (incitement to attempt suicide) in the presence of Tural Mustafayev.

“I once again express my disapproval that the court is moving so hastily. I guess you are rushing to a resort vacation. Perhaps had European countries applied sanctions to Azerbaijan on time, you would not be rushing to Karlovy Vary right now. You are sacrificing our rights to your right for holidays. I object to the court’s hasty proceeding”.

From Khadija Ismayil’s statement:

“You are accusing me of abusing my powers during my time as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty bureau chief; tax evasion and appropriation. I never headed the representative office in Azerbaijan. The Baku bureau is not a representative office in Azerbaijan. I never hired anyone. I myself was hired. I have never signed any contracts with anyone. My own contract was signed by John Kapler. In general, there was never a legal entity as Radio Liberty’s Baku bureau. Baku bureau has always been one of the radio’s branches. As bureau chief I was responsible to produce useful material, and make sure effective teamwork. In general western media has two branches: financial and creative. My work was with the creative side of the radio. I had nothing to do with financial side of the radio. Just like all other employees of the radio, I too was hired. And I have done well at my job. And this is why I was arrested. Azadliq Radio Baku bureau has been irreplaceable in showing the reality in the country. This is one of the reasons for my arrest. As for the radio waves and licensing – these agreements were made with US Broadcast and Management Committee.”

“This institution is based in Washington D.C. It's head is the Secretary of State of the US. If there is anything you have against this, then you should go and talk to Kerry”.

“There are plenty of media outlets in Azerbaijan where you have both full time and employees and stringers. After I left my job as office chief I worked as a freelance correspondent. I did this because I wanted to be free. I value my freedom and I wanted to work with other media outlets, hence my decision. I came to the office when I felt like it. I was offered to sign a contract as a full time employee but I refused it myself.”

“All I have been doing throughout this trial is to prove that “yoghurt is white”. This is because the prosecution has a problem understanding even the basics. I understand there was an order to arrest me. But at least when arresting me [they] could have put forward some substantial evidence. When they arrested Intigam Aliyev they had some kind of evidence against him. But not in my case. I am offended. You have insulted my intellect by approaching my case so superficially. Even colorblind people know that yoghurt is white. But the employees of the prosecutor office don’t. Was it necessary to hold me in detention for 8 months in order to understand that Baku bureau of Radio Liberty was not an official representative? Was it really necessary for the government to go such great lengths in order to hold me in prison?”

“Thanks to this decision I also know all the dirty deeds that take place in detention facilities too. For instance I know that allocated meet and cheese portions are not served. It would be really good if the prosecutor office actually investigates these corruption incidents. Now I know where and how the prosecutor office scams and who it bribes”.

She was then offered to testify under Article 125 but she informed the court she wont testify unless Tural Mustafayev is present in court. She said she had questions to Tural Mustafayev and that she should be allowed to carry out cross-questioning.

Sefer Huseynov who was representing Mustafayev in court said he could answer whatever questions Khadija had but Khadija refused. “Can Safar Huseynov answer questions about Tural Mustafayev’s personal life? My questions are not about Safar Huseynov’s personal life but Mustafayev’s” said Khadija.

“I do not consider anyone my enemy, even Ilham Aliyev”

Khadija Ismayilova only answered the following question from the prosecutor:

“I saw Tural Mustafayev for the first time at the radio’s office. He faced violence in Sabirabad during pre-election rally. He needed legal advice. We provided him with phone numbers we had. We arranged for a meeting with defense lawyer Intigam Aliyev. This case was sent to the European Court of Human Rights. He was shaken. He told us his family and himself were pressured in Goychay because he shared critical material of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He said arbitrariness was a lot more widespread in regions. This is why he wanted to work in Baku. He felt helpless face to face the tyranny of officials.”

Prosecutor: How come he turned into being your enemy?

Khadija Ismayil: I do not consider anyone my enemy. Even Ilham Aliyev. In general I am very distant to notions of enemy and hatred. People who carry such emotions are weak”.

The court proceeded with confirmation of documents.