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The imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayil has been awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016. Khadija Ismayil was arrested on 5 December 2014. She was initially charged under article 125 of the Criminal Code (inciting to suicide). Later, she faced new charges under articles 179 (misappropriation), 192.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.2 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority). On September 1, the court acquitted Khadija Ismayil of the charge filed under Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic (inciting to suicide). However, the court found Khadija Ismayil guilty under Articles 179.3.2 (misappropriation and waste on a large scale), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.1 (tax evasion) and 308.2 (abuse of authority) and sentenced her to 7.5 years in jail and a 3-year ban from holding some public position or engaging in some public activities. Amnesty International has recognized Khadija Ismayil as a prisoner of conscience.
Guillermo Cano award is named in honor of a journalist who was assassinated by Mexican drug barons in 1986.
President of the Guillermo Cano prize jury Ljiljana Zurovac said Khadija Ismayil highly deserved the prize and she was happy to see that the journalist’s courage and professionalism were recognized.
The presentation ceremony will be held in Finland on World Press Freedom Day, on May 3.
Khadija Ismayil has been previously awarded several other international media prizes as well.