Azerbaijani journalist refuses $250,000 ‘prize’ offered to her by Qatar’s Anti-Corruption Centre

Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismail has been offered a $250,000 cash award from Qatar’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre.

After looking into the activities of the centre and discovering the fund was created by the emir of Qatar, who had closed the center for investigative journalism in Qatar, Khadija Ismail declined the award.

“The representative of the fund answered that along with the prize, they also give $250,000 and that they were hoping for a positive answer. I learned that [the emir]  who presents himself as a reformer has closed the investigative journalism center in Qatar, and in Qatar, journalism is as dangerous a profession as in ours.”

The journalist also added that the reason why the foundation wants to give her the prize is to keep famous journalists under its influence with this award:

“Why me? They have been distributing the prize for three years, not a single famous person has yet agreed to receive the prize. It is the famous winners who legitimize such initiatives. I don’t want to sound immodest, but a friend explained to me that they need my name.

“I answered them. I said, thank you, I investigated the issue and do not believe in your sincerity, and I do not sell my reputation for money.”

Khadija Ismail is engaged in investigative journalism. She was arrested in 2014 and imprisoned for seven years and six months on charges of tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship.

On May 25, 2016, the Supreme Court changed her sentence to a suspended sentence of three and a half years and released her. Now the journalist has a ban on leaving the country.

By the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, in this case, the rights of the journalist, protected by Articles 5 (liberty and security of person), 6 (fair trial), 10 (freedom of expression) and 18 (limits on the use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention were violated.

For these violations, the Azerbaijani government as a whole must pay the journalist compensation to the amount of 25,000 euros, but the journalist says that she has not yet received this money.

On National Press Day, July 22, President Ilham Aliyev awarded several medals to journalists. The head of RealTv Mirshakhin Agayev was awarded the Order of the 2nd degree ‘For Services to the Fatherland’.  Elchin Shikhli was awarded a medal of the 3rd degree order

Several journalists were awarded the Taraqqi medal and the title of Honored Journalist.


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