WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Wednesday after Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist and host Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison in Azerbaijan. Cardin advocated heavily for her release through high-level meetings and media outlets:
“I was heartened to hear that Khadija Ismayilova has been released from prison in Azerbaijan after being convicted on completely trumped up charges related to simply doing her job – being an intrepid and investigative reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The timing of her release couldn’t be more welcome as Khadija will celebrate her 40th birthday this Friday.
“I am however disappointed to learn that her release has been conditioned on a three-and-a-half year probation and includes a travel ban. Her release should have been unconditional because she did not and has not committed any crimes.
“I welcome Khadija’s strong statement that she will continue to do the work that she loves, and I look forward to her future reporting.
“Despite being a member of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Azerbaijan under President Aliyev regime is systematically flouting the norms of these organizations that they committed to uphold when they acceded to membership.
“I again call on the government of Azerbaijan to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and release other political prisoners who are incarcerated without proper due process.”