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RFE/RL Journalist Released From Azerbaijan Prison

RFE/RL Journalist Khadija Ismayilova walks out of prison, after her sentence is reduced, May 25, 2016. (Photo: VOA Azeri Service)
Azerbaijani RFE/RL Journalist Ismayilova Released From Prison
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A journalist from Azerbaijan was released from prison on Wednesday.

Khadija Ismayilova will now be permitted to serve her sentence at home. The country’s supreme court also reduced her sentence from seven years to just over three years.

Ismayilova is a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She has won awards for her investigative journalism.

In 2015, Ismayilova was sentenced to prison on charges of tax evasion and abuse of power. Many think the charges were motivated by politics.

A flyer demanding the release of journalist Khadija İsmayılova.
A flyer demanding the release of journalist Khadija İsmayılova.

John Lansing is the CEO and director of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Lansing said her release was a “positive development for the people of Azerbaijan and a step forward for press freedom.”

The U.S. State Department also welcomed news of Ismayilova's release. A statement by deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the decision would strengthen the country of Azerbaijan and its relationship with the U.S. The statement also urged the Azerbaijani government to drop the remaining charges against her.

Human rights groups echoed that idea. Human Rights Watch also called on the government of Azerbaijan to release other journalists and activists held on politically motivated charges.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

The staff at VOA News wrote this story. Jim Dresbach adapted it for Learning English and Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

journalistn. a person who collects, writes and edits news stories for newspapers, magazines, television or radio

tax evasionn. the illegal nonpayment or underpayment of taxes

CEOn. the person who has the most authority in an organization or business; an abbreviation for chief executive officer