Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project regional coordinator and Radio Liberty Baku Bureau’s correspondent and radio host Khadija Ismayilova has been blackmailed with photos purportedly showing the reporter engaged in sexual relations. Ismaylova received an envelope stamped from a Moscow address containing pictures that purportedly showed Khadija with an unidentified man. The package included six pictures and a note that read, “Whore, behave. Or you will be defamed.” This is not the first time Ismaylova, who frequently investigates and reports on corruption, has been subject to attempts to silence her. We find this behavior by the blackmailers outrageous. It is not only attacking a courageous reporter, but also freedom of the media in Azerbaijan. We, the undersigned, ask that the government of Azerbaijan act aggressively to investigate this criminal act. We ask that it affirm a commitment to protect the independence of a free press by stating its unequivocal opposition to such attempts to silence investigative reporters. We ask all Azeri and regional media to respect Khadija's privacy.
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