Today’s release of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova is a positive development for the people of Azerbaijan and a step forward for press freedom. For too long — 537 days — Khadija has been separated from her family and friends and prohibited from serving the Azerbaijani people with her investigative reporting. I welcome her release and I hope that it is an indication that change is coming to Azerbaijan when it comes to press freedom. But more work remains to be done.
I call on the Azerbaijan authorities to lift her travel restrictions, and I urge that her release be accompanied by a relief from the harassment, surveillance, and intimidation that she suffered prior to her detainment.
I also call on Azerbaijani authorities to cease their investigations of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Baku bureau journalists and to immediately permit the news bureau, which was unjustly closed in December 2014, to reopen. These are all critical steps that must be taken if the Azerbaijan wishes to continue to move forward on ensuring press freedom.