ECHR finds in favor of journalist Khadija Ismayilova in second suit against Azerbaijan
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found in favor of Khadija Ismayilova in her suit against the Azerbaijani government for invasion of privacy.
The case concerns a video made in 2012 depicting Ismayilova’s intimate life which was published on the internet.
The Azerbaijani prosecutor’s office did not find the culprit, but did publish personal information about her private life.
The ECHR ruled that Ismayilova be given 15,000 euros in damages and 1,750 for legal fees. This is the second lawsuit she has won against the Azerbaijani government at the ECHR.
Khadija Ismayilova is an Azerbaijani journalist and the author of high-profile investigations and critical articles about the country’s authorities. In 2015, she was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on charges of tax evasion, theft, illegal business and abuse of official position. In 2016, she was released on parole.
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Video, investigation, complaint
In 2012, Khadija Ismayilova received an anonymous letter, threatening to publish a video of her intimate life should she not stop her journalistic investigations.
Ismayilova did not cave, and the video made its way onto the internet. This was accompanied by several articles in pro-government newspapers that accused Ismayilova of “a lack of professionalism,” “prejudice towards the government,” and “immoral behavior”.
In her apartment, Ismayilova discovered hidden cameras, a second telephone line and wires for broadcasting the captured footage. An investigation was launched, but the perpetrator was never found. Ismayilova complained about the ineffectiveness of the investigation, and the prosecutor’s office responded by publishing a report speaking about the interrogation of witnesses, including Ismayilova’s close associates. The journalist considered that this report revealed information about her personal life (the full names and professions of her friends, colleagues and family, as well as her home address and the identity of the person who appeared in the video).
Local courts ruled against her, after which she filed a lawsuit with the ECHR.
The ECHR has now found that Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human rights were violated in her case.
However, she still cannot receive the compensation due to her (as well as compensation for the previous claim) because the Ministry of Taxes has blocked her bank account, citing owed back tax.
The ECHR is currently considering several other complaints by Khadija Ismayilova.