Prosecutors in Azerbaijan have demanded that an award–winning investigative journalist be sentenced to nine years in prison on charges she and her supporters say are fabricated and politically motivated.
The call Friday came one day after prosecutors wrapped up their case against Khadija Ismayilova, who was tried on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and abuse of power.
A contributor to U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Ismayilova has reported extensively on corruption in Azerbaijan.
A reporter for VOA's Azerbaijan Service in the capital Baku on Friday quoted Ismayilova's mother, Elmira, as saying that all the testimony cited by the prosecution was "extracted under pressure."
"My child has never done anything wrong," she said. "She always spoke the truth, and is a good kid."
Ismayilova was arrested in December 2014 and charged with provoking a colleague, Tural Mustafayev, to attempt suicide. Mustafayev has since recanted accusations about the incident, saying that Azerbaijani security services blackmailed him into making such claims.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called for the immediate release of Ismayilova and other journalists imprisoned in Azerbaijan.
Last week, a court in Azerbaijan sentenced human rights activist Leyla Yunus to eight-and-a-half years and her ailing husband Arif to seven years in prison for alleged economic crimes.
On Thursday, a group of United Nations human rights experts condemned the sentencing of the Yunuses, calling it “manifestly politically motivated and representative of the continuing repression of independent civil society in Azerbaijan.”