Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan, has been chosen to receive the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
An independent international jury of media professionals recommended Ms Ismayilova in recognition of her outstanding contribution to press freedom in difficult circumstances.
“Khadija Ismayilova highly deserves the Prize and I am happy to see that her courage and professionalism are recognized,” said Ljiljana Zurovac, Chair of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016 Jury.
Ms Ismayilova, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe, was detained in December 2014, and, in September 2015, was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on charges relating to abuse of power and tax evasion.
The Prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, hosted by Finland this year.
Created by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).