STOCKHOLM — The organization behind the “Alternative Nobel” said on Friday that a 2017 prize winner from Azerbaijan would not be able to attend the Dec. 1 award ceremony in Stockholm because of a travel ban linked to a suspended sentence she is serving.
Azeri investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova claimed in a statement issued by the Right Livelihood Award that she is under the travel ban “because I criticize the government when it steals the people’s money.”
Lawyers Colin Gonsalves from India and Yetnebersh Nigussie of Ethiopia also were given the 2017 award for “their courageous work” in human rights, public health and good governance, and share a cash award of 3 million kronor ($374,000) with Ismayilova.
Created in 1980, the annual Right Livelihood Award honors efforts that prize founder, Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, felt were being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.
Ismayilova, Azerbaijan’s top investigative journalist, was convicted of tax evasion in 2015 in what was largely viewed as a payback for her work. She was released from prison six months later after a higher court commuted her 7 ½-year sentence and converted it into a suspended one. She is not legally allowed to travel outside the country while she is still serving the sentence.
Ismayilova petitioned the court several times after her release to be allowed to travel outside the country but all of her requests have been denied.