World

Jailed dissident criticizes Azerbaijan as European games get under way in capital

  • FILE - This March  2, 2014 file photo shows Azerbaijani Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in Baku, Azerbaijan. The opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2015 will be attended by world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among people who will not be there is Ismayilova, a journalist who was imprisoned in 2014 after investigating corruption allegedly involving the president, in what opposition activists says is a wider crackdown on dissent ahead of the European Games. (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov, File)

    FILE - This March 2, 2014 file photo shows Azerbaijani Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in Baku, Azerbaijan. The opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2015 will be attended by world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among people who will not be there is Ismayilova, a journalist who was imprisoned in 2014 after investigating corruption allegedly involving the president, in what opposition activists says is a wider crackdown on dissent ahead of the European Games. (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Human rights activists, dressed as policemen and athletes, stage a happening to advert to  what they say, violation of human rights in Azerbaijan, host country of Baku 2015 European Games, in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, June 12, 2015. European Games start in Azerbaijan on Friday, June 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Human rights activists, dressed as policemen and athletes, stage a happening to advert to what they say, violation of human rights in Azerbaijan, host country of Baku 2015 European Games, in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, June 12, 2015. European Games start in Azerbaijan on Friday, June 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • A couple sit near the National  Gymnastics arena, on the eve of the opening of the 2015 European Games, in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thursday, June 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    A couple sit near the National Gymnastics arena, on the eve of the opening of the 2015 European Games, in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thursday, June 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

A jailed journalist has written a letter criticizing Azerbaijan for corruption and human rights violations as the first European Games get underway in the capital, Baku.

Khadija Ismayilova was imprisoned last year after investigating corruption allegedly involving President Ilham Aliyev. Activists say the jailing was part of a wider crackdown on opposition ahead of the games, the continent's analogue to the Olympics.

"The truth is that Azerbaijan is in the midst of a human rights crisis. Things have never been worse," says the letter, released Thursday by the PEN organization. "As those at the top continue to profit from corruption, ordinary people are struggling to work, struggling to live, struggling for freedom."

The organization said the letter was smuggled from prison in pieces.