An investigative journalist jailed since December has gone on trial in Azerbaijan in a case widely criticized by human rights organizations.

Khadija Ismayilova, who works for U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, investigated corruption allegedly involving President Ilham Aliyev.

She is charged with tax evasion and inciting a colleague to commit suicide. The colleague, Tural Mustafaev, who filed the original complaint against her, was not in court Friday and the judge ordered him to appear at the next session.

Activists have condemned the case as an attempt to stifle independent reporting and dissent in the former Soviet republic.

In June, a letter from Ismayilova was released saying "that Azerbaijan is in the midst of a human rights crisis."

Several rights activists also have been jailed.