You know things are really bad when Khadiya Ismayil gets in touch to ask if she can help

Published: May 12, 2017 at 10:51am

A week ago I had a telephone call from an Azerbaijani reporter who works for Khadiya Ismayilova, the prominent Azerbaijani investigative journalist and anti-Aliyev campaigner who was jailed for seven years in her country on trumped-up charges of tax evasion. Her case was taken up by the well-known human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who is married to George Clooney, and she was eventually released early from prison.

The journalist had rung to find out more about the links of Azerbaijani politically exposed persons, including Ilham Aliyev’s son Heydar and his daughter Leyla, with Pilatus Bank in Malta, and the association generally between the Maltese government and the ruling elite in Azerbaijan.

“Khadiya is closely following what is happening in Malta and to you, and she wants you to know that if she can help in any way, she will do it,” the journalist said.

And I thought to myself how things have come to a pretty pass in Malta when Khadiya Ismayilova, persecuted in her own country by her own government because of her attempts at exposing its corruption, looks at what is happening in Malta and sees disturbing parallels.

This is what we have come to.

A visiting journalist was told by a taxi driver in Malta a few days ago, when he asked him about the current situation: “They can take whatever they want because they haven’t taken it from me and I don’t care because I have money in my pocket.”

How stupid is that. A government which takes whatever it wants will eventually remove the money from your pocket either directly or by default when the system is brought down by the consequences of extensive corruption.

And stupider still is the failure to understand that you don’t need a corrupt government to have money in your pocket. You can have money in your pocket and a clean government. We had that for years.