Jennifer Lopez Earned Millions 'Serenading Crooks and Dictators,' Human Rights Group Alleges

Pop superstar paid millions by shady rulers for performances, report claims.

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Jennifer Lopez, the performer who reportedly accepted $1.5 million to sing for Turkmenistan's autocratic leader June 29, has a track record of performing for "crooks and dictators," according to the Human Rights Foundation.

The organization released information Friday undermining Lopez's claim that her recent trip, organized by the China National Petroleum Corp., was a one-time accident, Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen told U.S. News.

"There's no way they didn't know after repeatedly receiving millions of dollars from dictatorships or friends of dictators," he said, scoffing at Lopez's "mealy mouthed non-apology" for the Turkmenistan trip.

Turmenistan's president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, took office in 2006 after the death of "president for life" Saparmurat Niyazov, the country's first post-Soviet leader. He was re-elected with more than 97 percent of the vote in a 2012 election widely considered a sham.

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Jennifer Lopez is honored with the 2500th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calif., June 20, 2013.
Jennifer Lopez is honored with the 2500th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calif., June 20, 2013.

After Lopez's trip to Turkmenistan attracted media attention, her publicist Mark Young released a statement saying, "Had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended." The singer did not publicly commit to donating the money to charity.

The gigs noted Friday by the rights group included some paid for by post-Soviet businessmen, often referred to as oligarchs, including the Uzbek businessman Azam Aslamov, who paid her $1 million according to New Zealand entertainment publication The Edge, and the Russian Telman Ismailov, who according to the European Union Times paid $1.4 for a birthday performance in 2009. Russian bureaucrat Alexander Yolkin, arrested a day before Lopez's planned November 2012 appearance for his birthday, paid her $2 million, according to the Russian news website kp.ru.

The Human Rights Foundation also alleged that Lopez representatives negotiated a $2.5 million fee for a September 2012 performance in Azerbaijan, which is ruled by a pro-western autocrat. Another deal is allegedly being negotiated with the wife of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev. Lopez's fee for the 2012 event was not previously reported.

Aliyev assumed office in 2003 upon the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, the country's first post-Soviet leader. Aliyev won 90 percent of the vote in 2008, AFP reported, amid a boycott by opposition parties that alleged the vote was fixed.

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Young, Lopez's spokesperson, declined to comment when reached by U.S. News on Friday.

The rights group said it still doesn't know how much Lopez earned from an October 2012 concert in Belarus, a country commonly dubbed the "last dictatorship in Europe."

"The likelihood that J.Lo will forfeit some of this dictatorship or cronyship cash is entirely dependent on the reaction of her fan base and her critics," Halvorssen said. "She certainly doesn't need the money."

Jamie Hancock, media relations coordinator for the Human Rights Foundation, told U.S. News the group is "more than happy to put together a list if she needs help" deciding where to donate the money. Ideally, she said, the money would assist people affected by the leaders who paid Lopez.

"What those covering this story have missed is that J.Lo and her management have misled her fans and the public," Halvorssen said in a Friday press release. "J.Lo has repeatedly mingled with and entertained some of the world's worst thugs and their cronies. This is not about ignorance, it's about greed."

Watch Lopez's Turkmen Tour Tape:

 

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