October 2012

Impact

CPJ Impact

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, October 2012

Tackling Turkey's press freedom crisis

Turkey's use of broad anti-state charges to jail at least 61 journalists in reprisal for their work has resulted in the country being ranked the worst jailer of journalists, surpassing global press freedom violators such as China and Iran, CPJ found in a special report released this month in English and Turkish.

CPJ's findings were featured in most leading national dailies in Turkey and on the national cable networks, including the widely viewed CNN Turk. International media coverage was also widespread, with BBC and CNN International broadcasting live interviews about the report, and an especially powerful editorial published by Bloomberg View.

A delegation to Istanbul led by CPJ board Chairman Sandy Rowe met with human rights advocates, press freedom groups, and Turkish journalists who have been victims of the crackdown. A second CPJ delegation that will arrive in Turkey in early November has requested high-level government meetings. The report is also a seed for longer-term advocacy, including with the European Union and United States government.  

To reduce the number of journalists in prison in Turkey, CPJ is pushing for comprehensive reform. A number of imprisoned journalists, including Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, have already been released as a result of international pressure.

October 31, 2012 7:34 PM ET

Alerts   |   Burkina Faso

Burkinabe journalist convicted for criminal defamation

New York, October 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the criminal convictions of two journalists and the suspension of their newspaper in Burkina Faso on charges of criminal defamation in connection with their allegations of corrupt practices in the state prosecutor's office.

October 31, 2012 3:38 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Bolivia

Critical Bolivian journalist set on fire by masked men

Fernando Vidal was set on fire in the offices of his radio station, shown here. (AFP//Estaban Farfan)

Bogotá, October 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Bolivian authorities to investigate the motive and find the masterminds behind Monday's vicious attack on a Bolivian radio journalist who was set on fire in the station's offices in the southern city of Yacuiba. A studio technician was also injured in the attack.

October 31, 2012 2:37 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Lebanon, Syria

Lebanese journalist abducted by rebel group in Syria

New York, October 29, 2012--A rebel group abducted a Lebanese journalist in the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, bringing to at least five the number of international journalists being held captive by various sides of the conflict. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the journalists' captors to immediately release them and stop targeting members of the press who are covering the unrest in the region.

Alerts   |   China

China obstructs, censors foreign media before congress

International journalists were obstructed from covering this protest in the city of Ningbo today. (AFP/Peter Parks)

New York, October 29, 2012--Officials from China's Communist Party should stop censoring and obstructing foreign journalists in the lead-up to the Party Congress scheduled for November 8, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Information security is notoriously tight before the five-yearly congress, which is expected to usher in high-level leadership change in 2012.

Alerts   |   Somalia

Journalist dies from gunshot wounds in Somalia

Mohamed Mohamud 'Turyare' died on Sunday from gunshot wounds he sustained on October 21. (Mohamed Abdi)

Nairobi, October 29, 2012--Somali authorities should conduct a thorough investigation into the October 21 shooting of journalist Mohamed Mohamud "Turyare," who died from his wounds on Sunday, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Mohamed, 22, a reporter and website editor for the Shabelle Media Network, had been shot by unidentified gunmen in the Hawo Tako neighborhood in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu, according to local journalists and news reports. He was hospitalized for abdominal surgery, and local journalists told CPJ his health was improving until Saturday afternoon. He died at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, the journalists said.

Blog   |   CPJ, Turkey

Questions about CPJ's Turkey report? Here, our answers.

Dozens of journalists for leftist Turkish newspaper Tutuklu Gazete have been jailed. The paper's headline reads, 'Resistance Against Censorship.' (Reuters)

Last week's release of CPJ's report on Turkey's press freedom crisis generated widespread domestic media coverage and sparked a robust public debate. The response from Turkish journalists and commentators was largely positive, but there were some negative reactions as well. Turkey's Justice Ministry has promised a detailed response this week. Here is a summary of the criticism we received during several days of intensive media interviews, along with our responses.

October 29, 2012 11:05 AM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Ecuador, USA, Venezuela

Correa supporters protest as Cabot winners celebrated

Protesters gather outside the Cabot Awards on Thursday. (CPJ/Sara Rafsky)

The Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, administered by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in recognition of journalistic contributions to Inter-American understanding, are the oldest international prizes in journalism. But Josh Friedman, director of the prizes, said this year marked the first time he remembered arriving at the awards ceremony to be greeted by protesters screaming from behind barricades. The tuxedo and gown-clad guests last night shot confused glances across the street from Columbia's Italian Academy building, where about 20 protesters brandishing Ecuadoran flags and pictures of President Rafael Correa yelled slogans like "Down the with corrupt press!" and "Long live President Correa!" One sign identified a long list of alleged "enemies of Latin American democracy" that managed to include the leading dailies of South America, the United States, Spain, the Ecuadoran press freedom group Fundamedios and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Baluchistan latest epicenter of attacks on Pakistani press

Baluchistan has become one of Pakistan's 'hubs of hazard' for journalists in recent years. (AFP/Banaras Khan)

It is one step forward and two steps back in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province. The nation's highest court has acknowledged the dangerous climate journalists face in Baluchistan, but it has also affirmed a directive that only adds to the pressure cooker conditions that journalists work under.

Alerts   |   Egypt

Egyptian court sentences journalist to jail for defamation

New York, October 25, 2012--An Egyptian appellate court should strike down the criminal defamation conviction and prison term handed down this week against a television commentator, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Blog   |   Turkey

Mission Journal: First of two CPJ delegations visits Turkey

A passer-by looks at Turkish newspapers at a kiosk in Istanbul. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)

This week I joined CPJ board Chairman Sandra Mims Rowe, Executive Director Joel Simon, and Turkish researcher Özgür Ögret in Istanbul to present CPJ's latest report, "Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis," and convey our main press freedom concerns, including the mass imprisonment of journalists.

Blog   |   UK

UK parliamentarians scrutinize digital surveillance plan

Parliament launched a scrutiny committee in a bid to cool down social debate over its communications data bill. (Luke MacGregor/Reuters)

"The rules of the game have changed," then-Prime Minister Tony Blair said after the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London as he announced that the U.K. government would clamp down on terrorists "whatever it takes." Now, the limits of such bold but vague intentions are on show as the draft Communications Data Bill undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny in a joint committee of British Members of Parliament and Peers. Is gathering digital data from the general population a necessary upgrade of law enforcement capabilities, as the British Government argues, or does it dilute the liberal tenets of British democracy for the sake of security? 

Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

Five years on, no resolution to Alisher Saipov's murder

Alisher Saipov (Ferghana News)

Five years ago today, press freedom in Kyrgyzstan received a deadly blow from which it has never recovered. Alisher Saipov, one of most promising and prominent regional reporters of his time, was murdered in his native city of Osh. Since that October night, authorities have promised to solve his killing, but impunity reigns to this day, Shohruh Saipov, his brother and also a journalist, told CPJ.

At the time of his murder, Saipov edited his own independent newspaper, Siyosat (Politics), but his resume was impressive for a 26-year-old reporter. In his short career, Saipov contributed to the BBC World Service, the U.S. government-funded outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Moscow-based regional news website Ferghana News.

October 24, 2012 4:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   Security, USA

CIA case highlights need for digital security

Ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou has pleaded guilty to leaking information to a journalist. (AP/Cliff Owen)

Few cases better underscore the need for digital security among journalists. On Tuesday, ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to leaking the identity of another CIA operative to Matthew Cole, a journalist formerly with an ABC News investigative team. In a 2007 interview with ABC, Kiriakou became the first CIA official to confirm that waterboarding had been used on Al-Qaeda suspects.

Alerts   |   Bahrain

Bahrain acquits officer on charges of torturing a journalist

New York, October 24, 2012--CPJ is alarmed by a Bahraini court's acquittal of a police officer accused of torturing a journalist in custody in 2011.

A criminal court in Manama on Monday acquitted police officer Sara al-Moussa on charges of torturing Nazeeha Saeed, a reporter for France24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, while the journalist was in custody in May 2011, according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA). The agency reported that the court ruled that Saeed's testimony was full of "contradictions" and not "consistent." Saeed told CPJ that she and her lawyer are urging prosecutors to reopen the case.

Alerts   |   Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspends radio program

President Obiang's administration has indefinitely suspended a radio program after it aired commentary critical of an official. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

New York, October 23, 2012--Authorities in Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspended a radio program on a government-controlled outlet during a broadcast on Friday that included criticism of the president of the Supreme Court, according to local journalists and news reports.

October 23, 2012 1:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, UK

London statement urges strong steps to protect journalists

The London symposium brought together, from left, International Press Institute's Galina Sidorova; BBC's Peter Horrocks; William Horsley of Centre for Freedom of the Media; Guy Berger, UNESCO; and Rodney Pinder, International News Safety Institute. (Centre for Freedom of the Media)

More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Alerts   |   Somalia

Gunmen shoot Somali journalist in Mogadishu

Somali journalist Mohamed Mohamud Turyare was attacked by gunmen on Sunday. (Allsomali24)

Nairobi, October 22, 2012--Somali authorities must investigate the shooting of a journalist for a national broadcaster, identify the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two gunmen shot Mohamed Mohamud Turyare, reporter and website editor for the Shabelle Media Network, after he left a mosque in the Hawo Tako neighborhood in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu at around 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to local journalists and news reports. Mohamed was hospitalized for gunshot wounds in his chest and abdomen, the journalists said.

October 22, 2012 4:30 PM ET

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Reports   |   Turkey

Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis

The Dark Days of Jailing Journalists and Criminalizing Dissent

Turkish authorities are engaging in widespread criminal prosecution and jailing of journalists, and are applying other forms of severe pressure to promote self-censorship in the press, a CPJ analysis shows. CPJ has found highly repressive laws, particularly in the penal code and anti-terror law; a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government. Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists


October 22, 2012 12:01 AM ET

Reports   |   Multimedia, Turkey

Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis

Podcast With CPJ's Nina Ognianova

CPJ’s Nina Ognianova describes the widespread criminal prosecution and jailing of journalists in Turkey. A vast and repressive legal structure, combined with a harshly adversarial tone set at the highest levels of government, have created a crisis, says Ognianova, lead author of a new CPJ special report. Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download. (2:22)

Read CPJ's special report, "Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis."

October 22, 2012 12:01 AM ET

Alerts   |   Bolivia

Journalists temporarily flee Bolivia after harassment

Bogotá, October 19, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the official harassment of two executives of a Bolivian newspaper that has reported on government corruption in the northern department of Pando. Both journalists sought refuge in Brazil for three days after the episode, according to news reports.

Case   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian journalists

On October 10, 2012, Israeli soldiers raided the home of Mohammed Atallah al-Tamimi, a Palestinian journalist for the private Tamimi Press Agency in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, according to news reports. Al-Tamimi was arrested and taken to an unknown location, news reports said. Authorities have not disclosed his whereabouts, condition, or the charges against him.

Blog   |   India

Sedition dropped, but Indian cartoonist faces other charges

Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi waves the national flag after being released from jail on bail in Mumbai on September 12. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

After intense public pressure, the Maharashtra state government last week dropped the charge of sedition against Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. However, Trivedi still faces other charges as his case resumes tomorrow at the Bombay High court. 

The 25-year old cartoonist, who was arrested on September 8, could have been sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of sedition. He still faces up to three years in prison for other charges including violation of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act and Information Technology Act, his lawyer Vijay Hiremath told CPJ by e-mail.

Blog   |   Pakistan

After Malala shooting, Taliban goes after media critics

Pakistani children in Karachi pray for the recovery of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, on October 12. (AP/Shakil Adil)

Journalists, like many others in Pakistan, have spoken out strongly since the Taliban attempted to kill the teenage Malala Yousafzai on October 9. The Taliban, in return, are threatening the media over their coverage, according to journalists and news reports.

October 17, 2012 5:36 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria, Ukraine

One journalist killed, another reported missing in Syria

New York, October 16, 2012--The heavy toll on news media covering the conflict in Syria has grown yet again over the past week as a journalist for a pro-government TV station was killed and a Ukrainian journalist working for Russian news outlets is believed to be kidnapped.

Blog   |   Turkey

Q&A: Yavuz Baydar on Turkey's press freedom climate

Under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government, Turkey has been one of the world's top jailer of journalists. (AFP/Burhan Ozbilici)

For the past several months, CPJ staff has been researching pervasive press freedom problems in Turkey, including the criminal prosecution of journalists, the use of governmental pressure to engender self-censorship, and the presence of a repressive legal structure. This month, CPJ will release an in-depth report on Turkey's press freedom crisis. In advance of our report, we are publishing this illuminating interview with Yavuz Baydar, ombudsman for the Turkish newspaper Sabah and columnist for Today's Zaman. The interview was conducted via email.

Blog   |   France, Libya, Syria

At Bayeux, war correspondents stress duty to report

Winners of this year's Bayeux-Calvados prizes, which largely recognized reporting in Libya and Syria, are honored in Bayeux, France. (Anne-Marie Impe)

Syria and Libya were the main themes at the 19th edition of the Bayeux-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents, which took place this weekend in the historical city of Bayeux, a few miles away from the Normandy beaches where Allied forces landed in June 1944 to liberate Europe from the Nazi yoke.

Blog   |   Nigeria

Nigerian journalist wins landmark court victory

(Desmond Utomwen)

"If a journalist can't fight for his own right, then he has no responsibility to fight for others," Desmond Utomwen, a senior correspondent with TheNews Magazine/PM News, told me after a High Court judge on October 4 awarded him 100 million naira (US$637,000) in special damages from the Nigeria Police Force and Guarantee Trust Bank Plc.

Utomwen's victory represents the largest award for any journalist in Nigeria's 52-year history as an independent nation and sets a clear precedent for the country's beleaguered press.

Blog   |   Security, Ukraine

Finding common cause from first online journalist murder

Georgy Gongadze, shown here the summer of 2000, was the first online journalist killed in retaliation for his work. (AFP/Dima Gavrish)

The first online journalist killed for his work disappeared one night 12 years ago in the Ukraine. Georgy Gongadze, 31, left a colleague's house to return home to his wife and two young children. He never arrived. Seven weeks later, a farmer, a few hours' drive away, discovered the journalist's headless corpse.

Gongadze edited the website Ukrainska Pravda and ran stories about corruption and cronyism like no one else in the nation's state-dominated print and broadcast media. Later, the country's then-president was implicated in an audiotape in which he was allegedly heard speaking to aides about the need for Gongadze's murder.

Blog   |   Philippines

Quick rethink on cybercrime law in Philippines

Protesters rallied against the cybercrime law in front of the Supreme Court building in Manila on Tuesday. (AFP/Noel Celis)

On Tuesday, the Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from enforcing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which President Benigno Aquino III signed into law last month. The court, in full session, ordered that oral arguments for and against will start January 15. And it gave the government 10 days to respond to the many petitioners seeking to declare the law unconstitutional.

Blog   |   Pakistan, Security

In Pakistan, a murderous exercise in democracy

Covering political rallies in Pakistan must be considered a dangerous assignment. One journalist was killed and three others injured on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. All told, at least six died and 10 were wounded critically.

Blog   |   Turkey

Q&A: Nedim Șener, a Turkish journalist under fire

Nedim Sener (AFP)

For the past several months, CPJ staff has been investigating pervasive press freedom problems in Turkey, including the widespread jailing of journalists. This month, CPJ will release an in-depth report on press conditions in Turkey. In advance of our report, we are publishing this interview with Nedim Șener, an investigative reporter who was jailed for more than a year in 2011-12. The interview was conducted via email and translated from the original Turkish.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia harasses Voice of America and its sources

Police detained a journalist covering this protest by Ethiopian Muslims today. (EthioTube)

Nairobi, October 5, 2012--Ethiopian authorities should halt their harassment of journalists covering the country's Muslim community and their intimidation of citizens who have tried to speak to reporters about sensitive religious, ethnic, and political issues, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police in the capital, Addis Ababa, briefly detained Marthe Van Der Wolf, a reporter with the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America as she was covering a protest by members of Ethiopia's Muslim community at the Anwar Mosque, local journalists said. The protesters were demonstrating against alleged government interference in Islamic Council elections scheduled for Sunday, according to VOA and local journalists.

Alerts   |   Chad

Judicial intimidation of editor and newspaper in Chad

Lagos, Nigeria, October 5, 2012--Chadian authorities are abusing the judicial and law enforcement systems to silence news coverage critical of the government's performance, censoring publications and targeting one editor with an unjust criminal conviction. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government to immediately halt its actions.

October 5, 2012 4:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Online in Philippines? Check out #notocybercrimelaw

Filipino journalists show petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act that they submitted to the Supreme Court in Manila on Wednesday. (AP/Aaron Favila)

In a notoriously litigious country like the Philippines, it's bewildering that the government coupled a law targeting so-called cybercrimes like cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, and spamming with the hoary and over-used concept of libel. And no matter how abusive those crimes may be, it's an even bigger mystery why the government felt it should suspend its lengthy heritage of due legal process by giving the Department of Justice power to shut down websites and monitor all online activities without a warrant.

Statements   |   Cuba

CPJ calls for the immediate release of Cuban bloggers

New York, October 5, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest of three independent Cuban bloggers and calls for their immediate release. Yoani Sánchez, one of Cuba's most prominent bloggers, was detained yesterday along with her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and blogger Agustín Díaz in the city of Bayamo, according to news reports

October 5, 2012 11:29 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Uganda

Uganda police beat journalists covering opposition leader

Kizza Besigye (Isaac Kasmani)

Nairobi, October 4, 2012--Ugandan police officers beat three journalists while they were reporting on the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye outside the Kampala Central Police Station today, according to news reports. The attacks are the latest in at least 10 cases of similar assaults documented by CPJ in several months.

Blog   |   India

In Indian Kashmir, concerns over Internet censorship

The government of Indian Kashmir has a long record of failing to respond to physical attacks on the press. This week, the possibility that websites like YouTube and Facebook were blocked indicated that online freedoms, too, are under threat.  

Alerts   |   Russia

Russia must investigate threats against leading researcher

Tanya Lokshina announced today that she has received threatening text messages. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)

New York, October 4, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns threats against Tanya Lokshina, a leading Russian researcher and writer known for her work documenting human rights abuses in the North Caucasus. CPJ calls for an urgent, thorough, and effective investigation that tracks down all responsible.

Alerts   |   Ecuador

Ecuador fines newsmagazine over opinion column

Bogotá, October 4, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the exorbitant fine imposed upon a Quito newsmagazine for an opinion column related to a national referendum and urges Ecuadoran authorities to ensure that election regulations are not used to punish outlets for critical coverage.

October 4, 2012 3:28 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Iran

Iran steps up its campaign against the press

New York, October 3, 2012--In a flurry of new anti-press actions in Iran, a jury has voted to convict a Reuters bureau chief on anti-state charges while authorities have jailed the head of the state's official news agency, blocked Google services, and shut one reformist newspaper.

Blog   |   CPJ, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

Latin American press faces violence, legal harassment

As Venezuela's election nears, President Hugo Chávez has a clear advantage in media access because he has broken down the independent press with threats and regulations while building up a huge state media apparatus. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Violence and legal harassment: the two greatest obstacles to press freedom in Latin America today. That's the message that CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon is delivering this morning in Washington, D.C., at a briefing hosted by Congressman Sam Farr. Farr, a California Democrat, hosts a monthly series looking at emerging trends in the Western Hemisphere. The panel today also includes Commissioner Dinah Shelton of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Delphine Halgand of Reporters Without Borders.

Alerts   |   Pakistan

Armed men kill Pakistani journalist in Khuzdar

New York, October 1, 2012--Unidentified assailants shot to death a prominent journalist on Saturday in the city of Khuzdar in Baluchistan province, according to news reports. Abdul Haq Baloch was the secretary-general of the Khuzdar Press Club and a longtime correspondent of ARY Television, news reports said.

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