September 2013

Impact   |   Ecuador, Egypt, Turkey, USA, Vietnam

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, September 2013

Clockwise from top left: Nedim Şener, Janet Hinostroza, Nguyen Van Hai, Bassem Youssef (AP, Sebastián Oquendo, To Coucle Refaat, Free Journalists Network of Vietnam)
Press freedom award winners announced 

Four journalists--Janet Hinostroza (Teleamazonas, Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Capital Broadcast Center, Egypt), Nedim Şener (Posta, Turkey), and Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay, Vietnam)--will be honored with CPJ's 2013 International Press Freedom Awards in recognition of their courageous reporting in the face of severe reprisal.

Upon receiving the news, Hinostroza told CPJ: "It will be an honor for me to receive this recognition, which will drive me to continue working for freedom of expression in my country and support the different processes that are being developed around the world to defend this right."

September 30, 2013 5:11 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Tanzania

Tanzania suspends two leading newspapers

Nairobi, September 30, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decision by Tanzanian authorities to suspend two leading private Swahili dailies on accusations of sedition. The government issued a statement on Friday suspending Mwananchi and MTanzania for 14 and 90 days respectively.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Sakharov and the fight for a free press in Ethiopia

Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. (Lennart Kjörling and IWMF)

In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot Alemu, another fierce, Ethiopian free thinker, was born.

Alerts   |   Russia

Photographer covering Greenpeace protest held in Russia

Freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov sits in a defendant cage in court on Thursday. (AFP/Greenpeace/Igor Podgorny)

New York, September 27, 2013--Russian authorities should immediately release a freelance photographer who was detained nine days ago while covering a Greenpeace demonstration, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A court on Thursday ordered Denis Sinyakov to be held for two months pending an investigation into accusations of piracy, news reports said.

September 27, 2013 1:45 PM ET

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Case   |   Peru

In Peru, journalist handed suspended jail term

Peruvian journalist Humberto Espinoza Maguiña was convicted twice in two consecutive days in September 2013 on charges of defaming the governor of the northeastern state of Ancash, according to news reports. He received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was fined US$2,000 in damages.

Blog   |   Kenya

Covering Westgate

Two photographers take cover outside the Westgate Mall. (AP/Sayyid Azim)

The jumpy, cell phone clips of journalists and security officers crouching outside the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in the capital, Nairobi, permeated the TV screens across Kenya for four days. Edgy local and foreign reporters hid behind vehicles as gunfire shots, repeated explosions and smoke emanated from a supermarket inside.

Blog   |   Bulgaria

Bulgarian journalists are under attack

Protesters clash with riot police during a protest in Sofia in July. (AP/Georgi Kozhuharov)

This summer, for good reason, the world's attention was focused on Turkey. Anti-government protests over plans to destroy a park in downtown Istanbul attracted global attention. Ankara's strategic importance in Syria and the Middle East, as well as being a member of NATO, makes what happens in Turkey important.

Alerts   |   Uzbekistan

Uzbek journalist jailed on hooliganism charges

Sergei Naumov was accused, tried, convicted, and sentenced for hooliganism on Saturday, September 21. (Fergana News)

New York, September 24, 2013--Uzbek authorities should immediately release Sergei Naumov, an independent freelance journalist who reports on human rights abuses in the closed Central Asian society, and scrap the fabricated charges against him on appeal.

Alerts   |   Syria

Spanish journalist missing in Syria

New York, September 24, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas in Syria. The special correspondent for the Barcelona-based El Periódico was kidnapped by rebel jihadi fighters on September 4 near the city of Hama, the paper reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.

September 24, 2013 5:15 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Cambodia

Journalists attacked by masked assailants in Cambodia

Bangkok, September 24, 2013--At least seven journalists were assaulted by a mob of masked men on Sunday while covering a land rights protest in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, according to journalists and local news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack and calls for an independent investigation that leads to the prosecution of the perpetrators as well as complicit police officials.

Blog   |   Turkey

Mission Journal: Why Turkey matters

Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, left, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey inspect a military honor guard in Ankara on Sept. 17. Turkey's global influence is central to CPJ's concerns. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkey is hardly a press freedom paradise, but what makes the country so exciting for journalists is the amount of news it generates on any given day. The domestic story is huge, with near-daily street protests, the booming economy beginning to sag, and the prospect of regional conflict looming with Syria. And Istanbul is a base for the international press covering not only Turkey but also Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

September 23, 2013 2:50 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Angola

Angolan police assault, detain journalists

New York, September 20, 2013--At least three journalists were assaulted by police and briefly detained today while covering the release of seven individuals who were arrested during a protest on Thursday, according to the journalists and news accounts. Protesters had staged a demonstration against what they called the authoritarian regime of President José Eduardo dos Santos, the reports said.

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Journalists and imperfect justice in Bangladesh

Bangladesh's Supreme Court has hardened the sentence against Abdul Quader Molla, a top Islamist of a key opposition party, from a life term to death for his role in mass killings committed during the country's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. But what caught my eye in particular was that Molla was also convicted on a separate charge of murdering a prominent journalist, Khandoker Abu Taleb, on March 29, 1971.

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, journalist arrested, newsroom raided

New York, September 19, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan must immediately release a journalist who was arrested on Tuesday on fabricated charges and ordered detained for two months, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The press in Azerbaijan must be allowed to freely cover the country's next presidential vote, scheduled for October 9, if it is to be legitimate, CPJ said.

Alerts   |   Philippines

Radio anchor murdered in Philippines

Bangkok, September 19, 2013--A radio anchor was shot dead in the central region of Cebu City on Saturday, the latest death in a steady stream of killings of journalists in the Philippines. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Jesus "Jessie" Tabanao and bring his killer to justice.

Alerts   |   Nepal

Another arrest in the murder of Nepal's Uma Singh

Journalists protest the killing of Uma Singh in Nepal in 2009. (AP/Binod Joshi)

New York, September 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Monday's arrest of an individual suspected to have ordered the 2009 murder of journalist Uma Singh, and calls on authorities to ensure the case is brought to justice.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Prison places restrictions on jailed journalist Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu (IWMF)

Nairobi, September 16, 2013--The decision by authorities at Kality Prison to impose visitor restrictions on imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu constitutes harassment and runs counter to the Ethiopian constitution, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

"We call upon the Ethiopian authorities to lift these latest restrictions and allow Reeyot Alemu to receive all visitors," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "She is a journalist, not a criminal, and should not be behind bars."

Alerts   |   Colombia

Radio host gunned down in Colombia

Bogotá, September 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to launch a full investigation into the murder of a radio host on Wednesday. Édison Alberto Molina, a lawyer and politician who hosted a radio program that he used to denounce government corruption, was shot and killed in the town of Puerto Berrío, according to news reports.

Alerts   |   Egypt

Press harassed amid heightened tension in Egypt

New York, September 13, 2013--Egyptian authorities should halt their campaign of harassment on local and international journalists seeking to cover the ongoing political crisis in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The latest series of anti-press violations comes as the Egyptian government announced a two-month extension to the nationwide state of emergency.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Internet, Iraq

Endless surprises for Al-Jazeera

Mhamed Krichen/CPJ Board member

There seems to be no end to American surprises when it comes to Al-Jazeera. The latest was revealed by Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine, which reported the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into our internal communications system, according to documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA security analyst.

September 12, 2013 2:40 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Is China silencing rumors, or the public?

China's Internet has changed fundamentally since Shi Tao was given a 10-year prison sentence in 2005. Shi's case was a marker of sorts--- the first high profile sentencing in China for online activity. The government says 40 percent of the population is online as of December 2012. That's 564 million people. In 2005, penetration was 8.5 per cent. Shi was detained in 2004 and sentenced on charges of "leaking state secrets abroad" for messages he wrote summarizing government restrictions on domestic media reporting on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He used his Yahoo email account to post anonymous messages on a US-based pro-democracy forum. His unexpected release from prison on August 23 was announced Saturday in a statement from PEN International, an organization of writers.

September 12, 2013 12:17 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bolivia

Bolivian government gangs up on Página Siete

Bolivia's loss of territory along the Pacific coast during a 19th-century war with Chile remains an extremely sensitive issue in the landlocked nation. Every March 23, patriotic "Day of the Sea" ceremonies mark the calamity, which Bolivia hopes to reverse through a lawsuit filed this year against Chile at the International Court of Justice.

Blog   |   Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

CPJ testifies on challenges to democracy in the Americas

Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.

Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.

A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.

Alerts   |   South Africa

South African community radio station silenced by fire

The offices of Karabo FM have been destroyed. (Wits Radio Academy/Facebook)

Cape Town, South Africa, September 10, 2013--An arson attack that destroyed a community radio station in South Africa is a disturbing sign of the vulnerability of freedom of expression at the local level, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

"Community media are often closest to some of the most contentious stories and offer a vital space for discussion and debate, which must be protected and respected," said CPJ's Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine. "We call on all political and community leaders to encourage their members to respect freedom of expression and the independence of the media, and urge police to investigate the attack and prosecute all those responsible."

September 10, 2013 2:33 PM ET

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Statements   |   China

Release of Chinese journalist Shi Tao was long overdue

New York, September 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the early release of journalist Shi Tao, who was first detained in 2004 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005 on charges of "leaking state secrets abroad." Shi was released on August 23, according to an announcement on Sunday by Zhang Yu, the deputy secretary-general of the Independent Chinese PEN Center.

September 9, 2013 3:15 PM ET

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Blog   |   Syria

More hope in Syria as two more journalists freed

Italian journalist Domenico Quirico was released after being held captive for five months. (AFP/Andreas Solaro)

Just two weeks ago, I wrote that the recent escapes of American Matthew Schrier and French-American Jonathan Alpeyrie after months of captivity should give hope to all missing journalists in Syria. We now have two more reasons for hope.

Sunday, the Italian and Belgian governments announced that missing Italian journalist Domenico Quirico and Belgian academic writer Pierre Piccinin were freed. They had been missing for five months.

Alerts   |   Egypt

Egypt detains journalist for publishing false information

New York, September 6, 2013--Military authorities have detained an Egyptian journalist in the North Sinai governorate and accused him of publishing false information on military operations, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Ahmed Abu Deraa's detention and calls on authorities to release him immediately.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

NSA hack compromises Al-Jazeera sources, US credibility

The building of the National Security Agency in Maryland. (AFP/Paul J. Richards)

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported this week that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into the internal communication system of Al-Jazeera. If the report is accurate, the targeted hacking of a news organization represents an assault on press freedom qualitatively different from -- and in many ways more disquieting than -- the perils posed by pervasive, but unfocused, surveillance.

Alerts   |   Mexico

Mexico drops charges in Blancornelas murder attempt

New York, September 6, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by the decision of a Mexican judge to dismiss charges against Marco Arturo Quiñones Sánchez, one of the gunmen implicated in the 1997 assassination attempt against J. Jesús Blancornelas, founder and former editor of the Tijuana-based weekly magazine Zeta. The editors of Zeta told CPJ they were informed of the ruling on Thursday.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Chishti abducted, beaten: Challenge for Pakistan

Ali Chishti, who writes for The Friday Times, has gone public in Islamabad with details of his abduction and beating last Friday, August 30. Chishti is making the rounds of TV talk shows describing how he was picked up in Karachi by uniformed police driving a police vehicle, blindfolded, switched to another police vehicle, taken to a small room somewhere in Karachi, and beaten by men he does not think were police officers. After nine hours, he was dropped by the side of the road at 4:30 Saturday morning.

Statements   |   Pakistan

Pakistan Prime Minister should address abuse of journalists

New York, September 6, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Pakistani government to ensure that there is a full investigation into the abduction and beating of a journalist for The Friday Times. Ali Chishti, who writes on national security and counter-terrorism, told CPJ and local news outlets that he was abducted and beaten on Friday, August 30, and released the next morning.

September 6, 2013 1:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Egypt

Egypt needs justice not politics in investigating deaths

Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched a campaign calling for serious investigations into the deaths of eight journalists in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. CPJ hopes that the current military-led government will lead impartial and serious inquiries into the events surrounding the killings no matter who was in power at the time.

September 5, 2013 4:42 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Kenya

KTN reporter threatened for exposing hospital scandal

A screenshot of KTN's broadcast shows a room in the Bungoma District Hospital. The scandal is being referred to as 'The Sick Hospital.' (YouTube/KTN)

Nairobi, September 5, 2013--A TV journalist has received death threats twice this week following his coverage of wrongdoing at a hospital in the western Kenyan town of Bungoma, according to the journalist and news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to immediately investigate the threats and ensure the reporter's safety.

Blog   |   Philippines

Death toll mounts for journalists in Philippines

Another Philippine journalist was killed in a drive-by shooting on Wednesday, bringing to at least six the total slain in the country this year. In none of the cases have police determined whether they were killed because of their work as journalists or for other reasons. The investigations into the cases appear to have gone nowhere and get only brief media attention.

Case   |   Chad

Chadian journalists given suspended jail terms, released

Three Chadian journalists jailed for several months in the capital, N'Djamena, while facing prosecution on defamation and anti-state charges, were handed suspended jail terms and then released, according to news reports and local journalists.

Blog   |   USA

Police officer indicted over photojournalist's false arrest

The flash or, more precisely, the lack of one, gave the policeman away.

Over a year ago, on a steamy Saturday night in the Bronx, New York City Police Officer Michael Ackermann claimed that a photojournalist had set off his flash repeatedly in the officer's face, blinding and distracting him, as he was arresting a teenage girl. So he arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer photographer for The New York Times, on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

Journalist Barrett Brown faces prison for posting hyperlink

Barrett Brown (Theta00 under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 license via Wikimedia Commons)

Tomorrow, a federal judge will weigh a prosecutor's motion for a gag order in connection with the U.S. government's prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown. The motion represents a troubling turn in an already-troubling case for press freedom--a case that could criminalize the routine journalistic practice of linking to documents publicly available on the Internet, which would seem to be protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution under current doctrine.

September 3, 2013 2:04 PM ET

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Case   |   Malawi

Malawian minister assaults broadcast journalist

Bodyguards for Economic, Planning and Development Minister Ralph Jooma assaulted Raphael Mlozoa, journalist for the private Zodiak Broadcasting Station, on August 25, 2013, in the southern town of Mangochi, according to news reports. The minister accused Mlozoa of false reporting and ordered his security staff to confront Mlozoa, the reports said.

Statements   |   USA

CPJ troubled by reports NSA spied on Al-Jazeera

New York, September 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by a report by Der Spiegel saying the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) accessed Al Jazeera's internal communications. Citing documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA hacked into the network's internal communications system.

September 2, 2013 12:22 PM ET

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Letters   |   Liberia

Sirleaf urged to reform libel laws, free Rodney Sieh

Dear President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: We call on you to decriminalize defamation; adopt monetary damages for libel commensurate with the harm done and within limits Liberians can afford; and halt the incarceration of defendants unable to pay, which is highly unusual in civil cases. We urge you to facilitate the release of jailed journalist Rodney Sieh and the reopening of his newspaper, FrontPageAfrica.

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