March 2014

Alerts   |   Somalia

Somali police should release Sky FM journalist

Sky FM Editor Nuradin Hassan has been held without charge since Sunday. (Shabelle)

Nairobi, March 31, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Somali authorities in the capital, Mogadishu, to release a radio journalist who has been held without charge since Sunday. Nuradin Hassan is an editor of Sky FM, as well as a news presenter, according to news reports and Sky FM.

Blog   |   Pakistan

What should happen following the Raza Rumi attack

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to form a commission on journalist safety. But there are steps that could be taken more quickly. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On March 28, gunmen sprayed the car of TV anchor and widely-respected analyst Raza Rumi, a member of the Express Group of media organizations. He escaped serious injury, but his driver, Mustafa, died. It was the fourth attack on the Express Group in eight months, with four people dead. There has been no serious police investigation into the events which took place in Karachi, Peshawar, and now Lahore, where Rumi's car was "bathed in bullets on one of city's main arteries," as The Express Tribune put it in an editorial on Sunday. 

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Journalist flees Kazakhstan after court orders her arrest

New York, March 28, 2014--Authorities should drop all charges against a Kazakh journalist who has been accused of libel in connection with a story she has denied writing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. If convicted, Natalya Sadykova faces up to three years in jail under Kazakhstan's criminal libel law. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

Blacklisted in Baluchistan

Willem Marx, right, launched his book 'Balochistan at a Crossroads' on March 13 in New York City. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a series of commitments to safeguard press freedom during a meeting with a CPJ delegation last week. Among them was a pledge to speak out in support of media freedom and against attacks on journalists, particularly in high-conflict areas like Baluchistan. 

Alerts   |   Egypt

Journalist shot dead covering clashes in Egypt

New York, March 28, 2014--An Egyptian journalist was shot dead in Cairo today while covering deadly clashes, according to news reports. Mayada Ashraf was a reporter for the daily Al-Dustour. She had covered previous protests for the paper, the reports said.

Statements   |   Pakistan

CPJ condemns attack on Pakistani journalist Raza Rumi

New York, March 28, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalist condemns today's attack on the senior Pakistani journalist Raza Rumi in Lahore, which killed his driver. Unidentified gunmen fired on Rumi's car near the Raja Market neighborhood after he left the studio following his TV show. Rumi and his guard were injured, according to news reports. The driver was identified only as Mustafa in reports.

Alerts   |   Turkey

Turkish courts release eight journalists in two days

New York, March 27, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release this week of at least eight imprisoned journalists in Turkey, but calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the charges against them and release all of the journalists jailed in the country. 

Alerts   |   Bahrain

Freelance Bahraini photographer given 10-year prison term

A Bahraini boy holds a sign protesting the December 2012 arrest of freelance photographer Ahmed Humaidan. (AFP/Mohammed al-Shaikh)

New York, March 26, 2014--Today's conviction of freelance photographer Ahmed Humaidan is an attempt by Bahraini authorities to censor independent and dissident voices in the lead-up to the Formula One race in April, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Humaidan, who has been imprisoned since December 2012, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, according to news reports. 

Blog   |   Internet, Turkey

When the rule of law isn't: Turkey at the crossroads

A board shows alternative ways to access Twitter at an election campaign office of the main opposition Republican's People's Party in Istanbul March 25, 2014. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

In less than a week, Turkish voters will cast their ballots in local elections widely seen as a test of support for embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has faced growing questions about official corruption since a high-level probe first became public in December. Although many observers believe Erdoğan will survive the current political crisis , the prime minister's increasingly autocratic posturing has given rise to questions about his long-term political viability.

Blog   |   Rwanda

Twitter war shines light on how Rwanda intimidates press

An international journalist was denied entry to Rwanda after discovering that a pro-government Twitter account had been falsified by someone within the office of President Paul Kagame, pictured. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

"@RFI speak straight up English, frenchie!! U crying? U started not to make sense," was one taunting tweet from a certain prolific Twitter account belonging to "Richard Goldston." The account, since deleted, belonging to a self-proclaimed "anti-imperialist," repeatedly antagonized Radio France Internationale journalist Sonia Rolley for her critical coverage of the deaths of Rwandan government officials-turned-dissidents.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Mission Journal: Hope in Pakistan

For the last decade, Pakistan has been one of the world's most dangerous countries for the media. At least 46 journalists have been killed, 24 of them murdered for the "crime" of covering the intelligence services, the Taliban, separatists in Baluchistan, or the criminal underworld. The result is a legacy of self-censorship and fear among the Pakistan press; critical stories go unreported. 

Statements   |   Afghanistan

Afghan journalist among those dead in Kabul attack

New York, March 21, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by an attack on Thursday night in Afghanistan in which Sardar Ahmad, a senior reporter for Agence France-Presse's Kabul bureau, was killed. Four gunmen stormed the Serena Hotel in Kabul during Nowruz celebrations, which marks the start of the Afghan and Persian new year. The assailants killed nine, including Ahmad, members of his family including his wife and two children; a former Paraguayan diplomat visiting the country to observe elections; and foreign nationals from Canada, India, New Zealand, and Pakistan, according to news reports. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the reports said.

Alerts   |   Turkey

CPJ condemns Twitter ban in Turkey

Turkish citizens hold signs protesting Twitter being blocked in the country. (AFP/Adem Altan)

New York, March 21, 2014--Turkey banned access to the social media platform Twitter on Friday, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened in a public speech to shut it down, according to news reports. The move comes just ahead of March 30 elections and follows Erdoğan's threats to ban Facebook and YouTube.

Blog   |   Hungary

Hello, I'm Robert Capa, may I take a picture?

How would Robert Capa and Joe Pulitzer have reacted to the law that came into force on March 15 in their country of birth, Hungary? Let us guess that they would have been stunned. A provision in the new Hungarian civil code forbids taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph.

Letters   |   Russia

Putin should reverse steps to restrict independent press

Dear President Putin: The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international press freedom advocacy group, is gravely concerned about recent steps to restrict Russia's independent media. The measures taken over the past three months threaten to eradicate Russian news outlets' freedom to freely report and analyze news events.

Alerts   |   Swaziland

In Swaziland, two held on contempt of court charges

Cape Town, March 19, 2014--Authorities in Swaziland should immediately release Bheki Makhubu, editor of the independent newsmagazine The Nation, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, who were imprisoned earlier this week in connection with articles published in The Nation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Statements   |   China

CPJ condemns attack on media executives in Hong Kong

New York, March 19, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's attack on two senior media executives in Hong Kong by four masked men armed with metal bars. The executives work for Hong Kong Media News, which is preparing to launch a Chinese-language newspaper, and have been identified in reports as Lei Iun-han, director and vice-president, and Lam Kin-ming, news controller. The two sought treatment for injuries to their face, arms, and legs, the reports said.

Alerts   |   Vietnam

Amid clampdown, another blogger sentenced in Vietnam

Bangkok, March 19, 2014--In a mounting clampdown on Internet freedom in Vietnam, blogger Pham Viet Dao was sentenced to prison today for online posts critical of the Communist Party-led government, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling and calls for his immediate release. 

Alerts   |   Russia, Ukraine

In Crimea, more journalists report attacks, obstruction

New York, March 18, 2014--At least six journalists have been assaulted, detained, or obstructed from reporting in the southern Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea in the past two days, according to news reports. 

Alerts   |   Egypt

Egypt hands jail term to journalist, holds others in custody

New York, March 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the one-year prison sentence given today to Samah Ibrahim, a reporter for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper. Ibrahim is one of at least 10 journalists imprisoned in the country, according to news reports and CPJ research.

Letters   |   Burma

Passage of Burma media bill would reverse free press gains

Dear President Thein Sein: We are writing to express our concern about shrinking press freedom in Burma and urge you to veto media legislation that was passed this month by your country's parliament. The bill, which awaits your signature, maintains a censorship role for state authorities and threatens to reverse several of the gains achieved to date under your democratic reform program.

Statements   |   Azerbaijan

CPJ condemns journalist's conviction in Azerbaijan

New York, March 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a five-year jail term given today to Tofiq Yaqublu, an Azerbaijani journalist with the opposition daily Yeni Musavat, and calls on authorities to overturn the verdict on appeal. Yaqublu, who was convicted of "organizing mass disorder," was arrested in January 2013 in connection with anti-government protests in the town of Ismayilli. He was covering the protests at the time of his arrest, his colleagues said. The journalist is appealing the verdict.

Blog   |   China

FCCC survey finds China abuses press card, visa process

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (Beijing) published the findings of its annual visa survey last week. The findings are grim but come as no surprise following the Chinese government's showdown late last year with members of the foreign press. 

Blog   |   Burma

Burma clampdown gathers pace as legislation passed

In a clear step backwards for press freedom in Burma, new legislation will give the government censorship powers and the sole authority to issue and revoke news publication licenses. While the legislation enshrines into law broad press freedom guarantees, specific provisions will give the Ministry of Information ultimate power over what news is permissible for publication.

Blog   |   South Sudan

South Sudan government warning: Don't interview rebels

South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei has told reporters not to interview the opposition. (Eye Radio)

Last week, South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei warned reporters in the capital, Juba, not to interview the opposition or face possible arrest or expulsion from the country. According to the minister, a lawyer by profession, broadcast interviews with rebels by local media are considered "hostile propaganda" and "in conflict with the law."

Statements   |   Russia

CPJ condemns blocking of news websites in Russia

New York, March 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the blocking today of independent and pro-opposition news websites in Russia, including Ezhednevny Zhurnal, Grani, Kasparov, and the website of the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy. The popular blog of anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny and the personal blogging platform LiveJournal were also blocked. 

Alerts   |   Russia, Ukraine

More journalists obstructed on the job in Crimea

New York, March 13, 2014--Journalists covering the ongoing crisis in the southern Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea continue to be detained, harassed, and obstructed, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on all sides of the crisis to allow journalists to report freely on the events in Crimea and Ukraine. 

Statements   |   Mexico

CPJ alarmed by threats against RSF Mexico correspondent

New York, March 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by threats made against Balbina Flores Martínez, Mexico correspondent for the international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders. On Wednesday, Flores received a series of telephone calls in which she was told that someone had been hired to "harm her," according to news reports.

Blog   |   Iran

Rouhani has yet to deliver on press reforms in Iran

CPJ joined 26 other human rights and civil society groups on Wednesday in an open letter calling on the member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The public letter also urged the members to participate in the March 17 Interactive Dialogue with the special rapporteur and to express concern over the severe violations of human rights, including anti-press abuses, in Iran.

Statements   |   Russia, Ukraine

CPJ condemns Ukraine's order to take Russian TV off air

New York, March 12, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decree by Ukraine's National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting to cable and satellite providers on Tuesday to cut off the transmission of Russian state-controlled TV stations in the country. The order, which was immediately enforced, appears to be a response to Crimean authorities replacing the transmissions of Ukrainian and independent local TV stations last week with broadcasts from state-controlled Russian TV channels. 

Blog   |   Internet, Nigeria

Attacks on critical Nigerian website highlight vulnerability

For two months, editors were blocked from posting Premium Times' links on the outlet's Facebook page. (Facebook)

Turkey's prime minister made headlines last week by threatening to block Facebook in the country, but as recent events in Nigeria show, a more discreet intervention can be effective in disrupting the free flow of information. 

Statements   |   Turkey

CPJ welcomes release of journalists in Turkey

New York, March 11, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release this week of five Turkish journalists who were imprisoned after being sentenced to jail in connection with the controversial Ergenekon case. Three of the journalists--Yalçın Küçük, Deniz Yıldırım, and Merdan Yanardağ--were convicted because of their work, according to CPJ research. In the cases of Tuncay Özkan and Hikmet Çiçek, CPJ had not been able to establish a connection.

Alerts   |   Iraq

Two Iraqi journalists killed in suicide bomb

New York, March 11, 2014--A suicide bombing targeting a police checkpoint in Iraq's Babil province on Sunday killed dozens of Iraqis, including two journalists, according to news reports. Muthanna Abdel Hussein and Khaled Abdel Thamer were cameramen for the state-run Al-Iraqiya TV station.

Alerts   |   Afghanistan, Sweden, UK

British-Swedish journalist shot dead in Afghan capital

Nils Horner (AFP)

New York, March 11, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's fatal shooting of an international journalist in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, and calls on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are held responsible. The shooting comes amid mounting risks for foreigners in Kabul. 

Two unidentified men approached Nils Horner, 51, in Kabul's diplomatic district this morning, according to a New York Times report citing Col. Najibullah Samsour, a senior police official. One of the assailants shot Horner in the head at close range, and then both men fled the scene, the report said.

Alerts   |   Russia, Ukraine

Journalists detained, attacked while reporting in Crimea

New York, March 11, 2014--Two reporters were detained by armed men in the autonomous republic of Crimea, in southern Ukraine, while other journalists have reported being assaulted covering the crisis and their equipment damaged or seized, according to news reports. More than a dozen broadcasters have also been censored, the reports said. 

Case   |   Honduras

Journalist sentenced to jail for defamation in Honduras

Honduran journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado was convicted on charges of criminal defamation on December 9, 2013, according to local human rights groups. The Supreme Court of Justice sentenced the journalist, who hosts the news program "Mi Nación" on Globo TV, to 16 months in prison on charges of damaging the reputation of the rector of a local university. 

Blog   |   Kyrgyzstan

UN reviews Kyrgyzstan's human rights, free press record

Today, the U.N. Human Rights Committee begins its two-day review of Kyrgyzstan's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. By ratifying the treaty in October 1994, Kyrgyz authorities pledged to enforce internationally recognized provisions regarding the protection of human rights, and freedom of expression, in their country.

But CPJ research shows that Kyrgyzstan has consistently violated ICCPR provisions. Attacks against reporters; impunity in journalist murders, including of journalist Alisher Saipov; blocking of the news website Ferghana News; the politicized prosecution of ethnic Uzbek media owners, including Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV and Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV; and the ongoing imprisonment of investigative reporter Azimjon Askarov have marred the climate of press freedom in Kyrgyzstan.

Statements   |   USA

CPJ welcomes dismissal of charges against Barrett Brown

San Francisco, March 8, 2014--Following requests from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, yesterday the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed 11 felony counts against journalist Barrett Brown. The charges related to the reposting of a publicly-available hyperlink containing thousands of documents stolen from intelligence contractor Stratfor Forecasting. Brown was never accused of having a role in illegally obtaining the information from Stratfor.

March 8, 2014 9:53 AM ET

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Blog   |   Bahrain

Bahrain racing in circles

Anti-government protesters take cover from teargas fired by riot police in the village of Daih on March 3. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the "final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza" to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.

Blog   |   Journalist Assistance, Kenya

Forced to flee false perceptions, ICC, and Kenyan press

Omwa Ombara left Kenya for the United States. (CPJ)

EDITOR'S NOTE: February 15, 2014 marked one year since Omwa Ombara arrived in the U.S. to seek political asylum after attempts on her life in Kenya between May and December 2012. She fled her native land after being contacted by International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators probing the violence that followed the Kenyan elections in 2007-2008, in which more than 1,000 people were killed, according to news reports. Ombara was never a witness, nor did she ever meet any ICC investigators, but the mere suspicion that she was participating in the ICC process prompted a spate of threats. She describes her own ordeal and the culture of silence that has settled over most of the Kenyan media. CPJ's Journalist Assistance program supported Ombara throughout her ordeal.

Blog   |   India

Modi's rise does not bode well for Indian press freedom

Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial candidate for India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in elections to be held in April. (AP/Tsering Topgyal)

As India is set to hold elections next month, journalists covering Narendra Modi, India's right-wing prime ministerial candidate, are reportedly coming under increased pressure online and in the newsroom for shedding critical light on him. Given these developments, free and independent reporting of the campaign is in doubt--as is the future climate for press freedom should the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) become prime minister.

Blog   |   China

Chinese journalist Liu Jianfeng crowdsources his funding

Last July, veteran Chinese journalist Liu Jianfeng posted an announcement on the Chinese microblog Weibo, confirming his intention to become an independent investigator and writer. In a country where all media remains state-owned, Liu's plan was a bold one. He promised to produce four to six independent, investigative stories in the coming year, and to fund his costs by crowdsourcing. His financial target was 250,000 yuan (about US$40,000).

March 5, 2014 3:36 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Egypt, Yemen

One journalist released, Al-Jazeera trial begins in Egypt

New York, March 4, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from jail of one reporter in Egypt and calls on authorities to release all other journalists held behind bars. While the release of a second journalist is pending, a trial begins on Wednesday for three imprisoned journalists affiliated with the Qatari-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, according to news reports.

Alerts   |   Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger sentenced on anti-state charges

Bangkok, March 4, 2014--Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat was sentenced to prison today for online posts critical of the country's Communist Party-led government, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling and urges Vietnamese authorities to stop persecuting independent bloggers.

Alerts   |   Russia, Ukraine

Independent media, journalists obstructed in Crimea

New York, March 3, 2014--Authorities in the autonomous republic of Crimea in southern Ukraine should ensure that media outlets and independent journalists are allowed to report on the political crisis in the region without being censored or harassed, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Alerts   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, six convicted in Wali Khan Babar murder

New York, March 3, 2014--A Pakistani court on Saturday convicted six defendants for their roles in the murder of Wali Khan Babar, a Geo TV journalist who was shot dead in Karachi in January 2011, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the convictions--the first in the murder of a Pakistani journalist--but calls on authorities to ensure the masterminds are brought to justice.

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenya media, security forces soul search after Westgate

Should journalists expect support and protection from security agents when they risk their lives to report on security operations? What if their coverage could potentially expose military strategies? Why are journalists disparaged as unpatriotic when they show how security operations fail?

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