"There are no [independent] Ukrainian journalists left in Donetsk," said Aleksei Matsuka, chief editor of the regional news website Novosti Donbassa (News of Donbass). "They have fled the region since pro-Russia separatists started targeting and kidnapping reporters," Matsuka told CPJ during our brief meeting in Kiev.
In a landmark ruling, the Zimbabwean Constitutional Court on July 22 declared unconstitutional a section of the draconian Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that criminalizes defamation.
Cape Town, July 25, 2014--CPJ is appalled by the two-year prison sentence, without the option of a fine, imposed today on editor of The Nation Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko by the Swaziland High Court in Mbabane. The pair was convicted on contempt of court charges on July 17, in connection with separate articles each wrote in the independent newsmagazine criticizing the kingdom's chief justice, Michael Ramodibedi.
It's not often that CPJ agrees with the Pakistan government, but here is one of the rare occasions when we do. While Pakistan journalists have been pushing for quite a while for the release of one of their colleagues, Faizullah Khan, being held in Nangahar in Afghanistan, the Islamabad government has apparently been working diplomatic back channels. But Thursday, Pervez Rashid, Pakistan's minister for information, went public. He urged Afghanistan's leader to issue a presidential pardon. "I appeal to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to use his powers," to pardon Khan, Rashid said in a press conference in capital Islamabad. He also said the government will pursue his release through legal channels.
The office of the special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created in 1997 to advance freedom of expression in the hemisphere, and over that period has contributed significantly to the protection and expansion of press freedom. So when Catalina Botero leaves the office in October, her successor--Edison Lanza, a Uruguayan lawyer, journalist, and free press advocate--will have big shoes to fill.
Naqibullah, the Afghan police commander who killed The Associated Press' Anja Niedringhaus, has been given a death sentence after being convicted of murder and treason. He was also given a four- year sentence for shooting the AP's Kathy Gannon. Naqibullah (who goes by one name, as many Afghans do) opened fire at near-point-blank range on the AP photographer/reporter team in the southeastern city of Khost on April 4, 2014, as they were covering preparations for the first round of voting in Afghanistan's still-contested presidential elections. Wednesday's conviction and sentencing were the first steps along the legal path to a final conviction and sentence, which might not come for years.
CPJ is among a group of more than 40 regional and international press freedom and civil society organizations that have signed a joint letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressing concern over the recent imprisonment of Ethiopian journalists under the country's far-reaching 2009 anti-terrorism law.
On Wednesday, we reported that in Ukraine this week, at least two journalists had gone missing, while pro-Russia separatists abducted a fixer and briefly detained a reporter. Also, the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said it was banning journalists from the conflict area. We noted that press freedom violations "are happening at dizzying speed in eastern Ukraine."
New York, July 24, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a Washington Post report today that says Iran has detained four journalists--three of whom are U.S. citizens--and calls on authorities to release them immediately. Jason Rezaian, a U.S. citizen and a correspondent for the Post, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National, were taken into custody in Tehran this week. The report said the other two are photojournalists, but did not identify them. It is not clear why the journalists were arrested.
New York, July 24, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the hefty financial damages imposed on a blogger in a defamation case in Cambodia. The ruling could have a detrimental effect on online commentary in the country.
New York, July 23, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a series of recent anti-press violations in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk. In the past two days, at least two journalists have gone missing, while pro-Russia separatists abducted a fixer and briefly detained a reporter, according to news reports and press freedom and human rights groups. The moves come as the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic today banned journalists from the conflict area.
New York, July 23, 2014--Chinese authorities today sentenced a blogger to more than six years in prison, according to news reports. Dong Rubin, a businessman who has criticized the ruling Communist Party in his blogs, has been in prison since September 2013.
Bangkok, July 23, 2014--Burmese authorities should drop national security-related charges brought against journalists and staff members of the Bi Mon Te Nay (Bi-Midday Sun) news journal, and release them from pre-trial detention immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, July 22, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the recent termination of a Chinese journalist from a monthly magazine after he wrote for a Hong Kong website. Song Zhibiao's dismissal marks the first publicized case of its kind following recent directives by the Chinese government that bar journalists from cooperating with foreign news agencies, according to The New York Times.
New York, July 21, 2014--A Palestinian cameraman was killed in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah on Sunday, according to news reports and the journalist's colleague. More than 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes between Israeli and Hamas forces in Shijaiyah that day, according to news reports.
New York, July 21, 2014--Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine should stop threatening and obstructing journalists from reporting on the Malaysia Airlines plane crash, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Russian authorities arrested Yevgeny Agarkov, a reporter with the Ukrainian television station 1+1, on July 18, 2014, and accused him of working in Russia without a proper accreditation, according to news reports. Agarkov had traveled there to cover the controversial prosecution and trial of Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, whom Russia accused of involvement in the killing by mortar fire of reporter Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin, both with the Russian state-owned broadcaster VGTRK.
Bangkok, July 21, 2014--In a mounting clampdown on press, Internet, and social media freedoms, a new military directive in Thailand has barred any critical reporting or commentary about the ruling National Council for Peace and Order junta. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for an immediate reversal of the freedom-curbing edict and all other measures that promote self-censorship and have been imposed since the military seized power in May.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported on July 10, 2014, that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office to launch a criminal investigation against Bülent Keneş, editor-in-chief of the English-language daily newspaper Today's Zaman, on charges of "insulting a public official."
Abuja, Nigeria, July 18, 2014--Nigerian authorities should drop the charges against a publisher who has been held in police custody since Tuesday on accusations of defaming a state governor, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police on Tuesday detained Oga Tom Uhia, publisher of the monthly independent Power Steering magazine, Alexander Oketa, his lawyer, told CPJ. Uhia was charged in a lower court on Wednesday with five counts of criminal conspiracy, injurious falsehood, and defamation of character, the lawyer said. The prosecution cited a complaint by Gabriel Suswam, governor of Benue State, according to court documents.
New York, July 18, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Israeli airstrikes on buildings housing media outlets in Gaza that injured at least three journalists. The strikes came as Israel engages in a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Nairobi, July 17, 2014--An Ethiopian court charged nine Ethiopian journalists arrested in April with inciting violence and terrorism, according to local journalists and news reports. The nine arrested include six bloggers from an independent collective called Zone 9, which publishes critical news and commentary.
Today, the Global Network Initiative launched a campaign to raise awareness on India's Internet laws. The GNI, of which CPJ is a founding member, is a coalition of technology companies--including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo--and human rights groups and Internet freedom advocates. The coalition, in collaboration with the Internet and Mobile Association of India, has created an interactive slideshow that explains the impact of current laws and regulations on the country’s Internet users.
New York, July 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a bill introduced in the Australian parliament on Wednesday that could result in journalists being targeted for prosecution and jail for reporting on intelligence information.
Cape Town, South Africa, July 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's convictions for contempt of court of an editor and lawyer in Swaziland.
New York, July 16, 2014--At least two journalists were wounded, another arrested, and a newspaper office raided in the past week in Iraq amid heightened political uncertainty and violence, according to news reports and local press freedom groups.
The British government's attempt to rush through a bill on data retention before the House of Commons summer recess next week has run into opposition--not from members across the aisle but from Internet companies, civil liberty defenders, and lawyers, who say the law would extend the authorities' already vast snooping capabilities.
This month, the prosecutor-general of Kyrgyzstan, Aida Salyanova, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that her office is working hard to fight corruption and ensure transparency in government activities.
We are not convinced.
Nairobi, July 14, 2014--The Ethiopian government should end its politicized prosecution of nine Ethiopian journalists arrested in April. The journalists and their lawyers were shut out of court room hearings in recent days.
New York, July 14, 2014--A Pakistani television journalist was convicted on charges of travelling to Afghanistan without travel documents and sentenced to four years in prison, Pakistani officials said on Sunday. He had initially been accused of spying by Afghan authorities, according to news reports.
Dear Hlaudi Motsoeneng: The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, is writing to express its concern at recent anti-press statements you made at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
"If they cannot indoctrinate you into their thinking, they fire you," said one former staff member of the state-run Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO), who was dismissed from work last month after six years of service. "Now we are in hiding since we fear they will find excuses to arrest us soon," the journalist, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, told CPJ.
New York, July 10, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israel Defense Forces' airstrike on a car clearly marked as a press vehicle in Gaza City on Wednesday. The airstrike killed Hamid Shihab, a driver for the Gaza-based press agency Media 24, according to the agency.
New York, July 10, 2014--Donor countries should bring diplomatic pressure on Burma's government and reconsider their economic support for the country following Thursday's sentencing of four journalists of a magazine and the publication's chief executive to 10 years of hard labor in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Erol Özkoray, Turkish journalist and author, appeared in court for the third time on June 18, 2014, on charges of insulting the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his book, The Gezi Phenomenon, according to news reports. The book covered the popular anti-government protests that erupted in Turkey in 2013 after the government announced its decision to turn a park in downtown Istanbul into a shopping mall.
On June 23, 2014, Hasnian Kazim, a German journalist who covered Turkey for the German magazine Der Spiegel, told the daily Hürriyet that he had temporarily fled the country after receiving online death threats.
On June 12, 2014, Mehmet Düzenli, a cartoonist, was taken into custody to begin serving a three-month prison term he was given after being convicted of insulting controversial religious leader and TV figure Adnan Oktar (also known as Harun Yahya) in his drawings. The daily pro-opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported that Düzenli was convicted by the 2nd Penal Court of Peace in Serik, Antalya province, on April 10, 2014. Düzenli is serving his term at Alanya Prison in the Alanya district of Antalya, the reports said.
Shi Ping, a Henan-born Time Weekly journalist who wrote under the penname Shi Yu, was arrested on May 26, 2014, in connection with his alleged attendance at small-scale Tiananmen memorial events, the journalist said on his Weibo microblog page. He was accused of "gathering a crowd to disturb social order."
As in past years, China in 2014 arrested some journalists and activists in the run-up to the anniversary of the massacre of protesters in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. This year, journalists were also arrested in possible connection to an ongoing police probe into prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and for reporting on protests that took place in Beijing in March. By July 2014, CPJ had documented the arrests of at least 9 journalists since the beginning of the year. Of those, four were subsequently released.
Yet another set of rules restricting the work of journalists in China takes the concept of "overbroad" to new heights. According to guidelines made public Tuesday by the official state news agency Xinhua, the new rules cover various "information, materials, and news products that journalists may deal with during their work, including state secrets, commercial secrets, and unpublicized information."
Thanapol Eawsakul, editor and founder of Fah Diew Gahn (Same Sky) news magazine, a tri-monthly Thai-language publication, was arrested on July 5, 2014, in a Bangkok café, according to news reports. He was held on a seven-day detention order, the maximum period allowable without a trial under martial law, and released on July 9, 2014.
New York, July 9, 2014--Chinese authorities should immediately release two writers who have been placed under house arrest in Beijing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The move comes as China hosts U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Police detained for several hours a reporter for the independent Daily News on July 3, 2014, local journalists told CPJ. Helen Kadirire was held in Mutoko, a town 143 kilometres (89 miles) east of the capital, Harare, after she started to cover a demonstration by the Mutoko North Development Trust, a local community organization, according to local reports.
The Sri Lankan government has taken yet another step to silence critical media coverage, banning non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from holding press conferences and issuing press releases, as well as running workshops or training sessions. The action, announced Sunday by Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defense, left the country's many press groups wondering whether they are even allowed to issue a statement criticizing the decision.
Some of Peru's top government officials, including President Ollanta Humala, are former army officers who spent the 1980s fighting Maoist Shining Path guerrillas. Both sides committed massive human rights abuses, but now one particularly brutal episode is coming back to haunt the Humala administration.
New York, July 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Moroccan authorities to drop the charges against Mahmoud Lhaisan, a TV journalist who was arrested on Friday after reporting on police abuse during protests following a World Cup game.
On Sunday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced a new policy requiring that travelers to the United States turn on their devices at the request of airport security personnel. Devices that cannot be powered on will be barred from the aircraft, and passengers in possession of such devices may also be subjected to additional screening. While a number of commenters have lamented the policy change on the grounds that it is likely to cause confusion and otherwise inconvenience passengers, the move could also aggravate the risks journalists already face when traveling with sensitive materials such as notes, unpublished photographs, or information about sources.
Five years ago on Monday, CPJ announced that Iran had officially become the world's leading jailer of journalists in the world. The announcement came on the heels of an unprecedented crackdown on the press that began on June 12, 2009, the day of Iran's tumultuous presidential election that sparked a mass protest movement.
Called to testify before a government media oversight commission, editorial cartoonist Xavier Bonilla--known by his penname Bonil--showed up with a pair of four-foot-long mock pencils. But rather than having a small eraser on the tip, one of Bonil's giant pencils was nearly all eraser.
In the first few months of 2014, multiple journalists were arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted in Iran. Authorities pursued a revolving-door policy in imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on short-term furloughs even as they make new arrests.
"This is a new wave of clampdowns by the government--they want to have another four-year term with even less critical media than before," said Szabolcs, a 21-year-old economics student, one of thousands of people who marched in the streets of Budapest in June, chanting "Free Country, Free Press!" The demonstrations were in reaction to several restrictive measures pushed through by Hungary's re-elected government led by the center-right Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
My mother once sarcastically told me she could allow for my death, but couldn't live with seeing my leg or hand amputated or with a lost eye after reporting from a battlefield. It was when she first learned that I had been secretly studying journalism in May 2005. The news made her distraught. She wanted me to go to school for medicine upon completing high school and become a doctor; my father wanted me to be a sheikh--an Islamic scholar. I wanted to be a journalist, but didn't dare tell them.
In the course of a couple of hours on Wednesday, France was rocked by two judicial decisions with profound political repercussions for French politics and the press' right to publish. Just as a baffled public learned that former President Nicolas Sarkozy had been put under formal investigation for corruption and influence-peddling, France's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, upheld a July 2013 lower court ruling ordering the muckraking news website Mediapart to take down 72 articles related to "l'affaire Bettencourt." It's a fight destined to continue, with a founder of Mediapart vowing to take the free-press case to the European Court of Human Rights.
On August 1, Russia will significantly tighten its grip on blogging and social media conversations and will acquire expanded powers to block Internet services originating abroad. The new authorities, approved by Russia's parliament in April, buttress existing regulations that have already been used to block several independent news sites, some of which reported on the political upheaval in Ukraine in a way that apparently drew the government's ire.
Nearly eight years after Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in an elevator near her apartment, authorities appear to have made little progress identifying the mastermind behind her murder. Although five men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on June 9 for their roles in the slaying of the Novaya Gazeta journalist, her family and friends say Russian officials are dragging their feet in finding the real culprit.
Jamshed Baghwan and his wife were leaving their home in the Murshidabad neighborhood in Peshawar on July 2, 2014, when they saw unidentified assailants on motorcycles placing a bomb outside their house, The Express Tribune reported. Baghwan is the Peshawar bureau chief of Express News, a TV channel owned by Express Media Group.
Two Tibetan writers were released from prison in Sichuan province on June 20, 2014, after completing four-year jail terms given to them in June 2010, according to reports. Jangtse Donkho and Buddha were convicted in the Aba Intermediate Court on charges of "incitement to split the nation," reports said.
A critical Singaporean blogger continues to suffer financial and legal pressure because of a blog post that allegedly accused the city-state's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, of corruption. The episode is part of a disturbing pattern of government legal and financial pressure on critics, but it is also a lesson in how censorship can backfire.
Blaming government harassment and a related advertising slowdown, the daily newspaper Hoy ceased its Quito-based print edition Monday, and said it would transform into an online-only newspaper.
New York, July 1, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the detention of at least three Ukrainian journalists by pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine and calls for their immediate release.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 1, 2014--Gambian police should stop harassing a journalist over a story highlighting human trafficking in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Prime Minister Renzi: As Italy today takes the rotating presidency of the European Union, we call on your government to abolish criminal libel and bring Italian laws in line with European and international standards.
Sign up for emailed alerts and newsletters to track global developments in press freedom. Be notified whenever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed. Or get a monthly newsletter to keep up with CPJ’s efforts to defend journalists around the globe.