Record 185 Cases of Reporters Imprisoned in the Line of Duty

Countries Holding Journalists in Prison

Algeria (2)

Abdelkader Hadj Benaamane, Algerian Press Service (APS)

Imprisoned: February 28, 1995

Security forces arrested Benaamane, a correspondent for the official Algerian Press Service (APS) in the southern town of Tamanrasset. The reasons for Benaamane’s imprisonment are unclear, but reports indicate that he was charged with “attacking the security of the state and national unity” in connection with an internal APS news wire report he filed on the whereabouts of Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj, leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) who had recently been transferred from Janan al-Mufti prison to a detention center in the desert. Benaamane appeared before a Tamanrasset military court on July 10, 1995. He was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.


Djamel Fahassi, Alger Chaîne III
Arrested: May 7, 1995

State security officials arrested Fahassi, a reporter for the government-run French-language radio station Alger Chaîne III and formerly a contributor to Al-Forqane, a weekly organ of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) that was banned in March 1992. Officials have refused to acknowledge his arrest. His family believes he is in a secret detention center and fears for his life.

appeals to:
His Excellency Liamine Zeroual
President
The Presidential Palace
El Mouradia
Algiers, Algeria
Fax: 213-2-590-407


Burundi (1)

Michel Nziguheba, L’Eclaireur
Imprisoned: March 19, 1996

Nziguheba, editor of L’Eclaireur, was arrested on a warrant issued by the federal public prosecutor. L’Eclaireur was suspended on March 18 for “inciting ethnic hatred.” After several postponements, Nziguheba’s trial opened on Oct. 3, and the journalist appeared before a court of high instance. His lawyer, Fabien Segatwa, an ex-minister and member of the Constitutional Commission, requested bail for his client. The court granted Nziguheba bail, but the prosecutor opposed the decision and Nziguheba was not released.

appeals to:
His Excellency Sylvestre Ntibantunganya
President of the Republic of Burundi
Bujumbura, Burundi
Fax: 257 22 66 13/257 22 60 63


Central African Republic (1)

Mathias Goneyo Reapago, Le Rassemblement
Imprisoned: July 19, 1995

Reapago, editor of the opposition newspaper Le Rassemblement, was arrested on July 19 and on Aug. 21 he was convicted on criminal charges of attacking “the dignity and honor of the president of the republic.” He was sentenced to a two-year prison term and fined 500,000 CFA (US$1,000).

appeals to:
His Excellency Ange-Felix Patasse
President of the Central African Republic
Bangui, Central African Republic


China (17)

Fan Jianping, Beijing Ribao
Imprisoned: 1989

Fan, an editor at Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was arrested sometime after the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989.


Ji Kunxing, Pioneers
Tried: September 1989

Ji was tried in Kunming on charges of “fomenting a counterrevolutionary plot.” He and three others had published an underground magazine called Pioneers, circulated anti-government leaflets, and put up anti-government posters.


Jin Naiyi, Beijing Ribao
Imprisoned: 1989

Jin, a journalist with Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was arrested sometime after the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989.


Li Jian, Wenyi Bao
Imprisoned: July 1989

Li, a journalist with Wenyi Bao (Literature and Arts News), was arrested.


Shang Jingzhong, Pioneers
Tried: September 1989

Shang was tried in Kunming on charges of “fomenting a counterrevolutionary plot.” He and three others had published an underground magazine called Pioneers, circulated anti-government leaflets, and put up anti-government posters.


Shi Qing, Pioneers
Tried: September 1989

Shi was tried in Kunming on charges of “fomenting a counterrevolutionary plot.” He and three others had published an underground magazine called Pioneers, circulated anti-government leaflets, and put up anti-government posters.


Yang Hong, Zhongguo Qingnian Bao
Imprisoned: June 13, 1989

Yang, a reporter for Zhongguo Qingnian Bao (China Youth News), was arrested in Kunming and charged with circulating “rumormongering leaflets” and protesting against corruption.


Yu Anmin, Pioneers
Tried: September 1989

Yu was tried in Kunming on charges of “fomenting a counterrevolutionary plot.” He and three others had published an underground magazine called Pioneers, circulated anti-government leaflets, and put up anti-government posters.


Yu Zhongmin, Fazhi Yuekan
Imprisoned: 1989

Yu, a journalist with Fazhi Yuekan (Law Monthly) in Shanghai, was arrested sometime after the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989. He was later described in an article in Wenhui Daily as an “agitator” of the Shanghai student demonstrations.


Chen Yanbin, Tielu
Imprisoned: Late 1990

Chen, a former Qinghua University student, was arrested in late 1990 and sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years without political rights after his release. Together with Zhang Yafei, he had produced an unofficial magazine called Tielu (Iron Currents) about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies of the magazine were distributed. The government termed the publication “reactionary” and charged Chen with dissemination of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement.


Zhang Yafei, Tielu
Imprisoned: September 1990

Zhang, a former student at Beifang Communications University, was arrested and charged with dissemination of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement. In March 1991, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights after his release. Zhang edited an unofficial magazine called Tielu (Iron Currents) about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square.


Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency
Imprisoned: October or November 1992

Arrested in the fall of 1992, Wu, a Xinhua News Agency reporter, received a life sentence in August 1993 for allegedly providing a Hong Kong journalist with a “state-classified” advance copy of President Jiang Zemin’s 14th Party Congress address.


Gao Yu, Free-lancer
Imprisoned: October 2, 1993

Gao was detained two days before she was to depart for the United States to start a one-year research fellowship at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. On Nov. 10, 1994, she was tried without counsel and sentenced to six years in prison for “leaking state secrets” about China’s structural reforms in articles for the pro-Beijing Hong Kong magazine Mirror Monthly. Gao had previously been jailed for 14 months following the June 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and released in August 1990 after showing symptoms of a heart condition.


Ma Tao, China Health Education News
Sentenced: August 1993

Ma, editor of China Health Education News, received a six-year prison term for allegedly helping Xinhua News Agency reporter Wu Shishen provide a Hong Kong journalist with President Jiang Zemin’s “state-classified” 14th Party Congress address. According to the Associated Press, Ma is believed to be Wu’s wife.


Xi Yang, Ming Pao
Imprisoned: September 27, 1993

Xi, Beijing correspondent for the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao, was arrested on Sept. 27, 1993, and on March 28, 1994, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for stealing and publishing state secrets. The secrets in question included unpublished interest rate changes on savings and loans at the People’s Bank of China, as well as information on the bank’s international gold transaction plans, both of which were provided to Xi by a bank official named Tian Ye. Xi was released on parole on Jan. 25, 1997, following widespread appeals for his release in Hong Kong and abroad. Under the terms of his release, Xi is free to travel between Hong Kong and China, but may not work as a journalist for the duration of his parole period.


Wei Jingsheng
Imprisoned: April 1, 1994

Police detained Wei, one of the most prominent dissidents in China and former co-editor of the pro-democracy journal Tansuo (Explorations), shortly after he met with then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck. He was not formally arrested and charged until Nov. 21, 1995. On Dec. 13 of that year, the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court convicted him of “conspiring to subvert the government” and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. Foreign reporters were barred from attending the trial. The dissident’s sentence was upheld on Dec. 28, after a closed appeal hearing. Wei had already served 14 years of a 15-year sentence for “counterrevolutionary” activities that included writing essays strongly criticizing the government and calling for democratic rule. After he was released on parole from that prison term, on Sept. 14, 1993, he wrote several op-ed pieces for publications abroad and concluded a deal with a Hong Kong magazine for the publication of his prison memoirsÑactions that prompted an official warning that he was violating the terms of his parole.


Wang Dan
Imprisoned: May 21, 1995

Wang, a former student leader, pro-democracy activist, and frequent contributor to overseas publications was detained at an undisclosed location. On Oct. 30, 1996, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiring to subvert the government. Wang’s offenses consisted of publishing articles in the overseas press that were deemed objectionable by Beijing and receiving donations from overseas human rights groups. Foreign reporters were barred from the courtroom during his trial, and the domestic press was prohibited from reporting on the trial. Following the denial of his appeal on Nov. 10, Wang was sent to a prison in remote Jinnzhou, in Liaoning province, 500 kilometers northeast of Beijing. Wang had previously been jailed for three-and-a-half years after he led pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

appeals to:
His Excellency Tao Siju
Minister of Public Security
Gong’anbu
14 Dongchang’anlu
Beijing 100741
People’s Republic of China
Fax: 86-1-524-1596


Ivory Coast (3)

Abou Drahamane Sangaré, Nouvel Horizon Group
Emmanuel Koré, La Voie
Imprisoned: December 21, 1995

Sangaré, director of publications for the Nouvel Horizon Group, which owns the opposition daily La Voie, and Koré, a reporter for La Voie, were arrested in connection with a Dec. 18 satirical La Voie article that suggested that President Henri Konan Bédié’s attendance at the African Champions Cup final brought bad luck to Ivory Coast’s national soccer team, causing its loss to South Africa. On Dec. 28, Sangaré and Koré each received a two-year prison term for “offending the chief of state” and a 3 million CFA (US$6,000) fine. They were released on Jan. 1, 1997.


Freedom Neruda, La Voie
Imprisoned: January 2, 1996

Deputy editor Neruda was taken into custody, and on Jan. 3, he was charged with insulting the head of state in connection with a satirical article published in La Voie suggesting that President Henri Konan Bédié’s presence at the African Champions Cup final brought bad luck to the Ivorian soccer team, which lost to South Africa. On Jan. 11, Neruda was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 6 million CFA (US$12,000). CPJ wrote to President Bédié on two occasions: first, to denounce Neruda’s arrest, and second, to condemn the court’s action and urge the president to revoke Neruda’s sentence along with the two-year prison sentences handed down to journalists Sangaré and Koré for “offending the chief of state.” [See above] He was released on Jan. 1, 1997.

appeals to:
His Excellency Henri Konan Bédié
President of the Republic of Ivory Coast
La Présidence
Boulevard Clozel
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Fax: 225-21-14-25 or 225-33-14-25


Ethiopia (18)

Andargue Mesfin, Tenager
Tekle Yishal, Tenager
Imprisoned: March 24, 1995

Ethiopia’s Central High Court sentenced Andargue and Teklel, reporters for the weekly Tenager, to 18 months and 12 months in prison, respectively, for publishing an Oromo Liberation Front communiqué about the group’s armed struggle and for publishing three other political articles, including a story about the arbitrary murder of civilians by soldiers of the Woyane ethnic group.


Solomon Gebre Amlak, Mogad
Dereje Birru, Tekwami
Girmayeneh Mammo, Tomar
Abinet Tamirat, Dagmawi
Imprisoned: June 21, 1995

Government agents arrested the four journalists for stories published in their newspapers about the armed conflict between the government and opposition groups. The charges were “warmongering, incitement of the public, and discrediting the government.”


Solomon Lemma, Wolafen
Imprisoned: March 7, 1996

Solomon, editor of the independent Amharic-language weekly newspaper Wolafen, was sentenced to an 18-month prison term for “publishing false reports in order to incite war and unrest.” The reports in question, a series of articles published in 1995, were about an insurgency group fighting in three provinces in western Ethiopia. Solomon had just completed a one-year sentence when he received the new prison sentence.


Terefe Mengesha, Roha
Imprisoned: Early February 1996

The Central High Court sentenced Terefe, the former editor in chief of the Amharic-language weekly Roha, to an additional one-year prison term just as he completed a one-year sentence for “publishing and distributing false information” and for “inciting the public to anxiety and insecurity.” Terefe was leaving the prison grounds when policemen rearrested him and transported him to Ma’ekelawi Central Prison in Addis Ababa. Terefe’s original conviction cited two articles, published in the October and December 1994 issues of Roha, titled “Colonel Mengistu on the Offensive in Gambella” and “Woyane Combatants Suffered Heavy Defeats in South, West, and East Ethiopia.”


Tesfaye Tegen, Beza
Imprisoned: March 25, 1996

Authorities summoned Tesfaye, the editor in chief of the Amharic weekly Beza, to appear at Ma’ekelawi Central Prison in Addis Ababa, where he was asked to present a personal guarantor for 10,000 birr (US$2,000). When Tesfaye failed to do so, he was transported to Central State Prison, where he is currently being held incommunicado. The summons cited a cartoon, published in Beza in late 1995, portraying Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other government officials as members of a soccer team. Meles was depicted as much larger than his colleagues.


Taye Belachew, Tobia
Imprisoned: November 22, 1996

Taye, editor in chief of the privately owned weekly magazine Tobia and the monthly magazine of the same name, was arrested without charge and detained at Ma’ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office. Police interrogated Taye about an article published in the November issue of Tobia titled “A Strategy to Reunite Eritrea With Ethiopia.” A Dec. 9 proceeding in the Addis Ababa District Court extended Taye’s detention by 14 days.


Anteneh Merid, Tobia
Imprisoned: November 25, 1996

Police arrested Anteneh, the deputy editor in chief of the weekly and monthly magazines Tobia, without charge and detained him at Ma’ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office. His interrogators focused on an article in the November issue titled “A Strategy to Reunite Eritrea With Ethiopia.” At Anteneh’s appearance before the Addis Ababa District Court on Dec. 9, authorities ordered a 14-day extension of his detention.


Sintayehu Abate, Remet
Imprisoned: December 5, 1996

Sintayehu, editor in chief of the privately owned Amharic weekly magazine Remet, was rearrested on the day he should have been released for completing a one-year sentence. The new arrest came after his magazine published articles and a photograph that the public prosecutor deemed pornographic. Sintayehu remains in Addis Ababa Central Prison.


Tefera Kitila, Tikuret
Imprisoned: Early December 1996

During the week of Dec. 8, Tefera, editor in chief of the privately owned Ahmaric weekly Tikuret, was arrested and detained without charge. Authorities have not provided any reasons for his detention.


Dawit Kebede, Fyameta
Imprisoned: December 11, 1996

Dawit, publisher of the Amharic weekly Fyameta, was arrested and detained in the Woreta Ten police station, in the district of Woreta. Observers believe his arrest is in connection with Fyameta’s Dec. 4 story titled “Police College Has Trained a Thief.”


Daniel Dershe, Kitab
Imprisoned: December 11, 1996

The High Court found Daniel, editor in chief of the now-defunct Amharic-language weekly Kitab, guilty of an unspecified charge and immediately remanded him into police custody. Officials have not released information about the length of his sentence.


Aklilu Tadesse, Ma’ebel
Imprisoned: December 11, 1996

Security officers arrested and detained Aklilu, editor in chief of the Amharic weekly Ma’ebel, without charge at Ma’ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office.


Wesson Seged Mersha, Kitab
Imprisoned: December 12, 1996

Wesson, publisher of the Amharic weekly Kitab, was sentenced to a six-month prison term and immediately jailed. Officials have provided no reasons for his incarceration.


Goshu Moges, AKPAC
Imprisoned: December 12, 1996

Security officers arrested Goshu, acting manager of AKPAC, which publishes the weekly and monthly magazines Tobia, without charge in connection with the publication of an article about the November 1996 hijacking of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961. Goshu is being held at Ma’ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office.


Tilahun Bekele, Ruhama
Imprisoned: December 18, 1996

Authorities arrested and detained Tilahun, editor in chief of the privately owned Amharic weekly Ruhama, without charge, refusing to provide reasons for his detention.

appeals to:
His Excellency Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 251-1-514-300 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


Indonesia (4)

Adnan Beuransyah, Serambi Indonesia
Imprisoned: August 16, 1990

Beuransyah, a journalist with the newspaper Serambi Indonesia, was arrested. He was tried in March 1991 in Banda Aceh on charges of subversion and sentenced to eight years in prison.


Eko Maryadi, Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)
Imprisoned: March 16, 1995

Maryadi, a member of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), was arrested along with several others at an AJI gathering. He was convicted on Sept. 1 of violating Article 19 of the press law, which prohibits the publication of an unlicensed newspaper or magazine, and Article 154 of the Criminal Code, which bars the expression of “feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt toward the government.” The charges stemmed from articles in AJI’s unlicensed newsmagazine Independen that dealt with topics such as the succession to President Suharto and the personal wealth of the country’s leaders. Maryadi’s 32-month sentence was increased on Oct. 11, 1995, to 36 months in prison, following a closed appeal hearing. On Aug. 15, 1996, he was shifted from Jakarta’s Cipinang prison to a less accessible facility in Cirebon, 200 kilometers east of the capital. The move was in apparent retaliation for the publication in Suara IndependenÑthe successor to IndependenÑof an exclusive interview with José Alexandre (“Xanana”) Gusmað, the jailed leader of the East Timorese independence group Fretelin and an inmate at Cipinang.


Tri Agus Susanto Siswowihardjo, Kabar Dari Pijar
Imprisoned: March 9, 1995

Siswowihardjo, editor of Kabar dari Pijar, a bulletin published by the Jakarta-based nongovernmental organization Pijar, was arrested during a police raid on the organization’s offices. He was convicted on Sept. 11 of “intentionally insulting” President Suharto, in violation of Articles 55(1) and 134 of the Criminal Code, and sentenced to two years in prison. The case against Siswowihardjo was based on the publication of an article in the bulletin’s June 1994 issue, titled “This Country Has Been Messed Up by a Man Called Suharto.” On Aug. 15, 1996, he was shifted from Jakarta’s Cipinang prison to a less accessible facility in Cirebon, 200 kilometers east of the capital, in apparent retaliation for the publication in the underground magazine Suara Independen of an exclusive interview with José Alexandre (“Xanana”) Gusmað, the jailed leader of the East Timorese independence group Fretelin and an inmate at Cipinang.


Ahmad Taufik, Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)
Imprisoned: March 16, 1995

Taufik, president of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) was arrested along with several others at an AJI gathering. He was convicted on Sept. 1 of violating Article 19 of the press law, which prohibits the publication of an unlicensed newspaper or magazine, and Article 154 of the Criminal Code, which bars the expression of “feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt toward the government.” The charges stemmed from articles in AJI’s unlicensed newsmagazine Independen that dealt with topics such as the succession to President Suharto and the personal wealth of the country’s leaders. Taufik’s 32-month prison sentence was increased on Oct. 11 to 36 months, following a closed appeal hearing. CPJ honored Taufik with its annual International Press Freedom Award on Dec. 6. On Aug. 15, 1996, Taufik was shifted from Jakarta’s Cipinang prison to a less accessible facility in Cirebon, 200 kilometers east of the capital, in apparent retaliation for the publication in Suara IndependenÑthe successor to IndependenÑof an exclusive interview with José Alexandre (“Xanana”) Gusmað, the jailed leader of the East Timorese independence group Fretelin and an inmate at Cipinang.

appeals to:
His Excellency Suharto
Office of the President
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta, Indonesia
Fax: 62-21-778-182


Iran (2)

Salman Heidari, Salam
Imprisoned: June 1992

Heidari, a reporter for the Tehran daily Salam, was arrested and accused of espionage. It is unclear whether he has been formally charged and tried.


Manouchehr Karimzadeh, Free-lancer
Imprisoned: April 11, 1992

Karimzadeh, a cartoonist, was arrested after one of his cartoons appeared in the science magazine Farad. It depicted a turban-wearing soccer player with an amputated arm. The image was interpreted by the authorities to be a caricature of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. An Islamic Revolutionary Court originally sentenced him to one year in prison, but he was retried in 1993 by order of the Supreme Court and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

appeals to:
His Excellency Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Telex: 214231 MITI IR or 213113 PRIM IR


Iraq (1)

Aziz al-Syed Jasim, Al-Ghad
Imprisoned: April 18, 1991

Jasim, editor of Al-Ghad magazine and former editor of the official daily Al-Thawra, was taken into custody at a secret police station in Baghdad and has not been heard from since. Government officials deny that he is under arrest. During a previous term of imprisonment that began in 1989, Jasim was forced to write a number of books in support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

appeals to:
His Excellency President Saddam Hussein
c/o Iraqi Mission to the United Nations
14 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021
United States


Kuwait (15)

Fawwaz Muhammad al-Awadi
Bessisso
Ibtisam Berto Sulaiman al-Dakhil
Usamah Suhail Abdallah Hussein
Abd al-Rahman Muhammad
Asad al-Husseini
Ahmad Abd Mustafa
Sentenced: June 26, 1991

A Kuwaiti court sentenced the five journalists to life in prison, after first commuting the death sentences imposed on them 10 days earlier under martial law. The journalists were accused of working for the Iraqi occupation newspaper Al-Nida. They were taken into custody after Kuwait’s liberation and charged with collaboration. Their trials, which began on May 19, failed to comply with international standards of justice and the defendants reportedly were tortured during their interrogations. Their defenseÑthat they were forced to work for the Iraqi newspaperÑwas not rebutted by prosecutors, but on June 16, 1991, they were sentenced to death. The death sentences were commuted after strong condemnation by the international community.


Walid Hassan Muhammad Karaka
Rahim Muhammad Najem
Ghazi Mahmoud al-Sayyed
Sentenced: June 1991

A martial law tribunal sentenced the three men to 10 years in prison with hard labor for their “supporting role...in helping to publish the [Iraqi occupation] paper [Al-Nida].” The defendants reportedly were tortured during interrogation. The prosecution did not offer direct evidence to rebut their defense that they had had been coerced into working for the paper. Four staff membersÑRiyadh Fouad Shaker Ali, Ahmad Muhammad Hannoun, Zuhra Muhammad Adel Abd al-Khaleq, and Lefta Abdallah MenahiÑwere also sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly working for Al-Nida, though it appears that they did not work as journalists.

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