CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Jean-Paul Marthoz

CPJ Europe Representative Jean-Paul Marthoz is a Belgian journalist and writer. He is a foreign affairs columnist for Le Soir and journalism professor at the Université catholique de Louvain.

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.

Vijesti Editor-in-Chief Mihailo Jovovic looks through a window damaged in a bomb blast at the newspaper's offices in Podgorica on December 27, 2013. (Reuters/Stevo Vasiljevic)

Nestled between Croatia's Dalmatian coast and Albania, the small state of Montenegro (14,000 square kilometers, 630,000 inhabitants) evokes images of sandy beaches, pristine lakes, and gorgeous mountains. The wild beauty advertised by its savvy tourist board, however, looks more like the Wild West for the Montenegrin press. In the past weeks a number of violent attacks against critical journalists have rocked the country. 

Belgium arrested Somali pirate chief Mohamed Abdi Hassan, shown in a January photo, after prosecutors lured him to Brussels on promises of shooting a documentary film about his life. (AFP/Abdi Hussein)

It could have been the script for a John Le Carré intrigue. On Saturday October 12, Belgian security agents arrested Mohamed Abdi Hassan, a kingpin of Somali piracy known as "Afweyne" (Big Mouth), and his associate Mohammed M. Aden, nicknamed Tiiceey, a former governor of Himan and Heeb province.

Blog | USA
The front page of The New York Times, the day after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office. (AFP/Stan Honda)

The international media depend on the U.S. press to cover U.S. stories--and many of these, from the subprime mortgage crisis to NSA surveillance, are global stories because of their worldwide repercussions. But international journalists also rely on the U.S. press to report and comment on most world events. Therefore any restriction on U.S. journalists' freedom to report inevitably reverberates around the globe.

At midnight on Monday, the French news website Mediapart complied with the Versailles court of appeal which last week ordered the site to withdraw articles referring to the Bettencourt recordings--the secret tapings of Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in France, by her butler. Mediapart as well as the newsweekly Le Point had been sued for violation of privacy by the Bettencourt family and by the L'Oréal heiress' legal tutor and fund manager, Patrice de Maistre. Le Point withdrew its articles on Friday.

Three years ago, revelations by the independent news website Mediapart on the "Bettencourt affair"-- allegations of illegal funding of former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party by the heiress of the L'Oréal fortune, Liliane Bettencourt--put the fledgling site on the map, helped it build a reputation as a dogged and fearless muckraker, and boosted its subscriber base.

Jean-Pascal Couraud was known for his hard-hitting investigative reporting. (AFP)

Since Jean-Pascal Couraud's disappearance in mid-December 1997 his friends had been fighting to debunk the notion that he had committed suicide. In 2004 they had thought they could prove that the 37-year-old muckraker had been a victim of foul play. Vetea Guilloux, a member of the local militia Groupe d'intervention de Polynésie (GIP), had alleged that two of his colleagues had killed the investigative journalist. He soon retracted his claim, apparently fearing retaliation.  

"We in Europe are also not perfect," José Manuel Barroso said last week while hosting a joint press conference in Brussels with Azerbaijan's head of state, Ilham Aliyev. The president of the European Commission, who is supposed to defend the EU's democratic values, seemed to prove his own point by deciding not to openly question his guest's rosy picture of Azerbaijan's human rights record.

Angered by the station's news coverage, protesters in Istanbul destroyed an NTV news van.(CPJ/Özgür Öğret)

The coverage of the Taksim Square protests will not be remembered as a moment of glory for a number of Turkish mainstream media. While demonstrators were being tear-gassed and beaten by police a week ago, CNN Türk was airing a documentary on penguins and Habertürk had a debate on mental illness. 

"Incredible," "staggering," "enormous," "out of time"--the expressions of outrage have been flying in Italy since a Milan magistrate sentenced to prison three journalists for the weekly magazine Panorama. On May 24, Andrea Marcenaro and Riccardo Arena were each condemned to a one-year jail term for a 2010 article discussing Palermo magistrate Francesco Messineo's alleged family connections to the mafia. The editor-in-chief of the center-right news magazine, Giorgio Mule, was sentenced to eight months in jail for "having failed to check the article." The three journalists must also pay 20,000 euros (US$26,000) in compensation to the defendant.

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