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Europe & Central Asia

2011


Belarusian website Charter 97 attacked, shut down

Charter 97 Editor-in-Chief Natalya Radina at CPJ's 2011 International Press Freedom Awards. (Muzaffar Suleymanov/CPJ)

It's not unusual for Charter 97, a Belarusian pro-opposition news website, to be disrupted online. CPJ has documented intimidations, threats, and arrests against its staff members, the murder of its founder, and denial-of-service attacks against the website.

Hundreds of Turkish journalists march to protest detentions and demand reforms to media laws in Ankara on March 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would like to take credit for Turkey's economic growth and increasing regional influence, but when challenged on his country's abysmal  press freedom record he tends to blame others, including the media itself which, he says, exaggerates the problem.

But the facts speak for themselves, as I noted in a letter CPJ sent yesterday to the prime minister. In it, we condemned the recent raids that have rounded up at least 29 journalists and we criticized the government for the politicized legal process that has led to the imprisonment of dozens of other journalists across the country.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson could be sentenced to up to 18 years. (Reuters)

New York, December 21, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an Ethiopian court's decision to convict two Swedish photojournalists today in what appears to be a politicized trial.

New York, December 20, 2011--Today's ruling by Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court upholding a life sentence for independent journalist Azimjon Askarov on fabricated charges is a lethal blow to press freedom and justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

New York, December 20, 2011--Authorities in the Mangistau region of western Kazakhstan have attacked and detained independent journalists and blocked access to news outlets to suppress coverage of unrest there, news reports said. The Committee Protect today called on Kazakh authorities to allow the media unfettered access.

CPJ today released its annual tally of the journalists killed around the world. This is always a somber occasion for us as we chronicle the grim toll, remember friends who have been lost, and recommit ourselves to justice. It's also a time when we are asked questions about our research and why our numbers are different - invariably lower - than other organizations.

Journalist Gadzhimurad Kamalov was shot to death late Thursday night by a masked assailant. (AP)
New York, December 16, 2011--Russian authorities must carry out an urgent and effective investigation into Thursday night's assassination of Gadzhimurad Kamalov, founder of the independent weekly Chernovik, which had tackled highly sensitive topics in the southern republic of Dagestan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

A signboard held outside an Interior Ministry building in Moscow in 2010 reads: 'Journalist Oleg Kashin is beaten. I demand perpetrators and masterminds be found.' (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov)

A year ago, on a November night, two unidentified assailants awaited Oleg Kashin, a correspondent for the Russian business daily Kommersant, by his home on a central Moscow street, a 10-minute walk from the Kremlin. The two had hidden steel rods in bouquets of flowers.

New York, December 15, 2011--Today's murder of Gadzhimurad Kamalov, founder of the independent newspaper Chernovik in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan today is a lethal blow to press freedom, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

New York, December 14, 2011--Today's court ruling to scrap the case against former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma for allegedly ordering the 2000 murder of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze is a blow to press freedom, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Press freedom in Turkey is under assault. Thousands of criminal cases have been filed against reporters, the Criminal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act are used routinely to silence critical news coverage, and Kurdish journalists face constant persecution.

Today CPJ released its annual prison census, which tracks cases of journalists jailed for their work globally. (The list counts those who were incarcerated at midnight on December 1, 2011, but does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year.) Since 1990, when we first began compiling this census, Turkey has appeared regularly on the list; in the mid-1990s, it was the world's leading jailer of journalists. Some Turkish journalists have written us to inquire why CPJ's 2011 census lists eight imprisoned journalists in Turkey, while other organizations list as many as 64.

Stark regional differences are seen as jailings grow significantly in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of journalists are held without charge, many in secret prisons. A CPJ special report

Journalists reporting on protests and civil unrest face a rising threat of detention. Here, Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist. (Reuters)



In this video companion to CPJ's 2011 census of imprisoned journalists, Azerbaijani editor Eynulla Fatullayev describes his own time in prison and how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed reporters, editors, photojournalists, and bloggers. (4:47)

Read the special report "Imprisonments jump worldwide” and view our database of journalists in prison.

A police officer falls down as he tries to detain a demonstrator during protests against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Triumphal Square in Moscow Wednesday. (AP)

Following Sunday's elections to the Russian Duma, news reports abound of the wave of opposition protests that have hit Russia's current and historic capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. In demonstrations unprecedented in the past decade, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets chanting "Russia without Putin!" and calling for the vote to be annulled, local and international press reported. And for the third day in a row, authorities have sent police and interior military troops to disperse and detain the civilian protesters, as the independent news website Lenta reports. As of Tuesday, at least 500 were in police custody, including several independent journalists detained while reporting on the rallies, the independent business daily Kommersant reported. CPJ protested the detention of journalists, one of them a Kommersant reporter, and demanded their release.

Police officers attempt to detain a journalist from Kommersant during a rally in Russia protesting the results of the parliamentary elections. (Reuters)

New York, December 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns heavy-handed actions by Russian authorities who have detained at least six journalists covering the protests that followed Sunday's parliamentary election. International observers have cited irregularities in the voting, officially won by United Russia, the party headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

New President Almazbek Atambayev was sworn in Thursday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (AP)

In late October, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, convicted and sentenced in absentia to hefty prison terms two ethnic Uzbek media owners, Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV and Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV. Both men were tried in connection to the ethnic conflict that ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Authorities accused both media owners of stirring up the violence and participating in the mass killings--charges that CPJ research established to be politicized and unfounded. CPJ reached out to Khudaiberdiyev, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail, to comment on the prosecution and the state of press freedom in Kyrgyzstan.

CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But the journalists honored last night at CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards had a clear message to their colleagues: Fight the power.

New York, November 23, 2011-- The demise of freelance journalist Rafiq Tagi in a Baku hospital today following his stabbing four days ago by unknown assailants, must be fully investigated, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ethnic Uzbek men look for their belongings at a destroyed house outside Osh on June 16, 2010. (AFP)

On October 28, a regional court in Jalal-Abad, southern Kyrgyzstan, announced its verdict in the trial of six men--all ethnic Uzbeks--charged in connection with violent ethnic conflict in June 2010. Among the defendants were owners of what was once the region's most influential media--Khalil Khudaiberdiyev of Osh TV and Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev of Mezon TV. The Jalal-Abad City Court declared the defendants guilty on separate counts of incitement to ethnic hatred, organizing mass disorder, creation of armed military groups, separatism, and abuse of office. Khudaiberdiyev was sentenced to 20 years in jail, and Mirzakhodzhayev to 14 years; both men had fled Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and were tried and sentenced in absentia.

Defending the middle ground of online journalism

It's easy to use polarizing descriptions of online news-gathering. It's the domain of citizen journalists, blogging without pay and institutional support, or it's a sector filled with the digital works of "mainstream media" facing financial worries and struggling to offer employees the protection they once provided. But there is a growing middle ground: trained reporters and editors who work exclusively online on projects born independent of traditional media. They share many of the practices of an older generation of reporters, but their work draws from the decentralized and agile practices of the digital world. 

Blog | UK
Memorials on an altar during the 2007 annual service for fallen journalists in St. Bride's Church in London. (AFP)

After the din of the day's student protests died down on Fleet Street, a gathering of a quieter, more somber sort took place. St. Bride's Church, London's so-called church of the press, held its annual service this Wednesday to commemorate journalists, photographers, cameramen, and support staff that died in the pursuit of journalism. This year's service was called "The Price of Freedom."

New York, November 7, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the conviction and sentence on defamation charges of Valery Surganov, a reporter with the independent news website Guljan, and calls for his full acquittal on appeal.

Anna Politkovskaya photographed in 2005 (AFP)

Russia's Investigative Committee has named the main suspects in the October 7, 2006, murder of Anna Politkovskaya. But the news did not cause a stir. Russian journalists reacted to it rather languidly; for instance, Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya worked, did not make any notable comments.

This is not because Politkovskaya's murder--now five years old--has been forgotten in Russia. The tepid interest is mostly due to the fact that there are no new names among the suspects.

The Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
New York, November 2, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by today's firebomb attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the disabling of its website by unknown hackers. The attacks appear to be in retaliation for the paper's spoof edition, "guest edited" by the Prophet Muhammad.

New York, November 1, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the prosecution and imprisonment of Avaz Zeynally, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Khural, and calls on Azerbaijani authorities to release him immediately.

Prosecutors say every lead has been pursued, every witness questioned in the slayings of editors Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov. But no one has ever been convicted, and no one can explain what investigators did with the most compelling lead. A CPJ special report by Nina Ognianova

Newspaper editors Valery Ivanov and Aleksei Sidorov were killed within 18 months of each other. To date, no one has been convicted in their cases. (AP/Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye)

New York, October 26, 2011--Authorities in the western Mangystau region of Kazakhstan must thoroughly investigate a brutal attack today against two journalists for the Internet-based opposition broadcaster Stan TV, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Anna Politkovskaya emerges as a woman of humor in a new documentary. (AP)

Internationally renowned for her work, respected for her courage and still mourned by thousands around the world five years after her murder, Anna Politkovsakya has become an iconic symbol in the global human rights struggle. But Sunday night, family, friends, colleagues and others came together to share a more personal picture.

The European Union accession process has been hailed as the best tool in the arsenal of democracy promotion. By adhering to the acquis communautaire, the EU's total body of legislation, and to the Copenhagen criteria that define the democratic nature of the EU, candidate countries are supposed to perfect their political transition before joining "the club of European democracies."

Sasho Dikov's car was destroyed in the blast. (Reuters)

New York, October 14, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Thursday's attack on Sasho Dikov, a Bulgarian journalist with private national television channel Kanal 3, and calls on investigators to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.

Journalist Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov was convicted on insult charges today, but was released from prison. He is banned from all journalistic work for three years. (RFE/RL Radio Ozodi)

New York, October 14, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved by today's release of two Tajik journalists, but condemns their convictions on extremism and insult, among other charges, and calls for the quashing of the convictions on appeal.

New York, October 13, 2011--As a court in Tajikistan prepares to issue verdicts in the politicized criminal prosecutions of BBC correspondent Urinboy Usmonov, and Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov, a reporter with the independent weekly Nuri Zindagi, the Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding justice.
(Reuters)

Greek police attacked some members of the press covering demonstrations in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square this week, injuring at least two members of the media, Reuters reported. Above, a riot policeman punches Greek photojournalist Tatiana Bolari on Wednesday.
New York, October 7, 2011--Five years after the brutal assassination of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Russian authorities to prosecute the masterminds of her killing and end impunity in the murder of journalists.

New York, October 5, 2011 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the sentencing today of Dovletmurad Yazguliyev, a local correspondent for the Turkmen service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), to five years in prison on charges of inciting a relative's suicide attempt.

New York, September 29, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ongoing imprisonment of journalist Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov and is dismayed by prosecutors' call for a hefty prison term on defamation and other charges.

When a bug fix can save a journalist's life

One of the most exciting aspects of working on Internet technologies is how quickly the tools you build can spread to millions of users worldwide. It's a heady experience, one that has occurred time and again here in Silicon Valley. But there's also responsibility that attaches to that excitement. For every hundred thousand cases in which a tool improves someone's day, there is another case in which it's used in a life-or-death situation. And for online journalists working on high-risk material, or in high-risk places, that life may be their own or that of a source. That's why CPJ, together with Alexey Tikhonov from Kazakhstan's Respublika, Esra'a al-Shafei from the pan-Arab forum MidEast Youth, and activist Rami Nakhle from Syria, spent this week visiting and meeting with technologists, entrepreneurs, and thinkers in Silicon Valley.

Blog | UK
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, outside Scotland Yard. (Reuters/Andrew Winning)

London's Metropolitan Police this week dropped their attempt to leverage the Official Secrets Act to force The Guardian to reveal confidential sources for stories about the phone-hacking scandal that has gripped the UK's political and media world. The Met's reversal is welcome, but its unprecedented attempt to invoke espionage laws to force a newspaper to reveal confidential sources has itself set a damaging precedent, suggesting that journalists are state enemies for obtaining sensitive information from government officials. 

Blog | UK
(AP)

Photojournalist Anton Hammerl's body has not been returned to his family five months after his death on assignment in Libya, but his family and friends celebrated his remarkable life and career at a memorial service Thursday at St. Bride's Church in London.

Hammerl, 41, was shot and killed by government forces near Brega in eastern Libya on April 5. Libyan authorities refused to disclose the killing--and, in fact, disseminated misleading information. It was only when three international journalists captured in the same attack were released a month and a half later that Hammerl's fate was known.

Spying on news media becomes a dark cloud over Sarkozy's government. (AFP)

"The freedom of the press and the lie of the state." The headline Thursday in the influential newspaper Le Monde was bound to make a big splash. While President Nicolas Sarkozy was basking in the glory of his Libyan intervention and celebrating the virtues of democracy, the French "paper of record" was denouncing the dark side and the dirty tricks of his government.

Pavlyuchenkov in a Moscow court. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)
New York, September 2, 2011--Russia's Investigative Committee brought charges today against retired police Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov in connection with the 2006 murder of renowned investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, and named convicted criminal Lom-Ali Gaitukayev as an organizer of the slaying.

Kuchma, under indictment, denies involvement in the Gongadze slaying. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

New York, August 31, 2011--A former general with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry testified in a Kyiv court on Tuesday that he killed journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000 in a plot orchestrated by former President Leonid Kuchma and other top officials, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

Recent demonstrations lead to several cases of anti-press violence by police. Here, a 15-M protest in Madrid. (Reuters/Sergio Perez)

Spanish press associations have expressed concern about recent episodes of police violence against journalists covering demonstrations against Pope Benedict's four-day visit to Madrid and protests staged as part of the anti-corruption 15-M movement.

AP
New York, August 24, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the detention of a new suspect in the murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, left, who was shot in her apartment building in 2006.

The suspect, retired Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, is said to have formed a criminal group tasked with killing her, and the journalist's colleagues hope he can help lead to the mastermind of the slaying.

New York, August 17, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Tajik prosecutors to drop the fabricated extremism charges against Urinboy Usmonov, the BBC World Service correspondent in Tajikistan, and acquit him.

New York, August 16, 2011--The Pechersky District Court in Kyiv must open to the public the ongoing trial against Aleksei Pukach, a former interior ministry general charged with the notorious 2000 killing of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze, the Committee to Protect Journalist said today. 

New York, August 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's statement calling for broadcasters to immediately provide unedited footage and for measures restricting social networking as a means to stem ongoing riots in the country.

Blog | UK
A photographer holds his head after he was attacked by protesters in east London on Monday. (AP/Karel Prinsloo)

The safety advisories sent out by the International News Safety Institute on Tuesday said it all: "Bring a mobile phone with emergency numbers pre-set for speed dialling; bring eye protection such as swimming goggles; carry first-aid kits and know how to use them; wear loose, natural-fabric clothing as it will not burn as readily as synthetics; and remember there is always the possibility of gasoline bombs being detonated."

The Committee to Protect Journalists is aggrieved by reports that journalists covering the riots in London and other cities are being attacked.

Journalists Nedim Şener, center, and Ahmet Şık, third from left facing camera, wave upon arrival at an Istanbul courthouse in March. (Reuters)

The arrest of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener in March this year has put press freedom in Turkey under the international spotlight. Authorities said the journalists had not been detained because of their reporting but as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged ultranationalist plot to overthrow the government known as "Ergenekon." On a recent visit to Turkey, I sent written questions to the reporters in their Istanbul jail through their lawyers and they replied in writing.

Hrant Dink, in the poster here, was a controversial journalist who challenged the government's narrative on the killings of Armenians. (Reuters)

There's a policeman on duty these days in the lobby of the elegant apartment building that houses Agos and a receptionist behind security glass buzzes you in to the newspaper's cluttered offices. That's about the only indication that the outspoken Turkish-Armenian editor whom I interviewed here in Istanbul in 2006 was assassinated outside the front door a year later.

While there is a surfeit of media in Turkey, outlets are prey to government pressure. (Reuters)

Turkey is awash in media. The newsstands of Istanbul are buried under some 35 dailies of every format and political stripe. The airwaves are thick with TV channels and Internet penetration is tracking an economy growing at Chinese speed. Yet quantity does not equal quality. Nor does the array of titles mean diversity and freedom of expression is blossoming in a country that is seeking to join the European Union. 

Schlesinger (Reuters)

CPJ board member David Schlesinger, who is the chairman of Thomson Reuters in China, delivered a speech today at a conference sponsored by Caixin magazine. He touched on several current issues, and found lessons in the News of the World case that are relevant to journalists everywhere. And I particularly like his description of China's media which, for all CPJ's criticism, remains dynamic and growing.

Here's 
Schlesinger's address
.

Plainclothes police arrest a protester in Minsk. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

In a rare development, the Belarusian general prosecutor, Grigory Vasilevich, stepped up for journalists and defended their right to report on ongoing political protests. According to a statement issued by his press office on Friday, Vasilevich sent a letter to Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov in which he reminded his colleague of journalists' rights under the law. While noting that police have a duty to protect public order and that journalists have an obligation to comply with national laws, Vasilevich urged Kuleshov to instruct police to do their work without obstructing reporters. 

A memorial to Estemirova. (CPJ)

Two years ago, as she was leaving home on a hot Wednesday morning in Grozny, several attackers forced Natalya Estemirova, the prominent journalist and human rights defender, into a car. A young witness--who later fled for fear of reprisal--recalled that Estemirova cried out she was being kidnapped and that a white Lada sedan then sped off. Estemirova's body was found a few hours later, ditched along a road near the village of Gazi-Yurt in neighboring Ingushetia. 

A promotional image for "On the Record," which opens this week at London's Arcola Theatre.

The true stories of journalists from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the United States, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will hit the stage July 20 at London's Arcola Theatre. "On the Record," which runs through August 13, examines the careers of six journalists, the risks they face, and their determination to make an impact through their work. This is the latest production by the UK-based Ice and Fire theater company, founded in 2003 to explore human rights stories through performance. Christine Bacon, Ice and Fire's artistic director and co-author of "On the Record," discusses the production's inspiration, messages, and challenges in this CPJ interview. 

New York, July 14, 2001--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of Urinboy Usmonov, a BBC World Service correspondent, detained in June in Tajikistan and calls on authorities to fully exonerate him and remove restrictions on travel.  Tajik authorities released Usmonov on bail but continue to charge him with extremism while imposing a travel ban, according to the BBC.

New York, July 13, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists urges Tajik prosecutors in Khujand, northern Tajikistan, to drop politicized extremism charges against BBC reporter Urinboy Usmonov, and calls for his immediate release. The journalist is being charged with failing to report the activities of the Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir to Tajik law enforcement agencies, Usmonov's lawyer, Faiziniso Vokhidova, told the Tajik service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Radio Ozodi).

New York, July 7, 2011--Belarusian authorities must immediately cease their ongoing crackdown against the independent press and release all journalists in state custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police in Minsk and other cities across the country detained at least 28 journalists on Wednesday who were covering protest rallies that opposition activists have been holding weekly since late May, according to the Minsk-based Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and reports in the local and international press

New York, July 7, 2011--Following Ethiopian state television's broadcast of a clip presenting jailed and injured Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye as accomplices to terrorists, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Ethiopia to immediately release the two journalists.

New York, July 7, 2011--Diana Markosian, a freelance photographer for Bloomberg Markets magazine was denied entry to Azerbaijan last week by authorities who cited her ethnicity as a reason, international news reports said. 

Moscow, July 7, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Moscow police to thoroughly investigate today's incident involving Vadim Rechkalov, a political commentator with the popular daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, in which an unknown man threatened him with a gun. 

New York, July 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the defamation conviction of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and calls for it to be overturned on appeal.

Persson (Kontinent)

New York, July 5, 2011--Two Swedish journalists reporting on the activities of armed separatists operating in an oil-rich province of eastern Ethiopia have been detained without charge since Thursday in the Horn of Africa nation, according to news reports and government officials.

Ethiopian security forces arrested photojournalist Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, contributors to the Sweden-based agency Kontinent, along the border with neighboring Somalia, government spokesman Bereket Simon told CPJ.

A portrait of Shchekochikhin in his dacha. (CPJ)

It has been eight years since Yuri Shchekochikhin, deputy editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, died a painful death from a disease that in a matter of days stripped him of his skin, caused his organs to fail one after the other, and led his body to shut down.

On Sunday, on the anniversary of Shchekochikhin's death, family, friends, and colleagues gathered at the journalist's dacha in Peredelkino, southwest of Moscow, to honor his legacy. The group of guests was decidedly mixed. 

Google+ for journalists at risk

A Google developers conference in May. (Reuters/Beck Diefenbach)

When they're creating new features, software designers talk in terms of "use cases." A use case describes steps that future customers might perform with a website. "Starting a group with friends," would be a use case for Facebook. "Buying a book" would be case for Amazon's designers. 

Stéphane Taponier, left, and Hervé Ghesquière say they will return to work as soon as possible. (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, the two France 3 journalists held captive by the Taliban for 547 days, had a big surprise when they entered the France Télévisions building Thursday afternoon, a few hours after landing at the military base of Villacoublay, close to Paris, where they were welcomed by President Nicolas Sarkozy. 

Belarus plainclothes policemen detain protesters during a Minsk protest on Wednesday. (AP)

New York, June 30, 2011--In a new crackdown against the independent press, Belarusian police briefly detained and beat more than a dozen reporters, and broke their equipment at a Wednesday protest rally in Minsk and Brest, according to news reports and CPJ sources in Belarus. 

New York, June 29, 2001--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes reports from the French government that journalists Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier and their interpreter Reza Din have been released after more than 18 months in captivity. CPJ is seeking further news about the group's fixer and driver, known as Ghulam and Sattar, who were also abducted.
 The Danish queen pays a visit to her Bahraini counterpart. (AFP/BNA)

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark visited Bahrain in February at the invitation of King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa. As part of the official program, the queen honored Hamad with the "Storkorset af Dannebrog," the second highest Danish royal order. Although the visit took place about two weeks before Bahraini authorities began a violent crackdown on protesters, Bahrain has long had a troubled human rights and press freedom record. The current crackdown includes serious attacks on the press

A fighter regains his footing, but his voice is stilled. (CPJ/Nina Ognianova)

Mikhail Beketov can walk now--using an artificial leg and propping himself on crutches. He's moving around his house in the Moscow suburb of Khimki. It was here, in his front yard, where the newspaper editor was attacked two years and seven months ago. It was in this yard where assailants left him for dead. The fact that Beketov can stand on his own again is testament to the sheer strength of the man, whom friends describe as a born fighter. He could be obstinate, they say, and that's why he would never turn away from what he believes in.

Subjectivity, advocacy in covering human rights

The tension between objective news reporting and advocacy was the subject of the final plenary panel that I moderated last week at the Global Media Forum in Bonn. Sponsored by Germany's multi-language, government broadcast agency, Deutsche Welle, the three-day conference brought together journalists and experts from every continent to address but not necessarily resolve the media's role in covering human rights abuses.

New York, June 23, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Ulster authorities to investigate the shooting of photographer Niall Carson and ensure the safety of journalists covering sectarian violence in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

New York, June 23, 2011--Tajik authorities must drop trumped-up charges against Urinboy Usmonov, a BBC World Service correspondent in Tajikistan, and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two of the world’s most repressive nations each forced at least 18 journalists to flee their homes in the past year. In exile, these journalists face enormous challenges. A CPJ special report by Elisabeth Witchel.

Newly freed Cuban detainees and their families in a bus after their arrival in Madrid. Exile was the price the detainees paid for their freedom. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

CPJ

In September 2001, CPJ received a worrisome call. Uzbek journalist Dina Yafasova had been roughly interrogated by the Uzbek National Security Service, which threatened her with imminent arrest and physical abuse unless she revealed sources and names of articles she wrote for international publications. She left the agency deeply shaken and within days had left the country for Denmark, where she sought asylum. 

Atangana (David Dore)

I was arbitrary and unlawfully arrested and detained in a heavily secured military police detention facility in Cameroon for 40 days. I had to bribe my way out of the country to seek sanctuary and protection. 

Cameroon is a dictatorship dressed up as a fake democracy, with a leader in power for more than 29 years. As an investigative economics and current affairs journalist, I worked with the leading independent newspaper, Le Messager, and also with other newspapers before that. I wrote critical articles about the government and exposed its wrongdoing and corruption.

Berhane (Colin McConnell/Toronto Star)

In 2007, my colleague Karen Phillips suggested we do something to mark World Refugee Day. Initially planning to publish a brief statement, I set about reviewing our data for background, checking in with older journalist cases about their current situation and looking broadly for trends to highlight. As the number of cases began counting into the hundreds, it became clear that what we had was a new indicator of press freedom conditions. Today, we're marking our fifth year of publishing the CPJ survey of journalists in exile, which is based on 10 years of data on 649 cases. 

New York, June 16, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the vicious beating in Baku of international journalists Amanda Erickson and Celia Davies, and calls on the authorities to bring their attackers to justice.

Urinboy Umanov, left, at work in Tajikistan.(BBC World Service)

New York, June 16, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention and reported beating in custody of Urinboy Usmonov, a local correspondent for the BBC Central Asia service, and calls for his immediate release.

New York, June 14, 2011--Belarusian authorities must end the retaliatory prosecution of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno-based correspondent for the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

The IFEX conference in Beirut put a focus on impunity in journalist murders. (Lidija Sabados/IFEX)

Members from around the world of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange met in Beirut last week. On the second day of our conference, amid discussions of the daily problems journalists face, we received word of the abduction and murder of Pakistani investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad. A day later, the conference buzzed with news of an arrest more than five years after the murder of iconic Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. As news unfolded in both cases, impunity--a recurring theme in official meetings and hallway conversations--loudly made its way to the forefront. And on June 2, IFEX members announced that they would join forces to globally put an end to journalists' murders and impunity for their killers, making November 23 the International Day to End Impunity.

Kyrgyzstan is an "island of democracy" where authorities guarantee freedom of speech and reporting on protest rallies is not a crime, Kyrgyz government officials told an audience. They were speaking at a May 26 round-table discussion at the Open Society Institute in New York. CPJ vehemently disagreed. We had reported on the ongoing prosecution of media owners in the country and how a regional reporter had been recently sentenced to life in prison.

Few cases of sexual assault against journalists have ever been documented, a product of powerful cultural and professional stigmas. But now dozens of journalists are coming forward to say they have been sexually abused in the course of their work. A CPJ special report by Lauren Wolfe

Chaotic public events are often the setting for sexual abuse of journalists. CBS correspondent Lara Logan was assaulted at this political demonstration in Cairo. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

In conjunction with the release of its special report, “The Silencing Crime: Sexual Violence and Journalists,” CPJ is issuing an addendum to its existing journalist security guide. The addendum, written by CPJ Journalist Security Coordinator Frank Smyth, addresses the issue of sexual aggression against journalists and focuses on ways to minimize the risk.The addendum, published below, is also available in the full text of CPJ’s online security guide. 



Journalists around the world are talking more candidly about sexual abuse they've experienced on the job. CPJ Senior Editor Lauren Wolfe, author of the special report, "The Silencing Crime,"  describes her findings in this podcast. Listen on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (2:05)

Read CPJ's special report, "The Silencing Crime: Sexual Violence and Journalists."

| CPJ

In journalist security field, maturing and understanding

Journalists are facing increasing risk at public demonstrations. Here, a March rally in Islamabad to denounce the CIA. (Reuters/Mian Khursheed)

Journalist security is still a maturing field, but news organizations are devoting more attention to preparing their reporters and photographers for the dangers particular to the profession. That means understanding risks that are constantly evolving. The brutal attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan at a Cairo demonstration has drawn worldwide attention to the issue of sexual assault against journalists--CPJ issued new guidelines on the threat today--but the case also points to an emerging, if lesser-known threat. In the past 18 months, more journalists have been killed covering violent demonstrations and other non-military events than at any time since CPJ began keeping detailed records two decades ago.

This image of Anna Politkovskaya and two men on trial for her murder on a map where she was killed was shown in a court in Moscow in 2008. The men were acquitted. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov)
New York, June 2, 2011--Rustam Makhmudov, the suspected gunman in the 2006 murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, was indicted in Moscow today, according to Russian press reports. The charges follow Makhmudov's arrest in Chechnya on Tuesday. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed these developments and called on investigators to continue their efforts to solve the killing.

New York, June 1, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the deportation of Rodion Marinichev, a special correspondent for the Moscow-based online broadcaster Dozhd (The Rain), from Belarus, and the ban on his reentry into the country. CPJ calls upon Belarusian authorities to remove their sanctions against the journalist.

CPJ’s 2011 Impunity Index spotlights countries
where journalists are slain and killers go free

New York, May 31, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes news reports of the arrest in Chechnya today of Rustam Makhmudov, the alleged gunman suspected of murdering prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow in 2006.

Eynulla Fatullayev is finally home after four long years in an Azerbaijani jail. "It's a miracle for me," he told U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. RFE/RL filmed the editor at home immediately after his release:

CJES

Independent editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a CPJ award recipient, spent four years in prison on spurious charges of defamation, terrorism, tax evasion, and drug possession. All were fabricated to prevent him from publishing his searing exposés critical of the Azerbaijani government. On Thursday, after years of intense advocacy by CPJ and others, Fatullayev received a presidential pardon and was freed. "Although it took far too long," said CPJ board member Gwen Ifill, "we are deeply gratified at Fatullayev's release, and look forward to the moment when we can hand him his 2009 press freedom award in person." Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova reached Fatullayev at his Baku home today and talked with him about his experience as a political prisoner and the circumstances surrounding his sudden release.

New York, May 26, 2011--The release today of independent editor Eynulla Fatullayev in Azerbaijan on a presidential pardon is a welcome and well overdue development, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

New York, May 25, 2011--Uzbek authorities must stop harassing Abdumalik Boboyev, a stringer for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, and allow him to leave Uzbekistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

New York, May 19, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's court ruling in the southern republic of Dagestan, which acquitted Editor Nadira Isayeva and four reporters with the Makhachkala-based independent weekly Chernovik of long-standing, politicized extremism charges

New York, May 17, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is appalled by the refusal of a regional prosecutor in Uralsk, western Kazakhstan, to investigate a threatening call against Alla Zlobina, a regional correspondent for the embattled independent weekly Golos Respubliki. Zlobina's daughter was also intimidated. CPJ calls upon regional authorities to thoroughly probe the incidents and bring those responsible to justice.

Tim Hetherington at the World Press Photo Award exhibition in Zurich in 2008. He won for his photo "American Soldier." (AP/Keystone/Eddy Risch)

On Friday, May 13, some 500 people gathered at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mayfair, London, to remember, celebrate, and lay to rest photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington.  

AFP

When Lola Karimova, the Uzbek president's youngest daughter, decided to sue the French online newspaper Rue89 in August for libel, she wanted to restore the reputation of her country. Or did she? Her case against one of the most irreverent Paris media outlets is slowly turning into a public relations fiasco for her and the oil-producing Central Asian republic, Uzbekistan, where her father, Islam Karimov, has reigned supreme for more than two decades.

Khalip (Reuters)

New York, May 16, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's conviction and sentencing of Irina Khalip, the Minsk-based correspondent for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and calls on Belarusian authorities to acquit her on appeal. 

Today, the Zavodskoi District Court in Minsk declared Khalip guilty of "organizing and preparing activities severely disruptive of public order," and gave her a two-year suspended prison term, local and international press reported. The charges stem from her critical reporting on the December 19 protests in Minsk against the rigged presidential vote held the same day.

New York, May 13, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Kyrgyz authorities today to drop trumped-up criminal charges against the founder and director of the largest regional television channel, Osh TV, and the founder, owner, and director of three now-defunct media outlets--the independent broadcaster Mezon TV, and newspapers Itogi Nedeli and Portfel.

Demonstrators hold signs for jailed journalist Irina Khalip and her son. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

New York, May 12, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for the Belarusian government to drop all charges against Irina Khalip, the Minsk-based correspondent for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who has been imprisoned since December. 

Giuliano Mignini (AP)

New York, May 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Florence and Perugia authorities to drop the trumped-up defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock, an English-language blog created and maintained by Frank Sfarzo, an Italian freelance journalist and blogger. Sfarzo has endured sustained harassment in retaliation for his reporting and commentary on the official investigation into the November 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Russian journalists know that garnering the attention of authorities can be dangerous. When writing about topics like crime and corruption, it can also be easy. However, Gregory Shvedov, editor of online news agency Kavkazsky Uzel, (Caucasian Knot), isn't worried about the Kremlin knocking on his door.

Anastasiya Baburova (Novaya Gazeta)

New York, May 6, 2011--The conviction and sentencing of two defendants in the 2009 double murder of freelance journalist Anastasiya Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov is a landmark victory in the fight against impunity in press killings in Russia, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Moscow City Court Judge Aleksandr Zamashnyuk gave defendant Nikita Tikhonov life in a strict-regime penal colony. Yevgeniya Khasis, Tikhonov's common-law wife, will serve an 18-year term in a regular-regime penal colony as an accomplice in the murder, local and international press reported. Tikhonov and Khasis denied involvement in the murder, and their lawyers filed an appeal, the BBC Russian service reported. When he announced the sentence, Zamashnyuk said the two committed the crime with other unidentified accomplices, the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.

Novy Region

New York, May 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of independent journalist Ernest Vardanian, at left, who was unconditionally pardoned by the president of the unrecognized separatist Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR). 

Vardanian had served more than a year of jail time since the PMR arrested him on treason charges in April 2010; he was accused of allegedly spying for Moldova proper. Vardanian denied the charges. He was convicted in December in a closed trial and was serving a 15-year-long term until his pardon on Thursday. The PMR, commonly known as Transdniester, broke away from Moldova proper in 1990.

New York, May 5, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on local police to investigate a Monday attack on Magomed Khanmagomedov, a southern Dagestan correspondent for the Makhachkala-based independent weekly Chernovik.

The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression. A CPJ special report by Danny O’Brien

A security line outside Google's Beijing office. (AP/Andy Wong)



In our special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors," CPJ examines the 10 prevailing strategies of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. In this accompanying podcast, CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney notes that these strategies range from sophisticated cyber-attacks to traditional brute-force techniques. Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (2:47)

Read CPJ's special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors."

Anastasiya Baburova (Novaya Gazeta)

New York, April 29, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the guilty verdict in the 2009 murder of Anastasiya Baburova, freelance reporter with the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who was shot and killed in Moscow along with human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. Markelov had represented Novaya Gazeta journalists in various legal cases. 

New York, April 29, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns attempts by the Belarusian Information Ministry to close down the opposition newspaper Narodnaya Volya and the independent newspaper Nasha Niva, and called on the ministry to stop its harassment of both publications.

In the past week, CPJ has received a number of emails in reaction to our April 19 letter, signed by Executive Director Joel Simon, to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, which details cases of harassment by Perugia authorities against journalists, writers, and bloggers who have critically covered high-profile local murder cases. Some of the emails we have received question the accuracy of our letter as well as our motives for writing it. Most of those stem from this post in reaction to our letter by a blogger, who goes by the penname Kermit. 

(Reuters)

It has been four long months since security forces snatched Irina Khalip, at left, from Minsk's Independence Square while she was reporting on a protest of the flawed December 19 Belarusian presidential vote.

While Khalip was giving a live account from the square to the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, riot police beat her and forcibly drove her away. (Her husband, opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, was repeatedly struck with clubs and also arrested. He remains imprisoned today.) Khalip was one of at least 20 journalists detained that night, but her treatment has been especially harsh.

New York, April 26, 2011--Belarusian authorities must immediately stop harassing independent media outlets in retaliation for their critical reporting on the recent lethal bombing on the Minsk subway, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Following the blast, authorities--including the Information Ministry, the general prosecutor's office, and the Belarusian security service (KGB)--launched a campaign of intimidation against independent and pro-opposition media outlets that reported on the incident. The outlets targeted for retaliation have criticized the official investigation into the explosion and the rescue efforts.

Cyber-attacks on press up in number, down in cost

Novaya Gazeta, a leading Russian independent news outlet, has been under cyber-attack.

The last two weeks have seen a spate of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks against news sites, coordinated attempts to overwhelm outlets with fake incoming data so the sites cannot respond to legitimate users.

Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini (Reuters)

New York, April 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed dismay today over Azerbaijan's deportation of a Swedish television crew that had arrived in Baku to film a documentary on human rights and freedom of speech. CPJ urged Azerbaijani authorities to stop obstructing the international press.
| Norway

Journalist security: An evolving field

The garden city between the mountains and the sea founded by Vikings in 871 cast an historic hue over the discussion. Journalists from nearly every continent gathered this past weekend to discuss journalist security issues in a hotel in Tønsberg, Norway, outside of which a replica of a Viking ship was being constructed.

New York, April 5, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a series of attacks in capital Baku against reporters for the pro-opposition daily Azadlyg (Freedom), and calls on Azerbaijani authorities to immediately investigate the incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Publisher Daniyar Moldashev, below left, goes missing as Kazakhstan's election approaches. (Reuters, above; Respublika, below)

New York, April 1, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Kazakh authorities today to immediately investigate the whereabouts of Daniyar Moldashev, director of ADP Ltd, publisher of the independent Almaty newspaper Respublika.

Colleagues said Thursday that Moldashev had disappeared, days after being assaulted and shortly before the country's presidential election.

"We are gravely concerned about the health and well-being of Daniyar Moldashev and call on Kazakh authorities to positively determine his whereabouts and ensure his safety," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said.  

AP

New York, March 30, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Belarusian authorities today to stop the politically motivated prosecution of Andrzej Poczobut, a prominent correspondent for Poland's largest daily, Gazeta Wyborcza.

On Monday, prosecutors in the western city of Grodno filed criminal charges against Poczobut for allegedly insulting Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko in articles printed in Gazeta Wyborcza and the Belarusian news website Belarussky Partizan beginning in October 2010, local and international press reported. Poczobut faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

When it comes to press freedom offenders, the Czech Republic is not among the countries that come to mind. So what happened to the main national television channel on March 11 left many flabbergasted. I arrived in Prague that day with a group of New York University graduate students to participate in a weeklong series of seminars with local journalists and media organizations. While we were discussing work conditions for Czech media, military police in ski masks were storming Czech Television offices.

New York, March 28, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the abduction and beating in Baku this weekend of Seimur Khaziyev, a reporter for the pro-opposition daily Azadlyg (Freedom), and called on Azerbaijani authorities today to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring all the assailants to justice.

Kuchma outside the prosecutor's office in Kyiv. (Reuters/Konstantin Chernichkin)

New York, March 24, 2011--Eleven years after the brutal murder of online journalist Georgy Gongadze, Ukrainian prosecutors today indicted former President Leonid Kuchma on abuse-of-office charges in connection with the slaying, local and international news reports said. 

New York, March 24, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Kazakh authorities today to thoroughly investigate journalism as a motive in the murder of Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk. Pavlyuk, better known by his pen name, Ibragim Rustambek, died in the hospital on December 22, 2009, after having been thrown from an upper-story window of an apartment building in Kazakhstan's economic capital, Almaty, a week before. 

AP

New York, March 22, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes news that Ukrainian prosecutors have opened an investigation into allegations that former President Leonid Kuchma had a role in the 2000 abduction and murder of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze, left. CPJ called on Ukrainian investigators today to clarify the focus of the investigation and conduct it in a thorough and transparent manner.

Legendary Agence France-Presse correspondents Bernard Estrade died last week in Paris after a long illness. He was one of the great reporters of his era and a great friend of CPJ.

IRFS

New York, March 21, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed alarm today about reported threats in prison against embattled editor Eynulla Fatullayev, at left. According to CPJ interviews and local press reports, Fatullayev has feared for his life since his recent transfer to a new jail, prompting him to request that he be isolated from other inmates. Now in solitary confinement, his health has deteriorated and he has not received medical treatment, according to CPJ research.

According to Anar Gasymov, a member of Fatullayev's legal team, the journalist's life is in danger. Fatullayev received a tip that hostile inmates have been getting ready to assault him since he was transferred to Prison No. 1 in Baku on March 2, Gasymov, told the independent Caucasus news website Kavkazsky Uzel.

The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan--a coalition of 20 press freedom organizations, including CPJ--issued a joint call to the Council of Europe today to continue pressing Baku to release imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev

New York, March 15, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Armenia's refusal to allow four reporters with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE to enter the country, and called on the authorities today to allow the journalists to resume their work in Armenia. 

President Otunbayeva should apply the rule of law in the Askarov case. (AP/Maxim Shubovich)

World leaders like to invoke terms such as press freedom, human rights, and the rule of law in their speeches, especially to international audience. But in post-Soviet Eurasia, such high-minded words are rarely accompanied by genuine action. A recent commentary in The Washington Post by Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan, is a testament to this pattern.

Hungarians protest the country's new media law outside parliament. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

New York, March 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Hungarian and European Union authorities to continue to modify a restrictive media law that parliament amended on Monday to comply with demands made by the European Commission--the institution mandated with monitoring the implementation of EU directives. Experts scrutinizing the law's modifications say the changes fall short of Hungary's press freedom commitments as an EU, Council of Europe, and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe member. 

Ilham Aliyev (AP)

Strasbourg prides itself on being the "European capital of human rights." The historic French city, located on the border with Germany, is home to the Council of Europe (CoE), a 47-member institution focused on the promotion of democracy and the rule of law. 

It is also the seat of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), whose rulings have consistently defended press freedom against abrasive judgments or abusive practices of CoE member states.

(Lucie Umukundwa)

Five years after helping her leave her region due to threats, CPJ catches up with Rwandan journalist Lucie Umukundwa to learn more about her struggles to resettle in another continent, regain a foothold in journalism and continue to make an impact in Africa.

AP
New York, March 2, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the recent actions of Ukrainian authorities that threaten to upend progress in the 10-year-old investigation into the September 2000 abduction and murder of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze, at left. The Kyiv Court of Appeals ruled today to reject a second appeal by Myroslava Gongadze, the journalist's widow, against the prosecutorial downgrading of the status of the murder from a contract killing to a "killing on verbal command."

New York, March 2, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Panamanian government to allow two Spanish journalists and human rights activists who were expelled to return to the country. The journalists were covering and documenting an indigenous demonstration on Saturday when they were detained by authorities and accused of "disrupting public order" according to an official statement

Barroso and Putin address reporters in Moscow in February 2009. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov)

New York, February 23, 2011--In advance of key meetings on Thursday between the European Commission and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to address Russia's record of rampant impunity in resolving the killings of journalists. 

Libya's disordered Internet

Craig Labowitz at Arbor has been sifting through the evidence of how countries in the Middle East have been blocking and throttling the Internet in the last week. His analysis indicates that while both Bahrain and Yemen had periods of slowed or impaired access, only Libya seems to have taken the drastic step of shutting off the Net entirely.

CPJ's Jean-Paul Marthoz said at the Brussels launch of Attacks on the Press that the EU must not give authoritarian governments in neighboring states an alibi to crackdown on their own press. (CPJ)

The European Policy Centre (EPC), Brussels' leading think tank, hosted CPJ for a policy dialogue marking the launch of our annual survey, Attacks on the Press, on Tuesday. CPJ's visit to Brussels coincided with a heated debate over Hungary's new controversial media law, which has eclipsed the country's first months as EU's rotating president. The law became a focus of our Tuesday discussion.

On the Runet, Old-School Repression Meets New

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a blog but the Kremlin promised to tightly control who can comment on it. (Reuters)

By Nina Ognianova and Danny O'Brien

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has often talked about the importance of a free press and free Internet, telling reporters before his election that the Web "guarantees the independence of mass media." He explicitly tied the two together in his first State of the Union address in November 2008, declaring that "freedom of speech should be backed up by technological innovation" and that no government official "can obstruct discussion on the Internet."

Top Developments
• New broadcast law gives regulators broad powers to revoke TV licenses.
• Gala TV, a rare critical broadcaster, faces array of government pressures.

Key Statistic
1: Number of digital television licenses the government will grant per region. The plan will cut diversity.


As his government strengthened ties with Russia, President Serzh Sargsyan had to quell lingering domestic discontent over electoral fraud and economic woes, particularly in the construction and mining industries. New legislation granted regulators broad new powers to award and revoke licenses, while putting severe limits on the number of provincial broadcast licenses. Self-censorship remained widespread in the media, as lawlessness curbed the activities of journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition leaders.

Top Developments
• European Court orders release of Eynulla Fatullayev; government still jails editor.
• News sites report periodic blocking, typically when sensitive stories are posted.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists interrogated by security agents after running a statement from the jailed Fatullayev


The authoritarian government of President Ilham Aliyev relied on imprisonments and an atmosphere of impunity to suppress independent journalism. Aliyev, who essentially inherited the presidency of the strategic Caspian Sea nation from his father, used the country's vast oil and gas resources to play off the competing interests of traditional partners Russia and Turkey with those of newer allies such as the European Union and the United States.

Top Developments
• Authorities wage post-election crackdown, raiding newsrooms and jailing reporters.
• New Internet law requires registration of sites, tracking of user activity.

Key Statistic
20: Journalists detained as government silences coverage of election protests.


In a massive post-election crackdown, authorities raided news outlets and detained at least 20 journalists covering protests over a flawed December 19 presidential vote that delivered a new term to incumbent Aleksandr Lukashenko. Leading journalists such as Natalya Radina, editor of the pro-opposition news website Charter 97, and Irina Khalip, correspondent for the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were among those being held in late year. Security agents stormed newsrooms of major outlets, including Radio for Belarus and the satellite television channel Belsat. Observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe criticized the government for secretive vote-counting practices and suppression of news media.

Top Developments
• New laws restrict online news media, shield government officials from scrutiny.
• OSCE chairman Kazakhstan undermines organization with repression at home.

Key Statistic
44 Defamation complaints filed in first six months of 2010, many of them by government officials.


President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government failed to deliver the press freedom reforms it had promised in exchange for gaining 2010 chairmanship of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE. Not only did the government renege on explicit pledges to decriminalize libel and bring press laws in line with international standards, it enacted a restrictive new measure governing Internet content and a sweeping privacy law that shielded government officials from public scrutiny.

Top Developments
• Bakiyev censors news media in a failed attempt to hold power.
• Amid ethnic clashes, Uzbek journalists and outlets targeted for reprisals.

Key Statistic
2: Ethnic Uzbek journalists imprisoned as of December 1.


In a year of political revolt and deadly ethnic turmoil, successive presidential administrations cracked down on the press, using censorship, intimidation, and imprisonment. The ouster of the authoritarian Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, followed in June by wrenching conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek residents in the south, cut a deep divide in the nation and put its democratic future at risk. At least two journalists were confined when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1, illustrating unchanging repression despite changes in leadership.

Top Developments
• Some progress in journalist murder probes, but attacks continue with impunity.
• FSB given broad detention powers in measure that targets critical media.

Key Statistic
5: Unsolved journalist murder cases that Russia's top investigators pledged to reopen.


The nation's top investigative agency reopened a series of unsolved journalist murders and reported progress on several fronts. But with convictions elusive, impunity in anti-press attacks continued to stain the nation's international image. Russia ranked eighth on CPJ's 2010 Impunity Index, reflecting one of the worst records in the world, as all but one of 19 press murders since 2000 went unsolved. While no journalists were murdered in 2010, at least one reporter was brutally beaten in retaliation for his work. And that assailant, like nearly all attackers in anti-press cases, remained at large.

Top Developments
• Authorities win convictions in anti-press attacks, improve access to information.
• Constitutional Court strikes down restrictive media ownership regulations.

Key Statistic
3: Suspects convicted and sentenced to prison for threats against B92 journalist.


Serbian authorities stepped up law enforcement efforts in attacks against journalists, winning convictions in high-profile cases, even as they pursued some restrictive media policies. These sometimes contradictory media practices reflected the broader political goals of President Boris Tadic, who pursued liberal policies such as seeking European Union membership and reconciling with neighboring Balkan states, while appealing to conservatives by refusing to recognize Kosovo's independence and failing to arrest indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

Top Developments
• Provincial reporters targeted in a series of attacks; editor reported missing.
• Television journalists continue to face heavy political influence.

Key Statistic
1: Mastermind identified in Gongadze murder. Prosecutors stir controversy by blaming only a dead official for the plot.


The disappearance of a critical editor, a series of violent attacks, and several instances of politicized government regulation fueled deteriorating press freedom conditions. Authorities brought charges against another suspect in the 2000 murder of editor Georgy Gongadze, but they ended their long investigation amid controversy by naming a dead official as the sole mastermind.

Top Developments
• State deploys analysts to build sweeping criminal defamation cases.
• Numerous regional and international news websites are blocked.

Key Statistic
6: Journalists in prison on December 1, the highest figure in the region.


Even as President Islam Karimov was calling for more "active" news reporting, his government was rolling out a new tactic designed to quash critical journalism. Using an obscure state agency to formulate the charges, Uzbek prosecutors arrested at least three journalists on vague allegations of defamation. In one of the cases, a photographer was convicted of insulting the whole of Uzbek citizenry with her images of life in rural Uzbekistan.

People keep vigils in hopes for justice in the murder of Hrant Dink. (Reuters)

On January 19, 2007, Hrant Dink, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos, was gunned down in front of his office building in Istanbul. The murder sent shockwaves through the Turkish and international human rights and press freedom communities. It also triggered a mobilization of thousands of Turkish intellectuals, activists, and citizens that marched through the streets of Istanbul under banners claiming "We are all Hrant Dink."

New York, February 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's imprisonment in Minsk of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and calls on Belarusian authorities to release him immediately.

AP

New York, February 8, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Russian authorities today to allow Luke Harding, Moscow correspondent for the U.K. Guardian, to return to Russia and resume his work. Harding, at left, was refused entry to Russia on Saturday.

The journalist had temporarily returned to London in the fall to report on U.S. diplomatic cables released to the Guardian by WikiLeaks. He tried to re-enter the country on a valid visa, but was turned down at Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport, Harding told CPJ. A guard seized his passport and led him to a detention unit. He told the journalist: "Access to Russia is closed to you," without further explanation, Harding said.

Some good news out of Samara. As we've reported previously, trumped-up piracy accusations have been frequently used in Russia to intimidate independent media. Sergei Kurt-Adzhiyev, a Russian editor, has spent years fighting piracy prosecutions against himself and his publications in the region. This week, he was declared not guilty. Russia's Finance Ministry was ordered to pay him 450,000 rubles or $15,200 for the false charge of using pirated software. RFE/RL reports:

Kurt-Adzhiev appealed the court's decision over a period of two and a half years. Samara's Oktyabr (October) district court ruled on February 2 that Kurt-Adzhiev was not guilty and ordered the ministry pay compensation.

Kurt-Adzhiev told journalists he was satisfied with the court's ruling. He said the case against him in 2008 was politically motivated. He said police also visited the branch offices of "Novaya Gazeta" in Nizhny Novgorod in 2008 and confiscated computers.
Fatullayev (IRFS)

New York, February 1, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged that the Baku Appeals Court has rejected imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev's latest appeal and continues to defy a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that called for his release.

On January 25, the court denied Fatullayev's appeal of his July conviction on a trumped-up charge of drug possession, the independent Caucasus news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. His lawyers will contest the ruling at Azerbaijan's Supreme Court, and file a new case at the European court, his father, Emin Fatullayev, told CPJ.

New York, January 31, 2011--Belarusian authorities must lift restrictions on newly freed journalists Natalya Radina and Irina Khalip, and drop the fabricated charges against them, the Committee to Protect Journalist said today. CPJ also called for the immediate release of the still-jailed reporters Boris Goretsky and Yevgeny Vaskovich.

After defying the EU for years, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is welcomed by Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. (Reuters/Thierry Roge)

Unless European Union officials mean to expose the inconsistency of their own policymaking, they should stand firm by their declared commitment to defend press freedom and human rights in the former Soviet countries. For now, their drastically different approaches to authoritarian leaders in Belarus and Uzbekistan leave one questioning the EU's strategy. 

New York, January 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the ongoing imprisonment of independent journalists in Belarus and urges authorities to cease their crackdown and release all jailed reporters and editors. On Monday, authorities in Minsk and the eastern city of Mogilev jailed two more independent reporters on politicized charges. 

New York, January 13, 2011--As a part of the ongoing crackdown in Belarus on independent reporters, the Belarusian security service (KGB) has detained journalist Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and freelance reporter Irina Charniauka in Minsk, local press reported today. Poczobut was also summarily tried and fined
An EU hearing elicited outrage at Hungary's repressive new media law. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he's willing to reconsider the measure. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh)

When you see the top echelon of the EU press corps--The Guardian, Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Le Soir, and others--gathering in front of a meeting room at the European Parliament in Brussels you know that you should follow them inside. These seasoned correspondents select their assignments with a keen sense of urgency, and when they skip the daily 12 o'clock press briefing at the European Commission you know that they mean business.

New York, January 12, 2011--As part of an ongoing assault on the independent press in Belarus, KGB agents in Minsk raided the apartments of imprisoned journalist Irina Khalip and her mother, Lyutsina Khalip, and took the journalist's computer, the independent news website Charter 97 reported. Today's raids are the second at each apartment since the agency imprisoned the journalist on December 20, according to Charter 97. Khalip is the local correspondent for the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. 

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov holds a portrait of imprisoned journalist Irina Khalip during a rally in front of the Belarussian Embassy in Moscow. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
New York, January 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ongoing official crackdown against the independent media in Belarus. The Belarusian security service, known as the KGB, continues to relentlessly raid newsrooms, confiscate reporting equipment from publications and journalists' homes, imprison independent and pro-opposition journalists, and harass their families.
Is President Aliyev a friend of journalists? Ask the journalists jailed and harassed in his country. (AP)

Life is full of surprises. In Eurasia, authoritarian leaders and their entourages like to pull them out around the holidays. What made my eyes open wide this season was a news report from Azerbaijan, dated December 29. The Baku-based Trend news agency said President Ilham Aliyev had been given the "Journalists' Friend Award" by the Azerbaijani Committee for the Protection of Journalists. That's the same President Aliyev whose government is imprisoning newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev in defiance of two rulings by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. 

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko speaks in Minsk on December 20, the same day riot police forcibly dispersed thousands of demonstrators protesting the results of a flawed presidential vote. (AP/Sergei Grits)

New York, January 3, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the European Union today to condition its diplomatic relations with Belarus on the release of all recently arrested journalists and the halt of official Minsk's crackdown on the independent press.

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Attacks on the Press 2012

64 Imprisoned on December 1, 2012

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Europe and Central Asia

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