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.
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.
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.
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.
Reports | Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma, Burundi, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, India, Iran, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Ivory Coast, Journalist Assistance, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron: The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about the steps to curb recent riots in the United Kingdom that are under consideration by your government. These measures would set alarming precedents that hinder press freedom and the free flow of information.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
President Otunbayeva: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the ongoing prosecution of two media owners and the imprisonment of a reporter on charges of inciting and participating in violent ethnic conflict last year. The persecution of Khalil Khudaiberdiyev, Dzhavlon Mirzakhodzhayev, and Azimjon Askarov--all ethnic Uzbeks--tarnishes your stated commitments to press freedom and rule of law, and derails your government's efforts to rebuild interethnic trust in a nation deeply divided by the June 2010 conflict.
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
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."
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
President Napolitano: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about local authorities' harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia. CPJ is particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism displayed by Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against individual reporters, writers, and press outlets, both in Italy and the United States, in connection with the Kercher murder investigation as well as the investigation into the Monster of Florence serial killings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dear President Yanukovych: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by reports of irregularities in the decade-long investigation into the 2000 kidnapping and murder of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze. Particularly, CPJ is disturbed by efforts to derail progress in the investigation and peg the ultimate responsibility for the murder on a dead suspect, while other leads in the case languish. Since assuming office in March, you have publicly stated your commitment to press freedom in Ukraine. The case of Georgy Gongadze is a litmus test for you and your administration, and we urge you to ensure that none of the perpetrators of his kidnapping and killing are allowed to walk free.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Dear President Barroso: We're writing in advance of your January 24 meeting in Brussels with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to urge you to raise Uzbekistan's grave press freedom conditions and to make clear to Karimov that any improvement of the country's relationship with Europe is dependent on him taking steps to fix the press freedom crisis. The European Union made clear it is committed to human rights in Central Asia in its 2009 plan, "The European Union and Central Asia: The New Partnership in Action."
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.
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.
Dear Prime Minister Orban: The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on you to work toward the immediate repeal of Hungary's new, severely restrictive media law. "On Media Services and Mass Media," better known as the Media Act, was approved by the Hungarian parliament on December 21 and signed by President Pal Schmitt on December 30, despite domestic and international alarm at the potentially devastating effect on press freedom. The measure came into force on January 1, the same day Hungary assumed the rotating European Union presidency, sending the very damaging message that Hungary is seeking to nullify citizens' internationally recognized rights to free expression and access to information.
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.
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