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Aboubakr Jamai, left, says the Spanish prosecutor's investigation will embold the Moroccan government in its case against Ali Anouzla. (AFP/Fadel Senna)

Morocco's inclination for wielding terrorism accusations against journalists and news outlets who report on extremist groups has extended to Spain, where authorities are investigating El País newspaper and one of its journalists at the behest of the Moroccan government.

Two Spanish journalists were freed after being held captive in Syria for more than six months, according to news reports. The journalists--Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova--are back in Spain, according to news sources

El Mundo correspondent Javier Espinosa, left, and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova. (AFP/El Mundo/Family Handout)

New York, December 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of two Spanish journalists who were abducted in Syria almost three months ago. Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova have been held captive by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) since September 16, the families of the journalists announced today.

A recent wave of personnel changes at Spanish state-owned broadcaster Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) has raised concerns about political and ideological influence, with many fearing that journalists closer to the current conservative government are being promoted at the expense of those with alleged progressive views. It is the latest controversy in a long debate about the model for Spain's flagship public broadcaster and, especially, its relations with the government of the hour.

Ricardo González Alfonso (left) and Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez at a press conference in Vallecas in July 2010. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

In 2010, following midsummer negotiations between the Catholic Church and the government of President Raúl Castro, Cuban authorities began releasing imprisoned journalists, sending them into forced exile with their families. In April 2011, the last of more than 20 journalists arrived in Spain. They had been granted liberty and respite, and were promised support from Spanish authorities while they settled into the new country. But almost two years after the first crop of journalists arrived in Spain, the four who remain in the country are living under extremely difficult conditions, struggling even to feed themselves.

Ricardo González Alfonso (AFP)

Desperate realities call for hope. It is not just a game of words, because you don't play with hunger and the future (my own and my family's). It is about going deeper into another version of circumstances. And seeing the rainbow where others see a gloomy sun and a stubborn and relentless rain.

I am writing this declaration of optimism now that the Spanish government has withdrawn the financial aid that it had provided us, when in the summer of 2010, directly from the Cuban jails, we arrived as former prisoners of conscience along with others there just by coincidence, or not.

Until his last days in office, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi pursued restrictive legislation known as the 'gag law.' (Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo)

In the EU, some countries appear more immune than others to scrutiny and reproach. Anti-terror laws, political and economic concerns, and a lack of common standards all challenge the credibility of the EU's diplomacy. By Jean-Paul Marthoz

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.

When the last of 29 journalists jailed in a notorious 2003 crackdown was finally freed this year, it signaled to many the end of a dark era. But Cuban authorities are still persecuting independent journalists through arbitrary arrests, beatings, and intimidation. A CPJ special report by Karen Phillips

In Cuba, the Ladies in White were instrumental in drawing attention to the plight of political prisoners. Here, they hold a photo of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in custody. (AP/Javier Galeano)

Spain has welcomed hundreds of former Cuban detainees and their families. But economic woes and bureaucratic problems have made the transition difficult for exiled Cubans. Many say Spain will be but a temporary stop. By Borja Bergareche

Cuban journalist José Ubaldo Izquierdo is among the former detainees who have moved on from their initial home in exile in Spain. (AP/Aliosha Marquez)

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Killed in Spain

1 journalist killed since 1992

1 journalist murdered

1 murdered with impunity

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Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

nognianova@cpj.org
msuleymanov@cpj.org

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Fax: 212-465-9568

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