News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2013
As 2013 draws to a close, CPJ looks back on the highlights of the year, when we stepped in and advocated for journalists and news outlets at risk around the world.
As 2013 draws to a close, CPJ looks back on the highlights of the year, when we stepped in and advocated for journalists and news outlets at risk around the world.
The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
This year, CPJ researchers confirmed that at least 29 journalists died while covering the Syrian conflict. How did we arrive at that number?
In recent years, Arab journalists have been taking great risks to report important stories in a region where war and civil unrest remain an ever-present threat. Many are operating without proper equipment or safety training in how to recognize and mitigate the various risks they face.
New York, December 23, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's attack on Salah al-Din TV station headquarters in Tikrit, Iraq, which left several journalists dead. The attack comes amid a wave of targeted killings of journalists in the past few months that has made the country among the deadliest in the world for journalists.
Istanbul, December 19, 2013--A Turkish journalist is the latest reporter to be abducted in Syria, where approximately 30 journalists are missing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Bünyamin Aygün, a photojournalist for the daily Milliyet, was abducted in November, but the case was not made public before this week.
For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.
New York, December 12, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Lebanese Court of Cassation to overturn the conviction of Rami Aysha, a Lebanese-Palestinian freelance journalist charged with purchasing firearms while he was investigating arms trafficking from Lebanon to Syria.
In an unprecedented step, more than a dozen international news organizations have signed a joint letter to the Syrian armed opposition about the "disturbing rise in the kidnapping of journalists" in Syria, which has led many outlets to reduce their coverage of the conflict out of safety concerns. The organizations urge the Syrian armed opposition leadership "to assist in identifying those groups currently holding journalists and take the steps necessary to bring about their release."
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.
The Iraqi city of Mosul is once again one of the world's deadliest places for journalists. In the past two months, the capital of Nineveh province has witnessed a series of targeted assassinations that, according to local press freedom groups, have led to an exodus of journalists from the city fearing for their safety.
It is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a journalist. Nearly every month, the digital security landscape shifts--new surveillance concerns are unearthed and freshly drafted laws are introduced that seek to curb freedom of expression under the guise of national security.
New York, December 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of a reporter working for Al-Arabiya news channel who, along with two crewmembers, was abducted by Islamist militants 18 months ago.
For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists," was welcome news.
New York, December 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the reported targeting of journalists covering protests in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
New York, November 26, 2013--The Swedish government confirmed two Swedish journalists were kidnapped in Syria on Saturday by an unknown group. The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed its alarm at the unprecedented number of abductions.
In December 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists and 27 partner organizations launched Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity as part of an international effort to seek justice for the hundreds of journalists who have been murdered around the world. Today, on International Day to End Impunity, we are taking a look back at what has happened over the last 12 months.
New York, November 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Libyan authorities to ensure that an investigation is carried out into the death of Saleh Ayyad Hafyana, a photographer for the independent Fassato News Agency, who was shot dead Friday while covering anti-militia protests in Tripoli, according to Fassato.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined two dozen human rights organizations in signing a letter calling on all member states of the U.N. General Assembly Third Committee to vote in favor Tuesday of resolution A/C.3/68/L.57 on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.
CPJ launches US report
Following CPJ's release of its report on the state of press freedom in the United States, the organization is pursuing high-level meetings with the White House. CPJ had drafted six recommendations that were shared with President Obama, including calling for a guarantee that journalists would not be at legal risk or prosecuted for receiving confidential and/or classified information.
CPJ continues to work toward securing a meeting with the Obama administration in order to discuss the report's findings.
"Given our 32-year history fighting for press freedom around the world, we believe CPJ can make an important contribution to the press freedom concerns and debate in the United States," CPJ Chairman Sandy Rowe wrote in a blog published the day after the report.
New York, October 31, 2013--Saudi authorities should immediately release a columnist who wrote in support of the women's right to drive and has been held without charge since Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, October 25, 2013--Iraqi authorities must immediately identify the motive behind the killing of another journalist in the northern city of Mosul and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least two other Iraqi journalists have been killed in Mosul this month.
New York, October 17, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today reiterated that journalists in Syria face unprecedented risks, after Sky News Arabic reported that it had lost contact this week with its crew operating near Aleppo.
New York, October 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the abduction of two French journalists in Syria and calls on all sides of the conflict to stop targeting the press. Nicolas Hénin, who regularly reports for French news magazine Le Point and Franco-German TV channel Arte, and Pierre Torres, a photographer covering local elections, were abducted by an unidentified group in Raqqa on June 22, the French Foreign Ministry said today in a statement.
Egypt is going through a tough transition and journalists are paying a considerable toll. Since the July 3 removal of President Mohamed Morsi, at least five journalists have been killed, 30 assaulted, and 11 news outlets raided. CPJ has documented a total of 44 cases of detention, and at least five journalists remain behind bars. The attacks on the press come amid a broad campaign by the interim military-led government to limit coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood and force the media to toe the official line.
New York, October 7, 2013--Two Iraqi journalists were shot dead by unidentified assailants in the city of Mosul on Saturday, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing and calls on the Iraqi government to ensure the perpetrators are held to account.
On the night he was shot, Ahmed Ismail Hassan al Samadi was working. Protestors had gathered along a highway near his home in a small Bahraini village. With his handheld camcorder, Ahmed filmed as they marched. He filmed as security forces arrived in marked and unmarked cars. The citizen journalist had tens of hours of footage of scenes just like this from a year of ongoing demonstrations that began at the height of the Arab Spring. With one bullet, his filming came to an end.
New York, October 1, 2013--Amid violent protests in Sudan last week, authorities asked journalists to refrain from publishing news that they said would "disturb the public," according to news reports. Several journalists were subsequently detained and multiple outlets shut down, news reports said.
Upon receiving the news, Hinostroza told CPJ: "It will be an honor for me to receive this recognition, which will drive me to continue working for freedom of expression in my country and support the different processes that are being developed around the world to defend this right."
New York, September 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that Internet service in Sudan was shut down today in what seemed like an official attempt to stifle coverage of violent protests after the government lifted fuel subsidies on Monday.
New York, September 24, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas in Syria. The special correspondent for the Barcelona-based El Periódico was kidnapped by rebel jihadi fighters on September 4 near the city of Hama, the paper reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.
New York, September 18, 2013--Authorities in Morocco should release an editor who was arrested on Tuesday in connection with an article published on his website, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, September 13, 2013--Egyptian authorities should halt their campaign of harassment on local and international journalists seeking to cover the ongoing political crisis in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The latest series of anti-press violations comes as the Egyptian government announced a two-month extension to the nationwide state of emergency.
Mhamed Krichen/CPJ Board member
There seems to be no end to American surprises when it comes to Al-Jazeera. The latest was revealed by Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine, which reported the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into our internal communications system, according to documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA security analyst.
A judge in Tripoli on August 21, 2013, lifted the travel ban placed on Amara al-Khatabi, editor of the daily Al-Ummah, and ordered the return of the journalist's passport, al-Khatabi's lawyer, Ramadan Farag Salem, told CPJ and human rights organizations.
Just two weeks ago, I wrote that the recent escapes of American Matthew Schrier and French-American Jonathan Alpeyrie after months of captivity should give hope to all missing journalists in Syria. We now have two more reasons for hope.
New York, September 6, 2013--Military authorities have detained an Egyptian journalist in the North Sinai governorate and accused him of publishing false information on military operations, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Ahmed Abu Deraa's detention and calls on authorities to release him immediately.
Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched a campaign calling for serious investigations into the deaths of eight journalists in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. CPJ hopes that the current military-led government will lead impartial and serious inquiries into the events surrounding the killings no matter who was in power at the time.
New York, August 30, 2013--Egyptian security forces continue to detain and harass journalists working for news outlets critical of the military-led government, particularly Al-Jazeera and its affiliates. Journalists also still face physical threats from protesters, as tensions persist between the government and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
New York, August 29, 2013--Tunisian authorities should release a journalist and drop charges against him for allegedly conspiring to commit violence against a government official, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mourad Meherzi, a photographer for the local online TV channel Astrolabe, could face up to five years in jail, according to news reports.
New York, August 28, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by cyber-attacks on several websites on Tuesday, including The New York Times, whose site was disabled for several hours. The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group of hackers who support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, took credit for the attack via its Twitter account. The group also claimed to have attacked the websites of Twitter and The Huffington Post U.K.
It has now been an entire year since Al-Hurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, and freelancer Austin Tice, of the United States, went missing in Syria. But the recent liberation of two freelance journalists held for months gives us some reason to hope.
A new English/Arabic online tool is available for citizen journalists who have no previous journalism experience or training but are reporting dangerous frontline stories. It uses animation--a novelty for such guides--and its arrival is timely.
New York, August 20, 2013--Egyptian security forces killed a journalist and wounded another at a military checkpoint late Monday. Authorities also raided a Turkish news agency and arrested its bureau chief, the reports said.
New York, August 19, 2013--New York, August 19, 2013--Several journalists working for international media said they were assaulted or briefly detained over the weekend. The attacks and harassment came as Egyptian authorities publicly accused international journalists of distorting coverage of recent events.
New York, August 16, 2013--Security forces raided and shut down the Cairo offices of Al-Jazeera Arabic following violent clashes that have swept the country, according to news reports. Multiple local and international journalists have also reported being attacked by security forces and protesters.
New York, August 15, 2013--At least two more journalists have been reported killed and several others injured in Wednesday's clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
When Mick Deane was killed in Egypt on Wednesday, he became the 1,000th journalist documented by CPJ as having died in direct relation to his work. The photos above, a sampling of those who have died over the past 21 years, serve as a powerful reminder of the cost of critical, independent journalism.
New York, August 14, 2013--At least one journalist on assignment was among the hundreds killed today in clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, according to news reports. Multiple journalists have also reported being attacked, threatened, or detained.
New York, August 14, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing of Sky News cameraman Mick Deane, who was shot as Egyptian security forces attempted to disperse pro-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo today.
Hopes for press freedom were high after the 2011 revolution ousted Hosni Mubarak, led to an explosion of private media outlets, and set the country on a path to a landmark presidential election. But more than two years later, a deeply polarized Egyptian press has been battered by an array of repressive tactics, from the legal and physical intimidation of Mohamed Morsi’s tenure to the wide censorship of the new military-backed government. A CPJ special report by Sherif Mansour with reporting by Shaimaa Abu Elkhir from Cairo
By Sherif Mansour
In June 2012, three days before Mohamed Morsi was declared winner of the presidential election, Bassem Youssef, satirist and host of Egypt’s “Al-Bernameg,” defended the Muslim Brotherhood candidate during an appearance on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” He asked the U.S. audience to give democracy in Egypt a chance. So long as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood remained accountable to the people and respected human rights, Youssef reasoned, there was no reason they could not lead Egypt’s historic transition to democratic rule.
By Sherif Mansour
The fatal shooting of El-Fagr reporter Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif during clashes between anti-government protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the presidential palace last December seemed, at first blush, to fit a sadly familiar pattern: a journalist killed covering a political demonstration, the victim of a stray bullet fired recklessly in the heat of street violence.
By Sherif Mansour
A swarm of police vehicles converged on Media Production City moments after Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi announced on July 3 that Mohamed Morsi had been ousted. The compound outside Cairo is home to nearly every TV station in Egypt, but the police were targeting five particular stations that night: the Muslim Brotherhood-run Misr25, and four pro-Morsi Islamist stations. One by one, the stations’ live coverage went off the air, while police herded and handcuffed about 200 employees, confiscated equipment, and seized cell phones. Taken to a security facility, the employees were interrogated about their associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of the administrative and support workers were released in a few hours, but 22 journalists were kept for more than a day on accusations of conspiring to overthrow the regime.
By Jean-Paul Marthoz
A criminal case that was launched under the previous transitional military government has cast a shadow over the current government, with its implications that international human rights and democracy workers are somehow foreign agents working against national security.
The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations to Egyptian authorities, political parties, and news media, and to the international community.
New York, August 13, 2013--At least four journalists have been attacked, threatened, or obstructed while covering sit-ins held by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, according to news reports. The sit-ins began in the lead-up to the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, the reports said.
The Emirati authorities released the Egyptian journalist Anas Fouda on August 4, 2013, after holding him incommunicado without charge for a month, the journalist told CPJ. Security officials told Fouda that his UAE residency was revoked and took him to the Abu Dhabi International Airport, where he flew to Cairo to join his family, Fouda said.
Several Tunisian journalists reported being harassed, threatened, and attacked during the three-day protests following the July 25, 2013, assassination of opposition leader Mohamed al-Barahmi, according to local journalists and news reports.
New York, August 1, 2013--A Bahraini blogger has been detained and a photographer is missing amid signs that Bahraini authorities are trying to crack down on critical voices ahead of protests planned for August 14, according to news reports.
New York, August 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Egyptian journalist Anas Fouda, who has been held without charge by the United Arab Emirates authorities for almost a month.
It is increasingly difficult to document violations against the press in Syria, let alone hold those responsible to account. It has always been hard to verify facts within the country. But now, the sheer number of violations and the expanding list of violators have become admittedly overwhelming.
New York, July 26, 2013--The Hamas-led government in Gaza on Thursday shut down the local offices of Al-Arabiya and the Palestinian news agency Maan after accusing the outlets of publishing "false" news, according to news reports.
New York, July 25, 2013--Several journalists have reported being harassed, censored, or attacked over the past week in Egypt, according to news reports and local journalists. The incidents come as Egyptian authorities have announced their intentions to abolish prison terms for insult charges.
New York, July 25, 2013--A Polish freelance journalist was believed to have been abducted in northwest Syria on Wednesday, according to news reports citing local activists.
New York, July 24, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release on Tuesday of Yemeni freelance journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea, who had been imprisoned for almost three years on anti-state charges.
Shaea was released yesterday after President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a pardon, which also stipulated that the journalist could not leave Sana'a, the capital, for two years, state news agency Saba and other news sources reported.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council discussion about the protection of journalists, Associated Press Executive Editor and CPJ Vice Chair Kathleen Carroll remembered the 31 AP journalists who have died reporting the news and whose names grace the Wall of Honor that visitors pass as they enter the agency's New York headquarters. Most were killed covering war, from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to Vietnam to Iraq. But around the world, Carroll noted, "most journalists who die today are not caught in some wartime crossfire, they are murdered just because of what they do. And those murders are rarely ever solved; the killers rarely ever punished."
Much has been made recently about the digital surveillance of journalists--and rightly so--but physical surveillance remains a key tactic of security forces, law enforcement, and private entities. These operatives are monitoring journalists, gathering intelligence on them, and potentially obstructing journalists' work or putting them at risk.
New York, July 19, 2013--A Dutch journalist and her husband reported missing in Yemen in June have appeared in a video, pleading for their lives and asking for their captors' demands to be met. Judith Spiegel, a Yemen correspondent for Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and her husband, Boudewijn Berendsen, were abducted by an unknown group in the second week of June, the Dutch station reported on Tuesday.
New York, July 18, 2013--A number of Egyptian journalists have been barred from covering public press conferences and several others have been detained in recent days amid the country's highly polarized political and news media atmosphere, according to news reports.
New York, July 17, 2013--A Bloomberg correspondent working in Sudan has reported being threatened and assaulted after being detained arbitrarily by authorities in late June. Michael Gunn told CPJ that he fled the country on July 2 fearing for his life.
New York, July 16, 2013--Iranian authorities have sentenced seven members of a religious minority news website to lengthy prison terms, and arrested at least three other journalists in an alarming trend that reflects a renewed crackdown on the local press.
The unfolding political tumult in Egypt over the past week has not only captured headlines worldwide, it has taken its toll on journalism and reporting as well. While much of the international media turned their attention away from the country over the past year and assumed democracy was marching along, trouble was brewing in the Arab World's most populous nation.
New York, July 9, 2013--Four Turkish journalists in Egypt were briefly taken into military custody today, following an assault on another Turk on Sunday, according to news reports. Separately, an Egyptian journalist was severely beaten by Muslim Brotherhood supporters last week.
New York, July 9, 2013--Israeli authorities should immediately release a Palestinian freelance journalist who was arrested in a nighttime raid last week, and drop the charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, July 8, 2013--An Egyptian photographer working for a newspaper affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood was killed today while covering clashes in Cairo, according to news reports. Other local and international journalists have also reported being targeted in the aftermath of last week's ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
After eight hellish years for Iran's journalists under outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the election of Hassan Rouhani was welcomed with hope for a better future. As soon as he takes office in August, he should act on his view and take steps to protect journalists in Iran.
New York, July 5, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that Egypt's new military-run government is detaining journalists and censoring news outlets, including those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, despite proclaiming an intention to be inclusive.
New York, July 3, 2013--Authorities in Egypt's new military-run government raided Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station today, disrupting its service, and shut down at least three stations supportive of Mohamed Morsi in a worrying series of moves that seemed designed to cut off coverage of pro-Morsi events, according to news accounts.
From São Paulo to Istanbul to Cairo, coverage of street demonstrations has re-emerged as an exceptionally dangerous assignment for journalists. Since June 1, CPJ has documented more than 120 attacks on the press amid the civil unrest in Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt--the biggest surge of attacks in such circumstances since the uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. My colleague Özgür Öğret described the danger in Turkish streets last week, and CPJ issued several alerts on assaults on the press in Brazil. The massive protests in Egypt have already resulted in more than three dozen anti-press attacks, including one fatality, and bring to mind the record-setting violence of two years ago.
New York, July 3, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Egyptian military to refrain from exercising editorial control over state-owned media as the country's political crisis deepens.
Three Iraqi journalists were released on bail June 20, 2013, after being held for two weeks by the Ministry of Defense for purportedly stealing an official's notebook.
New York, July 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about the security of journalists covering ongoing mass protests in Egypt. One journalist was killed and six others were injured while covering demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi over the weekend, according to news reports.
New York, June 28, 2013--Egypt's Ministry of Investment sent notice today to all satellite television channels warning they will be shut down if the government deems that their coverage of this weekend's political protests incites violence, insults individuals, or contradicts societal values, news reports said. Numerous journalists are also facing new legal threats in the two days since President Mohamed Morsi blasted independent media in his national address, according to Egyptian news reports, which also described the abduction of an editor.
New York, June 24, 2013--Several journalists were attacked and threatened in Cairo this weekend at a "Say No to Violence" rally organized by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to call on opposition groups to ensure nonviolence on June 30, the day of planned demonstrations and strikes across the country.
New York, June 20, 2013--At least four journalists were attacked and two of them briefly detained while covering protests in Egypt on Tuesday, according to news reports that said a Muslim Brotherhood official and supporters were behind the assaults.
Fifty-five journalists fled their homes in the past year with help from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most common reason to go into exile was the threat of violence, such as in Somalia and Syria, two of the most deadly countries in the world for the profession. Others fled the threat of prison, especially in Iran, where the government deepened its crackdown ahead of elections. A CPJ special report by Nicole Schilit
New York, June 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the detention of two Iraqi journalists who have been held for two weeks without formal charge or access to a lawyer in connection with the alleged theft of a senior official's notebook.
New York, June 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the official harassment of Sudanese reporter Khalid Ahmed who was detained for three days this month and then interrogated three times since on broad allegations that he "harmed the morale of the armed forces" and denigrated its leaders.
New York, June 13, 2013--Iranian authorities have intensified their crackdown on the Internet, including on media outlets and journalists, in the days leading up to Friday's presidential election, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Several opposition websites have reported being briefly hacked, while Google issued a statement on Wednesday that said tens of thousands of Gmail accounts of Iranian users had been targeted.
As growing sectarian violence across Iraq renews fears of civil war, journalists gathered in New York this week to talk about their experiences reporting in the country over the past decade.
Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.
Some authoritarian governments try to hide their targeting of the press, but not the Islamic Republic of Iran. Officials there brag about it. Ahead of Iran's presidential election Friday, they have much to brag about.
New York, June 10, 2013--The Iranian government is attempting to deprive Iranian citizens of meaningful news coverage by blocking several news websites in the run-up to the country's presidential elections on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, June 7, 2013--Two French journalists covering the Syrian conflict have been reported missing by their employer, according to news reports. The news comes amid reports that two other international journalists missing in Syria since April are alive.
In two separate sessions on June 6, 2013, the Specialized Press and Publications Court found a Yemeni daily guilty of defamation charges in one case and innocent in another, according to news reports.
Lohini Rathimohan, a former television journalist from Sri Lanka, faces an unclear future. The 28-year-old is among 15 Tamil refugees still sheltered in a single room of an aluminum factory at Dubai's Jebel Ali port whose official statuses remain uncertain.
New York, June 6, 2013--Sudanese authorities have banned the publication of at least three newspapers in the past two weeks despite statements by government officials to curtail censorship practices, according to news reports.
New York, June 3, 2013--The Jordanian government announced plans on Sunday to block more than 300 websites for failing to register under the Press and Publications Law, news sources reported. Access to several of the sites has already been blocked within the country, the reports said.
The Al-Dokki Criminal Court on May 28, 2013, sentenced Islam Afifi, former editor-in-chief of Al-Dustour newspaper, to a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,431) after convicting him of libel against Essam al-Eryan, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Eryan filed a complaint against Afifi after the journalist published a report in June 2012 that alleged that some leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood had held secret meetings to plan violent acts in the event that Morsi did not win the presidential elections.
New York, May 28, 2013--A Syrian correspondent working for the pro-government TV channel Al-Ikhbariya died Monday after her crew's vehicle came under sniper fire, according to official Syrian news sources.
One day, every journalism school in the United States and beyond will offer a full three-credit, 15-week course in digital safety, along with more advanced classes. But that day has not yet come. Only a year ago, Alysia Santo reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that no American journalism school offered formal digital safety training. A number of groups, including CPJ, have tried to fill the void with digital security guides. This week, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University added to the resource stockpile with the publication of a guide that I've written, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.
New York, May 23, 2013--A prominent Iraqi sheikh told CPJ Wednesday he has had nothing to do with threats against a journalist or the recent abduction of the reporter's brother.
With more than a billion users, Facebook is not only the biggest global social network but also an increasingly important forum for journalists. In some repressive countries it has even served as a publishing platform for journalists whose newspapers or news websites have been closed down. That is why journalists and bloggers should note today's news that after a year of standing on the threshold, Facebook has decided to step inside the Global Network Initiative tent.
New York, May 22, 2013--At least three journalists have been held hostage by armed tribesmen for a week in Yemen, according to news reports.
New York, May 21, 2013--Internet access has slowed, critical websites have been blocked, and several journalists have been summoned back to prison in Iran as the country's Guardian Council made a key decision today barring two leading candidates from the presidential election. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the broad efforts to deny Iranian citizens information in the run-up to the June vote.
New York, May 21, 2013--Iraqi authorities must launch an investigation into a May 14 episode in which a group of armed men raided the home of a journalist and briefly abducted his brother. The journalist, Azhar Shallal, had recently written about alleged corruption.
For two years, Bahrainis have been asking "Where is Ali Abdel Imam?" And now finally, they have an answer.
The prominent opposition blogger suddenly emerged from hiding last week, announcing he had been granted asylum in the United Kingdom, news sources reported.
He had not been heard from since March 17, 2011, when he cryptically tweeted, "I get tired from my phone so I switched it of no need for rumors plz." The Bahraini government had just declared a state of emergency, as massive reform protests rocked the island country. Abdel Imam, who had already been arrested twice before for his work, feared the government would arrest him again in an impending crackdown. So when they came for him the following day, Abdel Imam made sure he wasn't there. He had not been heard from since--until last week.
Check out the full video of "Censorship and Power in Iran," a panel discussion on imprisoned journalists in Iran that was held on May 8 at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The panel, featuring Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari and CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon and moderated by political satirist Jon Stewart, was followed by a lively Q&A.
The discussion followed a special screening of Bahari's film, called "Forced Confessions," and a short video, called "Iran's Journalists in Chains" about the deterioration of press freedom in the country.
New York, May 13, 2013--Syrian authorities must immediately release and ensure the well-being of a German freelance journalist who has reportedly been detained for more than a week, according to the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.
The editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Watan, Magdy el-Galad, and a reporter for the paper, Ahmed el-Khatib, were referred to a criminal court on May 8, 2013, for publishing a "false report that could disturb public peace," according to news reports.
CPJ joined with the PEN American Center and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Wednesday night to host a film screening and panel discussion on the deterioration of press freedom in Iran. Moderated by political satirist Jon Stewart, the panel featured Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari and CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. CPJ and our followers live-tweeted the event, which we have curated below using the social networking tool Storify.
Editorial cartoons play a principal role in every newspaper and magazine in Iran, providing news, analysis, and satire in visual form. Since the presidential elections in 2009, when Iranian authorities launched an intense crackdown against journalists, civil society activists, and lawyers, many political cartoonists began to leave Iran. Those who stayed have adjusted their work to be more ambiguous, to communicate their message while attempting to evade government censorship and arrests.
New York, May 7, 2013 - Yemeni journalists are facing continued physical and legal jeopardy, with one journalist receiving death threats and two others facing politicized defamation charges.
Three television journalists were briefly abducted in Libya in April 2013, according to news reports.
New York, April 30, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the well-being of two European journalists who went missing in western Syria three weeks ago. News reports identified the journalists as Domenico Quirico, a veteran reporter for the Italian daily La Stampa, and Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a Belgian academic and freelance writer, although the accounts did not say if the two were traveling together.
In the past, donors and groups providing security to journalists in less-developed nations tended to export a Western, military-style of training designed for a war-time environment. But the danger of covering combat is one thing. Being fired upon by a motorcycle-riding assassin is another--as is being sexually molested in a crowd, discovering a video camera in one's bedroom, or having one's phone calls intercepted. And then there is emotional toll of losing dear colleagues, and wondering whether you or your family will be next.
New York, April 29, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on Al-Jazeera journalists and threats against a Sky News Arabia news crew by anti-government protesters in Aden on Saturday--the latest in a wave of violence against the press in the country.
New York, April 29, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iraqi government's decision on Sunday to suspend the licenses of 10 mostly pro-Sunni satellite channels accused of sectarian incitement.
New York, April 26, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a series of serious assaults on the Yemeni press that have left at least five journalists or their family members injured.
New York, April 26, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the health of editor Amara al-Khatabi and calls on Libyan authorities to allow him to travel in order to receive urgent medical assistance abroad.
In a welcome move Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah offered to shelve Kuwait's controversial draft media law, according to news reports. The announcement came in what the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) called a "candid, frank, and expanded meeting with chief editors of Kuwaiti press."
That is a bogus @ap tweet.-- AP CorpComm (@AP_CorpComm) April 23, 2013
More than a quarter million Twitter accounts have been hacked worldwide, the social media company disclosed in February, but Tuesday's attack on The Associated Press's verified account, @AP, had unusual effect. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points after someone hijacked the AP's account to falsely tweet that two explosions at the White House had wounded President Barack Obama. The market recovered, but the hacking--just the latest in a series of attacks on news organizations--sent shudders through a profession that's grown accustomed to breaking its news on Twitter.
On April 8, the Kuwaiti cabinet approved a draft media law that would severely undermine press freedom in the country. But it is not too late to prevent a bad bill from becoming a bad law.
New York, April 23, 2013--At least 13 journalists were attacked amid clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the opposition Friday in Cairo and Alexandria. Demonstrators supporting the Muslim Brotherhood were calling for reform of Egypt's judiciary, while opposition groups were protesting the Brotherhood and the government it leads.
New York, April 19, 2013--The Bahraini government ordered three journalists from the British television network ITV to leave the country today, according to news reports citing an ITV spokesman. The journalists, who were also briefly detained on Thursday, are in the process of leaving the country.
Two years ago this week, on the central boulevard of the Western Libyan city of Misurata, freelance photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed by mortar rounds from government forces. Hondros lost consciousness almost immediately. Hetherington bled out in the back of a pick-up truck as he clutched the hand of a Spanish photographer.
New York, April 18, 2013--The cases of an Iranian blogger imprisoned for seven months without trial and a prominent freelance journalist whose health has deteriorated in prison illustrate the ongoing abuses being perpetrated by Iranian authorities, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, April 18, 2013--Yemeni authorities must investigate a series of assaults on the press in the past two weeks and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A bomb was discovered at a building that houses media outlets and three journalists received death threats, according to news reports and journalists who spoke to CPJ.
Considering the worst-case scenarios for post-2014 Afghanistan, international news agencies should start planning a range of assistance responses for locally hired journalists and media staff. By the end of 2014, NATO troops will have largely withdrawn and the Karzai government will make way for a new administration. If the situation becomes chaotic, Afghans working for foreign and local media could become targets for retribution for their work as journalists.
The Italian Foreign Minister announced in a statement on April 13, 2013, that four Italian journalists abducted in northern Syria on April 4, 2013, had been released. News accounts reported that the journalists were believed to have been held for more than a week by the rebel group, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, but the foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the information.
In a return to old tactics, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Sudan have resumed strict pre-publication censorship.
At least four local Egyptian journalists were physically attacked during a weekend of street violence that began April 5, 2013, according to news reports. The reports said an international journalist was also briefly detained.
A short note to follow up on an alert we posted Wednesday on the threatened deportation of Lohini Rathimohan (also spelled Lokini), a former television journalist and one of 19 Tamil refugees facing deportation from the United Arab Emirates. Earlier reports said the refugees, who reached Dubai illegally, could be deported this week.
Israeli forces shot Palestinian freelance photographer Mohammed al-Azza, 23, in the face with a rubber-coated bullet on April 8, 2013, in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, according to local news reports. Al-Azza was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent several surgeries to repair the broken bones in his face.
Syrian security forces assaulted and briefly detained a Sky News Arabic crew on Monday, April 8, 2013, according to correspondent Khalil al-Hamlu. In a live broadcast, al-Hamlu said his crew was reporting on a car bomb in central Damascus when Syrian security forces confronted the group. The crew were beaten and detained for a few hours before being released without serious injuries.
New York, April 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by news reports that a Tamil journalist in the United Arab Emirates may be deported to Sri Lanka this week despite her United Nations refugee status, and calls on authorities in the UAE to halt any such deportation measures.
New York, April 9, 2013--Kuwaiti authorities are undermining freedom of expression with a series of arrests and prosecutions intended to stifle dissent, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least six Kuwaiti journalists are facing legal action in reprisal for their work, according to news reports.
New York, April 8, 2013--A Yemeni news editor who reported frequently on alleged misuse of a public reconstruction fund was sentenced to a three-month jail sentence in relation to one of his articles, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on an appellate court to overturn the conviction.
The Baghdad offices of at least four independent daily newspapers were attacked on April 1, 2013, with the assailants destroying equipment and injuring several employees.
New York, April 4, 2013--A Kuwait-based Syrian businessman has announced a monetary reward for any individuals who capture and turn over to security forces journalists affiliated with the pan-Arab channels Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called the announcement a deplorable effort to silence news coverage that is critical to the world's understanding of the conflict.
New York, April 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by news reports that its Middle East consultant, Shaimaa Abulkhair, would be investigated by national security prosecutors in Egypt for comments she made about the widely criticized criminal case against satirist Bassem Youssef.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pardoned Al-Quds TV journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh on March 28, 2013, the same day that a West Bank appeals court upheld his one-year sentence for insulting the presidency, according to news reports.
Jörg Armbruster, a correspondent for the German public broadcaster ARD, was seriously injured by gunfire during a military clash in Aleppo on March 29, 2013, according to news reports. After emergency surgery inside Syria on the same day, Armbruster was transferred by ambulance to Turkey, where he was treated by an emergency medical team. After his condition stabilized, he was evacuated to Stuttgart on April 1, according to the ARD subsidiary SWR.
In the past month, officials in both the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have prevented journalists from reporting on important court proceedings. But it is not too late to allow the press to cover these crucial cases.
The government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi continues to escalate its offensive against journalists. Details of the most recent case, in which an arrest warrant was issued for blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah for inciting "aggression" against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, show how low the government is willing to go in order to silence its critics.
New York, March 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the violent siege on Sunday of the Media Production City, a complex housing numerous private news outlets in Cairo, an episode that followed a series of inflammatory anti-press comments by President Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
New York, March 19, 2013--During his trip to the region this week, U.S. President Barack Obama should call on Israeli authorities to return the equipment of an independent broadcaster that was seized more than a year ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, March 19, 2013--At least 14 journalists were attacked by police and supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group outside the group's headquarters in Cairo on Saturday and Sunday, according to news reports and local journalists.
The U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed the lives of a record number of journalists and challenged some commonly held perceptions about the risks of covering conflict. Far more journalists, for example, were murdered in targeted killings in Iraq than died in combat-related circumstances. Here, on the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, is a look inside the data collected by CPJ.
Egyptian journalists, besieged by punitive lawsuits and under threat, agree that under President Mohamed Morsi "there is no press freedom, only the courage of journalists," as editor Ibrahim Eissa put it. What they can't agree on is--in a climate of freewheeling, mutable media--who exactly is a journalist?
New York, March 14, 2013--Journalists have come under attack in three separate episodes amid protests in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, in at least two of which police were said to be assailants. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attacks and calls on authorities to hold all those responsible to account.
New York, March 11, 2013--A Ukrainian journalist reportedly held by rebel forces in Syria since October is free, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and news reports citing the journalist's relatives. Most news reports characterized Anhar Kochneva as having fled her captors, but few details were reported about the circumstances.
New York, March 8, 2013--Gunmen stormed the offices of a television station in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Thursday amid a protest outside the station's studios, according to news reports. The gunmen abducted at least five journalists and media workers, the reports said, although all were released within 24 hours.
New York, March 7, 2013--Iranian authorities have banned three reformist news outlets and arrested four journalists in the past two days, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iranian government's continuing attempts to stifle the press in the run-up to the presidential elections in June and calls on authorities to immediately halt their campaign of harassment against the media.
News accounts reported that Jalal Mohamed al-Jamal, manager of the local news website Al-Awamia, was freed from prison on March 5, 2013. It was unclear why the journalist, who was jailed without charge for more than a year, had been released.
New York, March 5, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of freelance journalist Billy Six, held by Syrian authorities for two and a half months. Syrian authorities handed Six over to Russian diplomats today who helped him leave the country.
"We are relieved that Billy Six has been released safely and can return home," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "Our hope is the families of all journalists missing and kidnapped in Syria will soon have reason to celebrate as well. We call on all parties to assist in finding and releasing all missing journalists in Syria."
The Bahraini press, like almost everything else in the island country, is sharply divided. If the government would take steps to strengthen press freedom instead of restricting access, then much of this divide could be bridged.
New York, March 4, 2013--Iranian authorities arrested another journalist this weekend as part of a broad crackdown aimed at intimidating the press before Iran's presidential election in June. Mohammad Javad Rouh, editor for the reformist monthly magazine Mehrnameh, was arrested in his home in Tehran on Sunday, according to news reports.
A military court in the city of Ashkelon extended the detention of Mohammad Saba'aneh, a Palestinian cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, on February 28, 2013, for a second time, according to news reports. His detention was extended for eight days, Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported citing the cartoonist's lawyer.
New York, February 26, 2013--Egyptian authorities must bring to justice the kidnappers of Mohamed el-Sawi, an online journalist who was found yesterday on a desert road outside the city of Alexandria, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. El-Sawi's colleagues had reported him missing on February 21, two days after he was abducted.
At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.
New York, February 25, 2013--Egyptian authorities must do their utmost to determine the whereabouts and ensure the safety of Mohamed el-Sawi, an online journalist who was reported missing on February 21, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also calls on Egypt to stop using the law to intimidate journalists and prevent them from reporting critically.
New York, February 25, 2013--A French freelance photographer died in a Turkish hospital on Sunday from shrapnel wounds he received while covering the unrest in Syria's Idlib province three days earlier, according to news reports.
Olivier Voisin, 38, had contributed work to several local and international publications, including Le Monde, The Guardian, and Agence France-Presse. His website chronicles his work from some of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, including Libya, Haiti, Somalia, Brazil, and Kenya.
New York, February, 22, 2013--Yet another journalist has been arrested in Iran as part of the broad crackdown aimed at silencing dissent before Iran's presidential elections in June, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to halt their pattern of imprisoning journalists and instead allow members of the press to report freely without fear of reprisal.
New York, February 21, 2013--An Israeli court yesterday extended the detention of Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba'aneh, who has been held since Saturday without charge or access to his lawyer, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to immediately release the political cartoonist and allow him access to his lawyer.
New York, February 19, 2013--International journalist Nadir Dendoune was released on February 14 after being detained in Iraqi prison for almost a month, according to news reports. Dendoune was arrested for photographing a location officials described as being restricted and was later accused of failing to register under the country's vague Journalist Protection Law.
CPJ's Robert Mahoney identifies the 10 countries where press freedom suffered the most in 2012. They include Syria, the world's deadliest country for the press; Russia, where repressive laws took effect; Brazil, where journalist murders soared; and Ethiopia, where terror laws are used to silence the press. (3:26)
A hard slog with low-life smugglers is a small price for avoiding Syrian forces. By Paul Wood
The 2009 vote seemed open for the press. Then came the brutal crackdown. By D. Parvaz
In a country filled with paranoia and fear, citizens learn to be reporters. By Oliver Holmes
The right to news and opinion is enshrined in international law. It's not enough. By Joel Simon
Governments exploit national security laws to punish critical journalists. By Monica Campbell
Your cellphone allows authorities to locate you and uncover your sources. By Danny O'Brien
Press freedom languished despite the establishment of a new government under President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Anti-government demonstrations continued as protesters demanded deeper reforms than those offered by Hadi's administration. Critical independent journalists were assaulted, threatened, and harassed from multiple sides. In February, armed men belonging to an influential tribal group attacked a journalist who had reported critically about the clan. The same month, supporters of former President Ali Abdullah al-Saleh seized the offices of two state-run newspapers and forced them to publish Saleh's picture on the front page. In May, the Press and Publications Court summoned two Al-Jazeera journalists for trial on charges that they had reported on the 2011 uprising without accreditation. The trial was pending in late year. The government debated an Audio-Visual and Electronic Media bill that was first proposed by the Saleh administration in 2010. CPJ's review of the legislation found it would impose exorbitant registration and licensing fees, among other restrictions. The bill was pending in late year. No journalists were killed during the year, a drop from 2011 when two fatalities occurred during coverage of anti-government protests.
Two years after the revolution that overthrew Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, press freedom in Tunisia slid backward. Since the newly elected government assumed office in January, the authorities took several worrying steps that included the appointment of government allies as new heads of state television, radio, and print outlets. In April, three journalists were beaten while covering a protest, and in July, police officers attacked two journalists who were filming a collision involving a police cruiser and a train. In August, the authorities issued an arrest warrant for the head of a private television station, a Ben Ali ally who also hosted a satirical show mocking current government figures. In February, the authorities detained and fined three journalists for publishing a nude photo. Journalists said the government was ignoring two media laws adopted in November 2011 that were modeled on international press freedom standards, instead enforcing the previous, repressive laws. Members of the National Authority to Reform Information and Communication, a special commission set up to bring about media reforms, resigned en masse in July citing the government's lack of commitment to press freedom.
Conditions for the press deteriorated severely since Syria's uprising began in 2011. The Syrian government continued its media blackout by barring entry to most international journalists and controlling local news coverage. Foreign journalists resorted to smuggling themselves into the country, most across the borders with Turkey and Lebanon, to report on the conflict. Citizen journalists took extreme risks to videotape and document the unrest. Dozens of journalists were imprisoned over the course of the year and some were reportedly tortured in government custody. Local and international journalists were abducted by the government, the rebels, and non-Syrian Islamic extremist groups. Some remained missing in late year. With 28 journalists murdered, targeted by sniper fire, or killed in crossfire, CPJ ranked Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for the press in 2012. Although many of the fatalities were at the hands of government forces, numerous attacks against journalists or news outlets seen as pro-government were attributed to rebel forces, including two explosions at a TV station.
Journalists struggled to carry out their work freely as the space for independent reporting diminished in Sudan. Khartoum intensified its crackdown against journalists with a record number of detentions, newspaper confiscations, and closures, leading to significant financial losses for many newspapers and layoffs among journalists. In June, protests against austerity measures and rising fuel prices quickly evolved into anti-government demonstrations. As journalists attempted to cover these historic events, the National Intelligence Security Services warned journalists not to cover the protests, detained several foreign and local journalists who did, confiscated newspapers that dared to mention the demonstrations, and blocked three critical websites. By August, the government had quashed the protest movement. The authorities continued to suppress coverage of Sudan's conflict with South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, and kept a particularly tight lid on information involving the fighting in oil-rich South Kordofan.
The Kingdom continued severe censorship of any critical reporting, taking special measures to obstruct coverage of protests in Eastern Province calling for political reform and greater rights for the country's Shia minority. Foreign and local journalists were forbidden to enter the province, where demonstrations had begun in February 2011. Imprisonments ticked up during the year. In February, the authorities arrested three online journalists reporting on Eastern Province protests and blocked their news websites. During the same month, a former columnist faced death threats for Twitter postings detailing an imaginary conversation with the Prophet Muhammad. He was later jailed on blasphemy changes that could bring the death penalty. Restrictive laws suffocate independent coverage in traditional media, a sector in which editors are government-appointed. Beginning in 2011, online journalists became subject to the same harsh controls that apply to traditional news media. Self-censorship is widespread, and international news outlets operating inside its borders limit their reporting in order to maintain accreditation.
The press began to blossom amid the political transition that followed the 2011 uprising that ended Muammar Qaddafi's repressive rule. A burgeoning private media sector emerged with the launch of dozens of independent newspapers and other news outlets. Despite these notable improvements, journalists continued to face attacks, mostly from local militias and other armed groups that often detained people at whim. In February, a local militia in Tripoli seized two British journalists for almost a month. In July, two Libyan television journalists were kidnapped after covering the country's first elections in decades. In May, the then-ruling National Transitional Council passed a law criminalizing the glorification of Qaddafi, but the Supreme Court struck down the measure as unconstitutional the next month, a historic move that reflected an emerging commitment to free speech.
Lebanon's press climate, while better than its neighbors, suffered in 2012 as the uprising in Syria spiraled into civil war. In April, Syrian security forces shot and killed a Lebanese journalist covering the conflict from the Lebanese side of the border. Within the country, journalists faced significant risk while covering protests for and against the Syrian regime. In May and June, for example, nine journalists were attacked in four violent episodes during demonstrations. In September, the authorities detained for nearly a month a Lebanese-Palestinian journalist who frequently covered arms smuggling into Syria. In October, the rebel Free Syrian Amy abducted a Lebanese journalist working in Syria and held him captive for a week. Lebanese authorities negotiated his release.
Although Jordanian news media enjoy greater freedom than the press in many other Arab countries, the kingdom took a significant step backward with the approval of amendments to the Press and Publications Law in September 2012. The law imposed new restrictions on online news content, required sites to obtain official licenses, and gave the authorities powers to block domestic and international websites. Journalists, outraged by the move, protested against the government, and website owners refused to apply for licenses. Criticism of the royal family or the monarchy remained off-limits for all media. One journalist was detained for three weeks for writing an article that alleged misconduct in the Royal Court, and a critical blogger was stabbed by an unidentified assailant after she published an article criticizing Prince Hassan bin Talal.
During eight days of fighting with Hamas forces in November, Israel launched airstrikes that targeted two buildings in Gaza housing local and international news outlets, injuring at least nine journalists. Separate missile attacks killed at least two other journalists. Israeli officials broadly asserted that the individuals and news facilities had connections to terrorist activities but disclosed no substantiation for the allegations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to a written request from CPJ seeking information supporting Israel's claims. Israel's press freedom record suffered in other respects, with lawmakers pushing a bill to dramatically increase fines for alleged libel and impose requirements that news media publish responses from plaintiffs. The bill was pending in late year. Israeli forces continued sporadic attacks on Palestinian journalists covering anti-settlement demonstrations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In one case, video captured Israeli soldiers beating two Palestinian journalists wearing gear marked "press" at an August demonstration in the town of Kafr Qaddum. In February, Israeli authorities raided two Palestinian television stations and confiscated the outlets' equipment, citing alleged frequency violations. One, Wattan TV, had been funded by U.S. government agencies, prompting the U.S. State Department to join CPJ's calls for the equipment's return. Press freedom deteriorated in the West Bank as well. In April, the Palestinian Authority blocked several websites seen as critical of President Mahmoud Abbas, while detaining two journalists who had covered allegations of official corruption. PA security forces assaulted several journalists covering anti-government protests in July. In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, assaults and threats against critical journalists continued, and self-censorship prevailed.
For the first time since 2003, CPJ did not document any work-related fatalities in Iraq. Still, central government officials and Kurdish regional authorities used threats, harassment, attacks, and imprisonment to suppress critical news coverage throughout the year. The central government's media regulator ordered 44 local and international news outlets shut down in June for supposed license violations, but the authorities did not ultimately enforce the directive. Local journalists said the order was intended to be a warning to news outlets that they should toe the government line. In October, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the ambiguous and restrictive Journalist Protection Law. A press freedom group had argued that the 2011 legislation failed to provide any security for journalists while imposing constraints on access to official information. In July, parliament debated a proposed cybercrime bill, which carried a penalty of life imprisonment for violations such as using the Internet to "harm the reputation of the country" and broadcasting "false and misleading facts" intended to "damage the national economy." With no convictions in at least 93 unsolved journalist murders since 2003, Iraq ranked first on CPJ's Impunity Index for the fifth consecutive year.
Since the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, the regime has continued its campaign against the press by imprisoning many dozens of journalists, harassing and intimidating others, and routinely banning reformist publications. Jailed reporters were subject to abusive conditions that included extended solitary confinement, physical abuse, and denial of family visits and medical treatment. Political blogger Sattar Beheshti died in state custody in November, the third journalist to die in Iranian detention since 2003. Fellow inmates at Evin Prison said Beheshti, 35, had been tortured. The authorities continued to censor the Internet, blocking millions of websites, including news and social networking sites, and announcing the creation of a national Internet that would enforce even stricter controls. In the run-up to the 2013 election, the regime stepped up its assault on the international press. After a Tehran jury voted in late September to convict Reuters on anti-state charges for a faulty video headline, the government suspended the agency’s accreditation and banned its journalists from reporting. BBC journalists were also arrested, questioned, and intimidated throughout the year. In March, the broadcaster reported a “sophisticated cyberattack” on its email and Internet services that coincided with efforts to jam its satellite feeds into Iran. In October, Europe’s largest satellite providers ceased transmission of 19 Iranian state-operated satellite television and radio channels in response to sanctions imposed by the European Union.
A new constitution with restrictive press provisions was approved in late year amid heavy opposition criticism and reports of ballot fraud. CPJ and others criticized articles creating a new government press regulator and establishing new state authority to shut media outlets. The new charter also did nothing to halt the criminal prosecution of journalists, a hallmark of the Hosni Mubarak regime. A reporter covering a rally protesting the new constitution was killed in December when he was struck by a rubber bullet that witnesses said was fired by a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. Several other journalists said they were assaulted while covering similar demonstrations. Other serious violations were reported throughout the year, including a sexual assault and a number of other physical attacks against journalists. Before the election of President Mohamed Morsi in June, the interim-ruling Supreme Council for the Armed Forces carried out a series of Mubarak-era tactics intended to stifle media critical of the military. The tactics included the use of politicized trials and interrogations to intimidate reporters, along with the temporary detention of journalists, two of whom were brutalized in custody. The Shura Council, controlled by the Freedom and Justice Party, took a firm grasp of state media in August, appointing political allies as heads of the institutions. Several journalists working for state newspapers reported that critical articles were being pulled. Although Morsi banned pre-trial detention of journalists, the press remained at legal risk. At least six journalists faced charges of "insulting the president" or "insulting Islam." By late 2012, the prosecutor general was pursuing a series of investigations into independent Egyptian newspapers on accusations of insulting the president or reporting false news.
The authorities continued to restrict critical reporting and independent news coverage a year after protesters began calling for reform in Bahrain. In February and April, the government denied visas to journalists and press freedom groups, including CPJ, and detained and deported several foreign journalists, effectively barring international news coverage of the unrest surrounding the Formula One Grand Prix and the first anniversary of the protests. Despite King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s pledge to uphold press freedom and reform, conditions did not improve. A journalist was detained for months after criticizing a proposed union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and an appeals court upheld the life sentence of critical blogger Abduljalil Alsingace, who has been imprisoned since March 2011. A well-known videographer was killed while filming a pro-reform protest in March.
Analyses and data track press freedom conditions. Paul Wood of the BBC and Oliver Holmes of Reuters describe the extraordinary challenges of covering the Syrian conflict. D. Parvaz of Al-Jazeera examines the implications of the 2013 Iranian election. And Jean-Paul Marthoz reveals the censorship imposed by religious extremists.
Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world's worst jailer. A CPJ special report
Editors think twice, reporters do not dig deeply, columnists choose words carefully. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
Police never bothered to look for cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda. It's not unusual. By María Salazar-Ferro
From conflict-ridden Syria to aspiring world leader Brazil, 10 nations on a downslope. By Karen Phillips
New York, February 13, 2013--Authorities in Kurdistan should immediately investigate and apprehend the perpetrators responsible for an explosion on the roof of the independent Nalia Radio and Television in Sulaymaniyah on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The attack occurred the day after the station aired a caller's criticism of Mustafa Barzani, the former leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
After two months of asking Israeli authorities to explain their decision to attack journalists and media facilities in Gaza in November, CPJ has received an official response. Our inquiries--in the form of a letter and blog by Executive Director Joel Simon, as well as phone calls and emails to the office of the Israeli prime minister, the Public Appeals Office of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and the Israeli Embassy in the U.S.--sought evidence to support Israel's assertion that the individuals and facilities it targeted had connections to terrorist activity.
The Cairo Administrative Court ordered the government-run National Telecommunication Regulation Authority (NTRA) on February 9, 2013, to ban YouTube for one month after the website failed to remove a video widely considered anti-Islamic, according to news reports. Similar judicial attempts to block websites have been overturned on appeal in the past.
New York, February, 11, 2013--At least two more journalists have been arrested by Iranian authorities, bringing to 17 the number of journalists caught in the newest crackdown against the Iranian press, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to immediately halt their campaign against critical news media in the run-up to the presidential elections in June.
Forces on all sides of the Syrian conflict that have tried to censor news coverage through violence have won a round. By sharply increasing the risk for reporters covering the civil war they have forced news organizations to think twice before sending their staff to the battlefields. In a worrying development they even have led a leading UK newspaper, the Sunday Times, for which Marie Colvin was on assignment when she was killed last year in Homs, to refuse photographs submitted by freelancers.
New York, February 5, 2013--Authorities in Beirut should drop criminal charges against Rami Aysha, a Lebanese-Palestinian freelance journalist who was arrested by Hezbollah forces last August as he was investigating arms trafficking, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In late January, Iranian authorities waged the largest crackdown on the press since 2009, detaining a wave of journalists and issuing arrest warrants for numerous others. The Ministry of Intelligence accused the journalists of conspiring with foreign media to repeat the alleged "sedition" of 2009, referring to electoral fraud exposed by the media and the protests that followed. In response to the arrests, IranWire, a project led by our colleague Maziar Bahari, produced this video calling for the journalists' release.
Iran has maintained a revolving-door policy for imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on furloughs even as new arrests are made. In its December 2012 prison census, CPJ found that Iran was the world's second-worst jailer of journalists, with 45 journalists imprisoned in reprisal for their work. The threat of imprisonment has led scores of Iranian journalists to flee into exile in recent years.
New York, January 30, 2013--Iraqi authorities should immediately release an international journalist who has been held without charge for a week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Nadir Dendoune, a French-Australian journalist of Algerian descent, was arrested on January 23 in Baghdad, according to local press freedom organizations and an Agence France-Presse report citing the journalist's family members, colleagues, and an official from the French consulate.
An increase in press freedom violations last year created a surge of need among journalists, driving a record number of assistance cases for CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program in 2012. More than three-quarters of the 195 journalists who received support during the year came from East Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, reflecting the challenges--including threats of violence and imprisonment--of working in these repressive regions. Here are some of the highlights of our work over the last year:
A small number of journalists reporting from Syria have recently interviewed prisoners of war under highly coercive circumstances. In doing so, they have ignored the protections that are due to prisoners under international humanitarian law, or IHL.
New York, January 28, 2013--At least 14 journalists affiliated with reformist news outlets were arrested in Iran on Saturday and Sunday in the largest crackdown on the press since 2009, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iranian authorities to immediately release all journalists in custody and halt their practice of imprisoning critical journalists.
On December 2, CPJ sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requesting an explanation for airstrikes on media facilities during the November 2012 military action in Gaza. The strikes damaged two media buildings and killed and injured a number of journalists. Israeli officials said the military targeted terrorist infrastructure, but provided no explanation of how such a determination was made.
On the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 revolution, Hosni Mubarak's footprints are still present in many areas of the public sphere--and media are no exception. President Mohamed Morsi needs to cease using Mubarak-era tactics of silencing his critics with criminal charges such as defamation.
When the story is so important but the risks are so high, journalists must keep safety at the forefront of their thinking. That's especially true for freelancers who often do not have the support of a large news organization. Preparation, peer networking, and smart planning can help improve the odds of not only surviving hostile situations but succeeding in one's work.
What is the humanitarian function of journalism in wartime? How does international humanitarian law protect journalists? Why is impunity the most important challenge facing journalists working in conflict zones?
New York, January 18, 2013--An Al-Jazeera reporter was killed by a sniper in the city of Daraa today, the station reported, the second journalist fatality in Syria in as many days.
New York, January 18, 2013--An international journalist was killed by a sniper while covering fighting in Aleppo in Syria on Thursday, according to local and international press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on all sides of the conflict to stop targeting journalists and allow them to report freely within the country.
Debay, a Belgian-born French journalist, was based in Aleppo, where he covered clashes between the Syrian army and opposition forces in the city for his online newsmagazine Assaut (Assault), according to news reports. A veteran military correspondent, he contributed reports for the French military magazine Raid, and had written several books about military conflicts.
New York, January 15, 2013--Israeli soldiers prevented journalists from covering the eviction of a Palestinian campsite in the West Bank on Sunday, according to news reports and local press freedom organizations. The journalists worked for international news outlets including The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, CNN, and Al-Jazeera, as well as local media including Raya FM radio station and Palestine TV, according to the same sources.
New York, January 15, 2013--Authorities should drop the criminal defamation charges against an editor in Morocco who reported that a government official had ordered champagne to his hotel room while on a taxpayer-funded trip outside the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The official has disputed the account.
New York January 11, 2013--Egyptian authorities are continuing a stream of criminal prosecutions against journalists, despite President Mohamed Morsi's recent pledge to allow free speech. At least three more criminal cases proceeded this week, on top of four that CPJ documented earlier this month.
New York, January 9, 2013--A Kuwaiti court sentenced an online journalist to prison on Monday for insulting the ruling family on social media, according to news reports. Ayyad al-Harbi was ordered to begin serving the two-year jail sentence immediately, news reports said.
New York, January 9, 2013--Bahraini authorities should drop charges they have filed against a photojournalist in connection with his coverage of anti-government protests in April, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York January 3, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a series of investigations into independent Egyptian newspapers on accusations of insulting the president or reporting false news. Some newspapers and media professionals face formal charges in connection to their critical reporting, according to news reports.
New York, January 2, 2013--The family of U.S. freelance journalist James Foley today publicized the reporter's abduction in Syria on November 22. The family, which had previously asked that the kidnapping not be disclosed, launched a public campaign to seek his release.
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