Prominent support for #RightToReport in the Digital Age
More than 2,800 people including prominent journalists Christiane Amanpour, Glenn Greenwald, and Alan Rusbridger have already signed on to CPJ's new campaign Right to Report in the Digital Age.
The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 25 human rights and civil society groups today in signing an open letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is due to address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday about steps toward an open and effective relationship with the United Nations Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.
New York, September 23, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that two Tunisian journalists have been held by a militia in eastern Libya for two weeks and calls for them to be freed immediately. This is the second time that Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari have been kidnapped this month, according to reports.
September 18, 2014, New York--The Islamic State militant group released a video today that shows John Cantlie, a British freelance journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012, making what he said would be the first of a series of statements, according to news reports. Cantlie's abduction in Syria nearly two years ago was not previously reported by CPJ and other groups at the request of his family.
New York, September 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Qatari government to abolish parts of a restrictive cybercrime law that passed this week, despite assurances from its prime minister last year that the legislation would not restrict freedom of expression, which is protected under the Qatari constitution.
New York, September 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release on bail of two journalists in Egypt and calls on authorities to free the 11 other journalists still behind bars. The move comes days before Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is set to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, according to news reports.
Now that the initial wave of revulsion at the beheading of two young journalists has passed, the international media is wringing its hands and asking how it can spare others the heartbreak of the families of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
New York, September 9, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is dismayed that dozens of journalists remain imprisoned in Iran more than a year after the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to seek more constructive engagement with the international community. CPJ calls on attendees of this month's U.N. General Assembly to urge Rouhani to ensure the release of all journalists imprisoned for their work.
Today, CPJ joined 78 human rights and press freedom organizations in calling on the Syrian government to immediately and unconditionally release three imprisoned members of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. The center's director, Mazen Darwish, has been imprisoned since 2012 along with his colleagues Hussein Ghrer and Hani al-Zitani.
The apparent back-to-back murders of two American freelance journalists by the same group are unprecedented in CPJ's history. The beheadings on camera in a two-week period of first James Foley and then Steven Sotloff appear to be an acceleration of a pattern--dating at least to Daniel Pearl's killing in 2002--of criminal and insurgent groups displaying the murders of journalists to send a broad message of terror.
New York, September 2, 2014--The Islamic State militant group released a video Tuesday purporting to show the beheading of American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, according to news reports. Sotloff, who was abducted in Syria in August 2013, would be the second American journalist murdered by Islamic State. In a video posted online on August 19, the group murdered American freelance journalist James Foley and threatened to do the same to Sotloff in retribution for U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
Today, CPJ joined 10 local and international organizations in sending an open letter calling on King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the Bahraini government to release photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan and dismiss all charges against him. The letter calls on the government to fulfill Bahrain's obligations under international law and its commitments under the 2012 Universal Periodic Review by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
After 50 bloody days of conflict, it looks like a ceasefire may finally take hold in Israel and Gaza. Recently Gaza has been one of the deadliest places in the world for the press. According to CPJ research, at least seven journalists and media workers were killed on the job in four separate incidents.
US-Africa Leaders Summit
President Barack Obama hosted the first US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. this month. The discussion focused on trade and investment, but CPJ helped put press freedom on the agenda. At a time of unprecedented growth and change in Africa, journalists are under increasing pressure, with spikes in repression from Ethiopia to Nigeria.
Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy has been languishing in an Egyptian prison since December. He is waiting for an appeal hearing on his seven-year sentence for "conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood," but it is the murder of American freelancer James Foley, rather than his own unjust sentence, that has made the Cairo bureau chief furious. Fahmy sees the solidarity in response to Foley's killing as an opportunity to gain global support for distressed journalists in Egypt.
I met Jason Rezaian in 2003, at Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. We were among the handful of Iranian-American journalists then freelancing in the country, and we were both motivated by the desire to help improve the understanding between Iran and the U.S. Over the years, I have followed Rezaian's reports. His work in The Washington Post has been informative, insightful, and balanced.
It has now been more than a month since Rezaian and his Iranian wife, journalist Yeganeh Salehi, were arrested in Tehran. Based on what has been reported, and on my own detention in an Iranian prison in 2009, I have an understanding of what they might be experiencing.
New York, August 26, 2014--The Tripoli offices of Libya's privately owned station Alassema TV was raided and set on fire by Islamist groups on Sunday, the station reported. Several journalists are unaccounted for, the station said, and the Libyan Center for Press Freedom and Libya International Channel reported that Alaseema staff members had been abducted.
New York, August 24, 2014 - The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of American freelance journalist Peter Theo Curtis, who was held captive by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra since October 2012, according to U.S officials and news reports. U.N. Secretary General spokesman Stephane Dujarric told CPJ Curtis was handed over to U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights at 6:40 PM local time and transferred to U.S. representatives after a medical check-up. The release comes a week after the Islamic State group, which split from Jabhat al-Nusra, released a video last week showing the brutal murder of American freelance journalist James Foley and the threat to murder another American journalist, Steven Sotloff.
Amid the tributes and war stories that followed the brutal beheading of James Foley this week, one memory from a fellow hostage shone a light on a side of his character that his audience might not have seen: his empathy not only for the people he covered but also for the journalists he encountered.
New York, August 20, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is extremely concerned for all journalists, most of them Syrians, still held captive by the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State, which has repeatedly kidnapped, killed, and threatened journalists in the territories over which it holds sway. President Barack Obama confirmed today that the group is responsible for the barbaric murder of U.S. freelance journalist James Foley.
New York, August 19, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of James Foley, a U.S. freelance journalist, who was abducted in Syria in November 2012. In a video posted online, the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State claimed to have executed Foley, saying the act was retribution for U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
New York, August 19, 2014 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a string of attacks on Yemeni journalists working for state-run outlets in the past week. At least one journalist has been killed and another survived an assassination attempt, according to the Ministry of Information and news reports.
It's been exactly two years since citizen photojournalist Osama al-Habaly disappeared into regime custody as he crossed from Lebanon back to his home country of Syria. His friends and colleagues tell CPJ they have not heard a definitive word about him since.
New York, August 15, 2014--Several journalists have been attacked and briefly detained in Egypt since Thursday while covering deadly clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and security forces, according to news reports.
New York, August 13, 2014--Simone Camilli, a video journalist for The Associated Press, and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, a freelance translator, were killed in the northern town of Beit Lahiya today when an unexploded missile blew up, the AP reported. The explosion also injured AP photographer Hatem Moussa. Camilli, an Italian, is the first international journalist to be killed on duty in Gaza this year.
New York, August 11, 2014--A Kurdish journalist was killed in Makhmur district, south of the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, on Friday when shrapnel from mortar shelling hit her in the chest, according to news reports. Deniz Firat, a freelance reporter, was covering clashes between Kurdish forces and insurgents with the Islamic State, an Al-Qaeda splinter group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, the Firat News Agency said.
New York, August 8, 2014--At least two journalists and three media workers affiliated with the privately owned Albarqa TV station were abducted at a checkpoint in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk on Monday, according to the station and news reports. The reports said the five were taken by a militant group affiliated with Islamists after the crew covered the inauguration of Libya's newly elected parliament.
New York, August 7, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's conviction of a police officer in the death of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti and calls on Iranian authorities to disclose details of the investigation and trial. The police officer was given three years in jail, two years in exile, and 74 lashes for assaulting the blogger and insulting him, according to reports. Beheshti was arrested on October 30, 2012, and died in Evin Prison the next month.
New York, August 5, 2014--CPJ is concerned for the welfare of critical Omani blogger Muawiyah Alrawahi, who disappeared last month after being summoned by intelligence officials, according to human rights groups. A photo appeared on Twitter in recent days showing Alrawahi at the psychiatric department of Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, with his legs shackled, according to the London-based Monitor of Human Rights in Oman.
New York, August 5, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a recent series of attacks on privately owned Alassema TV in Libya, including the abduction on Friday of three journalists who are still missing.
Top African and U.S. leaders are meeting next week in Washington in a first-of-its-kind summit focused on African development. But critics argue the summit is flawed in design, overlooking human rights such as freedom of expression and barring civil society actors from bilateral discussions.
New York, July 31, 2014--A second journalist was killed while covering the Israeli bombardment of the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza, according to news reports and the two journalists' media outlets. The death marks at least three journalists and one media worker killed on duty since the Gaza conflict began this month, CPJ research shows.
Four years ago, when CPJ launched its Internet Advocacy program, we were met with lots of encouragement, but also some skepticism.
"Why do you need a program to defend the Internet?" one supporter asked. "You don't have a special program to defend television, or radio, or newspapers."
But the Internet is different. Increasingly, when it comes to global news and information the Internet is not a platform. It is the platform.
It has now been six days since the Washington Post's Jason Rezaian, The National's Yeganeh Salehi and two others were arrested in Iran, but we are no closer to understanding who detained them or why. Even the number of journalists arrested is in dispute.
The Washington Post originally said its correspondent Rezaian, his wife Salehi, and two unnamed photojournalists had been detained on July 22, a report we repeated in our statement Thursday calling for their release. But our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders reported only three journalists were arrested--Rezaian, Salehi, an unnamed Iranian-American freelance photographer, and her non-journalist husband--saying the photographer's family had asked for her name to be withheld. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran also said the fourth individual, the husband, is not a journalist.
New York, July 24, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a Washington Post report today that says Iran has detained four journalists--three of whom are U.S. citizens--and calls on authorities to release them immediately. Jason Rezaian, a U.S. citizen and a correspondent for the Post, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National, were taken into custody in Tehran this week. The report said the other two are photojournalists, but did not identify them. It is not clear why the journalists were arrested.
New York, July 21, 2014--A Palestinian cameraman was killed in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah on Sunday, according to news reports and the journalist's colleague. More than 60 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes between Israeli and Hamas forces in Shijaiyah that day, according to news reports.
New York, July 18, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Israeli airstrikes on buildings housing media outlets in Gaza that injured at least three journalists. The strikes came as Israel engages in a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
New York, July 16, 2014--At least two journalists were wounded, another arrested, and a newspaper office raided in the past week in Iraq amid heightened political uncertainty and violence, according to news reports and local press freedom groups.
New York, July 10, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israel Defense Forces' airstrike on a car clearly marked as a press vehicle in Gaza City on Wednesday. The airstrike killed Hamid Shihab, a driver for the Gaza-based press agency Media 24, according to the agency.
New York, July 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Moroccan authorities to drop the charges against Mahmoud Lhaisan, a TV journalist who was arrested on Friday after reporting on police abuse during protests following a World Cup game.
Five years ago on Monday, CPJ announced that Iran had officially become the world's leading jailer of journalists in the world. The announcement came on the heels of an unprecedented crackdown on the press that began on June 12, 2009, the day of Iran's tumultuous presidential election that sparked a mass protest movement.
In the first few months of 2014, multiple journalists were arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted in Iran. Authorities pursued a revolving-door policy in imprisoning journalists, freeing some detainees on short-term furloughs even as they make new arrests.
New York, June 25, 2014--A Suez court sentenced a journalist to three years in prison on Tuesday on charges of inciting and committing violence during protests in April, according to news reports. The move follows harsh prison sentences given to three Al-Jazeera journalists on Monday.
This morning a judge in Egypt convicted journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Peter Greste, and Baher Mohamed of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced them to between seven and 10 years in prison. All three were working for Al-Jazeera when they were arrested six months ago, but have a wide range of professional experience, including stints with CNN, The New York Times, and the BBC. Three other journalists--Al-Jazeera English presenter Sue Turton, Al-Jazeera reporter Dominic Kane, and a correspondent for Dutch Parool newspaper, Rena Netjes--were sentenced to 10 years in absentia.
New York, June 23, 2014--A Cairo court today sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to lengthy prison terms on terrorism-related charges, according to news reports. Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Peter Greste were given seven-year terms, while Baher Mohamed was given 10 years in prison. Three other international journalists--Sue Turton and Dominic Kane of Al-Jazeera and Rena Netjes, a correspondent for Dutch newspaper Parool--were sentenced in absentia to 10 years, reports said. The journalists are expected to appeal, reports said.
New York, June 18, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from prison this week of two Egyptian journalists and calls on authorities to release at least 14 journalists still behind bars, including three Al-Jazeera journalists whose trial continues on Monday. Abdullah al-Shami, reporter for Al-Jazeera who was jailed without charge, was released on Tuesday in connection with his deteriorating health, and Karim Shalaby, reporter for Al-Masder, was freed on Monday after a court acquitted him of charges that included protesting illegally.
New York, June 16, 2014--At least one journalist was killed and another injured Sunday in an attack in northern Diyala province, the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate and Iraqi news outlets reported. The killing comes amid escalating clashes between the Iraqi government and its allies against an insurgency spearheaded by the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).
New York, June 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Jordanian authorities to drop the terrorism charges and release from custody staffers of the Al-Abasiya TV station in Amman who were arrested after a recent raid and shutdown of the outlet.
New York, June 11, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the 15-year jail sentence given today to Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah, and at least 24 other defendants, on charges of attacking a police officer and protesting the government's ban on unsanctioned protests. Dozens of critical voices, including journalists and political and human rights advocates, are behind bars in Egypt.
New York, June 5, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the declaration today by leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations that democratic governance and human rights should be integral to the post-2015 development agenda. The United Nations is seeking agreement on a broad set of sustainable development objectives to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015 and which made no mention of political or civil rights. The new goals will provide a framework for donor aid and thus influence priorities for years to come.
Egypt's newly elected leader, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, will have to face many challenges as president, including the real crisis that confronts freedom of the press in the country. Things were never good for the press in Egypt, but they have worsened significantly since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted last summer. As CPJ wrote in a letter before the election to el-Sisi and his now defeated opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, at least six journalists have been killed since Morsi's ouster and 16 journalists are currently imprisoned. Dozens more have been detained and released, creating a climate of fear and repression that has dampened the ability of journalists to cover political developments and the most recent election.
New York, June 2, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports that a popular Egyptian TV host has taken his show off the air, citing harassment. CPJ is also disturbed by reports that Egyptian authorities are moving to monitor social media.
CPJ's Brazil report spurs government meetings on press freedom
CPJ board member María Teresa Ronderos and CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría traveled to Brasilia this month to launch a new special report, "Halftime for the Brazilian press," and met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as other high-level government officials. CPJ also presented President Rousseff with the report's recommendations.
Brazil is home to a vibrant investigative press, but journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free, CPJ's report found. Brazil is the 11th deadliest country in the world for journalists, and at least 10 have been killed in direct reprisal for their work since President Rousseff came to power, CPJ research shows.
New York, May 27, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder in Benghazi of a prominent Libyan journalist on Monday and calls on authorities to hold the killers to account. Muftah Bu Zeid, the editor-in-chief of Brnieq, a privately owned weekly, was well-known for his criticism of Islamist militias in the country, according to news reports. He reported receiving threats in the days before his death.
In the stairwell between the newsroom and studios of Nalia Radio and Television (NRT) stand a charred monitor, a burnt vision mixer, and smashed camera lens. They make up a display of equipment damaged when armed men set fire to the station in Sulaymaniyah, a city in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan which is home to much of the Kurdish media.
Jordan's press freedom climate, once a shining light in the Middle East, has quickly deteriorated as journalists grapple with last year's government ban on nearly 300 news websites.
Press freedom groups are documenting a rise in self-censorship and an increase in criminal cases against journalists. Local online news editors and journalists are complaining of economic hardship and psychological pressure.
Since the surprise Arab uprisings of 2011, the Saudi government has worked assiduously to ensure it has all the tools of censorship it needs to control dissent. These tools--a combination of special courts, laws, and regulatory authorities--are starting to fire on all cylinders. The result has been a string of arrests and prosecutions in recent months of independent and dissident voices.
To presidential candidates Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to express its deep concern about the state of press freedom in Egypt. Since the organization was founded in 1981, journalists in Egypt have never been under greater threat of assault, imprisonment, or even death, CPJ research shows.
One of the strongest memories I have of meeting President Masoud Barzani is the winding drive up to his mountain-top headquarters in the town of Salahuddin outside Erbil. That was in 2008, when a CPJ delegation secured a pledge from the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to "create an atmosphere that is conducive to journalism."
New York, May 15, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved by a report by the Times of London that said two of its journalists escaped captivity near the Turkish border in Syria on Wednesday. Anthony Loyd, a correspondent, and Jack Hill, a photographer, escaped their unidentified assailants with the help of the rebel group Islamic Front, the paper said.
New York, May 9, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the Yemeni government's decision yesterday to expel one international journalist and deny the entry of another.
Saaid Shihata, reporter for Yaqeen, an online news network that is supportive of former President Mohamed Morsi, was arrested on December 30, 2013, while another Yaqeen reporter, Ahmed Gamal, was arrested two days prior, according to Yahya Khalaf, Yaqeen's executive director, who spoke to CPJ. Both journalists were held after covering clashes between students and security forces at Al-Azhar University in Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo.
By Shazdeh Omari/CPJ News Editor
New York, April 29, 2014—Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov has been in jail for 15 years, one of the longest imprisonments of journalists worldwide. Prominent Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi was imprisoned in 2010 and has been beaten and whipped in custody. Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, serving a 12-year jail term, could barely walk or talk during a prison visit in July 2013, his family said.
On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed its concerns over the press freedom climate in Iraqi Kurdistan at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where we launched our special report, "Mountain of impunity looms over Kurdistan journalists." You can watch a video of the press conference here.
Iraqi Kurdistan may seem calm compared with much of the Middle East, but the media are vulnerable whenever internal political tensions flare. Amid impunity for anti-press attacks, including murder and arson, journalists say they must self-censor on topics like religion, social inequality, and corruption associated with powerful officials. A CPJ special report by Namo Abdulla
New York, April 18, 2014--At least seven journalists were among those attacked when Iranian guards and intelligence officials raided a section of Tehran's Evin Prison holding political prisoners on Thursday, according to news websites and human rights groups.
Unsolved Murders: 100
Population: 32.6 million
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Population: 96.7 million
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Population: 20.3 million
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Population: 22.4 million
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Population: 29.8 million
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Population: 120.8 million
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Population: 47.7 million
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Population: 179.2 million
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Population: 143.5 million
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Population: 198.7 million
Unsolved Murders: 5
Population: 168.8 million
Unsolved Murders: 7
Population: 1,237 million
New York, April 15, 2014--Two Egyptian journalists were shot by live ammunition on Monday while covering clashes in Cairo between security forces and university students supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. At least one student was killed in the clashes, news reports said.
New York, April 10, 2014--Two journalists were arrested in Egypt on Wednesday and new charges filed against three others, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Egyptian government's renewed crackdown on the press as presidential elections approach in May.
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.
A CPJ delegation traveled to Pakistan this month and met with high-level Pakistani officials including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who pledged to continue to expand Pakistan's media freedoms and address the insecurity plaguing the country's journalists.
New York, March 26, 2014--Today's conviction of freelance photographer Ahmed Humaidan is an attempt by Bahraini authorities to censor independent and dissident voices in the lead-up to the Formula One race in April, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Humaidan, who has been imprisoned since December 2012, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, according to news reports.
Multiple journalists have been assaulted, threatened, and censored in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in recent months.
New York, March 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the one-year prison sentence given today to Samah Ibrahim, a reporter for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper. Ibrahim is one of at least 10 journalists imprisoned in the country, according to news reports and CPJ research.
The recent kidnapping of two journalists in Lebanon is the latest and most troubling evidence that the press is in increasing danger as the Syrian civil war spills over into Lebanese politics.
CPJ joined 26 other human rights and civil society groups on Wednesday in an open letter calling on the member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The public letter also urged the members to participate in the March 17 Interactive Dialogue with the special rapporteur and to express concern over the severe violations of human rights, including anti-press abuses, in Iran.
New York, March 11, 2014--A suicide bombing targeting a police checkpoint in Iraq's Babil province on Sunday killed dozens of Iraqis, including two journalists, according to news reports. Muthanna Abdel Hussein and Khaled Abdel Thamer were cameramen for the state-run Al-Iraqiya TV station.
Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the "final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza" to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.
New York, March 6, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed recent decisions by the Sudanese judiciary supporting press freedom and called on the government to stop confiscating independent newspapers.
New York, March 4, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from jail of one reporter in Egypt and calls on authorities to release all other journalists held behind bars. While the release of a second journalist is pending, a trial begins on Wednesday for three imprisoned journalists affiliated with the Qatari-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, according to news reports.
Today, on Al-Jazeera's Global Day of Action, the Qatari-based broadcaster is urging Egyptian authorities to release its journalists who have been held behind bars for months. CPJ calls on the Egyptian government to release all of the journalists jailed in the country. At least nine journalists are currently imprisoned in Egypt, four of whom work for Al-Jazeera, according to CPJ research.
New York, February 19, 2014--A recent wave of anti-press violations, including repressive legislation, abductions, and physical attacks, threatens to set back the steps Libya has taken toward democracy since the revolution that removed the late Muammar Qaddafi from power, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Three years ago, hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis descended to the streets to demand change. A harsh government crackdown and the turn to violence by some protesters have since dampened the hope lit on February 14, 2011. In this context, we asked Bahrainis and Bahrain observers on Twitter how they think the status of press freedom has changed in the country. We know what we think: The Bahraini government has fallen terribly short of its own rhetoric of reform. But we wanted to hear directly from those who work and live in Bahrain every day.
Below is a Storify of some of the answers we received.
The scope of the National Security Agency's digital surveillance raises doubts about the U.S. commitment to freedom of expression online. By Joel Simon
Economists and political scientists acknowledge that journalism is vital to development and democracy. By Robert Mahoney
Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
The recent financial meltdown should be treated as a lesson on the importance of information transparency and the crucial role of a free press. By Michael J. Casey
Front-line reports and analytical essays by CPJ experts cover an array of topics of critical importance to journalists. Governments store transactional data and the content of journalists' communications. Media and money engage in a tug of war, with media owners reluctant to draw China's disfavor and advertisers able to wield surprising clout. In Syria, journalists are determined to distribute the news amid the chaos of conflict. In Vietnam, the government makes a heavy-handed bid to bring the Internet under control. And globally, eliminating witnesses has become an all too easy method of stymying justice when journalists are assassinated.
They call themselves citizen journalists, media workers, or media activists. Amid the chaos of conflict, they are determined to gather and distribute the news. By María Salazar-Ferro
The new president may have limited power to enact change, but the practical needs for communications technology may work in favor of a freer press. By D. Parvaz
Despite King Hamad’s praise for the press as the “cornerstone of human rights and a mirror of our fledgling democracy,” the Bahraini government continued to crack down on anyone challenging the official narrative. Journalists covering opposition protests were harassed, detained, and deported, while some were attacked by opposition protesters who considered them biased. The government arrested at least three bloggers and photographers in the lead-up to a major opposition protest on August 14. A court upheld the acquittal of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist in 2011. Authorities continued to clamp down on online expression by blocking websites, infiltrating social media accounts, prosecuting citizens who insulted officials, and considering restrictions on Internet-based telecommunications services. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdel Imam, convicted on anti-state charges, was forced to flee into exile after hiding for two years from Bahraini authorities.
The deeply polarized Egyptian press was battered by an array of repressive tactics throughout 2013, from the legal and physical intimidation during the tenure of former President Mohamed Morsi to the widespread censorship by the military-backed government that replaced him. Morsi and his supporters pushed through a repressive constitution, used politicized regulations, pursued retaliatory criminal cases, and employed physical intimidation of critics. After his ouster, the military-led government shut down pro-Morsi news media and obstructed coverage supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and the toppled president. Within three months, at least five journalists were killed and dozens detained without charges. At least 10 television stations and news outlets were raided, and at least five journalists remained behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. In September, the interim president appointed a 50-member committee to amend Egypt's 2012 Constitution. The committee produced a draft that would ease several press restrictions, including limiting the scope of criminal prosecution of journalists. The draft will be put to a referendum in mid-January 2014.
Iran remained one of the most censored countries in the world. In the lead-up to the June 2013 presidential elections, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government pre-emptively arrested journalists, banned publications, harassed family members of exiled journalists, and brought the Internet to a slow crawl. Reformist journalists were not the only targets, as various regime factions fought among themselves and attempted to silence their rivals. International journalists had difficulty acquiring visas, and those who did were often subject to strict supervision on the ground. The government said its crackdown on the press was necessary to unravel a foreign conspiracy led by the BBC to undermine the Islamic Republic. But Iranian citizens began to voice hope that a new era of reform would begin with the election of a more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and his apparent support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was not clear in late year whether that hope would manifest into greater press freedom in the country, and the revolving doors of Iran’s prisons continued to turn.
In a 2006 book, the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid summed up the future of Iraq as ghamidh, meaning “unclear” or “ambiguous” in Arabic. Seven years later, uncertainty continued to exacerbate the threats that journalists faced. Newspaper offices were attacked by unknown assailants, and journalists were threatened, assaulted, and detained. At least 10 journalists were killed in 2013, but the assailants and their motives were frequently unclear. For all the uncertainty and ambiguity, one truth remained clear: Central government officials and Kurdish regional authorities repeatedly attempted to silence critical voices through a combination of detentions, the denial of credentials, the suspension of television licenses, and raids of stations. Iraqi journalists continued to call for revisions to the Journalist Protection Law, which CPJ criticized for its ambiguous and restrictive provisions. In a sign of hope, the Iraqi parliament withdrew a draft Information Crimes bill that would have restricted online journalism. Still, with so much uncertainty and so little security, journalists continue to flee into exile, amid fears that Iraq could slide back into the dark days of civil war.
Despite the immense differences between the Israeli government, Fatah, and Hamas, they shared a common trait in 2013: a consistent and troublesome record of silencing journalists who reported dissenting perspectives. The revolving door on Israeli prisons continued to spin, as the government arrested multiple Palestinian journalists while releasing others. Palestinian journalists are often held under administrative detention, which effectively allows the Israeli government to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge. Israeli security forces sought to constrict coverage of Palestinian demonstrations, with journalists under threat of injury and detention. Local human rights organizations reported that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also obstructed coverage of protests, especially those in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hamas also restricted coverage of protests and opposition movements in Gaza. Hamas authorities shut down several media offices, including the Ramallah-based Ma'an and Al-Arabiya. In March, President Mahmoud Abbas pardoned a journalist who had been convicted of insulting him. Israeli journalists, however, enjoy greater freedom than any other press corps in the region, even as they face government censorship for articles concerning national security.
Although Jordanian journalists continued to enjoy greater freedom than most of their regional colleagues, that freedom was nonetheless restricted. The government continued its attempt to control the online media as it already controls traditional media. As CPJ had warned last year, the Jordanian government used the amended Press and Publications Law to block hundreds of websites that had failed to register with the government, despite protests by local journalists and promises by government officials to discuss amending the law. The country also ranked below the regional average in Internet use. The government maintained its long-standing practice of restricting coverage of sensitive issues, including local protests and the royal family. At the same time, Jordan opened its doors to numerous international journalists covering the massive influx of Syrian refugees into the country.
The Moroccan government continued its practice of targeting journalists and news outlets in connection with their critical coverage of taboo subjects, such as the health of the king or the royal family. One editor of an investigative weekly was convicted of defamation in relation to an article he wrote that said a government minister had drunk alcohol. The editor was fined and handed a two-month suspended prison sentence. Another editor was charged with promoting terrorism under the country's 2003 anti-terrorism law for publishing a link to a video of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. After an international outcry by more than 60 free-expression organizations, the editor was released on bail, but he still faces charges. In its annual census conducted on December 1, CPJ documented one journalist behind bars, a decrease from previous years.
As Libya's growing media sector faced threats from state and non-state actors alike, the country continued to struggle to realize the promise of the 2011 revolution. Several journalists were physically assaulted by security guards outside the General National Congress (GNC) in February. The same month, the government confirmed the appointment of the country's first minister of information since the Qaddafi era, which made some journalists fear the government intended to assert greater control over the media. But the greatest threats to journalists came from the government's inability to protect them. At least eight journalists were briefly abducted in 2013, while raids on news outlets and attacks on reporters continued. No journalists were imprisoned in late year, but the government continued to pursue a case against an editor who was accused of insulting the judiciary. At least one journalist was killed for his work this year, after no journalists were killed for their work in 2012.
Despite official promises to end the practice of pre-publication censorship, agents of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services continued to intimidate journalists and censor newspapers. Security service officials routinely ordered papers to be suspended and raided printing houses to confiscate certain issues. At least 14 journalists were arrested over the year, many for their coverage of anti-government protests prompted by economic austerity plans that swept the country in September. After the wave of protests, in which more than 700 citizens were arrested, the Sudanese government ordered editors to publish news in line with official statements and to portray protesters as “vandals.” Foreign media outlets were also targeted and told that their licenses would be scrapped, according to reports. The Sudanese government shut down Internet service twice to prevent protesters from using social media.
For the second year in a row, CPJ ranked Syria the deadliest country in the world for journalists. Journalists also faced new threats in 2013 as radical Islamist groups strengthened their influence in rebel-held territory and rebel groups saw increased infighting. An unprecedented number of journalists were abducted during the year; many of them were believed to be held by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. But the blame did not fall solely with extremist groups. Armed factions affiliated with both the regime and the rebels were implicated in anti-press violations including detention and killing. Throughout the year, as the groups succeeded in silencing dissenting voices with complete impunity, fewer journalists were willing to take on the risks of reporting from Syria. Many international journalists refused to enter the country, and local journalists fled into exile, fearing for their lives.
Tunisia, the country that inspired uprisings across the Middle East, continues to struggle to realize the aspirations of its own revolution, including the guarantee of press freedom. Journalists were attacked while covering protests, and several reported receiving death threats in relation to their criticism of the ruling party. The government created a draft constitution, which local press freedom groups criticized as falling short of international press freedom standards. The final draft was pending in late 2013 as the constitutional assembly suspended its work due to political tension. Constitutional protection has proven necessary in Tunisia, where the government has imprisoned and fined journalists for libel and defamation and has even tried some in a military court. In protest against attacks on freedom of expression, journalists organized general strikes calling for the implementation of decree 115 that prohibits the imprisonment of journalists in relation to their work. In May, the government established the High Independent Authority for Audiovisual Communication, a self-regulatory body for the media.
The state of press freedom in Yemen in 2013 reflected the overall uncertainty and insecurity of a country in transition after decades of rule under President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The press faced serious consequences for failing to navigate a complicated web of red lines from the government, tribal groups, and political factions. Many journalists received death threats after crossing those red lines, and several were threatened or attacked by various assailants. CPJ documented at least seven journalists who were abducted over the year, all of whom were later released. Journalists covering protests related to the anniversary of the brief civil war in the country were assaulted by demonstrators, unidentified gunmen, and government security forces. The government continued to prosecute journalists for a range of charges, including defamation and insulting public officials. Still, there were some reasons for optimism. Freelance journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea was freed in July after three years’ imprisonment, and CPJ documented no Yemeni journalists in prison for the first time since 2009. For the second year in a row, CPJ documented no journalists killed in relation to their work.
Today, a broad coalition of technology companies, human rights organizations, political groups, and others will take to the Web and to the streets to protest mass surveillance. The mobilization, known as "The Day We Fight Back," honors activist and technologist Aaron Swartz, who passed away just over a year ago. Throughout the day, the campaign will encourage individuals to contact their representatives, pressure their employers, and march for an end to government surveillance practices that sweep up huge amounts of data, often indiscriminately.
New York, February 6, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the 12-year jail term handed to the owner of a broadcaster in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The journalist has 30 days to appeal.
Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined other leading international media freedom and human rights organizations, including Article 19, Index on Censorship, and Reporters Without Borders, in calling on the European Union and United States to demand Egyptian authorities drop charges against Al-Jazeera journalists and release those under arrest.
New York, January 29, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the Egyptian prosecutor general's decision to put 20 Al-Jazeera journalists on trial on criminal charges of incitement, distorting the country's image abroad, and fabricating news to aid the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has declared a terrorist organization, according to government daily Al-Ahram and other news reports.
New York, January 28, 2014--Several local and international journalists have been attacked and detained in Egypt while covering deadly clashes between police and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, according to news reports. The clashes erupted on Saturday, the third anniversary of the uprising in Egypt.
Today the Committee to Protect Journalists joins 15 other press freedom and media development organizations calling on the participants of the Syrian peace conference in Geneva to include freedom of the press and expression as "fundamental cornerstones in any viable political settlement."
New York, January 21, 2014--Authorities in Mauritania should drop charges against a journalist who has been detained since January 2, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed has been held in connection with an article he wrote that was deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad.
Human rights groups and legislators are praising the third and final draft of Tunisia's new constitution as one of the most liberal charters in the Arab world--and for being arrived at by a remarkably consensual process among political parties, especially if compared with neighboring Egypt and Libya.
Dear President Mansour: As an international press freedom organization, we are writing to express our concern about the climate of press freedom in Egypt. We believe that all Egyptian citizens should be guaranteed the right to freedom of speech and freedom of information. Yet at least seven journalists are being held behind bars in the country today, unable to do their work in this critical time in Egypt's history. We condemn the ongoing imprisonment of the journalists and urge the Egyptian government to immediately release them.
New York, January 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the news that three abducted journalists in Syria have been freed this week. The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed today that freelance Swedish journalists Magnus Falkehed and Niclas Hammarstrom, both of whom were abducted in November, were released. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkish intelligence services had helped secure the release of Milliyet photojournalist Bünyamin Aygün, who had been held for more than a month.
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