Djamel Eddine Fahassi, Alger Chaîne III
IMPRISONED: May 6, 1995
Fahassi, a reporter for the state-run radio station Alger Chaîne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the now-banned weekly of the Islamic Salvation Front, Al-Forqane, was abducted near his home in the al-Harrache suburb of the capital, Algiers, by four well-dressed men carrying walkie-talkies. According to eyewitnesses who later spoke with his wife, the men called out Fahassi's name and then pushed him into a waiting car. He has not been seen since, and Algerian authorities have denied any knowledge of his arrest.
Prior to Fahassi's "disappearance," Algerian authorities had targeted him on at least two occasions because his writing criticized the government. In late 1991, he was arrested after an article in Al-Forqane criticized a raid conducted by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood. On January 1, 1992, the Blida Military Court convicted him of disseminating false information, attacking a state institution, and disseminating information that could harm national unity.
He received a one-year suspended sentence and was released after five months. On February 17, 1992, he was arrested a second time for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information. He was transferred to the Ain Salah Detention Center in southern Algeria, where hundreds of Islamic suspects were detained in the months following the cancellation of the January 1992 elections.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Fahassi's abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Aziz Bouabdallah Al-Alam al-Siyassi
IMPRISONED: April 12, 1997
Three armed men abducted Bouabdallah, a reporter for the daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, from his home in the capital, Algiers. According to Bouabdallah's family, the men stormed into their home and, after identifying the journalist, grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door and into a waiting car. An article published in the privately owned daily El-Watan a few days after his abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody and was expected to be released soon.
In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held in Algiers at the Châteauneuf detention facility, where he had reportedly been tortured. But Bouabdallah's whereabouts were unknown in 2006, and authorities have denied any knowledge.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Bouabdallah's abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
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Arman Babadzhanian, Zhamanak Yerevan
IMPRISONED: June 26, 2006
The Yerevan prosecutor general summoned Babadzhanian, editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Yerevan, purportedly for questioning as a witness in a criminal case. Instead, authorities charged him with forging documents to evade military service in 2002 and took him into custody, according to international press reports.
At his trial, Babadzhanian pleaded guilty to draft evasion but said the charge was in retaliation for the paper's critical reporting. Days before his arrest, Zhamanak Yerevan published an article questioning the independence of the prosecutor general's office, according to the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
On September 8, a district court in Yerevan sentenced Babadzhanian to four years in prison on charges of forgery and draft evasion, according to the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The defense filed an appeal in September.
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Sakit Zakhidov, Azadlyg
IMPRISONED: June 23, 2006
Police arrested Zakhidov, a prominent reporter and satirist for the Baku-based opposition daily Azadlyg, and charged him with possession of heroin with the intent to sell. Zakhidov denied the charge and said a police officer placed the drugs, about a third of an ounce, in his pocket during his arrest, according to local and international news reports.
CPJ sources said Zakhidov had previously told colleagues he feared retaliation. His arrest came three days after Executive Secretary Ali Akhmedov of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party publicly urged authorities to silence Zakhidov. At a June 20 panel on media freedom, Akhmedov said: "No government official or member of parliament has avoided his slanders. Someone should put an end to it," the news Web site EurasiaNet reported.
Zakhidov was held in a police pretrial detention unit until he was transferred to the Bailovsk prison in Baku in July. On September 26, Public Prosecutor Shamil Guliyev announced that the prosecution could not prove the drug-selling count and revised the charge to drug possession.
On October 4, a court in Baku convicted Zakhidov and sentenced him to three years in prison. He was placed in the Bailovsk Prison in Baku.
Samir Sadagatoglu, Senet
Rafiq Tagi, Senet
IMPRISONED: November 15, 2006
Editor-in-chief Sadagatoglu and reporter Tagi of the independent newspaper Senet were detained in connection with a November 1 article headlined "Europe and Us." Tagi, the author, suggested that Islamic values were blocking development in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation, according to international media reports. The article referred to Islam as a cause of infighting.
Tagi denied that he had slandered Islam. "There are no offensive words addressed to the Prophet," the local news Web site Day quoted him as saying. "On the other hand, we do not live in a religious state."
The Nasimi District Court in the capital, Baku, ordered Sadagatoglu and Tagi held for two months while authorities investigated the case, according to international press reports. If convicted of spreading national, ethnic, or religious hatred under Article 283 of the penal code, the journalists could face three to five years in prison, the online Russian news agency Rosbalt reported.
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Shafiqul Islam Shafiq, Focus Bangla
IMPRISONED: October 28, 2006
Shafiq, a photographer, was arrested on October 28 in Rajshahi, in northwestern Bangladesh. He was taken by plainclothes men believed to be members of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite anticrime and antiterrorism force under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Journalists from the Dainik Prothom Alo daily newspaper who were allowed to visit him on October 31 reported that he had been severely beaten, had burns on his body, and had broken bones in his hands. Shafiq told reporters that interrogators used an electric prod. He said police questioned him about the murder of police officers in Manda Chowbaria, in the western Bangladeshi area of Naoga, and forced him to sign blank confession papers.
During interrogation, police told Shafiq that other journalists would also be targeted. Colleagues alleged that he was being held without evidence on trumped-up charges as a warning to the press from the Rapid Action Battalion, which media and human rights groups have accused of extrajudicial killings and torture.
Bail was set on November 1, but Shafiq was immediately rearrested and accused in the murders. Police told reporters they had proof of Shafiq's contacts with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists through numbers saved on his mobile phone. Despite the claims of proof, Shafiq was charged under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the detention of people on the suspicion of criminal activity without an order from a magistrate or a warrant. The government regularly uses Section 54 to arrest people without formal charges or specific complaints.
The day after Shafiq's arrest, colleagues from the Rajshahi Journalists Union held a public rally to demand his release and specifically criticized the Rapid Action Battalion for harassing journalists.
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U Win Tin, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 4, 1989
U Win Tin, former editor-in-chief of the daily Hanthawati and chairman of Burma's Writers Club, was arrested and sentenced to three years hard labor in 1989 on the spurious charge of arranging a "forced abortion" for an opposition politician. While in prison, his sentence was extended twice, building to 20 years. U Win Tin suffered at least two heart attacks in prison and has been shuttled between the notorious Insein Prison and Rangoon Hospital's prisoner wing.
U Win Tin helped establish various pro-democracy publications during the 1988 uprisings that the ruling military junta violently crushed. As a former joint secretary to the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) political party, U Win Tin was considered a close adviser to NLD party leader and Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 1992, his initial term drawing to an end, U Win Tin saw his sentence extended on charges of "writing and publishing pamphlets to incite treason against the state" and "giving seditious talks" during the 1988 uprisings. In 1996, military authorities extended his term yet again on charges that he secretly published "antigovernment propaganda" from prison, including notes drawn up for a United Nations special rapporteur detailing human rights abuses at Insein.
In 1996, U Win Tin was held for five months in crude solitary confinement in kennels designed for the prison's guard dogs. Such deprivations contributed to the 76-year-old journalist's declining health, including a degenerative spine condition, heart disease, inflamed knee joints, dental problems, and a prostate gland disorder, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
A senior Burmese military official offered to release U Win Tin in 2003 in exchange for the journalist signing a document promising to cease political activities, according to a report in Le Monde. U Win Tin refused.
Two years later, U Win Tin was subjected to a cruel manipulation, according to news reports. The Associated Press reported that the journalist was told he would be among the political prisoners released on July 6, 2005. In all, nearly 250 such prisoners were freed at the time. But after gathering his belongings and attending a briefing on the conditions of release, U Win Tin was instead directed to a nearby office, according to a freed prisoner quoted in a Radio Free Asia dispatch. For unknown reasons, U Win Tin was not freed.
Amnesty International reported that U Win Tin should have been eligible for early release in July.
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe, Pe-Tin-Than
IMPRISONED: September 1990
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe was arrested and charged in 1990 with writing and distributing undisclosed publications that the authorities deemed to "make people lose respect for the government." The publications were titled collectively Pe-Tin-Than, which from the Burmese translates loosely to "Echoes." CPJ has been unable to confirm his current whereabouts, legal status, or records of his original sentencing 16 years ago.
Aung Htun, freelance
IMPRISONED: February 17, 1998
Aung Htun, a writer and activist, was imprisoned in February 1998 for writing and publishing a seven-volume book that documented the history of the student movement that led the pro-democracy uprisings of 1988. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison, according to information compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
He was sentenced separately to three years for violating the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, the military government's main legal instrument of official censorship; seven years under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which is used broadly to suppress any dissent against the regime; and another seven years under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act, a draconian holdover law from Burma's colonial era under British rule, according to the AAPPB.
The writer's health deteriorated during his detention. In 2002, Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal requesting that Aung Htun be granted access to medical treatment for complications related to growths on his feet, which had apparently inhibited his ability to walk, as well as a severe asthma condition. It is believed that his health has deteriorated further in subsequent years, according to the Burma Media Association, an exiled press freedom advocacy group.
Thaung Tun (Nyein Thit), freelance
IMPRISONED: October 4, 1999
Thaung Tun, an editor, filmmaker, and poet better known as Nyein Thit, was arrested on October 4, 1999, and subsequently sentenced on December 3, 1999, to eight years in prison for collecting and disseminating human rights-related information outside of the country, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
The films depicted topics that exposed chronic mismanagement and human rights abuses under military rule, including footage of forced labor and images of grinding poverty in rural areas. His videotapes were circulated through underground networks inside and outside the country, and copies were eventually captured by military intelligence officials, according to the Burma Media Association, an exiled press freedom advocacy group.
The 47-year-old Thaung Tun was a longtime journalist with the Padaut Pwint Thit magazine, which the government shuttered in 1995. He was also a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party and spent three years in prison for his political activities in the late 1970s. He is currently detained at Moulmein prison in southern Burma, 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) away from his family in Mandalay, according to the AAPPB.
CPJ honored Thaung Tun and his videographer colleague Aung Pwint, who was also imprisoned for his role in making the unauthorized documentaries, with 2004 International Press Freedom Awards. Aung Pwint was released in 2005.
Ne Min (Win Shwe), freelance
IMPRISONED: May 7, 2004
Ne Min, a lawyer and former stringer for the BBC, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges that he illegally passed information to "antigovernment" organizations operating in border areas, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
It represented the second time Burma's military government had imprisoned the well-known journalist, also known as Win Shwe, on charges related to disseminating information to news sources outside of Burma. In 1989, a military tribunal sentenced Ne Min to 14 years hard labor for "spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country" and the "possession of documents including antigovernment literature, which he planned to send to the BBC," according to official radio reports.
He served nine years at Rangoon's Insein Prison before being released in 1998. Exiled Burmese journalists who spoke with CPJ said that Ne Min sent news and information to political groups and exile-run news publications after his release from prison.
Thaung Sein (Thar Cho), freelance
Kyaw Thwin (Moe Tun), Dhamah Yate
IMPRISONED: March 27, 2006
Thaung Sein, a freelance photojournalist, and Kyaw Thwin, a columnist at the Burmese-language magazine Dhamah Yate, were arrested on March 27, 2006, and sentenced the following day to three years in prison for photographing and videotaping while riding on a public bus near the new capital city, Pyinmana.
The two journalists were charged under the 1996 Television and Video Act, which bars the distribution of film material without official approval. Under the law, every videotape in Burma must receive a certificate, which may be revoked at any time, from the government's censorship board.
Burmese security officials were under strict orders to stop and detain anyone found taking photographs near the mysterious new capital. Thaung Sein, also known as Thar Cho, and Kyaw Thwin, more widely known by his Moe Tun pen name, were placed at Yemethin Prison in central Burma, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
Both journalists appealed the decision on the argument that they had not taken film or video footage of restricted areas. On June 21, an appeals court based in the central Burma town of Yemethin upheld the lower court's verdict without allowing defense witnesses to testify, according to information from their lawyer that was received by the Burma Media Association, an exile-run press freedom advocacy group.
Burma's secretive military government abruptly moved the national capital in November 2005 to a newly built administrative center located 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Rangoon. Regional news reports, citing official government documents, said the junta's decision to move the capital was motivated by fears of supposed military strikes.
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Serge Nibizi, Radio Publique Africaine
Domitile Kiramvu, Radio Publique Africaine
IMPRISONED: November 22, 2006
Editor Nibizi and reporter Kiramvu of the independent radio station Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) were arrested in connection with a story about an alleged coup plot, according to their lawyer and other local sources. The two were summoned for questioning, served with arrest warrants, and imprisoned on charges that included threatening state security, lawyer François Nyamoya said.
Nibizi and Kiramvu were accused of violating judicial secrecy by commenting on a story in the pro-government newspaper Intumwa claiming evidence of a coup plot, according to Nyamoya. No action was taken against Intumwa. Several leading opposition figures have been jailed since August in connection with the alleged coup plot.
Reports on RPA and two other independent radio stations, Radio Isanganiro and Radio Bonesha, cast doubt on whether a plot truly existed.
Station Director Alexis Sinduhije, a 2004 International Press Freedom Awardee, said he believed authorities were trying to close RPA because of its reporting on human rights abuses. Sinduhije went into hiding in September amid what he called a campaign of intimidation against RPA.
Matthias Manirakiza, Radio Isanganiro
IMPRISONED: November 29, 2006
Manirakiza, director of Radio Isanganiro, was held in the central prison in the capital, Bujumbura, in connection with a story broadcast in August. The report cited police sources as saying authorities planned to stage fake attacks on the homes of top officials to bolster their claims of a coup plot.
Several top opposition leaders, including the former president, were on trial in late year for alleged participation in the plot. Reports on Radio Isanganiro and other independent radio stations cast doubt on whether a plot truly existed.
Agence France-Presse quoted Manirakiza's lawyer, Raphael Gahungu as saying that his client was jailed for allegedly "authorizing the broadcast of information threatening to state and public security." It was not immediately clear whether any formal charges were filed.
Radio Isanganiro is backed by the U.S.-based nongovernmental organization Search for Common Ground.
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Hem Choun, Samrek Yutethor
IMPRISONED: June 7, 2006
Hem Chuon, a reporter with the Khmer-language newspaper Samrek Yutethor, was arrested by military police while reporting on the forced eviction of land squatters by military police from Sambok Chap village on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.
He was arrested along with three other villagers for their alleged role in leading a violent protest on May 31 against a private security company that had been hired to secure the land. That day, protestors dismantled metal fences erected around the village and burned down the village chief's empty house.
Chuon's lawyer said that he covered the riot as a reporter and did not participate in the melee. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), a rights advocacy group that has provided legal counsel to the jailed journalist, told CPJ that police arrested Chuon without a proper warrant and that they had refused to recognize him as a practicing journalist.
On June 8, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigation Judge Ke Sokhan charged Chuon under Article 52 of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia criminal law, which relates to wrongful damage of property. On June 9, Sokhan denied Chuon's bail petition submitted through his lawyer. Cambodian law allows the government to hold a person for six months without bail.
Chuon was being held in crowded conditions at Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar Prison. According to CCHR, Chuon has developed respiratory complications during his detention, and prison authorities on at least one occasion denied him outside medical treatment. The court did not immediately set a trial date.
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Chen Renjie, Ziyou Bao
Lin Youping, Ziyou Bao
IMPRISONED: July 1983
Twenty-three years after their imprisonment in the early days of China's economic reform, Chen and Lin are the longest-serving journalists in CPJ's worldwide census. The two men, along with Chen Biling, wrote and published a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report). They distributed only 300 copies of the pamphlet in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 1982. The following July, they were arrested and accused of making contact with Taiwanese spy groups and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official government records of the case, the men used "propaganda and incitement to encourage the overthrow of the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist system."
In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin Youping was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
CHARGED: October 16, 1995
In 1994 Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of the magazine Remen Huati (Popular Topics). The men had allegedly purchased fake printing authorizations from an editor of the Journal of European Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to official Chinese news sources. Printing authorizations are a prior restraint used to curtail independent publishing in China.
CPJ was unable to determine the date of Fan's arrest, but on October 16, 1995, he was indicted on charges of profiteering. On January 31, 1996, the Chang'an District Court in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 13 years in prison, with three years' subsequent deprivation of political rights, for publishing and distributing illegal "reactionary" publications. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.
Fan's appeal was rejected on April 11, 1996, according to the Chinese government's response to a query by the San Francisco-based prisoners' advocacy group Dui Hua.
Hua Di, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 5, 1998
The imprisonment of Hua, a Stanford University scientist and permanent resident of the United States, raised objections from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his colleagues at Stanford University, and others. But eight years later, he remained in jail.
Hua was arrested while visiting China and charged with revealing state secrets, a charge used frequently against journalists who write about controversial matters. Charges are believed to stem from articles that Hua had written in academic journals about China's missile defense system.
On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People's Court overturned Hua's conviction and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, and it appeared to be a response to international pressure. But the decision did not mean that he was freed.
Instead, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court issued a modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison in November 2000. News of Hua's sentencing did not break until three months later, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing.
Requests for medical parole have been rejected. Hua suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.
Gao Qinrong, Xinhua News Agency
IMPRISONED: December 4, 1998
Gao, an investigative reporter for China's state news agency, Xinhua, was jailed for reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng, Shanxi province. Xinhua never carried Gao's article, which was finally published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official People's Daily that is distributed only among a select group of party leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) and on China Central Television. Gao's wife, Duan Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media interest and arranged for his prosecution on false charges.
Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a closed one-day trial.
In September 2001, Gao wrote to Mary Robinson, then the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, and asked her to intercede with the Chinese government on his behalf. Gao has received support from several members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of the National People's Congress, who issued a motion at its annual parliamentary meeting in March 2001 urging the Central Discipline Committee and Supreme People's Court to reopen his case.
In 2002, Gao received a sentence reduction of 21 months, and in 2004 received a further reduction of two years, San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation reported. Though Gao's imprisonment was frequently listed as a case of concern by foreign governments in dialogue with China, the reductions were not publicly disclosed until 2006. Based on the government's sentence reductions, Gao would be released in March 2007.
Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
IMPRISONED: January 1999
Along with his colleagues Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin, Yue started a journal campaigning for workers' rights after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guangcha (China Labor Watch) exposed extensive corruption among officials at the company, according to international media reports. Only two issues were ever published.
On July 5, 1999, the Tianshui People's Intermediate Court in Gansu province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison on charges of "subverting state authority," according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. His colleagues Wang and Guo were sentenced to two years in prison and have since been released. All three men reportedly belonged to the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers.
In 2006, the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation reported that Yue's sentence was reduced to nine years in March 2005. He turned 50 in Lanzhou Prison in December 2006.
Wu Yilong, Zaiye Dang
IMPRISONED: April 26, 1999
Mao Qingxiang, Zaiye Dang
IMPRISONED: June 1999
Wu and Mao, both organizers for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), were detained in the run-up to the 10-year anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. A few months later, authorities detained two more leading CDP activists, Zhu Yufu and Xu Guang. The four were later convicted of subversion for, among other things, establishing a magazine called Zaiye Dang (Opposition Party) and circulating pro-democracy writings online.
On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang province conducted what The New York Times described as a "sham trial." On November 9, 1999, Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and Mao was sentenced to eight years. Their political rights were suspended for three years each upon release. Xu was sentenced to five years in prison and was later released. Zhu was sentenced to seven years and was released in September 2006. After his release, Zhu told journalists that he had been abused and deprived of sleep while in prison.
"The guards would tell three or four criminals to beat me, saying it was a private matter between prisoners," Zhu told The Associated Press.
Xu Zerong, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 24, 2000
Xu is serving a 13-year prison term on charges of "leaking state secrets" through his academic work on military history and of "economic crimes" related to unauthorized publishing on foreign policy issues. Some observers believe that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by Shenzhen Intermediate Court in December 2001, and his appeal to Guangzhou Higher People's Court was rejected in 2002.
According to court documents, the "state secrets" charges against Xu stemmed from his use of historical documents for academic research. Xu, also known as David Tsui, was an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea. The verdict stated that the Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army of Guangzhou later determined that the books had not been declassified 40 years after being labeled "top secret." After his arrest, St. Antony's College at Oxford University, where Xu earned his doctorate and wrote his dissertation on the Korean War, was active in researching his case and calling for his release.
He was also the co-founder of a Hong Kong-based academic journal Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). The "economic crimes" charges were related to the "illegal publication" of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan.
Xu was arrested just days after an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan in which he accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy by condemning other countries for interfering in its internal affairs by criticizing its human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He has been spared from hard labor and has been allowed to read, research, and teach English in prison, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. He has suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
In 2006, Xu's family members were informed that he had received a nine-month reduction in his sentence, according to Dui Hua. Based on that, he would be scheduled for release in 2012.
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Jin Haike, freelance
Zhang Honghai, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 13, 2001
The four members of an informal discussion group called Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group) were detained and accused of "subverting state authority." Prosecutors cited online articles and essays on political and social reform as proof of their intent to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party leadership.
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were charged with subversion on April 20, 2001. More than two years later, on May 29, 2003, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Xu and Jin to10 years in prison each, while Yang and Zhang each received sentences of eight years. Each of the sentences was to be followed by two years' deprivation of political rights.
The four young men were students and recent university graduates who gathered occasionally to discuss politics and reform with four others, including an informant for the Ministry of State Security. The most prominent in the group, Yang, posted his own thoughts and reports by the others on topics such as rural poverty and village elections, along with essays advocating democratic reform on a popular Web site, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas).
Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer's Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin's "Be a New Citizen, Reform China" and Yang's "Choose Liberalism," in the 2003 verdict against them. Beijing Higher People's Court rejected their appeal without hearing defense witnesses in November 2003. Three of the witnesses who testified against the four men were fellow members of the group who later tried to retract their testimonies
Yang, Xu, and Jin were imprisoned at Beijing's No. 2 Prison. Yang's wife, Lu Kun, who was also initially detained and questioned, was unable to visit him for four years after his imprisonment, she told reporters in 2005. Zhang, who initially suffered from ill health in detention, was jailed at Lishui Prison in Zhejiang province, where he makes sweaters, his brother told CPJ.
Tao Haidong, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 9, 2002
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and charged with "incitement to subvert state power." According to the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published Tao's recent writing, his articles focused on political and legal reform. In one essay, titled "Strategies for China's Social Reforms," Tao wrote that "the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society should unite to push forward China's freedom and democratic development or else stand condemned through the ages."
Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of "re-education through labor" in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing essays and articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to seven years in prison. His appeal to the XUAR Higher Court later in 2003 was rejected.
Zhang Wei, Shishi Zixun and Redian Jiyao
IMPRISONED: July 19, 2002
Zhang was arrested and charged with illegal publishing after producing and selling two underground newspapers in Chongqing, in central China. According to an account published on the Web site of the Chongqing Press and Publishing Administration, a provincial government body that governs all local publications, beginning in April 2001, Zhang edited two newspapers, Shishi Zixun (Current Events) and Redian Jiyao (Summary of the Main Points), which included articles and graphics he had downloaded from the Internet.
Two of Zhang's business associates, Zuo Shangwen and Ou Yan, were also arrested on July 19, 2002, and indicted for their involvement with the publications. Zuo printed the publications in neighboring Sichuan province, while Ou managed the publications' finances. At the time of their arrests, police confiscated 9,700 copies of Shishi Zixun.
The official account of their arrests stated that the two publications had "flooded" Chongqing's publishing market. The government declared that "the political rumors, shocking 'military reports,' and other articles in these illegal publications misled the public, poisoned the youth, negatively influenced society, and sparked public indignation." Zhang, Zuo, and Ou printed more than 1.5 million copies of the publications and sold them in Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities.
On December 25, 2002, the Yuzhong District Court in Chongqing sentenced Zhang to six years in prison and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,000), the amount that police said he had earned in profits from the publications. Zuo was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), while Ou was sentenced to two years in prison.
Abdulghani Memetemin, East Turkistan Information Center
IMPRISONED: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang, on charges of "leaking state secrets."
In June 2003, Kashgar Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against Memetemin, including translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for the center. The court also accused him of recruiting additional reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial.
Huang Jinqiu, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based citizen journalist Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu province. Huang's family was not officially notified of his arrest for more than three months. On September 27, 2004, Changzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of "subversion of state authority," plus four years' deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as in Guangdong province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, Huang began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name "Qing Shuijun." He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name "Huang Jin." Huang's writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. Huang told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writing, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled "Me and My Public Security Friends," Huang described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Huang's appeal was rejected in December 2004.
Huang's lawyer told CPJ in early 2005 that the journalist had been mistreated in prison and was in poor health. By late 2006, his family told Boxun News that his health conditions appeared improved.
Kong Youping, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written articles online that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government's "counterrevolutionary" ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong's essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, "In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing." Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP), an opposition party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years' deprivation of political rights. Ning received a 12-year sentence. Kong's family has never seen the verdict in the case, according to CPJ sources in China.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan far from his family, making visits difficult. In a letter written to his family from prison, Kong said that he had received a sentence reduction to 10 years in his appeal, but that information could not be confirmed.
Yu Huafeng, Nanfang Dushi Bao
Li Minying, Nanfang Dushi Bao
IMPRISONED: January 2004
Yu, deputy editor-in-chief and general manager of Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News), and Li, the newspaper's former editor, were detained less than a month after the newspaper reported a suspected SARS case in Guangzhou, the first case since the epidemic died out in July 2003. Their imprisonment was followed in March 2004 by the jailing of Nanfang Dushi Bao former editor-in-chief Cheng Yizhong, who was held for five months.
The arrests appeared to be a part of a crackdown on the newspaper, which became popular for its aggressive investigative reporting on social issues and wrongdoing by local officials. The paper broke news that a young graphic designer, Sun Zhigang, was beaten to death in March 2003 while being held in police custody in Guangzhou. Public outcry over Sun's death led to the arrest of several local government and police officials, along with a change in national laws on detention.
On March 19, 2004, Dongshan District Court in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, sentenced Yu to 12 years in prison on corruption charges. Li, who also served on the Communist Party Committee of the newspaper's parent group Nanfang Daily Group, was sentenced to 11 years on bribery charges. In an appellate trial held in June 2004, Li's sentence was reduced to six years in prison, while Yu's sentence was reduced to eight years.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Yu was convicted of embezzling 580,000 yuan (US$70,000) and distributing the money to members of the paper's editorial committee. The court also accused Yu of paying Li a total of 800,000 yuan (US$97,000) in bribes while Li was editor of Nanfang Dushi Bao. Li was accused of accepting bribes totaling 970,000 (US$117,000).
Both men maintained that the money was acquired legally and was distributed in routine bonus payments to the staff. Chinese journalists familiar with the case have told CPJ that evidence presented in court did not support the corruption charges.
In 2005, Cheng was named the recipient of the 2005 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. He was not permitted to attend, but in his acceptance statement he asked to share the honor with Li and Yu: "Your suffering is the shame of China," he said. Later that year, more than 2,000 journalists in China signed an open letter to the Guangdong High People's Court appealing for the release of Yu and Li. Observers could remember no precedent in this show of support.
Yu's wife told CPJ that she travels monthly to Beijing to petition for the release of her husband.
Zhao Yan, The New York Times
IMPRISONED: September 17, 2004
Zhao, a news researcher at Beijing bureau of The New York Times and a former investigative reporter for the Beijing-based China Reform magazine, was detained in Shanghai less than two weeks after The Times ran an article correctly predicting the retirement of President Jiang Zemin from his final leadership post.
Zhao was held under suspicion of "providing state secrets to foreigners," a charge that denied him access to a lawyer for nine months after his initial detention, prolonged his pretrial detention, and cloaked his case in official secrecy. Leaked state security documents confirmed that Zhao was detained in connection with the September 7 article on Jiang's retirement, but indicated that the sparse evidence against him comprised only a brief handwritten note taken through unknown means from the Beijing office of The Times. A fraud charge was added in April 2005. After a series of delays, Zhao was tried in June 2006 in closed proceedings in which he was not permitted to call defense witnesses.
On August 25, 2006, Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court convicted Zhao of fraud charges, but in a very rare move for criminal cases brought to trial in China, acquitted him of the more serious state secrets charges due to "insufficient evidence." Zhao was sentenced to three years in prison.
The fraud charge stemmed from an accusation that Zhao took 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) from a local official with the promise of helping him get released from a work camp in 2001. Zhao was known as an aggressive investigative reporter and activist before joining The Times. Sources familiar with the situation told CPJ that the allegation against him was unsubstantiated.
Zhao's detention fueled an international outcry, and it was raised with high-ranking U.S. officials in talks with Chinese counterparts. The state secrets' charge against Zhao was briefly dropped ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's April 2006 visit to the White House, prompting premature speculation that he would soon be released from prison. But all charges were reinstated after Hu's visit.
After his sentencing, Zhao's lawyers petitioned for a fully open appeal hearing with a right to call defense witnesses, something denied him in the first trial. But authorities denied this request and rejected his appeal after reviewing it behind closed doors in November.
Shi Tao, freelance
IMPRISONED: November 24, 2004
Shi, the former editorial director at the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao, was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.
He was formally arrested and charged with "providing state secrets to foreigners" by sending an e-mail on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the Web site Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In the anonymous email sent several months before his arrest, Shi transcribed his notes from local propaganda department instructions to his newspaper, which included directives on coverage of the Falun Gong and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets later certified the contents of the e-mail as classified.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People's Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June, Hunan Province High People's Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo's participation in the identification of Shi Tao and other jailed Internet writers and dissidents in China raised questions about the role that international Internet companies are playing in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi in absentia with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, was invited to attend the ceremony in New York but declined the invitation after police told her that her son's conditions in high-security Chisan Prison would improve if she stayed home. Instead, Shi's conditions stayed the same through 2006. He was forced to work cutting and polishing gems, lost weight, and was not allowed to read newspapers or write.
Zheng Yichun, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas online news sites including the U.S.-based Web site Dajiyuan (Epoch Times), which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. Zheng wrote a series of editorials that directly criticized the Communist Party and its control of the media.
Because of police warnings, Zheng's family remained silent about his detention in Yingkou, Liaoning province, until state media reported that he had been arrested on suspicion of inciting subversion. Zheng was initially tried by Yingkou Intermediate People's Court on April 26, 2005. No verdict was announced, and on July 21 he was tried again on the same charges. As in the April 26 trial, proceedings lasted just three hours. Though officially "open" to the public, the courtroom was closed to all observers except close family members and government officials. Zheng's supporters and a journalist were prevented from entering, according to a local source.
Prosecutors cited dozens of articles written by the journalist, and listed the titles of several essays in which he called for political reform, increased capitalism in China, and an end to the practice of imprisoning writers.
On September 20, the court sentenced Zheng to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years' deprivation of political rights.
Sources familiar with the case believe that Zheng's harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders' objections to the Dajiyuan series "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," which called the Chinese Communist Party an "evil cult" with a "history of killings" and predicted its demise.
Zheng is diabetic, and his health suffered a decline after his imprisonment. After his first appeal was rejected, he intended to pursue an appeal in a higher court, but his defense lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was himself imprisoned in August 2006. Zheng's family has been unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
Zhang Lin, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 29, 2005
Zhang, a freelance writer and political essayist who made a living by writing for banned overseas Web sites, was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" and misrepresenting national authorities in his articles and in a radio interview.
Zhang, who spent years in jail in the 1990s for his pro-democracy activism and for organizing a labor union, was detained at a train station near his home in Bengbu, in central China's Anhui province. Police apprehended him as he was returning from Beijing, where he had traveled to mourn the death of ousted Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. He was initially accused of "disturbing public order" but police formally arrested him on charges of inciting subversion after confiscating the computer he was using.
Bengbu Intermediate People's Court tried him on June 21, 2005, in proceedings that lasted five hours, his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ. The defense argued that the six articles and one interview cited by the prosecution were protected free expression. Zhang's wife told reporters that his imprisonment was also connected to essays he wrote about protests by unemployed workers and official scandals. On July 28, 2005, the court convicted Zhang and sentenced him to five years in prison.
For 28 days in September 2005, Zhang waged a hunger strike to protest his unjust sentence and the harsh conditions at Bengbu No. 1 Detention Center. Officials there subjected him to long hours of forced labor making Christmas ornaments and refused to allow him to read newspapers or other material, according to his lawyer. During his hunger strike, he was fed through his nose, and was hospitalized briefly before returning to the detention center.
Zhang's appeals were rejected without a hearing, and he was moved to a prison in Anhui province. Zhang's wife told CPJ that his health has suffered during his imprisonment. They have a young daughter.
Li Changqing, Fuzhou Ribao
IMPRISONED: February 2005
Li, deputy news director of Fuzhou Ribao (Fuzhou Daily), was arrested in southern China's Fujian province in connection with an investigation of whistleblower Huang Jingao, a Communist Party official in Fujian province who wrote an open letter to the state-run People's Daily in 2004 denouncing corruption among local officials.
Huang won public support after describing death threats that he said forced him to wear a bulletproof vest. But in November 2005 he was convicted of accepting bribes and sentenced to life in prison. Supporters said that the charges against Huang were politically motivated.
Li was initially accused of inciting subversion. He told his lawyer that he was tortured in detention, and interrogated repeatedly about his defense of Huang in newspaper and online articles.
The unexplained subversion charge was later dropped and authorities filed a charge of "deliberately fabricating and spreading alarmist information." The new charge was related to an October 13, 2004, report in the U.S.-based Chinese-language Web site Boxun News reporting an outbreak of dengue fever, a viral mosquito-borne disease, in Fuzhou.
The author, identified by his lawyer as Li, anonymously reported more than 20 cases, according to Boxun News. In seeking to confirm the information, the Web site did its own research and updated the story to reflect 100 cases.
Li was tried in Fuzhou on January 19, 2006. On January 24, Gulou district court convicted Li and sentenced him to three years in prison. His appeal was rejected.
Ching Cheong, The Straits Times
IMPRISONED: April 22, 2005
Ching, a veteran Hong Kong reporter who was the China correspondent for the Singapore daily The Straits Times, was detained in Guangzhou while attempting to meet with a source to obtain interviews of the late ousted leader Zhao Ziyang. He was held under house arrest in Beijing without access to a lawyer or his family until a formal arrest order was issued in August 2005 on espionage charges.
Official Xinhua News Agency reports in 2005 accused Ching of collecting millions of Hong Kong dollars to spy for Taiwan. Specific charges against him were not made clear until after his trial in a closed hearing in Beijing on August 15, 2006. On August 31, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court convicted Ching of espionage and sentenced him to five years in prison, plus an additional year's deprivation of political rights.
The verdict in the case later appeared online and was published by several Hong Kong newspapers. The document accused Ching of accepting around 300,000 Hong Kong dollars (not millions as first reported by Xinhua) in fees to submit classified reports on political affairs, economics, and international relations for a Taiwan-based organization called the Foundation of International and Cross-Strait Studies, which authorities said was a cover for a Taiwan intelligence organization. Prosecutors said that Ching had met two representatives from the organization at a current events conference, and had done research for them, including sending them reporting by himself and others for The Straits Times.
In his defense, Ching argued that he had no knowledge that the organization was a front for Taiwan intelligence--a charge the foundation itself has strongly denied--and that he had provided no state secrets. Ching's appeal was rejected in November.
Li Jianping, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 27, 2005
Li, a writer and businessman, was detained by police in Zibo, in northeast China's Shandong province. Initially held on suspicion of defamation for articles critical of former president Jiang Zemin and current President Hu Jintao, he was tried on more serious charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" on April 12, 2005. Before going forward with the case, state prosecutors sent it back to police twice on the grounds of insufficient evidence, according to the U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
In his trial, prosecutors cited 31 articles from banned U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Yi Bao (ChinaEWeekly), Dajiyuan (Epoch Times), and Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). The verdict cited 18 of those articles, but his wife told CPJ it was not clear that her husband even wrote all of the stories.
On October 25, more than six months after Li's trial, Zibo Intermediate People's Court found him guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison, plus an additional two years' deprivation of political rights. He planned to appeal his verdict, his wife said.
Li Yuanlong, Bijie Ribao
IMPRISONED: September 2005
Li, a reporter for Bijie Ribao daily newspaper in Guizhou province, was detained in September 2005. He was tried on May 11, 2006, in a five-hour hearing on charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" for online articles criticizing the Chinese Communist Party. In July, Bijie Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to two years in prison.
Li's articles about poverty and unemployment in his home province angered local officials, according to the U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
He told his lawyer that he began writing essays and posting them online after becoming increasingly frustrated with the "lies and clichés" he was writing for his state-controlled newspaper, and felt that it was his responsibility as a reporter to expose injustice and inequality. Under the name Ye Lang (Night Wolf), Li wrote articles that were very critical of Chinese Communist Party and local government actions, which were posted on banned U.S.-based Web sites Boxun News, Dajiyuan (Epoch Times), Yi Bao (ChinaEWeekly) and New Century Net.
He is expected to be released from prison in September 2007.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
IMPRISONED: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name, Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of "subverting state authority" and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang is a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang's case, which was translated into English by the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a "democratic Chinese transitional government." Yang's colleagues say that without his prior knowledge, he was elected "secretariat" of the fictional government.
Yang later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, who had been convicted of endangering state security. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to the family of a jailed dissident, and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. Yang spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Guo Qizhen, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a rolling hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. He was later formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People's Court tried Guo on charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" on September 12, 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, plus an additional two years' deprivation of political rights.
In its opinion presented to the prosecutor on June 16, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo's crimes, including one titled "Letting some of the people first get rich while others cannot make a living," in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an "autocratic" and "despotic" regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution. He appealed his sentence. Guo is married with a 16-year-old son.
Zhang Jianhong, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 6, 2006
The founder and editor of popular news and literary Web site Aiqinhai (Aegean Sea) was taken from his home in Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. In October, he was formally arrested on charges of "inciting subversion."
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to his online articles that were critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations' criticism of the government's human rights record and in particular the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as "Olympicgate."
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served one and a half years of "re-education through labor" in 1989 on counter-revolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position on the local Writers Association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site Aiqinhai was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a recent contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Dajiyuan (Epoch Times).
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Fredy Muñoz Altamiranda, Telesur
IMPRISONED: November 19, 2006
Muñoz, Colombian correspondent for the regional television network Telesur, was detained by agents of the Colombian national intelligence service, the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), at Eldorado International Airport in Bogotá as he returned from Telesur headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. The arrest warrant charged him with "rebellion and terrorism," Rodrigo Barrera Barinas, a spokesman for the attorney general, told CPJ.
The DAS said in a statement that a three-year investigation led authorities to link Muñoz to a series of explosions in 2000 and 2002 that destroyed electrical towers in the northern cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena. The explosions have been linked to the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The DAS statement said the arrest relied on witness testimony and intelligence reports. Barrera said evidence would not be made public until the investigation was concluded, but he said the arrest was not related to Muñoz's work as a journalist.
In a statement issued from prison on November 20, Muñoz denied the charges.
Esther Hernández, Telesur's director of institutional affairs, said in an interview with CPJ that the arrest was in reprisal for the correspondent's work. Muñoz primarily covered human rights issues, but he had recently reported on the arrests of several congressmen accused of links to paramilitary fighters. That issue is very sensitive because the government has repeatedly denied any official connections to paramilitaries. Muñoz has had a long career in the Colombian media as a television producer and as an editor for Cartagena and Bogotá newspapers.
The Colombian government has accused Telesur of fomenting terrorism since it began broadcasting in 2005, Hernández told CPJ. In one of Telesur's initial broadcasts, the network showed images of FARC leader Manuel Marulanda, prompting criticism from President Álvaro Uribe Vélez's administration. The network was created at the urging of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías to promote his perspective throughout the hemisphere.
Muñoz was initially taken to DAS headquarters in Bogotá then moved to the agency's offices in the northern city of Barranquilla, about 590 miles (950 kilometers) away, a Telesur source told CPJ. On November 27, Muñoz was transferred to Cartagena, where he was being held when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1.
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Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Argüelles Morán, the director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in central Ciego de Ávila province, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. In April 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Argüelles Morán was transferred several times from prison to prison, according to CPJ research. In November 2005, he was sent to Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province, according to press reports.
During his imprisonment, the journalist developed emphysema, his wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ. She said that a previously existing eye problem had worsened to the point of near blindness. She added that the journalist, who had been diagnosed with arthritis, suffered from inflammation in both knees. In February 2005, Argüelles Morán was hospitalized with inflammation of the liver.
Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Arroyo Carmona worked as a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI) in the western province of Pinar del Río. He was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
The journalist was jailed at the Guantánamo Provincial Prison until September 2005 when he staged a hunger strike to protest mistreatment. In October, he was transferred to a hospital in nearby Holguín province. Ten days later, he was moved to the Holguín Provincial Prison, where he is currently jailed. Arroyo's prison conditions have since improved, his wife, Elsa González Padrón, told CPJ. However, the journalist was diagnosed with pulmonary emphysema and hypertension, and was not receiving adequate medical attention, she said.
González Padrón said she had to travel a long distance to visit her husband in prison, and she was allowed to visit him only once every four months. Arroyo's wife said that she requested a transfer for her husband but heard no response.
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Galván Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Havana Press, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison, which he was serving at the maximum security Agüica Prison in western Matanzas province.
In May 2004, news reports said that Galván Gutiérrez told his family that he had been jailed in a cell with hardened criminals, whom he said prison officials were inciting to attack him. News reports in 2005 indicated that Galván Gutiérrez was denied medical attention for a urinary ailment. In October 2006, he told Laura Pollán, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, that he was in good condition.
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
A Havana-based freelance reporter, Gálvez Rodríguez was tried and convicted in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system." He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Gálvez Rodríguez was imprisoned at La Pendiente Prison in Villa Clara, where his wife Beatriz del Carmen Pedroso said that he served a year and a half of his 15-year sentence. In 2004, Gálvez Rodríguez was transferred to Combinado del Este Prison in Havana.
The 62-year-old journalist was hospitalized and underwent gallbladder surgery in 2004. Pedroso told CPJ that the surgery had eased her husband's hypertension problems, but she added that he developed a chronic respiratory problem for which he was not receiving proper care. In October 2006, Gálvez Rodríguez was admitted to the Carlos J. Finjay Military Hospital in Havana, according to news reports.
José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
García Paneque, director of the independent news agency Libertad in the eastern province of Las Tunas, was sentenced to 24 years in prison in April 2003. The journalist was convicted under Article 91 of the penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."
After a series of prison transfers, García Paneque was moved to Las Mangas Prison in Granma province in November 2005. As a result of serious intestinal ailments, he was initially housed in the infirmary. He was diagnosed with internal bleeding and severe malnutrition, said his wife Yamilé Llánez Labrada. In late September, the journalist, who was still undernourished but in stable condition, was transferred into a cell with 16 hardened prisoners, his wife told CPJ.
Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
González Alfonso, freelance journalist and Havana correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, was tried in April 2003 under Cuba's Article 91, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
González Alfonso was initially incarcerated in Camagüey's Kilo 8 Prison, where he was harassed and punished after staging a hunger strike in December 2003, said his sister Graciela González-Degard. The journalist's health began to deteriorate in July 2004; he was transferred to a hospital in Camagüey after doctors diagnosed hepatitis. In January 2005, he was admitted into the hospital at Combinado del Este Prison in Havana for gallbladder surgery.
Jailed in 2006 at Combinado del Este, González Alfonso gradually recovered from a series of infections caused by lack of medical attention to his surgical wounds, González-Degard told CPJ. He was imprisoned alongside hardened criminals and lost weight, his sister said.
Léster Luis González Pentón, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
An independent journalist in the central Villa Clara province, González Pentón was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
He was transferred a number of times before he was jailed at the Villa Clara Provincial Prison, near his home. Mireya de la Caridad Pentón, the journalist's mother, told CPJ that she visited her son every week. She said that González Pentón shared a cell with four other prisoners and was in relatively good health.
Alejandro González Raga, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
González Raga, an independent freelance journalist based in central Camagüey province, was tried and convicted under Article 91 of the penal code, which punishes those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison and taken to Canaleta prison in central Ciego de Ávila province.
González Raga was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison in central Camagüey province in 2004. In early February 2006, he sent an open letter to overseas news Web sites that pleaded for his freedom. González Raga said in the letter that prison conditions were poor and that his health was deteriorating, according to news reports.
Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
In April 2003, Hernández Carrillo, a journalist with the independent news agency Patria in western Matanzas province, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Originally placed at the Holguín Provincial Prison, Hernández Carrillo waged hunger strikes in 2003 and 2004 to protest inadequate food and medical care. He also complained after prison authorities threatened him and other prisoners.
In 2004, the journalist was transferred to Cuba Sí Prison in eastern Holguín province, hundreds of miles from his home. In January 2005, he was moved to the Pre Prison in cental Villa Clara province, which was closer to his home. He was allowed family visits every two months and marital visits every four months, according to press reports.
Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Pulido López, director of the Camagüey-based independent news agency El Mayor, was tried under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for "acting against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Pulido López had been held in solitary confinement for a year at Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, where he was first imprisoned, his wife, Rebeca Rodríguez Souto, told CPJ. In August 2004, Pulido López was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison in his native Camagüey, where he remained held in a room with at least 100 hardened prisoners.
Rodríguez Souto said her husband was depressed and was suffering from a series of ailments that seriously weakened him. Among other things, Pulido López has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, chronic gastritis, chronic tonsillitis, high blood pressure, severe headaches, hypoglycemia, and loss of eyesight, according to his wife.
José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
In April 2003, Ramón Castillo, director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was given a 20-year prison sentence.
In February 2005, Ramón Castillo was transferred to Boniato Prison in Santiago de Cuba from a military hospital in Havana, where he was treated for various ailments. In 2006, the journalist shared a cell with several hardened convicts, his wife, Blanca Rosa Echavarría, told CPJ. He suffered from high blood pressure, chronic cirrhosis, and severe anxiety, but was not receiving medical attention, Echavarría said.
Echavarría and her daughter visited Ramón Castillo every 45 days. In January 2006, prison authorities told Echavarría that she would no longer be allowed to bring food. In July, they forbid medicine; in September, they cut by more than half the number of personal hygiene items that Ramón Castillo was allowed to receive.
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
The director of the Havana-based independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana, Rodríguez Saludes, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death to anyone who acts "against the independence or territorial integrity of the state." In April 2003, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Rodríguez Saludes was transferred a number of times before he was placed in the Toledo Prison in Havana, where he shared a cell with several men, his wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, told CPJ.
Mijaíl Bárzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
A reporter in Havana for the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana, Bárzaga Lugo was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison that month.
Bárzaga Lugo was jailed at the maximum security Agüica Prison in the western Matanzas province. In October, he met with Laura Pollán, the wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, and told her that he was in good health.
Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Fernández Saínz, a Havana journalist for the independent news agency Patria, was convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy in April 2003. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Fernández Saínz has been transferred among several prisons and has waged a number of hunger strikes to protest prison conditions, CPJ research shows. He was being held in 2006 at Canaleta prison in central Ciego de Ávila province, a seven-hour bus ride away from his family's home in Havana, his wife, Julia Núñez Pacheco, told CPJ.
The journalist shared a dormitory-style cell with at least 23 convicts, Núñez Pacheco told CPJ. A 2004 medical checkup revealed he had several ailments, including emphysema, a hernia, high blood pressure, and a small kidney cyst. In 2006, he was also diagnosed with osteoporosis. His wife said she feared that Fernández Saínz was not receiving appropriate medical treatment.
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Fuentes, an independent freelance journalist in western Havana province, was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
His wife, Loyda Valdés González, told CPJ that he was being jailed in 2006 at Kilo 5½ Prison in western Pinar del Río province, where he sleeps in a dormitory-style cell with at least 80 hardened prisoners. Valdés González, who visited her husband every two months, said that he was diagnosed in September with chronic back problems, which were made worse by the poor conditions of his imprisonment.
Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Hernández González, director of the independent news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences for those who act against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was given a 25-year prison sentence.
Hernández González was jailed at the Boniato Prison in eastern Santiago de Cuba province. In August 2003, he joined fellow imprisoned dissidents in a one-week hunger strike. As punishment, he was transferred to the Kilo 5½ Prison in Pinar del Río. In May 2004, the journalist staged a second hunger strike to protest his imprisonment with hardened criminals.
On September 12, 2006, Hernández González was transferred to the maximum security Kilo 7 Prison in his native province of Camagüey. In an interview with CPJ, his wife, Yaraí Reyes Marín, said that he was housed in a dormitory with at least 100 other inmates, including hardened criminals. Reyes Marín said prison authorities did not allow her husband to handle his own medicine or keep personal belongings. Hernández González suffered from severe intestinal problems, high blood pressure, headaches, and dizzy spells, according to Reyes Marín.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
A journalist for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental, Herrera Acosta was tried in April 2003 under Cuba's Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
As punishment for having participated with fellow imprisoned journalists in a hunger strike, Herrera Acosta was transferred in August 2003 to the Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey province.
According to news reports, he continued to protest the poor conditions of his incarceration throughout 2006 with hunger strikes, self-inflicted wounds, and the use of anti-Castro slogans. The journalist's reactions prompted violent reprimands from prison guards, who beat him severely in March and August, confiscated his personal belongings, took away telephone privileges, and threatened him with solitary confinement.
Herrera Acosta suffered from various ailments since he was jailed. In an interview with CPJ, his wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, said that his health continued to worsen. He lost weight and was weak, but he continued to protest for his rights, she said.
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Maseda Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, received a 20-year prison term in April 2003 after he was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.
According to news reports, Maseda Gutiérrez was transferred on December 19, 2005, to the maximum security Agüica Prison in the western Matanzas province. The journalist shared a prison dormitory with 70 other inmates, his wife, Laura Pollán, told CPJ. She said the dormitory is poorly ventilated and has no bathroom.
Pollán said that her husband suffered from high blood pressure. On April 14, Maseda Gutiérrez requested medical treatment but was instead kept for two hours in a small, dark hallway with at least 12 other handcuffed inmates, Pollán told CPJ. Pollán said the journalist filed a complaint with the attorney general's office.
In 2004, Pollán appealed to Cuban authorities to grant her husband amnesty, but government officials did not respond. In January 2005, she was summoned by the State Security Department and told to keep quiet about her husband's situation. Since then, a security check post has been placed near her home, forcing most of her visitors to be searched and sometimes threatened, Pollán said.
Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Pacheco Ávila, a journalist with the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The journalist began serving his jail sentence at Agüica Prison in western Matanzas province, hundreds of miles from his home. In August 2004, he was moved to Morón Prison in Ciego de Ávila, his native province.
In March 2005, his wife, Oleivys García Echemendía, told CPJ that Pacheco Ávila suffered from high blood pressure, severe headaches, acute gastritis, and inflammation in both knees, which made it difficult for him to walk. In March 2006, the 36-year-old journalist was transferred to Provincial Hospital Antonio Luaces Iraola after doctors diagnosed kidney problems, García Echemendía told reporters.
Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
A freelance journalist in the western Isla de la Juventud special municipality, Prieto Llorente was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In January 2006, Prieto Llorente was transferred from Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey province to El Guayabo Prison in his native province. His sister, Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente, told CPJ that the journalist was moved to solitary confinement beginning August 2, after expressing support for political change in the wake of President Fidel Castro's illness. She said other prisoners told her that the cell measures just six square feet, has no windows, and is poorly ventilated.
The journalist suffered from depression, high blood pressure, back pain, and emphysema, family members told CPJ. Since his transfer, his sister said, his family feared that he was not receiving proper medical attention.
Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Ruiz Hernández, a journalist for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in the central Villa Clara province, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, which punishes with prison or death anyone who acts "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."
Ruiz Hernández was transferred twice before being sent to Nieves Morejón Prison in the central Sancti Spíritus province in November 2005. His wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ that her husband shared a cell with more than 10 prisoners.
Ruiz Hernández was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2004. His wife, who visited him every two months, said she brought blood pressure medication, but her husband was not being treated for dizzy spells and an undiagnosed skin condition. On October 6, 2006, prison guards broke a brace that the journalist needed to ease backaches.
José Ubaldo Izquierdo, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
A journalist for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in western Havana province, Ubaldo Izquierdo was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and handed a 16-year prison sentence.
Ubaldo Izquierdo was being held at the Guanajay prison in Havana province, said Laura Pollán, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez. Pollán told CPJ that Izquierdo's family visited him every 45 days. His wife, Yamilka Morejón Morfa, was quoted in news reports as saying that prison authorities harassed her and her children during a visit in March.
According to news reports, Ubaldo Izquierdo was diagnosed in February 2006 with a gastrointestinal ailment. Doctors recommended a strict diet, but prison authorities said they could not provide it, the reports said. The journalist was hospitalized in April with abdominal pain.
Armando Betancourt Reina, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: May 23, 2006
Betancourt Reina, a reporter for the independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana, was arrested while covering the eviction of families from homes in the central city of Camagüey, members of his family told CPJ.
Local police told the journalist's family that he was arrested for participating in a protest against the eviction, although several CPJ sources said the claim was untrue. According to his wife, Mercedes Boudet Silva, authorities told her lawyer that her husband would be charged with aggravated public disorder, punishable by at least three years in prison. No charges were publicly filed by November 30.
Betancourt Reina was held at the Cerámica Roja Prison in Camagüey, where he shared a dormitory-style cell with 12 other prisoners. The journalist told his wife during a visit in October that he was in good health, but that he had been denied access to a priest and other religious guidance.
Guillermo Espinosa Rodríguez, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: October 26, 2006
Espinosa Rodríguez, a reporter for the independent agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (APLO), was detained by agents of the Cuban State Security on October 26 and held for 12 days at agency headquarters in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba. After a 45-minute trial on November 6, he was sentenced to two years of home confinement on charges of "social dangerousness."
The vague, preemptory charge of "social dangerousness," punishable by up to four years in prison, is used by Cuban authorities to silence critics. Under Article 72 of the Cuban Penal Code, "any person shall be deemed dangerous if he or she has shown proclivity to commit crimes demonstrated by conduct that is in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality."
Espinosa Rodríguez is allowed to leave his home to go to work, but is barred from attending public gatherings or leaving Santiago de Cuba, his cousin, Diosmel Rodríguez, told CPJ. Espinosa Rodríguez is also forbidden from practicing journalism and has been ordered to work at a state-controlled office, APLO reported in the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet. If he does not comply with these terms, authorities told Espinosa Rodríguez that he would be forced to serve his term in prison, said Rodríguez.
Espinosa Rodríguez had been covering an outbreak of dengue fever in Santiago de Cuba since July. Authorities suppressed news of the outbreak, which was not reported in the official press. He had been detained at least three times in three months and told that he would go to jail for the long-term if he did not stop writing "lies," his cousin told CPJ.
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 1
Mbaka Bosange, Mambenga
IMPRISONED: November 21, 2006
Bosange, a reporter for the private weekly Mambenga, was arrested while reporting on clashes between the police and angry demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in the capital, Kinshasa, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and local journalists.
CPJ could not establish why Bosange was arrested. He was held incommunicado and without charge at the Police General Directorate for Special Services, known as "Kin Mazière," according to CPJ sources.
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Zemenfes Haile, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: January 1999
Haile, founder and manager of the private weekly Tsigenay, was arrested for allegedly failing to complete his national service. CPJ sources said he was released from prison in 2002 but was sent to the army to perform extended military service. The sources believe that Haile's continued deprivation of liberty is part of the government's general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: July 2000
Keleta, a reporter for the private weekly Tsigenay, was seized by security agents on his way to work sometime in July 2000 and has not been seen since. CPJ sources believe that his continued detention is connected to the government's overall crackdown on the press.
Said Abdelkader, Admas
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Temesken Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh
Dawit Habtemichael, Meqaleh
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Seyoum Tsehaye, freelance
Fesshaye "Joshua" Yohannes, Setit
IMPRISONED: September 2001
Eritrean security forces arrested these 10 local journalists in the days following September 18, 2001. The arrests came less than a week after authorities abruptly closed all privately owned newspapers, allegedly to safeguard national unity in the face of growing political turmoil in this Horn of Africa nation.
Authorities have variously accused the journalists of avoiding the military draft, threatening national security, and failing to observe licensing requirements. But CPJ research indicates that the crackdown was part of a government drive to crush political dissent in advance of elections scheduled for December 2001, which were subsequently cancelled. The fledgling private press covered a split in the ruling party at that time and provided a forum for debate on President Isaias Afewerki's autocratic rule. An open letter in Setit published on September 9, 2001, for example, told the government that "people can tolerate hunger and other problems for a long time, but they can't tolerate the absence of good administration and justice."
In a 2006 CPJ interview, presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel denied that the journalists were imprisoned because of what they wrote, saying only that they "were involved in acts against the national interest of the state." He said "the substance of the case is clear to everybody" but declined to detail any supporting evidence.
The journalists were initially held incommunicado at a police station in the capital, where they began a hunger strike on March 31, 2002. In a message smuggled from their jail, the journalists said they would refuse food until they were released or charged and given due process. Instead, they were transferred to secret locations, and no official information has been available since. The government has refused to divulge their whereabouts, their health, or even whether they are still alive.
The government's monopoly on domestic media, the fear of reprisal among prisoners' families, and recently tightened restrictions on the movement of all foreigners have made it extremely difficult to verify unofficial information. An unbylined report circulated on several Web sites in August and deemed by CPJ sources to be generally credible, claimed that journalists and opposition leaders arrested in the crackdown were moved in 2003 to a secretly built desert prison, accessible only on foot and two hours from the nearest populated place. CPJ sources said they believed that the description of the place was credible but some of the details were inaccurate.
The report does not attribute the source of its details, but CPJ sources believe they may have come from at least one prison guard who fled into exile. Its content is detailed and it contains a section on the conditions of the prison and directives for the prison guards. The report was first posted on Aigaforum, a Web site considered close to the government of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a bitter rival of its neighboring country. The report was later posted on Eritrean diaspora sites such as Awate and Asmarino, which said they believed some of its content to be correct.
CPJ sources could not verify the report's claim that at least three journalists had died in custody. The report named the three as "Mr. Yusuf," believed by CPJ sources to refer to Yusuf Mohamed Ali of Tsigenay; "Mr. Medhane Tewelde," believed to refer to Medhanie Haile of Keste Deben; and "Mr Said," believed to refer to Said Abdelkader of Admas.
In a letter hand delivered to the Eritrean embassy in Washington on November 2, CPJ sought information about all of the jailed Eritrean journalists. In particular, the letter addressed to Ambassador Girma Asmerom sought to determine whether the three journalists cited in the online report were alive. Eritrean officials did not respond.
In 2006, a group of exiled Eritrean journalists organized a group to report on their colleagues' plight and to keep the international spotlight from fading. The Association of Eritrean Journalists in Exile launched a Web site at www.aeje.org.
Swedish diplomats have long sought to gain the release of Isaac, reporter and co-owner of Setit, who has dual Eritrean and Swedish nationality. Isaac was released for a medical checkup on November 19, 2005, and allowed to phone his family and a friend in Sweden. Despite hopes that he would be freed, Isaac was returned to jail two days later with no explanation, according to CPJ sources.
The jailed journalists include Yohannes, publisher and founding editor of Setit, who in the 1990s was considered a pioneer in Eritrea's fledgling independent press. Yohannes was awarded a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2002.
Selamyinghes Beyene, Meqaleh
IMPRISONED: Fall 2001
Beyene, a reporter for the independent weekly Meqaleh, was arrested sometime in the fall of 2001. CPJ sources believed that his detention was part of the government's general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001. In 2002 he was taken to do military service, and was still performing his national service requirement, according to CPJ sources.
Saleh Aljezeeri, Eritrean State Radio
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eritrean State Television
IMPRISONED: February 15, 2002
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that on or around February 15, Eritrean authorities arrested Said, a journalist for the state-run Eritrean State Television (ETV); Aljezeeri, a journalist for Eritrean State Radio; and Saadia Ahmed, a journalist with the Arabic-language service of ETV. Ahmed was released some time around early 2005, according to CPJ sources.
The reasons for their arrests were unclear, but CPJ sources said they believed their detentions were related to the government's general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Temesghen Abay, Eritrean State Radio (Tigrigna service)
Yemane Haile, Eritrean News Agency
Amer Ibrahim, Eritrean State Television (Arabic service)
Ahmed Idris, Eritrean State Television (Arabic service)
Fethiya Khaled, Eritrean State Television (Arabic service)
Paulos Kidane, Eritrean State Television and Radio (Amharic service)
Daniel Mussie, Eritrean State Television and Radio (Oromo service)
Senait Tesfay, Eritrean State Television (Tigrigna service)
IMPRISONED: November 2006
Security forces arrested at least nine state media journalists beginning on or around November 12, and they continued to hold at least eight as of December 1, according to several CPJ sources. The reason for the crackdown was not immediately known, but sources said they believed it was intended to intimidate state media workers after several colleagues had fled the country.
Those sources said the government was known to detain and question state media journalists, but the scale and duration of these detentions was unusual. The journalists were initially taken to a police detention center in central Asmara known as Agip, but CPJ sources could not confirm whether they remained there or had been taken elsewhere.
Questioned by Agence France-Presse in the capital, Asmara, Information Minister Ali Abdu claimed that the journalists had been freed. "It was a routine matter and they have been released," AFP quoted him as saying in a November 23 report. But CPJ sources said one week later that only one had been freed and that the eight listed journalists remained in custody.
Eritrean presidential spokesman Yemane Ghebremeskel told The Associated Press on November 23 that he was unaware of the arrests. Eritrea's embassy in the United States did not respond to CPJ's requests for information.
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Dawit Kebede, Hadar
Feleke Tibebu, Hadar
IMPRISONED: November 2, 2005
Andualem Ayle, Ethiop
Wosonseged Gebrekidan, Addis Zena
Dereje Habtewolde, Netsanet
Nardos Meaza, Satanaw
Mesfin Tesfaye, Abay
Zekarias Tesfaye, Netsanet
Fassil Yenealem, Addis Zena
Wenakseged Zeleke, Asqual
IMPRISONED: November 9-14, 2005
Serkalem Fassil, Menilik, Asqual and Satanaw
Iskinder Nega, Menilik, Asqual and Satanaw
IMPRISONED: November 27, 2005
Sisay Agena, Ethiop and Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA)
IMPRISONED: November 29, 2005
Dawit Fassil, Satanaw
IMPRISONED: November or December 2005
These editors and publishers of Amharic-language newspapers were arrested in a massive crackdown on the private press and opposition that followed antigovernment protests in the capital, Addis Ababa, in November 2005. They were charged in December 2005 along with dozens of opposition leaders with conspiring to overthrow the government. The charges could bring death sentences upon conviction. All of the defendants were denied bail.
The joint trial of these journalists and opposition leaders began in February, with most observers expecting it to last many months or even years. Charges against the journalists included "outrage against the constitution and the constitutional order," "impairment of the defensive power of the state," and "attempted genocide." Nega faces additional charges of "obstruction of the exercise of constitutional powers," "inciting, organizing and leading armed rebellion against the government," and "high treason." He was charged as a leader of the CUD opposition party but has denied the accusation.
The journalists refused to put up a defense, saying the charges were baseless and the proceedings politicized. A CPJ analysis of evidence provided by the prosecution found that the journalists' work was often antigovernment but did not constitute incitement to violence or genocide. In April, CPJ issued a special report, "Poison, Politics, and the Press," outlining its findings.
In March, a CPJ delegation was allowed to visit Kality Prison near Addis Ababa and meet with some of the jailed journalists. The delegation spoke with Nega, Fassil, Agena, and Yenealem, all of whom said they had been doing their jobs as journalists in criticizing the government. Prisoners complained that their conditions were difficult.
When the trial went into recess in August and September, CPJ received reports that Nega and Agena had been moved to the capital's Karchele Prison, known for its harsh conditions. Several sources said these prisoners were abused and that their visiting rights were severely curtailed. The two were not told why they had been moved to another prison, the sources said. After CPJ wrote a letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expressing concern about the prisoners, sources said conditions improved somewhat.
Solomon Aregawi, Hadar
IMPRISONED: November or December 2005
Aregawi, owner of the defunct Amharic-language newspaper Hadar, was arrested in a crackdown that followed the civil unrest in November 2005. He was jailed in Kality Prison in Addis Ababa. Aregawi, who inherited Hadar from his father, was charged in March along with 32 other defendants with conspiracy and "outrages against the constitution," state prosecutor Shemelis Kemal confirmed to CPJ in July. He pleaded not guilty and was denied bail. The charge against Aregawi stemmed from articles published in Hadar about the disputed elections, Kemal said. The prosecutor could not say if there were further charges against Aregawi.
Aregawi and the 32 charged with him were being tried separately from the dozens of opposition leaders, activists, and journalists who were charged in December 2005 and put on trial for wide-ranging antistate crimes and attempted "genocide." Kemal said the "nature of the crime" was the same. Aregawi is accused of publishing "seditious" articles as part of an alleged opposition plot to overthrow the government, the prosecutor told CPJ, adding that "different people with different capacities have been involved in the same grand design."
Abraham Gebrekidan, Politika
IMPRISONED: March 8, 2006
Gebrekidan, former editor of the defunct Amharic-language weekly Politika, was sentenced to one year in prison for publishing "false news" and was immediately jailed, according to several local sources. His conviction was handed down in connection with a 2002 report attributed to the BBC, which claimed that Ethiopia was training rebels in neighboring Eritrea. Gebrekidan is one of several journalists jailed under Ethiopia's repressive 1992 Press Law, often on years-old charges, after the November 2005 crackdown.
Abraham Reta Alemu, Ruh
IMPRISONED: April 25, 2006
Reta, editor of the now-defunct Amharic-language weekly Ruh, was sentenced to one year in jail on a criminal defamation charge stemming from a 2002 story that accused government officials of misusing World Bank aid, according to CPJ sources. After Ruh stopped publishing, Reta freelanced for several Amharic newspapers, the sources said. He was one of several journalists jailed under Ethiopia's repressive 1992 Press Law, often on years-old charges, after the November 2005 crackdown.
Tesehalene Mengesha, Mebruk
IMPRISONED: May 2006
Mengesha, an editor at the now-defunct Amharic-language weekly Mebruk, was sentenced to 18 months in jail for publishing "false information." He was placed in Kality Prison. The charge stemmed from a 1995 story about an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to CPJ research. Other details about the story and the prosecution's case were not available. Like many Ethiopian editors, Mengesha has had several criminal charges hanging over him for some time. He was one of several journalists jailed under Ethiopia's repressive 1992 Press Law, often on years-old charges, after the November 2005 crackdown.
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"Chief" Ebrimah B. Manneh, Daily Observer
IMPRISONED: July 7, 2006
Security agents arrested "Chief" Ebrimah B. Manneh, a reporter for the pro-government Daily Observer, at the newspaper's offices, according to sources who did not wish to be identified for fear of retribution from the authorities. He was arrested shortly after an altercation with the newspaper's managing editor, Saja Taal, according to the same sources. Taal disputed the description, saying Manneh was not at work that week.
Manneh's whereabouts, the reason for his detention, his legal status, and his health were all undisclosed.
According to a CPJ source and the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) was responsible for Manneh's arrest. In an interview with CPJ in July, NIA investigator Lamine Saine denied that the agency was holding Manneh or that it had imprisoned any journalists.
CPJ research, however, showed that at least five journalists were imprisoned in NIA detention facilities during the year. Information Minister Neneh Mcdoll-Gaye told CPJ in July that she had no information about Manneh's whereabouts.
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Arash Sigarchi, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 26, 2006
Sigarchi, a former editor of the daily newspaper Gilan-e-Emruz and a Web blogger, was sentenced to three years in prison by an Iranian appellate court on several offenses, including insulting Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and propagandizing against the Islamic Republic in his online blog.
Sigarchi had posted entries and given interviews to Western radio stations that were critical of the government's harassment of fellow bloggers. He was originally given a 14-year sentence by a revolutionary court in Gilan in February 2005.
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Bilal Hussein, The Associated Press
IMPRISONED: April 12, 2006
Hussein, a freelance Iraqi photographer who worked for The Associated Press since 2004, was taken into custody by U.S. forces in the Iraqi city of Ramadi for "imperative reasons of security" on April 12 and held without charge or the disclosure of evidence of a crime.
The U.S. military alleged that Hussein had ties to insurgents. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive (IED) attacks, and other attacks on coalition forces," according to a May 7 e-mail from Maj. Gen. John Gardner to AP International Editor John Daniszewski. According to the AP, one of the most specific allegations cited by U.S. officials is that Hussein was involved in the kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi by Iraqi insurgents. But an AP investigation found that the two abducted journalists had never implicated Hussein in the kidnapping--instead singling him out for praise for his assistance when they were released. The military's only evidence to support its claim appeared to be photographs of the released journalists found in Hussein's camera, according to the AP.
AP President and CEO Thomas Curley called for Hussein to be charged or freed, and CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger urged the Pentagon to provide due process. The Pentagon's Bryan Whitman said Hussein was given a chance to provide information in his defense at two military reviews, but an AP lawyer said Hussein got notice of only one such hearing--and that notice came after the hearing took place. Whitman gave no specifics about the basis for Hussein's detention or whether the military would charge him with an offense.
Hussein shared a 2005 Pulitzer Prize with other AP photographers for their work in Iraq.
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Abdullah Saeed (Fahala), Minivan Daily
IMPRISONED: March 26, 2006
Saeed, known as Fahala, was among several journalists employed by the opposition Minivan news group who were targeted with legal action in 2006. Saeed, a reporter for the newspaper Minivan Daily, was initially sentenced to a two-month term for refusing to take a urine test after he was detained in October 2005. In April 2006, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges that he intended to sell drugs. His colleagues believe the charges were fabricated and that he was targeted to silence coverage that was critical of the government.
In the trial against Saeed, his lawyer argued that police planted drugs in the journalist's clothing after calling him to the station for unspecified reasons. The lawyer said that police found no drugs during an initial search of the journalist's pockets--while the lawyer was present--only to discover 1.1 grams of heroin after isolating Saeed and removing his clothes from view.
Minivan Daily, affiliated with the Maldivian Democracy Party, was established in July 2005 as the first daily newspaper not aligned with the government of Maldivian President Maumoon Gayoom, who has ruled since 1978. Minivan means "independence" in Dhivehi.
In a meeting at CPJ's office in May, Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed suggested that Saeed could be held under house arrest pending his appeal. Instead, he has stayed behind bars at high-security Maafushi Prison, where he has been held intermittently in solitary confinement.
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Ángel Mario Ksheratto, Cuarto Poder
IMPRISONED: November 9, 2006
Chiapas state police detained Ksheratto, columnist for the daily Cuarto Poder, outside his home in the southern city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez for allegedly violating a condition of bail by failing to make a weekly court appearance, according to news reports and a CPJ source. Ksheratto was taken to a maximum security prison in the town of Cintalapa, where he was being held when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1. Ksheratto denied violating the condition.
The case stemmed from a 2003 criminal defamation complaint. While that charge is pending, the columnist is required to appear in court every week to sign documentation before a judge in Cintalapa, 65 miles (120 kilometers) from his home, the daily La Jornada reported. Ksheratto had been detained on February 4 and held for 18 days on a similar bail violation allegation.
The underlying case against Ksheratto stems from two August 2002 articles on alleged irregularities in a state-run agency responsible for school construction. The columnist alleged that a public official had used state money to build a house. Ksheratto was arrested on January 9, 2003, after the official filed a complaint; he was released on bail the next day.
Unlike many other places in Latin America, the state of Chiapas has moved to stiffen criminal defamation laws. In February 2004, the Chiapas state congress unanimously approved amendments to Articles 164, 169, and 173 of the state's penal code, drastically increasing penalties for defamation. Articles 164 and 169 raised minimum penalties for defamation and libel from two to three years and maximum penalties from five to nine years.
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Boris Stomakhin, Radikalnaya Politika
IMPRISONED: March 22, 2006
Stomakhin, editor of the low-circulation monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), was jailed on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and making public appeals for extremist activity. In November, the Butyrsky District Court in Moscow sentenced him to five years in prison. He and his family said authorities were punishing him for his harsh criticism of Kremlin policy in Chechnya.
In its written ruling, the court cited a number of passages. In one, the court quoted Stomakhin as writing: "Let tens of new Chechen snipers take their positions in the mountain ridges and the city ruins and let hundreds, thousands of aggressors fall under righteous bullets! No mercy! Death to the Russian occupiers!" In another article cited by the court, Stomakhin said a Moscow subway bombing was "justified, natural and legal. ... The Chechens have the full moral right to bomb everything they want in Russia."
Stomakhin, who had pleaded not guilty, said he was "tried for his views and not for any real crime. ... In the articles, I expressed my opinion, with which people were free to agree or disagree," the news agency RIA-Novosti reported. He said an opinion was not a "call to action."
The charges stemmed from a December 2003 complaint filed by two Communist Party members who said Radikalnaya Politika was run by "Chechen bandits," the human rights news agency Prima reported. Police raided Stomakhin's apartment in April 2004, confiscating his computer, copies of Radikalnaya Politika, computer disks, books, leaflets, and other editorial material. Stomakhin fled for a time to Ukraine where he unsuccessfully sought political asylum.
He was arrested in March 2006, a day after he fell from the window of his fourth-floor Moscow apartment while trying to elude police, according to local press reports. Stomakhin suffered a broken ankle and back injuries.
Vladimir Korolyov, Permsky Obozrevatel
IMPRISONED: September 11, 2006
Police in the western city of Perm arrested Korolyov, a photographer for the independent weekly Permsky Obozrevatel, on a charge of disclosing unspecified state secrets under Article 283 of Russia's criminal code, his lawyer and colleagues told CPJ. Korolyov had just been released from the hospital after undergoing treatment for a heart condition, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Authorities subjected journalists at Permsky Obozrevatel, the city's only independent newspaper, to months of legal harassment, according to CPJ research. The weekly features critical coverage of the local administration and analytical articles on corruption, privatization, and the redistribution of municipal property.
Police raided the paper twice in 2006, in May and again in August, confiscating servers, computers, disks, flash cards, staff records, and photographs. Investigators also searched Korolyov's home, seizing video and audiotapes, his wife's architectural drawings, and other personal belongings.
In August, authorities formally opened criminal investigations into all eight of the newspaper's staffers on charges of "insult," "violating the right to private life," and "disclosing state secrets."
Korolyov was being held in a Perm pretrial detention center. Karen Nersisian, a Moscow lawyer helping to defend Korolyov, said his client had been pressured to make statements against the newspaper and its founder, Igor Grinberg.
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SRI LANKA: 1
Parameswaree Maunasámi, Mawbima
IMPRISONED: November 24, 2006
Maunasámi, a freelance reporter who wrote about the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the Sinhala-language weekly Mawbima, was detained at her residence at a boarding house in Wellawatta, south of the capital Colombo, according to the Colombo-based media advocacy group Free Media Movement. Police detained Maunasámi, who is an ethnic Tamil, along with another Tamil woman living at the boarding house and transferred them to the Terrorist Investigation Division, police told FMM.
Sri Lankan authorities have not given a reason for the journalist's detention. She was held under anti-terrorist legislation that allows prolonged detention without charge or trial. Local Sinhala-language newspaper reports linked her arrest to the confiscation of ammunition, but police said that no ammunition was recovered by any police station, according to FMM.
Mawbima has distinguished itself among Sinhala-language newspapers for an editorial line that is critical of both Sri Lankan military and LTTE actions, said FMM spokesperson Sunanda Deshapriya. Maunasámi's colleagues at Mawbima expressed concern about her detention and believe she may have been targeted
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Mohamed Abbou, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 1, 2005
Abbou, a human rights lawyer, was arrested by Tunisian secret police on March 1, 2005, and handed a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence the next month. The verdict was based on an Internet article that "defamed the judicial process" and was "likely to disturb public order," but the government provided no details as to when the material appeared or what it said.
Abbou wrote for a banned Tunisian news Web site, Tunisnews, comparing torture in Tunisia's prisons with that of Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib. An appeals court upheld the verdict on June 10, 2005.
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Memik Horuz, Ozgur Gelecek and Isci Koylu
IMPRISONED: June 18, 2001
Horuz, editor of the leftist publications Ozgur Gelecek and Isci Koylu, was arrested and later charged with "membership in an illegal organization," a crime under Article 168/2 of the penal code. Prosecutors based the case against Horuz on interviews he had allegedly conducted with leftist guerrillas, which Ozgur Gelecek published in 2000 and 2001.
The state also based its case on the testimony of an alleged former militant who claimed that the journalist belonged to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. Horuz was convicted on June 18, 2002, and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
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UNITED STATES: 1
Joshua Wolf, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 22, 2006
Wolf, a freelance blogger and videographer, was jailed in San Francisco for refusing to turn over to a federal grand jury a videotape of a 2005 protest.
The case pending in a federal appellate court hinges on whether Wolf has a First Amendment or common law right not to turn over his videotape. On August 1, a federal judge ordered him to jail for refusing to turn over the tape. He was incarcerated for 30 days before a two-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered him free on bail while his appeal was pending. On September 11, a three-judge panel for the same appellate court revoked Wolf's bail at the prosecution's request. He returned to jail on September 22 even as his appeal was pending.
Wolf taped clashes between demonstrators and San Francisco police during a June 2005 protest by anarchists against a Group of Eight economic conference. Wolf sold footage of the protest to San Francisco television stations and posted it on his Web site. Investigators are seeking Wolf's testimony and portions of his videotape that were not broadcast. A federal grand jury is investigating possible criminal activity, including an alleged attempt by protestors to burn a police vehicle.
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U.S. NAVAL BASE, GUANTANAMO BAY: 1
Sami Muhyideen al-Haj, Al-Jazeera
IMPRISONED: December 15, 2001
Al-Haj, a Sudanese national and assistant cameraman for Al-Jazeera, was detained by Pakistani forces after he and an Al-Jazeera reporter attempted to re-enter southern Afghanistan at the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan. About a month later he was handed over to U.S. forces and eventually sent to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in June 2002.
According to recently declassified military documents, the U.S. military alleged that he worked as a financial courier for Chechen rebels and that he assisted al-Qaeda and extremist figures. But al-Haj was not convicted or charged with a crime, and he was being held on the basis of secret evidence.
Al-Haj's London-based lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, maintained that his client's continued detention is political. He said that the main focus of U.S. interrogators has not been al-Haj's alleged terrorist activities but obtaining intelligence on Al-Jazeera and its staff. Virtually all of the roughly 130 interrogations al-Haj was subjected to focused on Al-Jazeera, Stafford Smith said. At one point, U.S. military interrogators allegedly told al-Haj that he would be released if he agreed to inform U.S. intelligence authorities about the satellite news network's activities, Stafford Smith said. Al-Haj refused.
CPJ outlined the al-Haj case in an October special report titled "The Enemy?" The report urged the U.S. government to provide fair and transparent due process.
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Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999
A court in the capital, Tashkent, sentenced Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, to 14 years in prison and Ruzimuradov, an employee of the paper, to 15 years. They were convicted of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper that criticized President Islam Karimov, participating in a banned political protest, and attempting to overthrow the regime.
Both men were tortured during their pretrial detention in Tashkent City Prison, which left them with serious injuries, Tashkent-based human right activists told CPJ. On November 15, 1999, Bekjanov was transferred to a "strict regime" Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi. Ruzimuradov was transferred to "strict regime" Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali near the southern city of Karshi.
The wives and children of both men fled to the United States in 1999 after their arrests, Erk Party Secretary-General Aranazar Arifov told CPJ.
In 2003, reporters with the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and The Associated Press interviewed Bekjanov in the Tashkent Prison Hospital while he was being treated for tuberculosis contracted in prison. In the interview, Bekjanov described torture and beatings that resulted in a broken leg and hearing loss in his right ear, IWPR reported.
In 2006, Bekjanov was jailed in the southwestern city of Kasan, according to the independent news Web site Uznews. His wife, Nina Bekjanova, who was allowed to visit him in October 2006, said he told her that he was still subjected to beatings and torture that, among other things, caused him to lose most of his teeth, Uznews reported.
Exiled journalists, human rights workers, and other CPJ sources said they did not know Ruzimuradov's whereabouts, his conditions, or his health in 2006.
Gayrat Mehliboyev, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 24, 2002
Police arrested Mehliboyev at a bazaar in Tashkent for allegedly participating in a rally protesting the imprisonment of members of the banned Islamist opposition party Hizb ut-Tahrir. After his arrest, police searched his bed in a local hostel and claimed they found banned religious literature that prosecutors later characterized as extremist in nature, according to international press sreports.
Mehliboyev was held in pretrial detention for more than six months before his trial began on February 5, 2003. Prosecutors presented as evidence of Mehliboyev's alleged religious extremism a political commentary he had written for the April 11, 2001, edition of Hurriyat. The article questioned whether Western democracy should be a model for Uzbekistan and said that religion was the true path to achieving social justice. Prosecutors claimed that the article contained ideas from Hizb ut-Tahrir.
A Tashkent-based representative of Human Rights Watch monitored the trial and told CPJ that several times during the proceedings Mehliboyev said he was beaten in custody, but the court ignored his comments. Mehliboyev's brother, Shavkat, said the defendant was forced to confess to having connections to Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The Shaikhantaur Regional Court sentenced Mehliboyev to seven years in prison on February 18, 2003, after convicting him of anticonstitutional activities, participating in extremist religious organizations, and inciting religious hatred, according to local and international press reports. The sentence was later reduced on appeal to six and a half years in prison.
Ortikali Namazov, Pop Tongi and Kishlok Khayoti
IMPRISONED: August 11, 2004
Authorities in the northeastern Namangan region charged Namazov, editor of the state newspaper Pop Tongi and correspondent for the state newspaper Kishlok Khayoti, with embezzlement after he wrote a series of articles about alleged abuses in local tax inspections and collective-farm management.
Shortly after his trial began on August 4, 2004, Namazov complained that the judge was biased and did not allow him to defend himself. On August 11, 2004, before the verdict was reached, authorities took him into custody. Five days later, the Turakurgan District Criminal Court convicted Namazov and sentenced him to five and a half years in prison.
Human rights activist Mutabar Tadjibaeva, who monitored the 2004 trial, told CPJ that local authorities harassed the journalist's family during the trial, cutting his home telephone line and firing his daughter from her job as a school doctor.
Namazov was serving his sentence at a prison in eastern Namangan, the Tashkent-based Ozod Ovoz press freedom group reported.
Dzhamshid Karimov, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 12, 2006
Karimov, nephew of President Islam Karimov, was involuntarily placed in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand on September 12. Karimov had worked for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting until 2005, when the news agency was forced out of the country.
Karimov later contributed to a number of independent newspapers and online publications, including the Almaty-based news Web site Liter, CPJ sources said. According to the news Web site Uznews, Karimov criticized both local and federal authorities in his coverage of social and economic problems.
The Jizzakh City Court ordered Karimov's psychiatric placement, according to international press reports. Government officials did not release any information about the court proceedings, and they did not permit independent experts to examine Karimov, according to press reports.
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Nguyen Vu Binh, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 25, 2002
Two high-profile journalists imprisoned in Vietnam were released in 2006 amid sustained international pressure; only Binh remained in jail. A former journalist who worked for almost 10 years at the official publication Tap Chi Cong San (Journal of Communism), Binh was arrested after security officials searched his home in Hanoi.
Binh was held for more than 15 months in Hoa Lo Prison before his trial on espionage charges on December 31, 2003. Hanoi People's Court sentenced him to seven years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest upon release. His wife was the only family member allowed in the courtroom; foreign diplomats and journalists were barred from his trial.
According to state media reports, Binh was sentenced because he had "written and exchanged, with various opportunist elements in the country, information and materials that distorted the party and state policies." He was also accused of communicating with "reactionary" organizations abroad.
In an open letter to Vietnamese leaders in September 2006, Binh's wife wrote that the charges against him were based on his petitions to form an opposition party and his essay, "Vietnam and the Road to Resurrection," which "expressed my husband's vision of a prosperous, democratic Vietnam with true human rights on par with other neighboring nations," according to a translation received by CPJ.
CPJ sources believe that his arrest was also linked to his August 2002 essay, "Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement." His detention came during a government crackdown on critics of land and sea border agreements signed by China and Vietnam as part of a rapprochement following the 1979 conflict between the two countries. Several writers criticized the government for agreeing to border concessions without consulting the Vietnamese people.
Binh's wife said that he was hospitalized several times for food poisoning since his imprisonment. When she visited him in early September 2006, his health appeared to have suffered a decline, and he was on medication for a chronic stomach ailment. Binh also suffers from high blood pressure, she said.