CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Jean-Paul Marthoz

CPJ EU Correspondent Jean-Paul Marthoz is a Belgian journalist and longtime press freedom and human rights activist. He teaches international journalism at the Université catholique de Louvain and is a columnist for the Belgian daily Le Soir.

Blog   |   UK

As police seize Newsnight laptop, concerns grow at reach of UK counter-terrorism measures

For journalists investigating jihadist networks, the UK is proving to be no safe haven. British police used special powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 in August to seize the laptop of Secunder Kermani, a reporter for BBC Two's flagship news show "Newsnight," according to reports. "They required the BBC to hand over communication between the BBC journalist and a man in Syria who publicly identified himself as an [Islamic State] member," BBC spokeswoman said today.

Blog   |   CPJ, France

CPJ joins Council of Europe journalism safety platform

CPJ's EU correspondent Jean-Paul Marthoz, left, at the signing ceremony for the Council of Europe's platform to protect journalism and promote the safety of journalists. (Council of Europe)

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Council of Europe's platform to protect journalism and promote the safety of journalists. The Strasbourg-based body set up the reporting system earlier this year as a way to hold its 47 member states responsible for responding to attacks against journalists.

Blog   |   Germany, Internet

Germany scores against the surveillance state

It all went very fast. On Tuesday morning August 4, Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, was ordered by Justice Minister Heiko Maas to withdraw an independent expert from the investigation of two journalists from Netzpolitik. The investigator had concluded that leaked documents quoted by the news website amounted to a disclosure of a state secret, one of the required criteria to pursue a treason case. The prosecutor protested: “To meddle with an internal review on the basis that the results might be inopportune is an intolerable interference with the independence of the judiciary .” A few hours later on Tuesday evening Maas asked for the prosecutor to be granted early retirement. In plain words, Harald Range was sacked.

Blog   |   France, Internet, Security

French surveillance law passes National Assembly, but it's not the last word

Protesters demonstrate against the government's bill giving spies sweeping new surveillance powers on May 4, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Alain Jocard)

Until the last moment the opponents of a very controversial French intelligence bill tried to be heard. On Monday May 4 on the eve of the vote, activists kept calling deputies to convince them to reject the bill. They had no chance however, since the Socialist government could count on a solid majority from both mainstream left and right at the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament. The bill was swiftly and overwhelmingly adopted on Tuesday afternoon with 438 for, 86 against, and 42 abstentions. It will now be sent to the Senate where, despite the chamber being dominated by the center-right opposition, it is not expected to face significant hurdles. "It should be on the statute books by July ," BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield predicted.

Blog   |   France, Luxembourg

Reporter who broke LuxLeaks story faces charges in Luxembourg

A flag flutters over a Luxembourg city street, above. French journalist Edouard Perrin, who helped expose the LuxLeaks tax revelations, has been indicted in the country. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

The French journalist who helped break the LuxLeaks scandal, which exposed a large-scale, state-blessed system of tax avoidance in placid Luxembourg late last year, was indicted on April 23. A statement from the Luxembourg prosecutor's office accused Edouard Perrin of "being the co-author, if not an accomplice, in the infractions committed by a former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee" already charged with leaking documents exposing the scheme, according to reports.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Internet

Cyberattacks rattle French, Belgian media outlets

A picture taken on April 9, 2015, shows a note on the window of a newsroom at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group. (AFP/Thomas Samson)

The headquarters of Le Soir in the center of Brussels, two blocks away from the Parliament, look serene in the spring sunshine. No sign of violence scars the glass and stone facade. But the leading Belgian francophone daily, the flagship of the Rossel media group, has suffered a concussion. On Sunday a wave of hacking attacks rocked the paper. At 07:00 p.m., the hottest moment of the day when articles were pouring in and had to be published on deadline, the Newsgate data center started to slow down, the Wifi was disabled, the journalists’ professional and personal emails were neutralized. The paper-- where I am a columnist--immediately took emergency measures, separating the Internet from the intranet, to counter the attack and prevent the hackers from taking over the websites.

Blog   |   France

Je suis Charlie sentiment fades amid calls to tame free speech

Satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo continues to be published after the deadly attack on its staff, but the show of solidarity for freedom of expression is subsiding. (AFP/Martin Bureau)

Je suis Charlie. Two months after that phrase was used around the world to show solidarity with the victims of the January 7 attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, flowers are still left at the site of the killings on Rue Nicolas Appert in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. The street has reopened to traffic but the magazine's premises are still under police protection. The satirical weekly has not surrendered. Despite the deaths of its iconic cartoonists Charb, Wolinski, Cabu, and Tignous, it is back in the newsstands with its caustic tone intact.

Blog   |   France

Charlie Hebdo attack unites France on free expression, but will solidarity hold?

A vigil in France for victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack. In cities across the world, pens and signs reading I Am Charlie were held aloft in honor of those killed in the gun attack. (AFP/Thierry Zoccolan)

The attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has sent shock waves through France and beyond. Not only because 12 people have been killed in cold blood and many were wounded in what was the deadliest terrorist attack in France since 1961, when right wingers bombed a train killing 28 people. Not only because, after an attack in neighboring Belgium last May and French citizens joining extremist fighters in Syria and Iraq in recent months, the country feared something dramatic might happen soon, and that it eventually did.

Blog   |   Hungary

Orbán walks fine line in Brussels with Hungary's media law

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Brussels last year. Hungary and its media law have come under scrutiny in the EU. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

"With the Islamic state offensive, the Ebola epidemic and Ukraine, Hungary is not on anyone's mind in Europe," mused one of our interlocutors during the Committee to Protect Journalists' fact-finding mission in Budapest in October. "Viktor Orbán has really nothing to fear from Brussels."

Blog   |   Turkey

Turkey's reform fatigue, the EU's enlargement fatigue, and press freedom

A full Turkey membership would have a major impact on the EU domestic order and foreign standing. (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

"The European Commission expressed serious concern about developments in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights (in Turkey)." It is progress report season in Brussels. As every year in early October, the commissioner in charge of enlargement unveils documents that judge the progress of all candidate countries in adopting European Union (EU) laws and standards, and Turkey is at the forefront.

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