New York, May 26, 2011--Military forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh shelled Yemeni satellite broadcaster Suhail TV Wednesday as they exchanged fire with forces loyal to the political opposition and tribal gunmen. A similar incident occurred at the official Saba news agency on Tuesday. The offices of the news website Al-Sahwa Net were also hit multiple times in the ongoing exchanges of fire, according to local journalists.
New York, May 26, 2011--The government of Southern Sudan must immediately release radio reporter Mohamad Arkou, who has been in detention for 15 days with no official charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Security agents arrested Arkou, a reporter with the U.S.-backed Sudan Radio Service and the Darfur News and Information Service, on May 11 in Wau, the capital of Western Bahr-el Ghazal State in southern Sudan, the Sudan Radio Service reported.
Jennifer Preston in the New York Times reports on some stories that we also have been hearing from Syrian Internet use. She documents incidents of passwords extracted by force, and the deliberate defacing of social networking pages by security forces, apparently in order to sabotage reports of unrest from that country.
A man in his 20s living in Syria said that the police demanded his Facebook password late last month after arresting him where he worked and taking his laptop. "I told him, at first, I didn't have a Facebook account, but he told me, after he punched me in the face, that he knew I had one because they were watching my 'bad comments' on it," he said. "I knew then that they were monitoring me."
The man, who asked that his name not be used because he fears that talking openly could cost him his life, gave up his password and spent two weeks in jail. After he was released, he said that he found pro-regime comments made in his name on his Facebook account. "I immediately created a new account with a fake name and so did most of my friends," he said.
A strong password is not much protection against what computer security types drily call "rubber-hose cryptanalysis" -- the use of violence to extract login details. We know that Syrian security forces also threaten users that they will violently punish anyone who changes their password after they leave.
Instead, Preston reports on new strategies developed by those on the ground. They share their passwords with colleagues, so if a Facebook user is arrested and his account misused, colleagues can log in and remove personal information or delete vandalised content. Distributors of content also create multiple Facebook accounts so that when threatened, they reveal an innocent account, instead of the one they use for dangerous activities.
Can Facebook and other US companies help their users working under these conditions? They could remind readers in that region to set their Account Security settings to force secure browsing, login notifications, and explain how to monitor account activity. And they may want to be more cautious in pro-actively taking down apparently fake accounts, in case these are being used as decoy accounts.
New York, May 24, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the governments of Yemen and Bahrain to end all intimidation and harassment of and physical violence against journalists. In Yemen, on Saturday, a journalist was attacked and repeatedly stabbed by unidentified assailants. In Bahrain, the authorities continue to detain and abuse journalists.
New York, May 20, 2011--The Libyan government should immediately release the body of South African photographer Anton Hammerl, at left, and investigate the role of the armed forces in his death, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Hammerl, 41, was shot and killed by government forces near Brega in eastern Libya on April 5. Three journalists traveling with him were detained by Libyan authorities until May 18 and announced Hammerl's death after their release.
Al-Jazeera has interviewed Dorothy Parvaz, the network journalist who was held for 19 days in Syria and Iran. Parvaz describes how the Syrian government told her at first that she was believed to be a U.S. spy, but later it became clear, she said, that she was being held because she worked for the network. Watch the video--in which Parvaz talks about hearing "savage" beatings from her Syrian jail cell around the clock--below.
We write a lot at CPJ about the terrible things that happen to journalists because of their reporting, but we don't often get a chance to show you what happens to them after they are forced to flee their homes and land abroad. This video, about three such journalists, is worth watching.
New York, May 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Israel today to investigate the shooting of Palestinian photographer Mohammed Othman. Othman was shot and seriously wounded by an Israeli soldier on May 15 near the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while on assignment for the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix, according to local and international news reports.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.