Attacks on the Press in 2009

Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press 2009: Cuba

Top Developments
• Vibrant blogging culture emerges despite severe Internet restrictions.
• Jailed journalists suffer amid inhumane conditions.

Key Statistic
22: Reporters and editors in jail as of December 1.


Cuba was hit hard by the global economic crisis and endured an upheaval in its highest offices, but state-controlled news media delivered superficial and skewed coverage. Human rights conditions, including press freedom, remained at a standstill: Independent journalists faced ongoing harassment, and more than 20 reporters and editors remained in jail. But offering a flicker of hope for freedom of expression on the island, a growing community of independent bloggers maneuvered around legal, economic, and technological limitations to describe everyday experiences and express opinions that challenged the regime’s perspective.

Attacks on the Press   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Attacks on the Press 2009: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Top Developments
• RFI removed from FM frequencies; other stations censored.
• Hundreds march in nine provinces to protest ongoing threats, violence.

Key Statistic
3: Female journalists threatened with “a bullet to the head” after focusing their work on women’s issues.


Authorities censored coverage of armed conflict and human rights violations in the mineral-rich eastern Kivu provinces. Insecurity reigned in the volatile region, despite the presence of the world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping force. Tens of thousands of people continued to die every month from conflict, disease, and famine, while human rights groups detailed pervasive rape and sexual violence. The vast Central African nation remained among the region’s riskiest for journalists three years after it transitioned to democracy in historic U.N.-backed elections. Throughout the country, officials harassed and obstructed journalists who criticized local officials.

February 16, 2010 12:40 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Ecuador

Attacks on the Press 2009: Ecuador

Top Developments
• Correa assails news media, and regulators target critical outlets.
• Media legislation could restrict freedom of expression.

Key Statistic
3: Days that regulators ordered Teleamazonas off the air.


Re-elected by a landslide in April, President Rafael Correa intensified his attacks on critical news media, calling them ignorant and deceitful. As Correa used his weekly radio address to assail the press, his administration singled out critical outlets for regulatory action. Legislators were debating media legislation that would restrict freedom of expression, and two journalists were imprisoned during the year on defamation charges.

February 16, 2010 12:39 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press 2009: Egypt

Top Developments
•  Government is among the region’s worst oppressors of online expression.
•  Several editors fined for reporting on the president and other sensitive topics.

Key Statistic
3: Online journalists imprisoned as of December 1, 2009.


Authorities followed familiar tactics to control news media, pursuing politicized court cases, imposing fines, using regulatory tools, and harassing journalists. With Egypt seeing a burgeoning community of journalistic bloggers, authorities moved aggressively to monitor and control online activity. At least three online journalists were jailed when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1.

February 16, 2010 12:38 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Ethiopia

Top Developments
• Terrorism law criminalizes coverage of sensitive topics.
• Broadcasting Authority serves as government censor.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists jailed as of December 1, 2009.


Ahead of national elections scheduled for May 2010, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) further curtailed the limited freedom of the country’s small number of independent newspapers. The government enacted harsh legislation that criminalized coverage of vaguely defined “terrorist” activities, and used administrative restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and imprisonments to induce self-censorship. In all, four reporters and editors were being held when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1.

February 16, 2010 12:37 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Gambia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Gambia

Top Developments
•  Hydara murder unsolved; secrecy surrounds Manneh detention.
•  Domestic, international pressure prompts Jammeh to halt crackdown.

Key Statistic
6: Journalists jailed for sedition after saying president’s remarks on Hydara case were insensitive.


Authorities jailed six journalists after their publications said President Yahya Jammeh had been insensitive in televised remarks about the unsolved 2004 murder of prominent Gambian editor Deyda Hydara. The six, convicted in August on baseless charges of sedition, were sentenced to two years in prison but were freed in September after Jammeh, facing considerable domestic and international pressure, issued pardons.

February 16, 2010 12:36 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Georgia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Georgia

Top Developments
• TV news politicized due to government manipulation.
• Opposition-aligned broadcaster obstructed.

Key Statistic
7: Percent of Internet penetration nationwide.

While no journalists were killed or imprisoned in Georgia in 2009, press freedom in this small South Caucasus nation stagnated due to persistent state manipulation of news media, particularly television broadcasting. In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly in September, President Mikhail Saakashvili boasted of Georgia’s media pluralism, stating that the country has “27 TV stations.” He failed to mention that most stations have little reach and, notably, that his government and its allies have long sought to control television news content, most recently through aggressive efforts to obstruct the cable affiliates of a station aligned with a leading opponent.

February 16, 2010 12:35 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Honduras

Attacks on the Press 2009: Honduras

Top Developments
• Coup damages press freedom, reveals partisan media divide.
• Supporters of both sides in the conflict wage attacks on the press.

Key Statistic
22: Days that Radio Globo and Canal 36 were off the air due to government censorship.


The June coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, along with the bitter stalemate that ensued, damaged press freedom in Honduras and heightened partisan divisions in the news media. An interim government cracked down on news coverage and withstood intense international pressure until a scheduled November presidential election brought Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, a conservative businessman, to office. As Lobo pledged reconciliation, Zelaya decried the vote as tainted.

February 16, 2010 12:34 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press 2009: Iran

Top Developments
• Dozens of journalists are detained in massive post-election crackdown.
•  Numerous critical newspapers, Web sites censored or shut down.

Key Statistic
23: Journalists imprisoned as of December 1, 2009.


Amid the greatest national political upheaval since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran launched a full-scale assault on the media and the opposition. In mid-June, mass protests erupted in response to official election results showing incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning by a large margin against his main opposition challenger, reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi. The government responded with a wide-ranging and cruel campaign to suppress dissent. As protests against perceived electoral fraud spiraled into mass demonstrations, Iranian authorities threw dozens of journalists behind bars (where many were reportedly tortured), shuttered and censored news outlets, and barred foreign journalists from reporting. During the protests and crackdown, blogs and social media sites became front-line news sources. The crackdown increased the level of repression in a regime already hostile toward the press, and followed the months-long imprisonment of an Iranian-American freelance journalist, Roxana Saberi.

Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press 2009: Iraq

Top Developments
•  Fatalities and abductions plummet as security situation improves.
•  Prime minister, others file lawsuits to harass media. Kurdish courts jail six journalists.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists killed in connection to their work, the lowest tally since the war began in 2003.


Four Iraqi journalists were killed because of their work as the press continued to face great challenges and risks. Nevertheless, the death toll dropped to its lowest point since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and, for the first time in six years, Iraq was not the world’s deadliest nation for journalists. (It was replaced by the Philippines.) No journalists or media workers were reported abducted, reflecting another steep drop from prior years.
February 16, 2010 12:31 AM ET

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2009

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