Blog   |   Internet, USA

In NSA surveillance debate, tech firms urge transparency

Some of the Internet companies at the heart of the outcry over U.S. government surveillance today joined with human rights and press freedom groups, including CPJ, in calling for greater government disclosure of electronic communications monitoring.

Blog   |   Azerbaijan

In Barroso-Aliyev talks, press freedom takes a back seat

"We in Europe are also not perfect," José Manuel Barroso said last week while hosting a joint press conference in Brussels with Azerbaijan's head of state, Ilham Aliyev. The president of the European Commission, who is supposed to defend the EU's democratic values, seemed to prove his own point by deciding not to openly question his guest's rosy picture of Azerbaijan's human rights record.

Blog   |   Turkey

Danger on Turkey's streets: Reporting on the civil unrest

A police officer clashes with a photographer in Taksim Square. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

It all changed so swiftly. The demand and price of gas masks, protective eyewear, and helmets rocketed in Istanbul. Not only protestors, but journalists, too, contributed to the rush. Hardware store clerks were quick studies, explaining to journalists which masks offer you a better line of sight when taking pictures, and describing the problem of speaking through a mask when broadcasting live. Of course, the gear only works when it is worn, not after police confiscate the equipment.

June 25, 2013 9:53 AM ET

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Blog   |   China, Ecuador, Russia, USA, Venezuela

Snowden travels trace a path of government hypocrisy

In a Hong Kong mall, a television monitor shows Snowden. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Edward Snowden's global travels have highlighted the chasm between the political posturing and actual practices of governments when it comes to free expression. As is well known now, the former government contractor's leaks exposed the widespread phone and digital surveillance being conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, practices at odds with the Obama administration's positioning of the United States as a global leader on Internet freedom and its calls for technology companies to resist foreign demands for censorship and surveillance. 

June 24, 2013 9:03 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Colleagues call for Walsh's return to Pakistan

In our report, "Roots of Impunity: Pakistan's Endangered Press and the Perilous Web of Militancy, Security, and Politics," we included a long list of recommendations for the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to undertake to combat assaults on journalists and impunity in their murders. But there is a step Sharif could take immediately to address one overtly hostile act against journalists.

Blog   |   Ecuador

New Ecuadoran legislation seen as a gag on critics

Opposition lawmakers protest the approval of the Communications Law in the National Assembly. (AFP/Eduardo Flores)

After inspecting a hydroelectric project in northern Ecuador last year, President Rafael Correa complained about the scant press coverage of his visit and suggested it was part of a media blackout. "Did the Ecuadoran media conspire to ignore this important event? It seems like that is the case," Correa told the crowd at a town hall meeting. "In this country, good news is not news."

Blog   |   Internet, UK

In Woolwich aftermath, UK revives 'snooper's charter'

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, where some digital monitoring takes place. (Reuters)

Key elements of the British Communications Data Bill, known as the "snooper's charter" by its critics, have returned to the political agenda in the month since two suspected jihadis fatally stabbed Lee Rigby, a 23-year-old soldier, in London's southeast Woolwich district. The bill, which would have given police and security services greater ability to monitor Internet use, had been abandoned after the Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister's David Cameron's junior partners, cited privacy concerns and struck it from the government's annual legislative agenda.

June 20, 2013 2:38 PM ET

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Blog   |   Mexico

Family murdered, Veracruz journalist seeks asylum in US

Several journalists, including Miguel Angel López, have fled Veracruz state fearing reprisal from cartels, gangs, or the government. Here, a soldier is seen standing guard in downtown Veracruz. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

A fellow newspaper photographer phoned him and said he had to get right over to his parents' home because something very bad had happened. When Miguel Angel López remembers seeing when he got there was "just blood. You can't understand that much hatred." He was talking about the murders of his mother, his father--a senior editor at the state's most important newspaper--and his brother, a photographer at the paper. The killings turned out to be the beginning of a war on journalists.

Blog   |   Ethiopia, Kenya

Exiled journalists in risky places need helping hand

The dangerous neighborhood of Eastleigh is home to some exiled journalists. (AP)

It was well past mid-day in Eastleigh, a shanty district on the east side of Nairobi, Kenya. The billows of dust rising from the rock-scarred road showed a government that had long lost interest in the neighborhood. A young man, struggling with horribly dry conditions, was fighting with his patrons. "Welahi, today's khat is so small. I need more," a Somali customer was complaining. "Pole, hakuna unvua" ("Sorry, no rain"). "Khat is getting expensive in these days," the young man tried to convince him in Kiswahili and English. Few knew that the young peddler was once a journalist in Ethiopia. They cared neither about his profession nor the reasons he had fled his home country. For them, he was just a dealer of khat, the mildly addictive green leaf that is chewed in East Africa. It was as simple as that. 

Blog   |   Brazil

For one Brazilian journalist, harsh reality after exile

I have always been convinced that journalism is an instrument that transforms people and realities. I believe in this profession as a means of change, even if this implies some risk. I've been beaten almost to death and at another time have had to move to another city because I went to the limit of my possibilities in search of the truth in which I believe. But nothing is sadder than the psychological terror imposed by an omniscient and omnipresent enemy. An invisible enemy that hides in anonymity and is able to take away the ability to live with one's family and freedom of movement.

June 19, 2013 12:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan, UK

In London, echoes of Pakistan's deadly press policies

Among the more 200,000 Pakistanis living in London is Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This powerful political party is widely thought to be behind the murder of reporter Wali Khan Babar, a rising star at Geo TV who was shot dead in Karachi in 2011. His coverage focused on politically sensitive topics such as extortion, targeted killings, electricity thefts, land-grabbing, and riots.

Blog   |   China, France, Thailand

Chinese diplomats harass France 24 reporter

Diplomats are charged with promoting cordial and constructive ties between nations. But Chinese embassy officials in France and Thailand appear bent on fostering fear and disgust with recent efforts to harass and intimidate France 24 reporter Cyril Payen.

Blog   |   UK

Threats to Northern Irish journalists on the rise

A burnt out car blocks Dee Street in east Belfast in January. Threats against journalists have increased since a wave of protests early this year. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has informed a Belfast-based reporter that dissident republican groups, opposed to the peace process, have issued a death threat against her, the British National Union of Journalists said this week. The threat came after the journalist published a story in a local Sunday newspaper claiming an Irish republican group was protecting two alleged pedophiles in its ranks, according to the Guardian. The National Union of Journalists has demanded the death threat to be withdrawn.

Blog   |   Iraq

Remembering Iraq, a forgotten war

As growing sectarian violence across Iraq renews fears of civil war, journalists gathered in New York this week to talk about their experiences reporting in the country over the past decade.

Blog   |   UK

In revolt, freelancers establish Frontline Freelance Register

Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.

Blog   |   Iran

Iran restricts international coverage of election

Authorities are cracking down on election coverage by censoring the press. (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

Some authoritarian governments try to hide their targeting of the press, but not the Islamic Republic of Iran. Officials there brag about it. Ahead of Iran's presidential election Friday, they have much to brag about.

Blog   |   India

Indian media face growing calls for regulation

The rapid growth of revenue-hungry Indian media and recent scandals involving news outlets have prompted growing calls for external regulation, raising concerns about independence of the press.

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenyan journalists kicked out of Parliament media center

Journalists use the media center to file stories on parliamentary proceedings. (Alphonce Shiundu)

News coverage of the Kenyan Parliament elected in March 2013 is off to a rocky start. The press last week was kicked out of the media center in the National Assembly, and although the speaker tried to make assurances that overall access won't be affected, journalists are wary.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Sharif's challenge: Work with Pakistani press, not against it

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif talks to journalists in Lahore. (Reuters/Mohsin Raza)

Pakistan's general elections in May, though marred by violence that left more than 100 dead, was a reaffirmation of the people's commitment to the democratic process. Voters proved once again that they can make decisions based on their own political interests--and not because of intimidation by those who would perpetrate violence. The media, with their nonstop coverage, arrived as full-fledged partners in the democratic process and were intrinsic to the first civilian transfer of power after the completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government. Now, the question is: What will come next for the media under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government?

Blog   |   Uganda

Siege over, but damage to Ugandan press may last

Journalists for The Monitor were locked out of their newsroom for 10 days. (Daily Monitor)

Journalists are back to work at Uganda's leading privately owned daily, The Monitor, after a 10-day siege of their newsroom by police. But that does not mean it is business as usual for the nation's press. The paper's owners at the Nation Media Group evidently begged and negotiated for its reopening--signaling to other media houses that they should toe the government line or face a similar stranglehold. Although the deliberations were successful in returning the paper to the newsstands, the long-term costs may prove exorbitant.

Blog   |   Turkey

For Turkish media, Taksim story reveals flaws, threats

Angered by the station's news coverage, protesters in Istanbul destroyed an NTV news van.(CPJ/Özgür Öğret)

The coverage of the Taksim Square protests will not be remembered as a moment of glory for a number of Turkish mainstream media. While demonstrators were being tear-gassed and beaten by police a week ago, CNN Türk was airing a documentary on penguins and Habertürk had a debate on mental illness. 

June 7, 2013 3:00 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka tries new ways to crush independent media

In Sri Lanka, where there has seldom been good news for the media in recent years, things have taken a further turn for the worse, as well as a turn for the bizarre. With President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government secure in its 2010 electoral mandate, its leaders have made fresh moves to tighten their control of the press. There is a plan afoot to re-criminalize defamation, and legislation has been proposed for a code of ethics that threatens to give the government a legal basis to quash journalism it deems "unethical." All this comes ahead of November's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, which seems sure to go ahead despite calls for boycotts from several quarters because of the government's poor human rights record.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

Secrecy, scale of PRISM raise alarms

President Barack Obama defends NSA surveillance activities. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Government surveillance of electronic communications "should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society," Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression, warned in a report issued less than two months ago. "States should be completely transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance techniques and powers." At the time, the report might have called to mind nations such as China and Iran with high levels of state surveillance. But today, following revelations of a broad, secret digital surveillance program led by the U.S. National Security Agency, La Rue's words seem instead to have been a prescient rebuke of U.S. policies. 

June 7, 2013 7:19 AM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka, UAE

Sri Lankan journalist in UAE still at risk of deportation

Lohini Rathimohan, a former television journalist from Sri Lanka, faces an unclear future. The 28-year-old is among 15 Tamil refugees still sheltered in a single room of an aluminum factory at Dubai's Jebel Ali port whose official statuses remain uncertain.

Blog   |   China, USA

An open plea: Xi and Obama can accomplish one thing

Dear President Xi and President Obama,

You will both have received many public and private letters of advice prior to your meeting on Friday and Saturday in California. They will urge you to take up specific issues ranging from military and trade concerns to human rights. That diversity of concern is an indicator of how complex the relationships between your two countries are. They lend themselves to no easy solutions, and it is doubtful there will be immediate, radical change when you and your teams conclude the talks. 

Blog   |   Angola

Investigative journalist under threat again in Angola

The Angolan government has brought criminal charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais for his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, published in Portugal in 2011, that documented allegations of homicides, torture, forced displacement of civilian settlements, and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of the country's Lundas region.

Blog   |   Malawi, South Africa

Photographers attacked: Two weeks in southern Africa

A security officer fires rubber bullets at Star photographer Motshwari Mofokeng. (The Star)

From Cape Town to Lilongwe, four photographers on routine news assignments in major southern Africa cities were assaulted by security officials in the past two weeks. The details differ, but the heavy-handed actions in each case reflect a belief among those responsible for security that they are above the law and not publicly accountable. These recent attacks in southern Africa also highlight a wider phenomenon: Every day, somewhere in the world, news photographers are subjected to physical abuse by security and public officials who wish to suppress or control the powerful message delivered by images.

Blog   |   China

A poor defense of censorship on Tiananmen anniversary

Tens of thousand of people commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Hong Kong's Victoria Park. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Today, the 24th anniversary of the brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square, a Chinese state-run newspaper ran a piece justifying censorship of the Web by citing recent attempts at media regulation abroad.

June 4, 2013 4:40 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Singapore

Singapore bloggers wary of news site license scheme

This screenshot shows Singapore Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim telling a BBC interviewer that new license regulations will ensure users see the 'right' content online. (BBC)

Singapore's Internet community is in backlash since the government announced on May 28 a new licensing scheme for "news websites"--a term it did not define--arguing that digital news platforms ought to be regulated on par with offline media. The government said the scheme would take effect June 1.

June 4, 2013 10:48 AM ET

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