CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Asia

2011


Blog   |   Pakistan

More revelations of threats to Pakistani journalists

Pakistani journalists and CPJ award winners Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin in 1999. (Saeed Khan/AFP)

We released a statement Thursday--CPJ supports Pakistani journalists facing threats--about the decision of two Pakistani journalists to publicly announce the threats they had been receiving. Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times and host of a popular Urdu-language political program on Geo TV, and Jugnu Mohsin, also a Friday Times editor, said they had lived under threat for years but the level of danger had become so menacing in early 2011 that they were forced to leave Pakistan. A few months later, the two went public with the threats. Then, on Thursday, Sethi told us that he and Mohsin had decided to return to Lahore on Friday.

Blog   |   India

India struggles to cope with growing Internet penetration

Sites like this Facebook discussion group have been the subject of complaints to the Indian police by activists. (CPJ)

As Internet penetration deepens, largely religiously and socially conservative India is struggling to cope with concerns about controversial web content and its easy accessibility to a vast population, all with little oversight. Local courts have become the launching point for some of the anti-Web offensives.

December 28, 2011 2:47 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

'Where is the state?' asks Pakistani journalist under threat

Students are taken away from a Karachi seminary where they were found in chains. Producers from Samaa TV who broke the story have been threatened. (AFP/Asif Hassan)

Since making me aware of threats to Hamid Mir on December 20, Umar Cheema and I have been encouraging Pakistani journalists we know who are under threat to step forward with their own experiences. Ghulamaddin, producer for Samaa TV in Karachi who broke the story of students held in chains at a seminary, is coming forward today. (Like many Pakistanis, he uses only one name).

December 27, 2011 1:45 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

More on threats and journalist safety in Pakistan

Tuesday's blog about threats to Hamid Mir generated a lot of discussion on our site.

Mir messaged overnight, saying his case was widely reported in newspapers and discussed in Parliament, and there will be a committee of Parliament established to probe the issue. The Associated Press of Pakistan noted that "Minster for Interior Rehman Malik condemned the threatening message to Mir" and the government will "ensure full protection and security to Hamid Mir and journalist community." And The News noted that "President Asif Ali Zardari has taken serious notice on threats to senior journalist/anchorperson Hamid Mir and ordered investigations into it."

December 22, 2011 4:55 PM ET

Blog   |   India

Policing the Internet in India

Amid a raging debate on Internet freedom and censorship in India, members of the government met last week with a clutch of website operators, including representatives of Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. In a meeting scheduled to address a wider plan to leverage social media to empower the government, it's unclear whether the touchy subject of filtering content was addressed, and the government said the meeting's tone was conciliatory. In any case, there has as yet been no resolution of the question of who should be responsible for filtering content deemed offensive, or how such a determination should be made

Blog   |   China

In China, real people vs. Internet minders

In the next three months, users of China's microblog weibo.com --- "weibo" is the generic Chinese term for Twitter-like platforms --- run by the huge sina.com (the English site is here) news portal, entertainment and blogging site, will have to start providing their real-world identities to the site, instead of simply being able to register. It seems likely the users of competitor tencent.com (English here) will have to do the same, though the government hasn't made that clear in recent announcements, dating back to December 16.

December 21, 2011 12:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Pakistan's Hamid Mir publicizes a death threat

Geo TV's most prominent television anchor, and one of the most prominent journalists in Pakistan, has just circulated a detailed email message of threats he has been receiving. Hamid Mir's open, public response to the threats is a textbook case of how to handle the steady stream of intimidation that journalists face, not just in Pakistan but in other parts of the world as well. His entire message is reproduced at the end of this post.

Blog   |   Mexico, Pakistan, Russia

Journalists killed: Inside the numbers

CPJ today released its annual tally of the journalists killed around the world. This is always a somber occasion for us as we chronicle the grim toll, remember friends who have been lost, and recommit ourselves to justice. It's also a time when we are asked questions about our research and why our numbers are different - invariably lower - than other organizations.

December 20, 2011 12:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   India

Q&A: Press Council of India's Katju on media safety

Doctors treat Associated Press cameraman Umar Meraj after he was assaulted by police and paramilitary forces using rifle butts, batons, fists and kicks during a protest in Srinagar on November 25 (AP).

Retired Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju is shaking things up at the Press Council of India, where he was appointed chairman in October. The statutory body, mandated to look at media freedom and address complaints against the print media since 1966, has often been criticized for ineffectiveness, its role limited to admonishing news outlets.

December 13, 2011 10:44 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

China's jailed Uighurs: Out of sight, not out of mind

Uighur journalists who covered protests such as this one in 2009 were sentenced to harsh prison terms. (AP)

For the first time in more than a decade, China is not the world's worst jailer of the press in CPJ's annual census of imprisoned journalists. Among the 27 jailed in China, one group has seen a massive jump in imprisonments. In another first since CPJ began taking its census, more than half of those behind bars for reporting in China are ethnic Uighur or Tibetan. What's more, two Uighur journalists have been unaccounted for since their scheduled 2011 release. The lack of information available about these cases is added proof that they were arrested to deprive their communities of a voice. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

Six years later: Hayatullah Khan's family calls for justice

Six years after the murder of journalist Hayatullah Khan, his brother Ahsan Ahmad Khan has asked CPJ to put pressure on the government and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to ensure that a special investigation carried out in September 2006 into the journalist's death be released. (A copy of Ahsan Ahmad's message can be found here, and CPJ's translation from Urdu is below.)

Unfortunately, we have been down this road before. CPJ has met with officials in the governments of Presidents Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari, but none have followed through on their promises to make the results of the investigation known. CPJ joins with Hayatullah Khan's family in their renewed call for the release of Justice Mohammed Reza Khan's September 2006 investigation into his death. After a phone call with Ahsan Ahmad, we sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik today.

December 6, 2011 5:04 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma, USA

Clinton must tread carefully in Burma

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinto is greeted by Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Myo Myint, right, upon her arrival in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Wednesday. (AP)

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets this week with Burmese President Thein Sein, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and senior ranking members of the military establishment, she conspicuously will not have the opportunity to meet with journalist Sithu Zeya.

Sithu was detained by police after recording the impact of a bomb that exploded in a crowded Burmese marketplace in April 2010. The journalist was sentenced to 17 years in prison on charges related specifically to his reporting activities, with an additional 10 years tacked on this year -- soon after Thein Sein announced his intention to increase media freedom in Burma.

November 30, 2011 1:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, CPJ, Mexico, Pakistan

Awardees to their colleagues: Buck the system

CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But the journalists honored last night at CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards had a clear message to their colleagues: Fight the power.

Blog   |   Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines

A call to continue the struggle against impunity

Umar Cheema, left, of Pakistan and Javier Valdez Cárdenas of Mexico, both 2011 International Press Freedom Award winners, are all too familiar with the culture of impunity. (CPJ)

Last night, hundreds of journalists and members of New York's press freedom community met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for the Committee to Protect Journalists' XXI annual International Press Freedom Awards. At the event--celebrating the extraordinary courage of five journalists from across the globe--guests and award recipients unanimously expressed their commitment to fighting impunity in the murders of journalists.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Why I fled Pakistan

Pakistani police and supporters of the Baluchistan National Party clash in Quetta, Pakistan on July 14, 2010. (AP)

In May 2006, at the age of 23, I joined the Daily Times, Pakistan's most liberal English-language newspaper, as a bureau chief. I was perhaps the youngest bureau chief to cover the country's largest province, Baluchistan, and its longstanding, deadly insurgency. I covered fierce military operations, daily bomb blasts, rocket attacks, enforced disappearances, torture of political activists, and high-profile political assassinations.

In 2008, I got an exclusive interview with Bramdagh Bugti, Pakistan's most wanted separatist leader. I also spoke to top civil and military officers. In November 2009, I founded the Baloch Hal, (Hal means "news" in English) the first online newspaper in Baluchistan, the country's most impoverished region.

November 17, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen

Sri Lanka's former attorney general Mohan Peiris, who is now the senior legal adviser to the cabinet and who many Sri Lankans say is aiming to become the next Supreme Court Chief Justice, has made conflicting statements about missing journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda. The discrepancies do more than point up the government's indifference to Eknelygoda's fate and the mental anguish of his wife and two sons. Peiris's statements highlight the disregard with which the government views international opinion.

Blog   |   Angola, China, Internet, Iran, Nigeria, Russia

Defending the middle ground of online journalism

It's easy to use polarizing descriptions of online news-gathering. It's the domain of citizen journalists, blogging without pay and institutional support, or it's a sector filled with the digital works of "mainstream media" facing financial worries and struggling to offer employees the protection they once provided. But there is a growing middle ground: trained reporters and editors who work exclusively online on projects born independent of traditional media. They share many of the practices of an older generation of reporters, but their work draws from the decentralized and agile practices of the digital world. 

Blog   |   China

China's new rules step up state control of reporting

A new set of media regulations in China is attempting to control the growing influence of social media users. (AFP)

China's latest media regulations, issued Thursday in a bid to take some steam out of microblogs that increasingly drive the country's news agenda, signal an increased role for the state in drafting and enforcing press standards.

November 14, 2011 12:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Keeping a website alive behind the Great Firewall

Wednesday's post, "Advice for colleagues on the digital front lines," offered practical advice for keeping a website up and running in a hostile political environment. But such measures are not universally applicable. Sky Canaves, CPJ's new East Asia and Internet consultant in Hong Kong, sent this reality check for Internet writers in China, where tighter government scrutiny has driven online users to turn to other tactics.

November 11, 2011 1:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Advice for colleagues on the digital front lines

If you're running a website that's come under attack, or is likely to, here is some advice on how to protect yourself.

First, a little background:

On Monday we filed an alert about the Sri Lankan government's blocking of at least five websites there. The move silenced just about all of the country's independent online voices. Two websites, Groundviews and its sister Sinhala site Vikalpa, have survived a few temporary takedowns, but for now they seem to be about the last two journalism sites posting independent analyses about Sri Lankan politics that are still up and running.

Blog   |   China

Planning the next steps in Chinese media control

It's not clear whether Beijing will require licensing of social media sites or users to register under their real names. (Reuters)

In the latest sign of increasing pressure on Chinese companies to tighten control of the Internet, Chinese authorities convened an unusual seminar in Beijing for senior executives of 39 major enterprises involved in Internet services, technology and telecommunications.

November 8, 2011 1:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China confronts Internet rumors and trashy TV

The China Internet Information
Center counted 420 million Internet users in China in the middle of 2010. (AP)

Along with cracking down on what it considers trashy TV --- China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said Tuesday that it will limit entertainment and add more news and other programs that "build morality and promote the core values of socialism" -- the government is going after what it calls rumor mongers on the Internet. The BBC and others reported on the Internet crackdown after the official Chinese news agency Xinhua released a short item on Tuesday, announcing that three people had been detained or arrested for publishing incorrect information, or "spreading rumors online," as Xinhua put it.

October 27, 2011 1:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

From Karachi to New York: A tale of fear, loss, and hope

Murders of journalists such as Wali Khan Babar give Pakistani journalists plenty of reason to fear. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

On Monday, a well-known Pakistani journalist came to our office in New York. We had been messaging and texting for a few weeks, so I knew what to expect. Despite the harsh reality check that CPJ's Sheryl Mendez and I offered during our 90-minute meeting, he is going ahead with the process of applying for asylum in the United States. "I would rather live as a poor man in a mud hut than as a king in a castle who feared for his life," he told us. It sounded like a line he had prepared to convince us, and perhaps himself, that he was doing the right thing.

October 25, 2011 3:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Thailand

Holding intermediaries liable for users' content

Earlier this month, I spoke as an expert witness in the ongoing trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the editor of Thailand's Prachatai.com website, who is being criminally prosecuted under that country's Computer Crime Act and Lesé Majesté laws. The crime involves online posts allegedly disrespectful to Thailand's monarchy, but Chiranuch herself is not accused of originating or posting the commentary.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Baluchistan's press under siege

Reporters in Baluchistan have organized a string of protests over lack of safety. (ONLINE News Network)

Reporters in Pakistan's conflict-stricken province of Baluchistan have been organizing to display their anger against the continued death threats they have been receiving from government secret services, religious militant groups, and armed nationalist organizations. Their most recent demonstration on October 1 was only one in a string of protests to confront the problem.

October 17, 2011 3:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

Watching Burma's prisoner release

Police assist a newly released prisoner at Insein Prison in Yangon Wednesday. (Reuters)

CPJ and other Burma watchers are monitoring the announcements of the unfolding prisoner release closely. As a press freedom organization, we've focused most closely on the fate of the 14 journalists we counted in jail in Shawn Crispin's report, "In Burma, transition neglects press freedom" that we posted on September 20. In our alert today we welcomed the release of Burmese blogger and comedian Maung Thura, bringing that number down to 13, and there's a chance the number might even be lower.

Blog   |   Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand

Press freedom heroes in Southeast Asia

Zunar displays a copy of his previously banned cartoons. (AP)

Three Southeast Asian journalists--Cambodia's Hang Chakra, Malaysia's Zulkiflee Anwar Ul Haque, or Zunar, and Thailand's Chiranuch Premchaiporn--were among the 48 awardees of the Hellman/Hammett grant, given to writers targeted with political persecution, who were recognized today by Human Rights Watch for their commitment to press freedom.

Blog   |   Burma

Free Burma VJ campaign urges release of journalists

From Paris to Bangkok, London to Geneva, the Free Burma VJ campaign will stage protests in front of Burmese embassies on Friday to call for the immediate release of 17 jailed video journalists working for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a leading Burmese exile media organization. The campaign began less than two months after Burma's new government was sworn in, supposedly hailing the beginning of Burma's transition to civilian rule. But DVB is not alone in thinking that the ongoing incarceration of journalists, who are among the nearly 2,000 political prisoners in Burma, is a sign that little has changed since the ostensible end to military rule.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

On 9/11 and post-conflict Sri Lanka

For a few years now, I have used Sugi Ganeshananthan's articles as a frame of reference for CPJ advocacy in Sri Lanka. Ganeshananthan, a novelist and essayist who teaches at the University of Michigan, writes stories often grounded in current events. Her 2008 novel, Love Marriage, addresses the cultural and familial conflicts that Sri Lankans face all over the world.

September 6, 2011 12:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

A killing field: The targeting of journalists in Pakistan

A journalist hangs a lock across his lips during a protest in response to the death of journalist Saleem Shahzad. (AFP)
For the past several weeks, CPJ's Asia and Journalist Assistance programs have been in regular contact with local and international organizations who are concerned about the rising number of journalists and media workers at risk in Pakistan. CPJ and several other groups are working together on viable, in-country solutions: Journalists in Pakistan are in need of trauma counseling, urgent relocation, or support so that they may remain in hiding and avoid threats or physical attacks.

Blog   |   China, USA

In lawsuit, Chinese writers allege Cisco aids government

In Hong Kong, a protester holds a portrait of the jailed writer Liu Xianbin. (Reuters)

Three Chinese writers who have spent time in prison for articles published online are suing California-based Cisco Systems Inc., according to international news reports. The suit accuses the company of providing information and technology to Chinese authorities that facilitated the writers' detentions--allegations that Cisco flatly denies. Chinese security officials have already interrogated one of the plaintiffs, according to his lawyer. Will the case against Cisco protect him and others in China from further repercussions? 

August 24, 2011 5:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Threats against Pakistani journalists: A reality check

In a blog entry on August 5, "Quantifying the threat to journalists in Pakistan," CPJ's Sheryl Mendez and I tried to measure what seems to be a rising number of threats aimed at journalists in Pakistan. We wrote about how the problem is rapidly growing as Pakistan's security situation worsens and the civilian government appears unwilling or unable to act. It is, however, tough to quantify the problem when so many journalists fear disclosing the threats they receive. 

August 18, 2011 3:45 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Quantifying the threat to journalists in Pakistan

Pakistani journalists offer funeral prayers for their slain colleague Saleem Shahzad in June. (AP/B.K.Bangash)

For many journalists working in Pakistan, death threats and menacing messages are simply seen as part of their job. But since December 2010, CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program (JA) has processed requests for help from 16 journalists in Pakistan who are dealing with threats. Others have told us of threats they have received in the event that they are attacked. 

August 5, 2011 3:32 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan

Afghan journalist's death is a loss for press freedom

Khpalwak covered more than just war and instability--he captured everyday life in Afghanistan. (Khpalwak)

Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak covered violent news. His last two stories for Pajhwok Afghan News, before he died on July 28 in a major attack in Tarin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province, were about an attack on police checkpoints in which both Taliban and police were killed, and an interview with a would-be suicide bomber. Few of his 24 years of life saw any kind of peace in Afghanistan. 

Blog   |   China, UK

Schlesinger: 'Media, Murdoch, and social responsibility'

Schlesinger (Reuters)

CPJ board member David Schlesinger, who is the chairman of Thomson Reuters in China, delivered a speech today at a conference sponsored by Caixin magazine. He touched on several current issues, and found lessons in the News of the World case that are relevant to journalists everywhere. And I particularly like his description of China's media which, for all CPJ's criticism, remains dynamic and growing.

Here's 
Schlesinger's address
.

July 22, 2011 2:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

The highs and lows of investigative reporting in China

Veteran investigative journalist Wang Keqin has always been positive about his chosen career, characterizing media restrictions in China as a cycle with ups and downs. In an interview for CPJ's October 2010 special report "In China, a debate on press rights," he told CPJ that "there was a big fall-off in reporting freedom in 2008 and 2009" because of the Olympics and the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule. But he and many of his colleagues in China anticipated a corresponding loosening of restrictions to follow, pushing the industry toward greater freedom and professionalism over time.  

July 22, 2011 2:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China censors reaction to star-studded propaganda film

In Shanghai, a promotional poster for "Revival." (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

The creators of "Beginning of the Great Revival," a new film about the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, have spared no expense to make it a popular success. Done in a popular Chinese soap opera style, the movie features more than 100 stars, along with leading directors and producers. Then, the government enlisted information authorities to wipe out negative news coverage, according to international media reports.  

July 20, 2011 6:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Radio Netherlands reporters detail Sri Lanka harassment

Two journalists for Radio Netherlands Worldwide have gone public with their story of Sri Lankan government harassment, which ultimately drove them out of the country last week. The episode had been reported on a few Tamil websites, but I had been unable to confirm the story independently. 

July 20, 2011 3:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mexico, Russia, Sri Lanka, UK, USA

Journalists take stage: Q&A with 'Record' playwright

A promotional image for "On the Record," which opens this week at London's Arcola Theatre.

The true stories of journalists from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the United States, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will hit the stage July 20 at London's Arcola Theatre. "On the Record," which runs through August 13, examines the careers of six journalists, the risks they face, and their determination to make an impact through their work. This is the latest production by the UK-based Ice and Fire theater company, founded in 2003 to explore human rights stories through performance. Christine Bacon, Ice and Fire's artistic director and co-author of "On the Record," discusses the production's inspiration, messages, and challenges in this CPJ interview. 

Blog   |   China

Hong Kong's accelerating media freedom decline

Police in Hong Kong crack down on a pro-democracy protest--and journalists who tried to cover the event. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

As a former resident of the Special Administrative Region, the classification given Hong Kong when it reverted to China's control in 1997, I've always watched the media there with the appreciative eye of a news consumer. The concept of "One Country, Two Systems," put forward to explain how the former British colony's capitalist economy and post-colonial administration were going to mesh with China's authoritarian government, was always suspect. A major concern was that China would eventually have to crack down on Hong Kong's free-wheeling media.  

July 14, 2011 12:46 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

For safety's sake: New journalist safety rules in Pakistan

From a poster by the International Federation of Journalists and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

I got an early version of the Khyber Union of Journalists' (KhUJ) list of safety rules and tips for field reports around June 16, after the June 11 double bomb in a crowded market that killed two journalists in Peshawar. Yousaf Ali, KhUJ's general secretary had forwarded the list. It was quickly drawn up after that very ugly incident in which five other journalists were injured--in all 36 people were killed. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

Karachi might be more dangerous for media than FATA

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefs Karachi's vibrant--and threatened--media in Karachi in May. (AP/Shakil Adil)

Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub, is one of the country's main media centers, with more than 2,000 journalists and the head offices of leading media organizations. Journalists in the city have come under attack before, with seven journalists killed there since 1994. But the situation was never as dangerous as it has been this past year.

Blog   |   China

Chinese censorship fans rumors on Jiang Zemin

At a Beijing exhibition, a portrait of Jiang and a security guard. (Reuters)

Sina's Twitter-like microblog platform Weibo blocked searches for "death," "river" and "301 Hospital" on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal website. The company was responding to what Reuters reported was the service's most-discussed topic yesterday--the rumored demise of former President Jiang Zemin, whose surname, Jiang, means "river," and who may or may not have suffered a heart attack that was being treated at top leaders' hospital of choice in Beijing. 

July 7, 2011 5:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, USA

Google+ for journalists at risk

A Google developers conference in May. (Reuters/Beck Diefenbach)

When they're creating new features, software designers talk in terms of "use cases." A use case describes steps that future customers might perform with a website. "Starting a group with friends," would be a use case for Facebook. "Buying a book" would be case for Amazon's designers. 

Blog   |   Afghanistan, France

French ex-hostages: Press must continue in Afghanistan

Stéphane Taponier, left, and Hervé Ghesquière say they will return to work as soon as possible. (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, the two France 3 journalists held captive by the Taliban for 547 days, had a big surprise when they entered the France Télévisions building Thursday afternoon, a few hours after landing at the military base of Villacoublay, close to Paris, where they were welcomed by President Nicolas Sarkozy. 

Blog   |   China

On food safety, China misapplies a 'blacklist'

Sarcasm reflects how aware the Chinese public has become of the dangers of adulterated food. After Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis, a rumor circulated in China that table salt could prevent radiation. In spite of the government's efforts to curb the rumors, tons of overpriced table salt were sold overnight. Chinese netizens reassured the public in their own ironic way. Chinese people have been consuming fruit soaked in pesticides, waste cooking oil, and pork tainted with chemicals for years, online commenters notes. In 2008, milk powder spiked with the chemical melamine caused sickness and death among young children. Nuclear radiation, in this light, seems less worrisome.  

June 27, 2011 9:05 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

A legal attack accompanies assault on Pakistani journalists

Concerned that so many Pakistani journalists have been threatened, abducted, killed, or beaten recently? So are they. When I was in Karachi and Islamabad in late April and early May, I found that they are starting to take steps to protect themselves with increased safety training and protective gear at the larger media houses that can afford it. Freelancers and journalists who work for smaller media organizations or are stringing in rural areas or conflict zones will need more help in getting access to that sort or training and equipment, though.  

June 24, 2011 4:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   North Korea

Rimjin-gang's latest reporting from North Korea

Here's a quick pointer to Rimjin-gang, my favorite website delivering current reporting from North Korea. Produced by Japan-based Asia Press Network, Rimjin-gang is also just about the only site producing news from one of the world's most censored nations.

June 22, 2011 5:22 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Recalling J Dey, Mumbai's heralded crime reporter

Mumbai journalists pay tribute to J Dey. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

In the comfort of my London home, far from the dangers of crime reporting in Mumbai, the news flash on television seemed unreal. Senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey had been killed, pumped full of five bullets in broad daylight. I thought things like this only happened in Bollywood flicks, and that crime reporters in Mumbai never had any reason to jump at shadows. Alas, I was wrong.

June 21, 2011 4:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Groundviews back online after takedown

A note for the Sri Lanka watchers who visit CPJ.org regularly. Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founder of the citizen journalism website Groundviews messaged me this morning to say that the site is up and running again after suddenly going down within Sri Lanka over the weekend. Hattotuwa is the driving force behind the site, which is headquartered at the Center for Policy Alternatives, an independent Sri Lankan think tank.  

June 20, 2011 5:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Kazakhstan

Uighur refugee extradited by Kazakhstan, held in China

Chinese police patrol Urumqi following ethic violence in July 2009. (Reuters)

Kazakhstan authorities have extradited Uighur schoolteacher Arshidin Israil to China, where officials have described him without elaboration as a "major terror suspect," according to Reuters and other news accounts. Israil and his supporters believe the detention comes in reprisal for reporting he contributed to Radio Free Asia concerning the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Israil, a native of Xinjiang, fled China after the unrest but was detained in Kazakhstan in June 2010, according to news reports. He was extradited on May 30 of this year, days after Chinese authorities censored reporting and restricted online discussion about ethnic unrest in Inner Mongolia--an autonomous ethnic region like Xinjiang.

Blog   |   China

Public health still risky topic for Chinese journalists

Public health reporting is improving in China, but not fast enough. A new Human Rights Watch report on child lead poisoning in Chinese cities documents harassment of local journalists trying to cover the problem. "Journalists who reported on the lead poisoning in three of the four locations told Human Rights Watch that police had followed them or forced them to leave the area when attempting to interview people," the report says. 

Blog   |   Cuba, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe

CPJ's exiled journalists survey: Behind the numbers

Berhane (Colin McConnell/Toronto Star)

In 2007, my colleague Karen Phillips suggested we do something to mark World Refugee Day. Initially planning to publish a brief statement, I set about reviewing our data for background, checking in with older journalist cases about their current situation and looking broadly for trends to highlight. As the number of cases began counting into the hundreds, it became clear that what we had was a new indicator of press freedom conditions. Today, we're marking our fifth year of publishing the CPJ survey of journalists in exile, which is based on 10 years of data on 649 cases. 

Blog   |   Pakistan

Having captured killing on tape, cameraman fears for his life

Abdul Salam Somroo is in danger. He is the Awaz TV cameraman who took the June 9 video footage of the pointblank murder of a young man, Sarfaraz Shah, in southern Karachi. That's the same part of the city where militants beheaded American Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Only when Somroo got back to the offices of the Sindhi-language TV station and played back his full tape did he realize he had the most explosive footage he had ever recorded. Explosive, and dangerous.

June 16, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Lebanon, Pakistan, Russia

November 23 becomes International Day to End Impunity

The IFEX conference in Beirut put a focus on impunity in journalist murders. (Lidija Sabados/IFEX)

Members from around the world of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange met in Beirut last week. On the second day of our conference, amid discussions of the daily problems journalists face, we received word of the abduction and murder of Pakistani investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad. A day later, the conference buzzed with news of an arrest more than five years after the murder of iconic Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. As news unfolded in both cases, impunity--a recurring theme in official meetings and hallway conversations--loudly made its way to the forefront. And on June 2, IFEX members announced that they would join forces to globally put an end to journalists' murders and impunity for their killers, making November 23 the International Day to End Impunity.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

BBC coverage of Prageeth Eknelygoda's disappearance

Sandhya Eknelygoda, here with her sons, is still seeking information her missing husband Prageeth. (CPJ)

A short follow-up to yesterday's alert about Sandhya Eknelygoda--"Sri Lankan journalist missing for 500 days"--and her attempts to get assistance from anyone in the Sri Lankan government or at the United Nations to help her learn more about the disappearance of her husband, Prageeth. The BBC's Colombo correspondent Charles Haviland produced a story about Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons, Harith and Sanjay, and puts their story in the context of the other disappearances in Sri Lanka. It's a powerful piece. Follow this link to the BBC story.  

June 9, 2011 4:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Slain journalists' families in Pakistan mourn for lifetime

It's a coincidence, but May 29, the date of Saleem Shahzad's kidnapping in Pakistan, coincides with the killing of journalist Munir Sangi six years ago. Against all odds, Sangi's widow, Yasmeen Sangi, is still fighting for justice in the case of her late husband, while Shahzad's widow, Anita Saleem--who is now responsible for the couple's three children--has decided not to appear publicly yet. Either way, fighting outright or suffering in silence, slain journalists' families pay a price that lasts a lifetime

June 9, 2011 4:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

How can Pakistani journalists protect themselves?

Syed Saleem Shahzad, right, with Pakistani journalist Qamar Yousafzai at the Afghan border in 2006 after being released by the Taliban. (AP)

The memorial service in Washington for journalist Saleem Shahzad--who was killed around May 29--was held at the National Press Club this past Monday. Anwar Iqbal, dean of the Pakistani press corps in Washington, led the ceremony. Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani spoke eloquently about the degree of loss brought by Shahzad's brutal killing. While many of the speakers called for an investigation into Shahzad's death, I had a different train of thought. I focused on an idea that had come up while I was in Karachi this April and May. After all, I thought, too many special investigations have been commissioned and have never seen the light of day, and the same thing seems likely to happen in Shahzad's case. But what if we could have prevented his death in the first place?

Blog   |   CPJ, Security

In journalist security field, maturing and understanding

Journalists are facing increasing risk at public demonstrations. Here, a March rally in Islamabad to denounce the CIA. (Reuters/Mian Khursheed)

Journalist security is still a maturing field, but news organizations are devoting more attention to preparing their reporters and photographers for the dangers particular to the profession. That means understanding risks that are constantly evolving. The brutal attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan at a Cairo demonstration has drawn worldwide attention to the issue of sexual assault against journalists--CPJ issued new guidelines on the threat today--but the case also points to an emerging, if lesser-known threat. In the past 18 months, more journalists have been killed covering violent demonstrations and other non-military events than at any time since CPJ began keeping detailed records two decades ago.

June 7, 2011 8:57 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese media freedom in a 'sensitive' period

Madeline Earp speaks in London on Friday on press freedom in China. (BBC)

I was in London on Friday, speaking at a seminar joint-hosted by the BBC Chinese service and the British think tank Chatham House called "Media Freedom in China and the Role of International Broadcasters." There was a lot of impassioned discussion about the range of challenges facing international broadcasters, from slashed budgets to the recent press freedom crackdown. (Chinese speakers can watch my presentation on the BBC website.)

June 6, 2011 5:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Justice for Saleem Shahzad? We've seen this before...

AFP

An important distinction is emerging in the murder of Saleem Shahzad, at left, as details of a second post-mortem were released Thursday. Shahzad was not tortured as has been widely reported. He was more likely beaten to death fairly quickly, apparently with iron rods, according to media reports. Here's the highly respected Amir Mir, writing in Asia Times Online, the site that published Shahzad's article that appears to have led to his death:

June 3, 2011 5:32 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Rising anger amid accusations about who killed Shahzad

Just a few pointers to the angry discussion that is going on among Pakistan's journalists about the killing of Saleem Shahzad. The Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) seems to have emerged as the prime target of accusation, but it has rejected claims of any involvement.

In an Associated Press of Pakistan article Tuesday slugged "Salim Shahzad death source of concern for entire nation: ISI official," an unnamed ISI official denied allegations that the agency was involved in Shahzad's death. APP is the official news agency for the Pakistan government. The pro-military and security establishment PakNationalists website followed suit with a reprint headlined "Stop Using Saleem Shahzad's Death To Target ISI." And here's the BBC's take on the ISI response.

June 2, 2011 10:47 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

A friend remembers Saleem Shahzad

When I received an unexpected call early Monday morning from Saleem Shahzad's wife, I knew I was in for some bad news.

"Saleem has not come home since Sunday evening, when he was on his way to a television studio," she said. She told me that she then remained as composed as possible until she received a call informing her of his death 48 hours later.

May 31, 2011 3:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

No spring in China, but are the media heading for a fall?

Here's a quick toss to a video posted on YouTube by Australian Broadcasting's reporter Stephen McDonell. He and his crew decided to confront some Chinese security types (not surprisingly they didn't identify themselves) who had been following them in Wenzhou while reporting in China. The team was covering religion, including underground or "house" churches--those not sanctioned by the government. The confrontation with McDonell's watchers in a posh hotel lobby is telling. McDonell's full story aired on May 17; you can find it at abc.net.au/foreign. And add a round of applause for the crew's cameraman Rob Hill for getting so much of the confrontation on tape. 

May 26, 2011 1:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan

Threats, security in Afghanistan: Some responses

Last Friday's post, "After bin Laden, a warning to foreign journalists," generated several responses from Western journalists in Kabul. I also did two lengthy interviews on Monday with the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, and fielded questions from several other news outlets. 

May 24, 2011 12:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Ode to a detainee

On May 18, we posted about the stirring letter Sandhya Eknelygoda, wife of detained journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda sent to Sri Lanka's First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. Check out the link: In Sri Lanka, a mother's plea to the first lady.

May 23, 2011 12:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Sethi: Pakistani media challenging military

Sethi at CPJ offices. (CPJ/Sheryl A. Mendez)

Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi was in the United States last week to talk about the challenges facing his country at a critical moment. Ever the contrarian, he also sees opportunities. "For the first time the media is challenging the military," he told an audience of friends and colleagues at CPJ offices in New York. "That's the biggest positive development out of the whole Pakistan debacle."

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Pakistan

After bin Laden, a warning to foreign journalists

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed two in Peshawar. (Reuters/Fayaz Aziz)

Security is always risky in Kabul, as it is in the entire Afghanistan-Pakistan theater. But the May 2 U.S. raid into Pakistan and killing of Osama bin Laden has raised the risk of retaliation against international representatives, including journalists. 

May 20, 2011 1:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   Iraq, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka

Video: 'Living in silence: Journalists in exile'

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.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, a mother's plea to the first lady

Sandhya Eknelygoda, here with her sons, is still seeking information her missing husband Prageeth. (CPJ)

As Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa launches a domestic media campaign against U.N. allegations of war crimes since the May 2009 ceasefire, the plight of Sandhya Eknelygoda continues.

May 17, 2011 4:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Following disaster, Free Press Association of Japan launches

MP Ihiro Ozawa addresses a FPAJ press conference. (Michiyoshi Hatakeyama)

After the huge catastrophe that hit Japan this March, the country is in need of a freer media culture. A less restricted media would allow more people access to information at press conferences. In the name of this aim, in April 25, a group of Japanese freelance journalists launched a new organization called the Free Press Association of Japan (FPAJ).

May 17, 2011 12:13 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Q&A: Filmmaker talks Ai Weiwei and jailed activists

A still from the film of Ai Weiwei, taken in Jingdezhen, China, in 2010. (Courtesy Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry)

Three years after a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan province in May 2008, CPJ spoke to documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman. The director is working on the upcoming "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," about the recently detained Chinese artist who documented the aftermath of the earthquake and published the names of children killed in the collapse of frail school buildings. 

May 13, 2011 3:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S-China disagreement, not dialogue, on human rights

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which concluded in Washington today, may not have produced much in the way of specific commitments on human rights issues. But media appearances surrounding the talks have provided a forum for top leaders to re-state their views in public. 

May 10, 2011 3:54 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S.-China dialogue must keep focus on human rights

Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, left center, and others at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue today. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
China's powerful State Councilor Dai Bingguo told U.S. officials today that his country was "making progress" on human rights issues, according to Agence France-Presse. The remarks, made at the start of the two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue, do not bode well for U.S. efforts to keep human rights on the table after last month's exchange on human rights in Beijing. 
May 9, 2011 5:38 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Mission Journal: CPJ tackles impunity in Pakistan

After months of planning and preparation, our CPJ team had assembled in Islamabad with an ambitious plan. On May 3, we had a meeting scheduled with President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the country's failure to investigate the killings of journalists. We also had positive indications that our delegation would be able to meet with military officials and possibly even representatives from the Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, the country's all-powerful spy agency.

May 6, 2011 1:46 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

Press freedom requires action, not talk, in Burma

Burmese taxi drivers read a newspaper featuring a picture of newly sworn-in president Thein Sein. (AFP/Soe Than Win)

Burma's newly installed democratic government has sent tentative signals that it intends to allow for more media openness as the country transitions from military to civilian rule. The continued detention of more than 2,100 political prisoners, including as many as 25 journalists, however, belies President Thein Sein's recent press-promoting pronouncements.

Blog   |   China

Only some Chinese writers allowed to attend PEN Festival

Zha Jianying discusses Ai Weiwei, pictured at left after a police attack, at the Pen World Voices Festival. (CPJ)

The stage was full of empty chairs on Thursday at "China in Two Acts," part of the five-day PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York, which ended on Sunday.  A two-part program featured writer Zha Jianying speaking for the first part followed by a panel discussion in the second. The chairs, a nod to Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo's recent imprisonment, also signified the absence of Liao Yiwu, author and fellow IndePENdent Chinese PEN Center board member. Liao was barred from leaving the country, festival chair Salman Rushdie wrote in a New York Times op-ed

Blog   |   Burma

Burmese exile news site endures hacking, DDoS attacks

Like other Burmese exile-run media, the Irrawaddy has been plagued by numerous denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in recent years that have forced its website to be shut down. Now, Aung Zaw, the publication's founder and editor, believes Burma's military-backed regime has adopted a new cyber-attack strategy that aims to undermine the exile media's credibility among readers.
May 2, 2011 11:57 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S. rights message falls on deaf ears in China

 Michael Posner said he does not feel comforted from the response or lack of response on the recent detention of Ai Weiwei, seen here. (AP/Andy Wong)

As predicted by CPJ and many other commentators, results of the U.S.-China human rights dialogue this week are less than satisfactory. The U.S. side was more critical than it has been, but China remained defiantly deaf to foreign pressure. 

April 29, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

How the U.S. should raise human rights in China dialogue

One day ahead of two-day bilateral talks with the U.S., China's Foreign Ministry rejected what it labeled "interference" in the country's internal affairs under the rubric of human rights, according to international news reports. Despite this obstructionist tone, CPJ hopes that Washington officials, led by Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, will stick to their announced agenda--and cast it as a matter of China's own national interest.

April 26, 2011 1:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet, Malaysia, Russia

Cyber-attacks on press up in number, down in cost

Novaya Gazeta, a leading Russian independent news outlet, has been under cyber-attack.

The last two weeks have seen a spate of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks against news sites, coordinated attempts to overwhelm outlets with fake incoming data so the sites cannot respond to legitimate users.

Blog   |   China

News assistants in China: an invisible, important group

Among the first concerns a journalist may have on coming to China as a foreign correspondent is how to communicate with the Chinese people, the majority of whom do not speak a word of English. Finding a "news assistant" is usually the answer.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Umar Cheema: 'Their efforts to intimidate me backfired'

Cheema (Pauline Eiferman)

On September 4, 2010, Pakistani journalist Umar Cheema was abducted as he was going home after a dinner with friends near Islamabad. He was held captive for more than six hours, during which he was tortured by masked individuals. He was told to stop criticizing the government in the articles he wrote for the English-language daily The News and was dumped the next day by his car. (CPJ has covered his case extensively.)

Seven months after his ordeal, Cheema traveled to the United States and stopped by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism to talk to students about the dangers of reporting in his country.


April 20, 2011 6:05 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Jose Pavia, press freedom champion, dies at 72

Jose Pavia, a veteran journalist and tireless press freedom advocate, died on April 18 in the Philippines. Pavia, known simply as "JLP" among his friends and journalist colleagues, was a key partner in CPJ's Global Campaign Against Impunity. He was 72 and had been battling cancer.

Blog   |   China

Site hosting Ai Weiwei petition hit with cyberattack

Change.org was the target of a denial of service attack that it says originated in China. (AP/Andy Wong)
Change.org is back up and running after what the site said was a cyberattack that came from within China. Here's the site's announcement that was running on its homepage earlier today:
April 20, 2011 12:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China seizes critics as domestic media avert eyes

Why hasn't the government disclosed Ai Weiwei's status? And why aren't domestic media questioning the government? (AP/Andy Wong)

The Chinese security apparatus is kidnapping government critics, unchallenged by the domestic press. Writer Yang Hengjun, who went missing in March and has since reappeared, criticized the Chinese press this week for failing to report on his enforced disappearance. While state media are accusing the missing artist and social critic Ai Weiwei of plagiarism and being "erratic," according to UK-based The Economist, they are not questioning his apparent, unlawful detention.

April 15, 2011 2:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

In Japan, scenes of devastation

Here is a selection of photos by Japanese freelancer Hiro Ugaya showing the devastation in northeastern Japan caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Photos are copyright Hiro Ugaya and used with permission. View his full Picasa gallery here.

In an interview on the CPJ Blog, Ugaya tells CPJ's Madeline Earp how he covered the catastrophe.

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April 15, 2011 8:58 AM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Freelance, online reporting discouraged on nuclear threat

The Japanese government upped the danger rating for the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to its highest level, 7, on Tuesday, a month after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country. It was not yet clear whether the administration or the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, withheld the extent of the risk. But the local media's habitual allegiance to officials who arrange press conferences and companies that buy advertising makes it hard to tell, and freelancers who are eager to probe deeper say their questions have been suppressed.

April 14, 2011 6:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Freelancer Hiro Ugaya on covering Japan's crisis

Ugaya in tsunami-destroyed Noda Mura village. (Hiro Ugaya)

Following up on our post about the difficulties of covering the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake from outside the mainstream media, CPJ spoke with intrepid freelancer Hiro Ugaya, whom we first interviewed in 2010. "From April 2 to 8, I was traveling in tsunami-destroyed area in Tohoku, northeastern Japan," he told CPJ by email from Tokyo.

April 14, 2011 6:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

U.N. vows transparency on Sri Lanka abuses

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Reuters)

The three-person panel of experts on Sri Lanka appointed in 2010 to look into possible war crimes during the decades-long conflict with Tamil secessionists submitted its findings to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday. That report should include the attacks on the news media that have become a reality for journalists working there.

April 13, 2011 1:49 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Ai Weiwei coverage, a couple of unexpected notes

We reported Thursday that Chinese media reports on Ai Weiwei have reflected his ambiguous status in Chinese law. After several days in which Ai was considered missing, the Foreign Ministry acknowledged police were investigating him for "economic crimes" although it stopped short of saying he was detained. Coverage within China remains very limited, although there have been a couple of surprising, ambivalent notes about his fate. 

April 8, 2011 11:15 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Agreed: Pakistan is deadliest country for journalists

Just a quick pointer. Zohra Yusuf's column in The Express Tribune, "A dangerous country for journalists," deserves a link from CPJ. Yusuf is a former vice chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. From the piece: 

April 5, 2011 12:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, a state of denial on detentions, abuse

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, today denied having heard of Sydney-based Chinese author and blogger Yang Hengjun, according to The Associated Press. We reported yesterday that Yang was missing, presumed to be the latest high-profile writer to fall victim to the government's aggressive roundup of critics who might respond to online calls for a Chinese "Jasmine revolution." Concern for Yang deepened today, after reports emerged that he had called his sister in Guangzhou to say he had been detained. "Having a long chat with old friends" was the pre-arranged phrase they used, AP reported. 

March 29, 2011 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   South Korea

In well-wired South Korea, all is not well for press freedom

Under President Lee, more restrictive news media policies. (AP/Jo Yong-Hak)

CPJ ranks North Korea, with no independent media, as the world's most censored state. South Korea, with a wide-open press, seldom comes in for criticism. The high-tech, economic powerhouse is ranked as one of the most intensely wired nations in the world, and South Koreans enjoy near universal Internet access. But all is not well with the media on the southern half of the Korean peninsula. 

March 25, 2011 4:03 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet

Is China censoring phone conversations?

Are Chinese mainland citizens, as has been reported, finding their telephone conversations cut off whenever they mention the word "protest?" While large-scale, real-time voice recognition is a technological possibility, it is at the edge of what is believed likely. It would certainly be revealing about the capabilities of the Chinese government if these anecdotes proved to be widespread. 

March 24, 2011 11:02 AM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

UN heard Eknelygoda's cry for help; husband still missing

A cartoon by Prageeth Eknelygoda.

Sandhya Eknelygoda has recently managed to get the attention of the United Nations about the case of the disappearance of her husband, Prageeth, on January 24, 2010. Still, there has been no progress made in learning of his whereabouts. 

March 21, 2011 4:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

U.N. to investigate Prageeth Eknelygoda's disappearance

One of Prageeth Eknelygoda's last cartoons.

Tuesday's letter from CPJ and four other groups to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apparently had some impact. The Canadian Press reported today that Ban has asked the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, which oversees press freedom, to look into the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a Sri Lankan columnist and cartoonist missing for more than a year.

March 9, 2011 5:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet

Michael Anti's exile from Facebook over 'real-name policy'

Michael Anti's anger with Facebook grew when he heard that the company hosts a page for the dog of founder Mark Zuckerberg, seen here. (Reuters)

The Chinese journalist Michael Anti had his Facebook account deleted in January. The reason Facebook gave was that Michael Anti isn't his real, government-recorded, name--which is true. Instead, Anti is the name that he has written under for almost a decade, on his own personal blogs, and in his writing for the New York Times and other publications. It's the name on his Harvard fellowship documents. It's what his public knows him as. It's what you would search for if you were looking for his writing, or aiming to get in touch.

March 9, 2011 5:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Mideast protests a red flag to Chinese censors

A Chinese policeman checks the identity of a foreign journalist, right, near the Xidan shopping district, a designated a demonstration site in an Internet call for protests in Beijing on Sunday. (AP)
Working to defend press freedom, I take it that I've hit the mark when I get censored. So I smiled today when I got an e-mail from a friend in China who said he was in the gym watching breakfast television when my face came up on CNN. I opened my mouth and the screen went blank. Chinese censors are nothing if not quick.

March 8, 2011 3:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Abusive Twitter messages target foreign media in China

Chinese police stand guard near a planned protest site for the "Jasmine Revolution" on February 20 in Beijing. (AP/Andy Wong)

California-based China Digital Times (CDT) reports new Chinese-language Twitter commentators have appeared in the last week. Twitter is generally blocked in China, but heavily used by activists who access it by means of proxy networks overseas. The recent arrivals are vocal supporters of the government's efforts to tamp down nascent "Jasmine Revolution" rallies anonymously organized in Chinese cities the past two Sundays. 

March 2, 2011 2:22 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Updates on Wali Khan Babar and Umar Cheema in Pakistan

Here are two quick updates on prominent Pakistani cases we've been following:

Despite police claims made soon after the assassination-style killing of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar on January 13, there have been no arrests made in his case, and there is little reason to expect that there will be any. Babar was one of 20 people killed in gang violence in Karachi that day. He was returning home after his report on the violence had been aired. Mark another case in Pakistan's poor record for impunity for the killers of journalists--the country ranked 10th last year in CPJ's Impunity Index.

March 1, 2011 12:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Why hasn't the U.N. reached out to Sandhya Eknelygoda?

On February 18, we noted that the United Nations in New York finally said it received a letter from Sandhya Eknelygoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda. Sandhya had given the letter to the U.N. representative in Colombo, Neil Buhne, on January 24, the first anniversary of her husband's disappearance. It was also channeled to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. 

February 24, 2011 12:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Lawyer's footage of house arrest published in China

Men in plainclothes recently harassed at least six foreign journalists in Shandong province. Vivid news footage shoes a group pelting CNN reporter Stan Grant and his photographer with rocks when they tried to visit the home of an activist under house arrest. Brice Pedroletti from France's Le Monde, Stephane Lagarde with Radio France Internationale, and an unnamed New York Times journalist and photographer underwent similar confrontations in February, according to Agence France-Presse. 

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Request for help for Prageeth: Lost in the mail?

Finally, there has been some movement in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, at left, the Sri Lankan journalist who disappeared on January 24, 2010. The United Nations says it has received a letter from Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, that she had handed over to the U.N. representative in Colombo, Neil Buhne, on January 24, the anniversary of his disappearance.  

February 18, 2011 1:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan

Documenting sexual violence against journalists

Jineth Bedoya takes notes in December 2000 under the watch of a bodyguard in Bogotá in an armored car after she was kidnapped, beaten, and raped in April that year. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

The news of the sexual assault against CPJ board member and CBS correspondent Lara Logan hit us hard on Tuesday. At CPJ, we work daily to advocate on behalf of journalists under attack in all kinds of horrific situations around the world. Because of Lara's untiring work with our Journalist Assistance program, she's well known to everyone on our staff.

Blog   |   CPJ, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

At Attacks launch: What if governments are perpetrators?

Umar Cheema

When we launched the new edition of Attacks on the Press at the United Nations today, I was hit with questions about Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Both dealt with what amounts to the same problem: What do you do when you're asking a government to investigate a crime in which it might have been the perpetrator? 

The Sri Lanka question came first. What is happening in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a critical cartoonist and columnist who disappeared more than a year ago? The question starts around 17:07 on the U.N.'s archived webcast of the event. The Pakistan question, which starts at around 33:55, addresses the case of Umar Cheema, another critical columnist. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka get ample coverage in this year's Attacks on the Press.

February 15, 2011 4:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   North Korea

More rare news from North Korea

The latest batch of reporting--writing, photography, and video--from North Korea is available online at Asia Press Network (APN). The stories deal with apparent hyperinflation, the emergence of street markets in Pyongyang, and the reported reduction of rations for military personnel. They're the sort of stories you seldom see out of North Korea that give depth to the well-covered military and diplomatic maneuvers across the Korean Peninsula's Demilitarized Zone. 

February 15, 2011 11:09 AM ET

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Blog   |   Nepal

Nepal's leadership vacuum threatens press freedom

Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal has already lost some support. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)

Nepal's new Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal should be setting a new tone. Law and order--and with it, journalists' security--have suffered in the seven months since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned and has been filling in as interim leader. Khanal could be making public commitments to reversing the atmosphere of impunity that is promoting media attacks. Instead, he is struggling to form a new government amid challenges to his tenuous hold on power.  

February 10, 2011 1:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bangladesh

Press freedom has its limitations in Bangladesh

Opposition supporters read a newspaper outside an office of Bangladesh's opposition Awami League party in Dhaka. (Reuters)

In the last decade, the growth of print and electronic media and a new generation of journalists have changed the face of the media in Bangladesh. But there is a long way to go until there is true press freedom. Politicians, criminals, and businessman exert undue influence, and the industry itself lacks the professionalism to withstand it. 

February 8, 2011 10:21 AM ET

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Blog   |   Thailand

Internet freedom on trial in Thailand

A Thai editor's trial is being held amid a vigorous government clampdown on the Internet. Seen here, an Internet cafe in Bangkok. (Reuters/Sukree Sukplang)

Hearings commenced today in the trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, executive director of the Thailand-based independent news website Prachatai. She stands accused of 10 different violations of the country's draconian 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA), each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  

Blog   |   India

In Kashmir, Tehelka takes on press freedom abuses

The latest issue of India's Tehelka weekly magazine carries some great reporting on press freedom issues, an effort supported by CPJ and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The article, by Pragya Tiwari, includes many examples of journalists being harassed and assaulted while reporting on clashes between security and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. It begins with a veteran journalist who was beaten to unconsciousness while going through a security checkpoint--despite having all the right paperwork. But the author also outlines systemic problems that are eroding media freedom even on issues beyond the conflict.  

February 2, 2011 4:06 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Is Taiwan's media independence under threat?

As business relations develop between China and Taiwan, concerns are growing that Taiwan's media freedom may be compromised. The culprits include some journalists themselves, promoting China to preserve their own business interests, and Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) government, apparently attempting to exert control over the media through legislation.  

February 1, 2011 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Egypt

China limits reporting on Egypt unrest in favor of 'harmony'

Chinese information authorities are filtering results of Chinese-language Internet searches for "Egypt" and "Cairo," according to Global Voices Online and The Wall Street Journal. The unrest raging there could prompt comparison with the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or incite anti-government demonstrations.

January 31, 2011 6:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Suspect says he was hired to silence broadcaster

Police in the southern Philippine province of Palawan have an unusual head start in their investigation of Monday's murder of radio broadcaster Gerardo Ortega. They apprehended the assassin at the scene, with the help of local firefighters and bystanders, and an unusual amount of information about the killing is already in the public domain. 

January 25, 2011 4:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, Kristof's blogs are shut down

Nicholas Kristof's Sunday column in The New York Times documents the latest in a series of tests the journalist has performed in Chinese cyberspace. The conflicting results he achieved while setting up a Chinese-language blog and micro-blog demonstrate how difficult it is to judge what censors will permit in an online space.

January 24, 2011 4:19 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Chinese media, 'a lot to be done' is left unsaid

It is fair to report, as Agence France-Presse and others did today, that Chinese media largely avoided President Hu Jintao's comments on human rights during a Washington press conference on Wednesday. But the nature of the omission is significant. Chinese reports acknowledged that a discussion of human rights took place between Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama, but omitted the very phrase that dominated international coverage: "A lot still needs to be done," Hu finally acknowledged to reporters. And the context--Hu being challenged during a public press conference--is absent.

January 20, 2011 1:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Washington reporters press China's Hu on human rights

Reporters push Hu to respond to press freedom concerns. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

Thanks to Ben Feller and Hans Nichols for raising questions about China's human rights and press freedom record. A lot of Chinese journalists are grateful, too. When we urged U.S. President Barack Obama last week to raise press freedom concerns in his meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, we received no response. But when Feller of The Associated Press and Nichols of Bloomberg asked tough questions at the two leaders' joint press conference on Wednesday, we knew someone was listening. 

January 20, 2011 1:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Flawed, but important: The Danny Pearl case revisited

Pearl (Reuters)

It's good to see that not everyone has forgotten about the Danny Pearl case. The Pearl Project, a three-year investigation carried out by a team of American journalists and students at Georgetown University says that the Pakistani government's conviction of the four men it claimed beheaded Pearl sometime in February 2002, were convicted on conflicting and perjured testimony.

In May 2006, Abi Wright, CPJ's then-Asia program coordinator, wrote in "Daniel Pearl: An Open Case":

January 20, 2011 10:56 AM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Lasantha--journalist, activist, citizen--deserves justice

A drawing of slain editor Lasantha Wickramatunga stands in the lobby of The Sunday Leader. (CPJ)

On January 13, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Sri Lankan media his government had no evidence to continue an investigation into the murder of Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickramatunga. Rajapaksa made this comment in response to a question raised by Lasantha's brother Lal in the presence of about 60 media personnel, including editors, publishers and government ministers, at a customary monthly presidential breakfast. 

Rajapaksa's nonchalance over an investigation he himself publicly promised to initiate in the wake of the murder and amid allegations his government was involved, came just five days after Wickramatunga's family and colleagues commemorated the prominent journalist's second anniversary of his death.

January 19, 2011 3:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, press marks a bitter anniversary

The son of missing cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda seeks justice at a Colombo rally. (Paba Deshapriya)

In recent years, January has emerged as Sri Lanka's cruelest month for journalists. To commemorate that ugly fact, 100 journalists and press freedom activists gathered Tuesday outside the Fort Railway Station in the capital, Colombo, demanding that the government expedite investigations into a series of attacks and January killings that occurred in both 2009 and 2010. 

January 19, 2011 2:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

An appeal to help the family of a disappeared journalist

Sri Lankan cartoonist and political reporter Prageeth Eknelygoda disappeared almost one year ago today. He was last seen leaving the Colombo offices of the political Website Lanka eNews, where he worked, late on the evening of Sunday, January 24, 2010. No one has heard from Eknelygoda since.

Blog   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, anti-press attacks spread beyond border

The death of a journalist in Karachi last week shows that violence in Pakistan is occurring well beyond the border areas with Afghanistan. On Thursday evening, Pakistani television reporter Wali Khan Babar was executed shortly after airing a report on gang violence in the city. 

January 18, 2011 2:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Obama should raise Chinese press attacks with Hu

Press freedom should be on the agenda for Hu's visit. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

In an open letter on January 11, CPJ asked U.S. President Barack Obama to raise the issue of jailed journalists with Hu Jintao while the Chinese leader is in Washington this week. They have plenty to talk about, but journalist freedom and security should be near the top of the agenda. 

Blog   |   China

Chinese reporter's death came days before Hu's U.S. tour

On the heels of a brutal killing of a Chinese reporter, CPJ has asked President Obama to discuss press issues with President Hu Jintao, seen here. (Reuters)

CPJ has written to President Obama asking him to raise press freedom issues when Hu Jintao comes to the U.S. next week. China's practice of restricting and imprisoning reporters domestically has serious implications for the U.S.-China relationship, and a concerning case last month suggests it may be getting worse. 

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