CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Asia

2012


Blog   |   China, Internet

China's name registration will only aid cybercriminals

China's new Communist Party leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use. (AP/Alexander F. Yuan)

China's mounting crackdown on online news dissemination took an extra step today, when the country's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, its de facto legislative body, announced new requirements on Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to identify their users. The new rules would potentially allow ISPs and the authorities to more closely tie real identities to posts and commentary on micro-blogging sites like Weibo, as well as connect text messaging and mobile phone conversations to individuals.

December 28, 2012 5:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Reuters Institute focuses on Sri Lankan journalism

The most recent paper produced by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford, "Media Freedom in post-war Sri Lanka and its impact on the reconciliation process<," does a great job of cataloging the abuse Sri Lankan journalists continue to face after the decades-long civil conflict with Tamil secessionists ended in May 2009.

December 28, 2012 11:08 AM ET

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Blog   |   India

Amid deadly demonstrations, focus on India police

Police beat protesters near India Gate, New Delhi. (AP/Kevin Frayer)

For the safety of journalists and other people on the streets protesting injustice, Indian police must begin in earnest to address how they respond to demonstrations. One journalist died covering protests that have been taking place across the country following the gang rape of a 23-year old female medical student on a Delhi bus on December 16. The government's response to these protests, in which more than 100 people have been injured, has raised eyebrows across the world.

Blog   |   Iraq, Security, Somalia, Syria

Combat deaths at a high, risks shift for journalists

Ambulances carry the bodies of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, who were killed in government shelling in Syria. (Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)

Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide--and this year was no exception. But the death toll in 2012 continued a recent shift in the nature of journalist fatalities worldwide. More journalists were killed in combat situations in 2012 than in any year since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, India, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Sri Lanka

Journalists still murdered where impunity reigns

(AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.

December 18, 2012 12:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, USA

In Internet freedom fight, why the ITU matters (for now)

Hamdoun Toure, ITU secretary general, speaks at the group's conference in Dubai. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)

For most of its almost-150-year history, the meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' communications standards body, have been rather predictable affairs.

December 14, 2012 12:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   Security, Sri Lanka

Integrity vs. authenticity in video journalism

A still from the video showing a Sri Lankan soldier about to execute a prisoner. (AFP/Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka)

Back in November 2010, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a leaked video that appears to show men in Sri Lankan military uniforms executing bound prisoners, the camera panning across a series of bodies laid out in a ditch. Family and friends identified one of those bodies as that of Tamil Tiger TV newscaster Shoba, also known as Isaipriya. If authenticated, the video could constitute evidence that Isaipriya was murdered. It would be one step toward accountability in a long string of unsolved murders of journalists in Sri Lanka. It would also be evidence of war crimes that are said to have been committed during the final phases of the 27-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. But disputes have ensued between the United Nations, which claims the video is authentic, and the Sri Lankan government, which claims that it is fake.

Blog   |   CPJ, Ethiopia, Journalist Assistance

Video: Campaign to free the press

(CNN)

The imprisonment of journalists hit a record high in 2012, driven by the growing use of anti-terrorism charges to silence critical voices. This video, a centerpiece of CPJ's new Free the Press campaign, details the plight of imprisoned journalists worldwide and describes how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed reporters, editors, photojournalists, and bloggers. (4:40)

Read our special report "Number of jailed journalists sets global record" and view our database of journalists in prison.

December 11, 2012 12:00 AM ET

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Blog

On Human Rights Day, make your voice heard on impunity

In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 10 Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption and proclamation two years earlier of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year, on this day, the U.N. chooses one right to highlight and advocate. This year, Human Rights Day is focused on the right of all people to make their voices heard. This is not possible when journalists worldwide are being murdered.

Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Taiwanese media sale could threaten press freedom

In this image made on April 27, rival Taiwan newspapers Apple Daily, top, and The China Times, bottom, are seen depicting their owners in a fight to control key Taiwan media outlets. (AP)

A media buyout in Taiwan which would put independent news outlets critical of China into the hands of a pro-Beijing media tycoon is cause for concern for the island's press. Jimmy Lai, the outspoken mogul behind Hong Kong-based Next Media and the Apple Daily tabloid, is selling his Taiwan holdings to a group of businessmen that includes Tsai Eng-meng, whose China Times Media group is supportive of China, according to local and international news reports.

Blog   |   China, Kyrgyzstan

Nearly 20,000 call to free Kyrgyz, Tibetan journalists

CPJ is petitioning for release of Tibetan Dhondup Wangchen from Chinese jail. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

"I remain hopeful that I will one day see the sun once more--not through the barred window of my prison cell but as a free man." -Azimjon Askarov

Today, on International Human Rights Day, CPJ and close to 20,000 supporters are calling on the governments of China and Kyrgyzstan to release two journalists imprisoned for reporting on minorities' grievances and human rights violations.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Pakistanis address violence on Pakistani journalists

There is an absolutely terrific seven-part special report by The News on Sunday on Pakistan's problem with the killing of journalists and the impunity surrounding their deaths. It's written by and for Pakistanis, with compelling direction from Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia Pakistan--and not only describes and analyzes the problem, but offers approaches to potential solutions.

December 10, 2012 12:15 PM ET

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Blog   |   Brazil, CPJ, India, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia

Speak Justice campaign fights impunity in press murders

The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about organized crime on social media under the pseudonym "The Girl from Laredo." Her murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was the first in which a journalist was killed in direct relation for reporting published on social media. It remains unsolved.

Blog   |   China

Confusion grows around missing Tibetan monk filmmaker

Tibetans protest in Rongwo township in western China's Qinghai province November 9, calling for freedom from Chinese rule. (AP)

Not unusually, an already confusing situation in Tibet just got worse. Twenty-seven Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese this month alone, according to Human Rights Watch. That's almost one a day. Against this chaotic backdrop, Chinese authorities have issued an arrest order for a missing monk who helped film a 2008 documentary about life in Tibet, according to his film company, Filming for Tibet.

CPJ supporters will know that we just honored self-taught Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award, recognizing his courage documenting life under Chinese rule with full knowledge that he would face severe repercussions (he is serving a six-year jail term--you can join our petition for his release here). So we've been following with concern the latest reports that his assistant on that project, the monk Jigme Gyatso, has been missing, reportedly detained, since September.

Blog   |   Philippines

To fight impunity, cycle of fear, silence must be broken

Three years ago, on November 23, 2009, 30 journalists and two media workers were brutally killed in the southern Philippine city of Maguindanao while travelling in a convoy with the family and supporters of a local politician. To this day, not a single suspect has been convicted, though local authorities have identified close to 200. The botched trial has been stalled with procedural hurdles. Victims' families have been threatened and key witnesses have been slain.

November 23, 2012 9:00 AM ET

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Blog   |   Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, UK

Awardees say indignation trumps intimidation

Mauri König (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.

Blog   |   India

Arrests over Facebook comments fan debate in India

Shaheen Dhada, left, and Renu Srinivas, Indian women arrested for their Facebook posts, leave a Mumbai court Tuesday. (AP)

The arrest of two women in India this week because of posting and "liking" an opinion on Facebook has further inflamed debate over the right to freedom of expression in the world's largest democracy.

Blog   |   Pakistan

In Karachi, a trail of death and impunity in Babar case

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

Haider Ali, an eyewitness to the 2011 murder of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar, was gunned down on Sunday, two days before he was set to testify in the trial of five suspects. The murder sent shockwaves across Pakistan--one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists and one of the worst in bringing the killers to justice. According to the prosecutor in the case, Ali had identified several suspects as being involved in Babar's murder in a recent statement before a judicial magistrate. His killing was the latest in a series of murders that have targeted people linked to the Babar investigation. Five others--including eyewitnesses, police officers, an informant, and a family member of an investigator--have also been murdered.

November 16, 2012 6:41 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

What China's new leadership means for press freedom

A mall's screen shows new Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping in Beijing Thursday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Like many China watchers, we at CPJ have been struggling to interpret obscure floor markings and tie colors on display in Beijing as new Communist Party leaders were appointed in a rare leadership hand-off today. The names of the top seven are no longer in doubt. But the real question everyone's asking is: What does it mean (for press freedom)? 

Blog   |   China

Tibetan voices censored around China's Party Congress

Reports of a massive surveillance operation in Tibet and harassment of journalists covering Tibetan issues cast a shadow over eagerly anticipated leadership appointments expected tomorrow in Beijing.

Blog   |   China

In China, kids ask the tough questions at Party Congress

Eleven-year-old Zhang Jiahe asks a question during the 18th National Party Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

When a nation's most outspoken journalists are 11-year-olds, is it a good sign for the future? On the one hand, they might grow up to ask probing questions. On the other hand, they might end up following the path taken by their older peers and stick to scripted exchanges.

November 13, 2012 2:18 PM ET

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Blog   |   Brazil, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Security, Somalia, Syria

Will UN plan address impunity, security for journalists?

A woman stands next to a banner reading "No more impunity" in Colombia. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

Here are the facts:

  • A journalist is killed in the line of duty somewhere around the world once every eight days.
  • Nearly three out of four are targeted for murder. The rest are killed in the crossfire of combat, or on dangerous assignments such as street protests.
  • Local journalists constitute the large majority of victims in all groups.
  • The murderers go unpunished in about nine out of 10 cases.
  • The overall number of journalists killed, and the number of journalists murdered, have each climbed since the 1990s.

Blog   |   Belarus, CPJ, Philippines, Russia

Twenty-three days to take action against impunity

Approximately 30 journalists are targeted and murdered every year, and on average, in only three of these crimes are the killers ever brought to justice. Other attacks on freedom of expression occur daily: bloggers are threatened, photographers beaten, writers kidnapped. And in those instances, justice is even more rare. Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joins freedom of expression advocates worldwide in a 23-day campaign to dismantle one case at a time a culture of impunity that allows perpetrators to gag journalists, bloggers, photographers and writers, while keeping the rest of us uninformed.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

UPDATED: A window of opportunity to take on Sri Lanka

If you've been watching the attempts to silence media in Sri Lanka through attacks, disappearances, legal harassment, and government policies aimed at restricting free speech and the right to information, take the time to speak out with others around the world today. An opportunity like this only comes around every four years.

November 1, 2012 1:06 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Baluchistan latest epicenter of attacks on Pakistani press

Baluchistan has become one of Pakistan's 'hubs of hazard' for journalists in recent years. (AFP/Banaras Khan)

It is one step forward and two steps back in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province. The nation's highest court has acknowledged the dangerous climate journalists face in Baluchistan, but it has also affirmed a directive that only adds to the pressure cooker conditions that journalists work under.

Blog   |   CPJ, UK

London statement urges strong steps to protect journalists

The London symposium brought together, from left, International Press Institute's Galina Sidorova; BBC's Peter Horrocks; William Horsley of Centre for Freedom of the Media; Guy Berger, UNESCO; and Rodney Pinder, International News Safety Institute. (Centre for Freedom of the Media)

More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Blog   |   India

Sedition dropped, but Indian cartoonist faces other charges

Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi waves the national flag after being released from jail on bail in Mumbai on September 12. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

After intense public pressure, the Maharashtra state government last week dropped the charge of sedition against Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. However, Trivedi still faces other charges as his case resumes tomorrow at the Bombay High court. 

The 25-year old cartoonist, who was arrested on September 8, could have been sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of sedition. He still faces up to three years in prison for other charges including violation of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act and Information Technology Act, his lawyer Vijay Hiremath told CPJ by e-mail.

Blog   |   Pakistan

After Malala shooting, Taliban goes after media critics

Pakistani children in Karachi pray for the recovery of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, on October 12. (AP/Shakil Adil)

Journalists, like many others in Pakistan, have spoken out strongly since the Taliban attempted to kill the teenage Malala Yousafzai on October 9. The Taliban, in return, are threatening the media over their coverage, according to journalists and news reports.

October 17, 2012 5:36 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Activists protest imprisonment of Indian journalist

Supporters of Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt gathered in New York's Union Square on October 4. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

A couple dozen activists gathered this past week in New York City's Union Square to protest the imprisonment of freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt Soni Sori, who were arrested one year ago in India.

October 10, 2012 12:53 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Quick rethink on cybercrime law in Philippines

Protesters rallied against the cybercrime law in front of the Supreme Court building in Manila on Tuesday. (AFP/Noel Celis)

On Tuesday, the Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from enforcing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which President Benigno Aquino III signed into law last month. The court, in full session, ordered that oral arguments for and against will start January 15. And it gave the government 10 days to respond to the many petitioners seeking to declare the law unconstitutional.

Blog   |   Pakistan, Security

In Pakistan, a murderous exercise in democracy

Covering political rallies in Pakistan must be considered a dangerous assignment. One journalist was killed and three others injured on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. All told, at least six died and 10 were wounded critically.

Blog   |   Philippines

Online in Philippines? Check out #notocybercrimelaw

Filipino journalists show petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act that they submitted to the Supreme Court in Manila on Wednesday. (AP/Aaron Favila)

In a notoriously litigious country like the Philippines, it's bewildering that the government coupled a law targeting so-called cybercrimes like cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, and spamming with the hoary and over-used concept of libel. And no matter how abusive those crimes may be, it's an even bigger mystery why the government felt it should suspend its lengthy heritage of due legal process by giving the Department of Justice power to shut down websites and monitor all online activities without a warrant.

Blog   |   India

In Indian Kashmir, concerns over Internet censorship

The government of Indian Kashmir has a long record of failing to respond to physical attacks on the press. This week, the possibility that websites like YouTube and Facebook were blocked indicated that online freedoms, too, are under threat.  

Blog   |   Cambodia

Environment journalists rally for murdered Cambodian

For the crime of reporting on rampant illegal logging in Cambodia, one journalist suffered the same fate as the trees. (AP/ Heng Sinith)

On September 11, a Cambodian journalist named Hang Serei Odom was found dead in an abandoned vehicle. Missing since September 9, the reporter with the local Vorakchun Khmer Daily newspaper had suffered several axe blows to the head.

Blog   |   India

For India, celebrations not in order on Singh's birthday

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turned 80 on Wednesday. (AP/Saurabh Das)

This week, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh marked his 80th birthday. He spent the day, Wednesday, in the company of family and at public events, according to news reports. "There are no celebrations. He prefers to be with his family in the morning--then work as usual," Singh's spokesman told the media.

Blog   |   India

With new focus on sedition law, India poised at juncture

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center, has been charged with sedition. (AP/Rafiq Maqbool)

Although it is the world's largest democracy, India has retained its colonial-era sedition law. But with a national debate ensuing after the arrest of 25-year-old political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on the antiquated sedition charge and others, members of the Indian government have been forced to do some soul-searching.

Blog   |   Vietnam

Danlambao: We will not be silenced

A screenshot of the home page for Danlambao, a collective blog recently singled out by Vietnam's prime minister as untruthful.

On September 12, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued an administrative order--number 7169--accusing us, Danlambao, of "publishing information that is false, fabricated, and untruthful to slander the leadership of the nation, to agitate the people against the Party and the State, to cause doubts and create bad publicity reducing the people's trust in the state leadership." The order directed the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Information Communication and Media to investigate and discipline any groups or individuals who affiliate with Danlambao.

Blog   |   Japan

Japan's independent journalism on trial with Tanaka

Journalist Minoru Tanaka is being sued over a piece on Japan's nuclear industry. (Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky)

It doesn't take a baseball bat to silence a reporter in Japan--increasingly the blunt weapon being wielded by corporations, power brokers, and politicians is the court gavel.

In May of this year, a writer for the weekly magazine Shukan Kinyobi was sued by one of Japan's most powerful nuclear industry figures, for a total of 67,000,000 yen (US$858,000). The thrust of the lawsuit is that the term used to describe the plaintiff is libelous. 

Blog   |   China

China's Xi Jinping unseen, unsearchable

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping has not been seen in public since Sept. 1. (Reuters/How Hwee Young)

It was only a matter of time before Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's physical absence from the public view was accompanied by his disappearance from cyberspace. The characters "Jinping" from his name were censored today from searches of Sina's microblog service Weibo, according to the Fei Chang Dao blog. Where else but China does a deficiency of information about a nonappearance become a story worth deleting?

So is there a story or isn't there? International news reports say that Xi, President Hu Jintao's expected successor, has not been seen in public since Sept. 1, and missed a Sept.  5 meeting scheduled with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That was either a snub, a swimming injury, a stroke, or an assassination attempt, depending on who you talk to. Xi has missed other appointments too, though the full extent of his truancy remains unclear. 

September 12, 2012 7:08 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Shooting investigation stalls in India

CPJ has been monitoring the investigation into the shooting attack on Arunachal Times journalist Tongam Rina outside her office in Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh state, which left her hospitalized in critical condition this July. Her recovery is progressing, slowly but surely. The police inquiry, however, is not. 

September 11, 2012 5:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Denmark, Germany, USA

Thorning's chance to press China for media freedom

Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is in China this week to meet with top leaders, according to international news reports. CPJ's Advocacy and Communications Associate Magnus Ag and Senior Asia Program Researcher Madeline Earp co-wrote an op-ed calling on Thorning--as she is called in the Danish press--to raise the issue of press freedom. An edited version ran in the Danish newspaper Politiken today.

Speaking truthfully to China on its repression of human rights can be a tricky endeavor in diplomatic affairs, but Helle Thorning-Schmidt has a prime opportunity to raise press freedom on her trip to China. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not give the issue public priority during their visits earlier this month, but as Thorning meets with top Communist Party leaders and addresses a World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, the opportunity must not be wasted.

Blog   |   Security

In Cryptocat, lessons for technologists and journalists

Alhamdulillah! Finally, a technologist designed a security tool that everyone could use. A Lebanese-born, Montreal-based computer scientist, college student, and activist named Nadim Kobeissi had developed a cryptography tool, Cryptocat, for the Internet that seemed as easy to use as Facebook Chat but was presumably far more secure.

September 11, 2012 12:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sandhya Eknelygoda speaks for Sri Lanka's disappeared

When I first met Sandhya Eknelygoda in May 2010 in her home outside Colombo, she was a distressed mother of two young boys whose husband had gone missing. He was last seen four months earlier, just prior to the elections that returned President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power after the end of the decades-long war with Tamil secessionists. She still has no inkling of the whereabouts of her husband Prageeth, a cartoonist and columnist for the opposition website Lanka eNews (which has since ceased to operate in Sri Lanka because of arson attacks and legal harassment of its staff, but is maintained overseas).

Blog   |   China

As Wang is freed, Chinese journalist Shi Tao still held

A protester holds a poster depicting jailed journalist Shi Tao. (AP/Miguel Villagran)

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning was released today after serving a 10-year prison term on charges of "incitement to subvert state power," a case built in good part on client information supplied by Yahoo. Wang had used his Yahoo email account and the discussion forum Yahoo Groups to spread ideas the government deemed dangerous. His case closely parallels that of journalist Shi Tao, another Yahoo user who fell afoul of the Chinese government. In 2005, Shi was convicted of "illegally leaking state secrets abroad" and given a 10-year sentence. Yahoo had helped authorities identify Shi through his account information.

Blog   |   Internet

Dear CPJ: Some malware from your 'friend'

An analyst looks at malware code in a lab. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

We talk a lot about hacking attacks against individual journalists here, but what typifies an attempt to access a reporter's computer? Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, received an email last week that reflects some characteristics of a malware attack against a journalist or activist. There was nothing particularly notable about the targeting. (Like many reporters, CPJ receives such attempts occasionally). The attack failed at the first fence, and my casual investigation into the source was inconclusive. There are no shocking answers or big headlines to draw from this attack. But it does illustrate a contemporary reality: Opportunistic assailants regularly shower journalists with software attacks.

Blog   |   India

News media expand, but freedom lags in Kashmir

Indian police detain a Kashmiri protester in Srinagar. (AP/Mukhtar Khan)

Early this month, newspaper offices in Indian-controlled Kashmir received a note warning journalists to be more supportive of the Kashmir independence movement, according to the leading national daily, The Times of Indiaciting a news agency in the state's summer capital, Srinagar. No militants took responsibility this time, but in mid-March insurgent groups issued a joint message that urged journalists to "highlight the pain and suffering of Kashmiris because of oppressive state policies." 

August 27, 2012 5:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   Cambodia

A journalist's account of a Cambodian activist's death

Chut Wutty's son stands near a picture of his father during a commemoration ceremony. (Reuters/Samrang Pring)

Here's a quick pointer to a piece in the Daily Beast by freelance reporter Olesia Plokhii, who worked at The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh until May this year. Plokhii's moving story, "Death of a Forester," describes the death of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian activist who was shot a few feet away from Plokhii and another journalist, Phorn Bopha, while he accompanied them to an illegal logging site in a protected forest in Koh Kong province. 

August 27, 2012 1:08 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

India's clumsy Internet crackdown

Residents of India's northeast crowd a railway station as they flee ethnic violence. (AP/Anupam Nath)

Indian Internet advocates and journalists are in an uproar this week over the news that the government has blocked access to around 300 websites, pages, and social media accounts in an effort to quell communal violence in the turbulent northeast. The rationale is that inflammatory online content has fanned tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in states including Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra, contributing to a mass exodus from the region and violence in other cities. The offending content included fabricated images of violence against Muslims, apparently circulated to incite retaliatory attacks, according to news reports.

August 22, 2012 5:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Is Pakistan's Ansar Abbasi being banned?

Ansar Abbasi, editor of investigations for Pakistan's leading media group Jang, is apparently facing a de facto ban from his own employers. Other TV channels also report being told not to air his views. Abbasi has charged cable operators with spreading immoral, anti-Islamic messages through Indian movies and other popular culture broadcasts. In response, he says, they are censoring his views.

August 22, 2012 9:54 AM ET

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Blog   |   Burma, China, Japan

Yamamoto's death reflects Japan's media reach, duty

Japanese reporter Mika Yamamoto was killed after being caught in gunfire in Aleppo, Syria. (AFP/NHK News)

My colleagues and I were saddened to learn of the death of Mika Yamamoto, a Japan Press video and photo journalist who was killed while covering clashes in Aleppo, Syria, on Monday. The moment was all the more poignant because of the similarities with two other Japanese journalist fatalities: Kenji Nagai of APF News in Burma in 2007 and Hiro Muramoto of Reuters in Thailand in 2010. As with Yamamoto, Nagai and Muramoto were photojournalists covering conflict between anti-government elements and government troops in foreign countries.

Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Censors stymie reporting on China's biggest news stories

The Taiwanese flag was obscured or erased in some Chinese publications that published photos like this one, of activists being arrested by Japanese police as they  landed on islands claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. (AP/Yomiuri Shimbun, Masataka Morita)

It's a big news day in China, and state-controlled media are purposely dropping the ball to escape controversy and censorship. 

Blog   |   China, Japan

Japan releases Chinese journalists--China's up next

Chinese activists are escorted as they disembark from a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship. (Reuters/Kyodo)

It's not often we at CPJ find ourselves calling on other countries to release Chinese journalists from detention. But that's just what happened yesterday. Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV contacted us to say that two of their journalists were among a group of 14 arrested by Japanese authorities over a disputed territory in the East China Sea. For once, we found ourselves in accordance with Chinese authorities, who called for the "unconditional and immediate release" of all 14, according to Reuters

August 17, 2012 2:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Umbrellas cast shadow over 'open' trial in China

A spectator is surrounded by journalists Thursday after exiting the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court where the trial of Gu Kailai for murder takes place. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

We cover all kinds of censorship here at CPJ. Recently we documented the cunning application of scissors to prevent readers from accessing China-related articles in hard copy magazines. But it's been a while since we've had chance to write about one favored implement of information control in China: the umbrella. 

August 9, 2012 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Election corruption grave threat to Pakistan's media

"Elections will not be fought, but will be bought," is a saying being used by political tacticians in Pakistan. Hope for the legitimacy of the country's first fair transfer of power between two civilian governments with the oversight of unbiased media is disappearing quickly. Billions of rupees are pouring into media outlets through secret sources, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash is being paid out in several different ways. 

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

No right to information in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in white, inspects a parade May 19 marking the third anniversary of the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

You would think that with fighting between government forces and secessionist Tamils finished in May 2009, the Sri Lankan government might ease its grip on public information--information which is really the property of the country's citizens, not whichever administration happens to be holding political power. In 2004, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike's cabinet did approve a Freedom of Information Bill, but parliament was dissolved and the bill never went further.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Security

Time to reassess U.S. military counterinsurgency tactics

A memorial for Afghan journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak in Kabul. (AFP/Shah Marai)

One year ago, on July 28, 2011, Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, 25, was killed by American troops during a brutal close-quarters battle with a Taliban suicide squad backed by gunmen. Khpalwak was one of 22 people killed in the hours-long siege on government buildings that included the governor's office and police headquarters in Tarin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province. A reporter for the BBC, Pajhwok Afghan News, and several other organizations, Khpalwak died with 11 bullet wounds in his body. He was shot in a government-run newsroom while waving his press card and declaring in English that he was a journalist. It's fair to ask, one year after Khpalwak died, if any lessons have been learned. The odds that a journalist could be killed by U.S. forces' fire seem, unfortunately, to be as high as ever.

Blog   |   China, UK

Viewing the London Olympics coverage from China

Chinese propaganda officials must be thrilled that they're not responsible for the Olympics coverage in the British papers. Back during the Beijing Games, they worked hard to censor unrest and dissatisfaction in the domestic media. Reports of China's press freedom and human rights abuses were blocked, the kind of information control idiomatically referred to as "harmonizing."

July 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Security, USA

Stressed out: How should newsrooms handle trauma?

A TV crew reports on the shooting in Colorado from a parking lot across the street. (AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

The rampage inside a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more is the most recent reminder that a journalist anywhere can face sudden, great emotional stress. Any story involving tragedy--from domestic violence to natural disasters--can inflict an emotional toll on field journalists. The very empathy that makes a journalist a good storyteller puts him or her at risk.

July 27, 2012 1:49 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bahrain, China, Internet, UK

For journalists, danger lurking in your email

A protester in Jidhafs, Bahrain. (AP/Hasan Jamali)

This week, Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab provided a disturbing look into the likely use of a commercial surveillance program, FinFisher, to remotely invade and control the computers of Bahraini activists. After the software installs itself onto unsuspecting users' computer, it can record and relay emails, screenshots, and Skype audio conversations. It was deployed against Bahraini users after being concealed in seemingly innocent emails.

Blog   |   China

Propaganda officials miss the boat on 'China's Katrina'

Severe flooding in parts of China has left numerous dead and missing. (Reuters)

Chinese journalists are questioning government propaganda due to conflicting reports of the death toll following Saturday's devastating flooding in Beijing. Like the Wenzhou train crash and the Sichuan earthquake, the tragedy has galvanized mainstream and online journalists--and the official narrative is crumbling under their scrutiny.

July 26, 2012 4:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Honduras, Russia, Turkey

CPJ testifies on global threats to freedom of expression

CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington on Wednesday, highlighting global attacks on press freedom and, in particular, assaults on the press in Honduras, Russia, and Turkey.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Defense tools for Sri Lanka's online onslaught

Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founder of the citizen journalism website Groundviews, sent us the links to a new series of posters and videos focused on digital communications security. The material, which is aimed at a Sri Lankan audience, is available in English, Sinhala, and Tamil, but is relevant to anyone who uses the Internet or a mobile phone.

Blog   |   Maldives

#Maldives media debate unfolds on Twitter

MDP protesters demonstrate outside the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo. (AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

It started at 6:34 p.m. Monday. Abdulla Riyaz (@riyazabdulla), whose Twitter bio describes him as commissioner of the Maldives Police Service (MPS), published the following on his personal account: "MPS decides NOT to cooperate to Raajje TV [sic]. A statement will be released today."

Blog   |   Internet, USA

Face-blurring comes into focus for journalists

From YouTube's demonstration page

This week, YouTube announced a feature that should catch the eye of video journalists and bloggers working in dangerous conditions. After uploading a video to YouTube, you can now deploy a "blur faces" post-production tool that, in theory, should disguise the visual identity of everyone on the screen. The Hindu newspaper has an excellent how-to guide for their readers.

July 20, 2012 5:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese censors move staff from outspoken papers

Xi Jinping's youth is the subject of an article that may be related to a newspaper editor's reassignment. Xi is expected to be China's next president. (AP/Jason Lee)

Top figures at two outspoken newspapers in China were shuffled or suspended this week, according to online news reports.

Blog   |   Afghanistan

Afghanistan's draft media law slowed, but not stopped

For now, the Afghan government's apparent attempt at railroading through a less-than-media-friendly new Mass Media Law without consultation seems to have been sidelined, though not derailed. On Sunday in Kabul, representatives of the Ministry of Information and Culture received recommendations from civil society workers and journalists, including some from the provinces, which were drawn up at a June 27 meeting organized by Internews's Nai Media Institute in Afghanistan.

July 17, 2012 2:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China's diverse censors

Attempts to rein in microblogs like Sina Weibo are a huge part of China's sophisticated information control strategy these days. However, news reports last week serve as a reminder that propaganda authorities also rely on methods that are more old school. 

Blog   |   Maldives

Maldives media offer first-hand accounts

Violent clashes between police and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters continued in the streets of the capital, Malé, on Thursday night, according to international news reports. You can read CPJ's news alert on journalists swept up in the unrest--and background on the demonstrations--here, and some lively discussion on the situation here.

Blog   |   Maldives

The Maldives backslides on press freedom

Maldivian riot police clash with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Nasheed in Male in March. (AFP)

CPJ has been watching the Maldives with concern since its first democratically-elected President Mohamed Nasheed relinquished power in February following what he describes as a military coup. New President Mohamed Waheed Hassan says Nasheed's resignation was voluntary and refuted criticism that his rule marked a return to the ways of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a dictator notorious for jailing his critics, according to CPJ research.  Yet press freedom is deteriorating under Hassan with the rise of partisan political strife and religious conservatism. 

Blog   |   Afghanistan

Afghan donors must address media repression

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, is welcomed by Japan's Emperor Akihito in Tokyo in 2010. Japan is one of Afghanistan's biggest donors. (AP/Koji Sasahara)

One thing that had better be high on the agenda this weekend at the meeting of 70 or so international aid donors for Afghanistan in Tokyo is the recently released official draft version of the Mass Media Law (a copy of the draft can be found here). I mentioned the new draft in a June blog, "Afghan media is under political and economic pressure." The real thing is even worse than expected. 

July 5, 2012 4:06 PM ET

Blog   |   China

Shallow victory for China's journalists, protesters

A police officer stands guard as protesters gather in the city of Shifang. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic)

Shi Junrong, Xi'an Evening News bureau chief in the city of Wei'an, ran into trouble recently after he reported on the costly brand of luxury cigarettes favored by local officials. He announced on his microblog that the paper suspended him soon after, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia.

July 5, 2012 1:51 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, UK, USA

The New York Times takes on China's censors

Well, that didn't take long. Just days after The New York Times' soft launch of its Chinese-language edition and accompanying microblog accounts, Berkeley-based China Digital Times website reports that the @nytchinese Sina Weibo feed is no longer accessible in China, along with two accounts hosted by Netease and Sohu. We couldn't pull them up this morning from New York, either.

Blog   |   Malaysia, Pakistan

Can Pakistan's corrupt media be checked?

With ratings driving the profits of media channels, journalists and political talk show hosts are being motivated to stir up controversy at any cost. Meanwhile, the professionals who believe in credibility, objectivity, and honesty as essential parts of ethical journalism are becoming sidelined.

Blog   |   China

What China's Weibo censorship does, and does not, reveal

A flurry of research on Weibo censorship underscores what we already know about the Chinese company Sina's microblog service--with a few surprises thrown in. 

June 28, 2012 4:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet

What to do if Google warns of state-sponsored attack


(Google)

Some journalists continue to receive the warning from Google about state-sponsored attacks that we mentioned last week. The message appears on top of logged-in services like Gmail. Occasionally it will disappear for a few hours and then reappear, but there is no way to remove it.

June 22, 2012 12:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   India, Security

Dangerous disease--the unexpected threat

Patients suffering from malaria crowd a ward of a government hospital in India. (AP/Rafiq Maqbool)

Last week, Tarun Sehrawat, a 22-year-old Indian photographer for Tehelka magazine, died from cerebral malaria and its complications, according to several of his colleagues and media accounts. He had returned, ill, from a shooting assignment with Tehelka's reporter Tusha Mittal in May. The team had been covering the ongoing Maoist revolt in Chhattisgarh in central India and reported it in "Inside Abujmarh The Mythic Citadel."  Both Sehrawat and Mittal became very ill, but Sehrawat succumbed. Mittal, we understand, is still recovering. 

Blog   |   China, USA

Don't punish Chinese restrictions with more restrictions

The Committee to Protect Journalists is watching with concern the progress of H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, which is under discussion Wednesday in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The bill seeks to reduce the number of visas available to journalists (and their families) working in the United States for 13 Chinese state-controlled publications. The aim is to pressure Beijing into allowing more Voice of America reporters into China; VOA staffers tell us that they are allowed only two China visas to cover a country of more than 1.3 billion people.

Blog   |   Philippines

Al-Arabiya news team missing in the Philippines

Baker Abdulla Atyani (AP/Nickee Butlangan)

CPJ is monitoring with concern the news coverage of Baker Abdulla Atyani, a Pakistan-based Jordanian Al-Arabiya TV journalist, and his two Philippine crew members, Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela, who have been unaccounted for since June 12.

Atyani, Letrero, and Vela left their hotel in Jolo, in the southern Philippines, to interview a commander for the militant Abu Sayyaf, a banned Islamic separatist group in the region, according to local and international news reports. The three refused offers of a security detail from local authorities, the reports said.

They have not returned. Various news accounts report them as "missing," "kidnapped," and a link between Abu Sayyaf and Al-Qaeda.

Blog   |   CPJ, Security, USA

Spreading the security message


Video streaming by Ustream

On the frontlines of global reporting, knowledge is safety. CPJ's event series to promote our new Journalist Security Guide continued Wednesday in Washington, D.C. where we teamed up with Internews for a panel discussion on journalist security on-site and online. 

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Bangladesh backsliding on press freedom

Bangladeshi opposition supporters demonstrate in Dhaka on March 12 against an amendment introduced by the ruling party which scraps caretaker governments during elections. (AP/Aijaz Rahi)

"Bangladeshi democracy [may be] doomed to more of the same," International Crisis Group wrote in a recent commentary. They are describing a longstanding pattern of antagonism between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which the Crisis Group describes as "a pernicious cycle of zero-sum politics." If the political situation descends into unrest, journalists covering it will suffer. 

Blog   |   Brazil, Ecuador, India, Pakistan

Brazil restates commitment to press freedom, UN plan

CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country's support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

Blog   |   Philippines

Philippines' Aquino demonstrates selective political will

Some weeks ago, the body of Esmail Amil Enog was found. The corpse had been chopped to pieces and then thrown together in a sack. Enog was a witness in a grisly massacre in November 2009, which took the lives of 57 people, 32 of them journalists, on a stretch of lonely highway in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao. It was the single largest attack on journalists in the world.

June 13, 2012 10:43 AM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan

Afghan media is under political and economic pressure

Danish Karokhel (AP/Stuart Ramson)

Danish Karokhel, who won a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2008, messaged this morning concerned that the news agency he runs, Pajhwok Afghan News, and some other media outlets have been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Ministry of Information and Culture for reporting on an alleged bribery scandal involving a member of Parliament. The action was taken by the ministry's Media Monitoring Commission, and could lead to criminal charges.

June 11, 2012 4:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, press rights equal press control

A police officer films members of the press gathered outside the Beijing hospital where Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was staying on May 3. (AFP/Ed Jones)

China's state news agency Xinhua published the full text of the state council's National Human Rights Action Plan 2012-15 on Monday. There is no section dedicated to press freedom. But the most striking omissions can be found in the text itself.

Blog   |   China, Internet, Iran, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, USA

State-sponsored attacks: open season on online journalists

The last few weeks have offered the strongest indications yet that nation-states are using customized software to exploit security flaws on personal computers and consumer Internet services to spy on their users. The countries suspected include the United States, Israel, and China. Journalists should pay attention--not only because this is a growing story, but because if anyone is a vulnerable target, it's reporters.

Blog   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, UN human rights chief meets with Jahangir

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in opening remarks at her press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, addressed a wide range of problems in Pakistan, including those faced by journalists. (The full statement is on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.) What was especially gratifying was her mention of meeting with human rights defender and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir at her home--a request we made on Tuesday of Pillay and E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who was also on an official trip to Pakistan.

June 7, 2012 1:43 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Google gives Chinese Web users glimpse into censorship

Google declared last week that it would start listing search terms that are censored in China. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

In China, people know enough not to take to the streets to commemorate the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Beijing is very quiet in the days before and after June 4. The Internet is a different story.

June 5, 2012 3:41 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

In India, imprisoned journalist's plea for help

The New Delhi-based Tehelka magazine published an open letter by imprisoned freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi on Monday. Kodopi, one of the two journalists CPJ documented in prison in India on December 1, 2011, has been held without charge since September 2011 as a suspected associate of insurgent Maoists in Chhattisgarh. His supporters believe he faces harassment for documenting police violence in the region.

June 5, 2012 1:13 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

EU, UN officials in Pakistan must make time for Jahangir

Asma Jahangir has revealed that government agencies have been threatening her. (AFP/Ben Stansall)

There is no better time than now for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to step out of their tightly planned schedule of meetings in Pakistan and make a trip to the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

Blog   |   Cambodia

Foreign broadcasters shut down for Cambodian elections

How far has democracy advanced in Cambodia?

Not very far.

Activists from three different political parties died during the 15-day campaign period leading up to the elections, in which the ruling Cambodian People's Party won a large majority of seats, according to a report issued by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel). The Phnom Penh Post ran articles on "allegations of intimidation, ghost voting, and electoral-roll sabotage" in the election, and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) published a story headlined "Observers: Cambodian Vote Improved but Problems Remain."

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

How times change in Sri Lanka, and how they don't

Iqbal Athas. (AP/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

For a good historical perspective on the abuse of journalists in Sri Lanka, Iqbal Athas, the recipient of a 1994 International Press Freedom Award from CPJ, wrote a center-page spread for the 25th anniversary edition of the Sunday Times, a popular weekly in Colombo. Athas, a critical journalist who specializes in defense issues, works as an associate editor and defense correspondent for the Times.

The lede to his article recounts a 1998 incident in which armed men invaded his home while he, his wife, and their seven-year-old daughter watched television. After the men left, the story spread, and all night, they received phone calls from friends and acquaintances inquiring about their safety. In his article, Athas describes how one of the callers was then-Minister of Fisheries Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa was trying to make a name for himself as a champion of human rights and offered his support to the Athas family.

June 4, 2012 12:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Third witness to Maguindanao massacre killed

The climate of impunity that fostered the November 23, 2009, massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, is alive and well not only on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where the massacre took place, but in all of the country. The revelation that the brutalized body of a key witness to the killings, Esmail Enog, was found two months after he had gone missing is an indicator of that. Enog testified last year that he had driven gunmen to the site of the November massacre, news reports said. The killings wiped out almost an entire generation of journalists in the region.

June 1, 2012 3:34 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

A heads-up for Sri Lanka press freedom watchers

Prageeth Eknelygoda's wife and sons are still seeking information on him. (CPJ)

Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris has been ordered to testify about a statement he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011, in which he said that Prageeth Eknelygoda was alive and living outside the country (see "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen"). Peiris will have to appear at the Homogama Magistrate's Court in Colombo on June 5, next Tuesday, which has been hearing the case brought by Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, to learn more about his disappearance on January 24, 2010.

Blog   |   Internet, Thailand

Computer crime laws belie Thai claim to modern society

At online discussion sites all over the world, comments are posted on the Web as soon as they are written. People argue, inform, express anger, and voice fears. Some say things in the heat of the moment that they might go on to regret. Others are elliptical and obscure. The enabling of such conversations is an important modern method of discovering and re-telling the news, and encourages previously uninvolved readers of the news to help gather and disseminate it--especially in times when traditional media is censored or afraid.

Blog   |   Bolivia, CPJ, Ecuador, Security

Free expression in Americas goes beyond left or right

On Sunday the general assembly of the Organization of American States will convene in Bolivia in the verdant, highland valley city of Cochabamba. The 35 member states (every nation in the region except Cuba) are expected to vote on a measure that, if passed, could curtail free expression and press throughout the hemisphere and put journalists and others at greater risk.

Blog   |   China

23 years after Tiananmen, China is still paying

A police officer patrols as part of heavy security at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (AFP/Mark Ralston)

The annual crackdown on commemorations of the June 4 anniversary of the brutal suppression of student-led demonstrations based in Tiananmen Square in 1989 Beijing is under way, according to Agence France-Presse. What's concerning is the number of writers and activists for whom "crackdown" is the new normal.

May 31, 2012 2:23 PM ET

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Blog   |   Nepal

Mission tells Nepal: No excuse for deferring press freedom

As Nepal's constituent assembly failed to meet Sunday's deadline for the passage of a new constitution, a new report released this week on the risks to Nepal's media should remind political parties that peace and stability are not prerequisites to media freedom but rather that a strong, independent press operating without fear is a requirement for a healthy civil society.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Rising violence in Pakistan's warring Baluchistan

The murder of a part-time journalist and a gunfire attack on the house of the president of the Turbat Press Club, both on May 28, underscore the nature of the escalating violence in Baluchistan. According to the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, which monitors violence across South Asia, at least 10 people were killed in Baluchistan on May 28 alone.

Blog   |   China

Sina 'information credit score' restricts Weibo users

An Internet user visits a Sina Weibo site. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Sina's Twitter-like microblog service Weibo has released new guidelines to restrict users who share banned content, according to international news reports. It's the first time such guidelines target users who adopt puns, homonyms, and other veiled references to discuss censored news stories without using keywords on the propaganda department's blacklist, the reports said. 

May 29, 2012 4:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

One year later: Saleem Shahzad's case is buried

A Pakistani journalist holds a sign at a protest against Shahzad's murder in Karachi last year. (AFP/Rizwan Tabassum)

On May 21 this year, a military court convicted three Pakistani naval officers of negligence and dereliction of duty for their actions during an attack on the main naval airbase in the heart of Karachi on May 22, 2011. After the incident had ended, the military said 10 security guards were killed, two aircraft were blown up, and the four men who carried out the attack were shot or blew themselves up after they had held out for 16 hours on the Mehran Naval Base.

Perhaps the best insider details about the raid came from Saleem Shahzad, a political reporter for Asia Online, in his article, "Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistani strike," that ran two days before his abduction on May 29, 2011. He had written in the past about militant groups and the military, with a book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, released just weeks before his murder. In his last article, he wrote about the Mehran events, reporting that armed forces personnel sympathetic to Al-Qaeda had helped coordinate the attack. On May 31 last year, his body was found floating face-down in an irrigation ditch.

May 29, 2012 3:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, El Salvador, Security

Solidarity, a key to security, eludes Salvadoran press

Visitors look at an exhibit displaying the bloodstained clothes of the Jesuit priests murdered by the Salvadoran military in 1989. (AP/Luis Romero)

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.

Blog   |   CPJ, Somalia

At CPJ Debrief, Gettleman cites Somalia danger, reward

Sebastian Junger, left, introduces fellow journalist Jeffrey Gettleman at the Half King. (Nicole Schilit)

Jeffrey Gettleman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent, says he travels with "a small militia" whenever he reports from Somalia, the East African country afflicted by armed insurgency, poverty, and hunger. As intrusive as the security detail might be, he feels far more fortunate than the local reporters who face sustained and often deadly risks, or the freelance journalists who don't have the extensive support system the Times can provide.

Gettleman spoke to a crowd of about 100 at the Half King pub in Manhattan on Tuesday in the first event in the new CPJ discussion series, "CPJ Debrief." Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for the Times, has worked in the region for six years. With East Africa's needs so acute, and the volume of international reporting on the decline, the assignment has given him a chance to have a profound impact.

May 24, 2012 5:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Even by Pakistani standards, a terrible month for press

May has been a terrible month for journalists in Pakistan, a country that has ranked as the world's deadliest place for the press for two consecutive years. Two journalists have been killed, two more shot and wounded, and one attacked while in police custody, all in less than a month, according to news reports.

Blog   |   Pakistan

No joke: Moves to squelch Pakistani media, again

Supporters of a Pakistani opposition party carry effigies of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari at a protest rally in Multan on May 11. (AFP/S.S. Mirza

With general elections approaching, the landscape is again bearing eerie resemblance to the final days of General Pervez Musharraf's reign. In November 2007 he banned selected TV channels for 88 days to stifle what he saw as "irresponsible journalism." Now, Pakistani electronic media might be chained again, this time for violating cultural and ethical values by airing satirical programming and interviewing political leaders the government does not like seeing on air.

Blog   |   China

Anti-foreign attitudes bode ill for China correspondents

The story of Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan's expulsion from China has a disturbing coda. 

Blog   |   Security, Syria

Don't get your sources in Syria killed

Journalists covering the Syrian uprising have been targeted with government surveillance, hacking, and malware. (AP/Bassem Tellawi)

Because foreign journalists have been virtually banned from Syria during the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime, news coverage has relied heavily on citizen journalists and international reporters working with sources inside the country. Syrians who communicate with foreign news media run the risk of being threatened, detained, tortured, or even killed.

Blog   |   Burma

Sorting out sanctions, censorship, sincerity in Burma

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin Thursday in Washington. (AP/Susan Walsh)

On Thursday, the United States rolled back prohibitions against American companies doing business in Burma. The announcement marked the latest diplomatic reward given to President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government for initiating reforms in what has historically been a military-run country. In making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the democratic changes initiated so far were "irreversible," but that is a characterization few of the country's journalists would share. 

May 18, 2012 6:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   North Korea

Signs of change in North Korea

CPJ may have raised some eyebrows with this year's list of the world's 10 most censored countries. North Korea was relegated to the number two slot, behind Eritrea. In our last ranking, in 2006, we ranked North Korea as the worst, and many other organizations continue to do that.

May 17, 2012 5:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Supreme Court slams door on websites

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court slammed the door on a case about the shutdown of four websites that had failed to register with the government. In handing down its decision, the Court appeared to rule that freedom of expression in Sri Lanka is not an absolute right and can be restricted--and you don't need to pass a law to do so. The three-judge panel told the petitioners who brought the case--Sunil Jayasekara, convener of the Free Media Movement, and Udaya Kalupathirana, a member of the movement's executive committee--that they saw no reason for the court to hear any further arguments. 

Blog   |   China

Chinese microblog regulates, suspends users--again

Several Internet users in China are now unable to access Weibo, the popular microblog platform. (Reuters)

Pity those of us who monitor the ups and downs of China's popular microblog platform, Sina Weibo. For every story its users spread in defiance of local censorship, there follows a clampdown. Whether it's the latest strike against rumors, or real name registration, or newly banned keywords, there's always another restriction in the works as the service struggles to keep a lid on sensitive conversations without driving away its user base. "China tightens grip on social media," we might report, as the Financial Times did in April. And last October. (The U.K.-based newspaper also noted China's grip tightening on lawyers in March.) It's not that these headlines are misleading. They simply show how difficult it is to illustrate the grip that always tightens, but never quite suffocates.

Blog   |   CPJ, Security, USA

Should J-School grads just get up and go overseas?

Photographers take cover behind a barricade during a protest in Egypt last year. Journalists are often forced to take deadly risks when working in war zones, usually with limited training and no insurance. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up, go overseas, and try to make it as a freelancer. But the experienced journalists speaking at the event advised caution.

Blog   |   Vietnam

Attack shows all reporters at risk in Vietnam

Farmers protest the seizure of their land for industrial projects in Hun Yen province. Two journalists were assaulted by police recently for covering the forced eviction of villagers. (Reuters)

Recent physical assault on two state media reporters in Vietnam underscores the risks of reporting on increasingly sensitive land issues in the communist-ruled country. The attack on the reporters signals a potential extension of the media crackdown that until now has targeted mainly unsanctioned journalists and bloggers.

May 9, 2012 10:57 AM ET

Blog   |   China

China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

In a press conference today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei, above, evaded questions about Al-Jazeera being denied journalist visas. (AP/Andy Wong)

"The Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally."

This was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press conference did not improve from there, according to a partial transcript published by Voice of America. His explanations for the ministry's refusal to renew credentials for the channel's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan were a mixture of denial and obfuscation. (Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language bureau continues to operate with several accredited journalists, according to The Associated Press.)

Blog   |   Pakistan, UK

In UK talks, some practical solutions for Pakistani press

British Prime Minister Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani at a joint press conference in Islamabad in 2011. (AFP/Aamir Qureshi)

Amid political tumult in Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a team of six ministers are in London for far-ranging meetings today through May 13. The Pakistan-U.K. Enhanced Strategic Dialogue will review education, health, defense, security, and cultural cooperation. CPJ has written a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge that press freedom conditions be raised as well.

Blog   |   China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe

China's media footprint in Kenya

CCTV's East Africa operations are headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. (CCTV)

Will China's quickly expanding media presence in Africa result in a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--much as Al-Jazeera altered the broadcast landscape with the launch of its English service in 2006--or will it be essentially an exercise in propaganda?

May 7, 2012 4:17 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Security, USA

In digital security, knowledge and simplicity are keys

Panelists at the launch of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide at Columbia University. (CPJ/Nicole Schilit)

Governments and criminal organizations are stepping up digital surveillance of journalists, but the press is not keeping pace in meeting the challenge, a panel of experts said Wednesday at an event marking the launch of the CPJ Journalist Security Guide. Reporters are using unsecure consumer electronic products for sensitive tasks such as note-taking and source management, the experts said, without sufficiently assessing the risks.

Blog   |   Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Internet, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Uzbekistan

Most censored nations each distort the Net in own way

Iran has invested in technology with the explicit intent of restricting
Internet access. (Reuters/Caren Firouz)

One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You can use your phone, access an app, or send a text, wherever you are.

May 2, 2012 4:00 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, USA

China's media conditions threaten Chen Guangcheng

The battle over blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's freedom and well-being is a battle over information. Both Chinese and U.S. officials are trying to spin the story their way. A few activists and media claim to speak for Chen, and in China's anti-press environment they are putting themselves at risk. Direct interviews with the man himself are hard to come by.

Blog   |   Bangladesh, Belarus, Burma, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Nepal, North Korea

China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

Chinese official Jia Qinglin, fifth from left, hands over keys to the China-built African Union headquarters to AU Chairman and Equatorial Guinea President Theodoro Obiang. (AFP/Tony Karumba)

China didn't make the cut for our 10 most censored countries. While the Chinese Communist Party's censorship apparatus is notorious, journalists and Internet users work hard to overcome the restrictions. Nations like Eritrea and North Korea lack that dynamism.

Blog   |   Belarus, CPJ, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Libya, Mexico, Mozambique, Russia, Security, Syria, Uganda

Safer mobile use is key issue for journalists

A journalist talks on his satellite phone outside the Rixos Hotel in Libya in August 2011. (AFP/Filippo Monteforte)

As the Internet and mobile communications become more integrated into reporters' work, the digital threats to journalists' work and safety have increased as well. While many press reports have documented Internet surveillance and censorship--and the efforts to combat them--mobile communications are the new frontline for journalist security.

Blog   |   China, USA

New film "High Tech, Low Life" on Chinese bloggers

Director Stephen Maing, right, and Chinese blogger Zola answer questions at the Tribeca Film Festival. (CPJ/Gregory Fay)

"High Tech, Low Life," a new documentary about Chinese bloggers directed by Stephen Maing, debuted at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 19. It documents the lives of Zola (Zhou Shuguang) and Tiger Temple (Zhang Shihe), as they blur the lines of citizen journalism and activism though their reporting on evictions, pollution, and official cover-ups in China. Zola was in town for the premiere, and he and the director fielded questions from the audience after the film's showing.

Blog   |   CPJ, Libya, Security

For conflict journalists, a need for first-aid training

After photographer Tim Hetherington, seen here in Libya, died in April 2011, friend Sebastian Junger started an organization to train freelancers in battlefield first aid. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Stop the bleeding. It's a critical and fundamental step in aiding a journalist or anyone wounded in conflict. Hemorrhage is the number one preventable death on the battlefield. And yet large numbers of journalists covering wars and political unrest all across the world are untrained in this life-saving skill. It doesn't need to be that way.

Blog   |   China

Blind lawyer spurs news blackout in China

News of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been censored for months. International news reports of his escape last week from incarceration in his home in Linyi, Shandong--apparently to U.S. protection, although his whereabouts remain unclear--has only intensified that censorship. That is unlikely to stop discussion among those familiar with Chen's case.

April 30, 2012 4:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Thailand

Verdict postponed in landmark Thai Internet freedom case

Earlier today, press and human rights groups from around the world heard that the decision in the case of Chiranuch "Jiew" Premchaiporn, the manager of Thai online news site Prachatai, was being delayed yet another month. Chiranuch is charged under Thailand's Computer Crime Act for 10 counts of not deleting apparently anti-monarchy comments on Prachatai's online discussion boards.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, CPJ, Egypt, El Salvador, Security, Syria, USA

Why journalists need new ways to stay safe

Gang members at a prison in Izalco shortly after a government-brokered truce. (Reuters/Ulises Rodriguez)

After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the groups' agreement to slow down their murderous practices, addressed one of the most sensitive topics facing journalists today--crime and its many interconnections with government.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, USA

Afghan journalist's death must lead to better combat rules

Wednesday, the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) released its report, "Death of an Uruzgan Journalist: Command Errors and Collateral Damage," by Kate Clark on the July 2011 shooting death of journalist Omaid Khpalwak. Clark's details on how Khpalwak died corroborate and then go beyond the investigation already conducted by the U.S.-led NATO forces who were responsible. Her report was important to write, and is important to read.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, France

French former hostage ready to go back to the front line

Hervé Ghesquière (AFP/Miguel Medina)

"Of course you have to go to Afghanistan or to Syria," said French TV reporter Hervé Ghesquière, who was held hostage for 547 days in Afghanistan together with his cameraman, Stéphane Taponier, between December 2010 and June 2011.

April 25, 2012 12:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka: Protecting Peiris, hounding victim's family

The magistrate's hearings into the January 24, 2010, disappearance of opposition journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda continue at a tortuously slow pace. A correspondent in Colombo shared the details of the April 24 hearing, where Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, and the couple's two teenage sons continue to press for any news of Prageeth. The family's attorney said he may have to press Sri Lanka's Appeal Court to order former Attorney General Mohan Peiris to testify about the comments he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture on November 9, 2011, in Geneva. The government has ignored the January 2012 ruling by the Court that Peiris could be called in as a witness.

April 25, 2012 12:00 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Another Pakistan attack, this one online

The Friday Times in Lahore has come under cyberattack. Earlier Friday, its website could not be accessed.

Najam Sethi, the paper's editor, told CPJ that someone has "launched an attack on the websites of both The Friday Times and Vanguard Books [the book publishing and distribution company that owns the Times]. A tsunami of killer spams and log-ins have clogged the sites and blocked them."

Blog   |   India

Indian justice grinds slowly, but not so finely

First, a bit of history: In 2008, CPJ reported:

The high court in the western state of Gujarat defended the media, rebuking a prosecutor for demanding state regulation of newspaper content. The prosecution sought restrictions after the Ahmedabad police commissioner filed sedition charges against a Times of India editor and reporter, and a Gujarat Samachar photographer.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Murtaza Razvi, and what should come next

Murtaza Razvi (Dawn.com)

The ceremony for Murtaza Razvi was held in Karachi Friday. Even as more details of the killing of one of the Dawn Media Group's most senior journalists emerge, it's difficult to discern a motive. Several Pakistani media quoted an anonymous police official as saying, "We are investigating into the matter but it is a case of murder because his hands were tied and his body bore torture marks and he had apparently been strangled to death" with a belt. The official said police are waiting for the postmortem report.

April 20, 2012 12:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Pakistan

Pakistani court says website blocking violates constitution

When CPJ covered the Pakistani government's attempt to build a massive censorship system for the country's Internet in February, we noted a key problem with such huge blocking systems: they are, at heart, democratically unaccountable.

Blog   |   CPJ

Internet giants submit to external free expression scrutiny

Journalists and bloggers in authoritarian countries have their work cut out thwarting governments that try to restrict their writing and reporting. The last thing they need to worry about is the provider of their publication platform helping authorities with censorship or surveillance. Cue the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary grouping of Internet companies, freedom of expression groups, progressive investors, and academics. 

Blog   |   Brazil, CPJ, India, Pakistan

Brazil, Pakistan, India fail test on journalist murders

At a protest against the murder of a journalist in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a sign reads: "Enough of violence, exclusion and impunity." (AP/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly anti-press violence.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Pakistan's response to UNESCO shows true colors

Journalist Hayatullah Khan, shown in the picture above surrounded by his family, was killed in 2006. (AP/Abdullah Noor)

In case there was any doubt about the stance of Pakistani authorities on the murder of journalists, UNESCO's 28th biennial session offered an instructive insight. In addition to discussing the U.N. Draft Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity during the meeting, held in Paris in March, member states were to report on judicial inquiries into the killings of journalists from 2006 to 2009. Pakistan was among 17 countries that did not respond to the request. It was also one of three countries that refused to discuss the UNESCO draft, intended to take legislative measures to combat attacks on the press. This was a reflection of our sad state of affairs.

Blog   |   Philippines

On Philippines' canvas of injustice, anything goes

A poster of names lists journalists slain in the Philippines since 1986. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)

Romeo Olea's unsolved murder is tragically typical of media killings in the Philippines. Before his death, the radio commentator had received anonymous threats over his reports on local government corruption.

Blog   |   Pakistan

With impunity, more danger ahead for Pakistani press

Pakistani journalists rally against the killing of their colleague Mukarram Khan Atif. No arrests have been made in the case. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistani journalists are under threat, and the public is paying the price. The most recent report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan includes a detailed chapter on freedom of expression, which ties growing suppression to rising incidence of violence and threats against news media. Not coincidentally, Pakistan sits near the top of CPJ's Impunity Index and other the global lists of most dangerous countries for reporters.

Blog   |   China

Chinese censors target tomatoes amid Bo Xilai scandal

(AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

Chongqing hotpot = King of the Southwest = King Who Pacifies the West = Minister of Yu = Tomato

What do these words have in common? They are all coded references to Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Communist Party leader in southwestern Chongqing, and they were all censored in China on Tuesday, according to the Berkeley-based China Digital Times website. Bo was removed from his post in March, and state media reported Wednesday he had been suspended from the governing Politburo and Party Central Committee. Propaganda officials censored speculation about Bo's downfall and its implications for political stability, so Internet users adopted terms like the ones above to avoid triggering keyword filters. Now these, too, have been blacklisted, according to China Digital Times. Will this senseless battle to hide information ever end?

April 11, 2012 2:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

A Pakistani 'sword of Damocles' in the making?

Given that it is usually punishable by death, "treason" is a dangerous word to bandy about. When it is applied to journalists, it is even more worrisome. We've seen that in Sri Lanka, which is in the throes of a backlash against a U.N. resolution on past human rights abuses. (See "Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists.") Photographs of journalists who have been critical of Colombo, their faces barely obscured, have been shown on television; one broadcast even repeatedly used the picture of a journalist's daughter, according to the Network for Rights media support group. 

Blog   |   Burma

Wary about Burma? So are others

Amid the rush to see changes in Burma as an inexorable move toward full democracy--Aung San Suu Kyi's electoral victory over the weekend is certainly cause for hope--CPJ has maintained a healthy skepticism about media reform in Burma. Shawn Crispin's "In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion," posted on Friday, is the most recent example of our thinking on the subject.  

April 2, 2012 1:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion

Supporters of Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party travel to a rally at a Yangon constituency on Friday. (AFP/Soe Than Win)

Just ahead of this weekend's highly anticipated Burma by-elections, opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi today denounced the vote as not "free and fair." Indeed, Thein Sein government's harassment of opposition media in the run-up to the polls raises disturbing questions about the country's reputed new democratic direction after decades of repressive military rule. 

March 30, 2012 11:16 AM ET

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Blog   |   India

Mumbai police, media have failed Jyotirmoy Dey

The confessed mastermind of the murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, whose June 2011 funeral is shown here, remains free. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

New Delhi-based Tehelka weekly news magazine has published a scathing indictment of the police investigation into the 2011 killing of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey--and of the Indian media's coverage of it. Beneath the allegations and the rumors, we still don't know exactly why he was killed, while the self-confessed mastermind is a fugitive from justice. Meanwhile, a second journalist has been indicted for the crime on apparently flimsy evidence.  

Blog   |   Philippines

In the Philippines, two murders that should be solved

Journalist Gerardo Ortega's wife looks at his picture. (AFP/Noel Celis)

The investigation into the notorious murder of muckraking Philippine journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat in Mindanao is now seven years old. A separate hunt for conspirators in the January 2011 killing of Palawan radio journalist Gerardo Ortega is just getting started. The Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City issued arrest warrants against three suspects in the Ortega case on Tuesday, and one has been arrested, according to the local Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. But both cases should already have been solved. 

Blog   |   China

How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship

Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai's departure has left journalists with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports.

The sacking of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai has sparked some entertaining gossip this month, leaving journalists covering China with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports. The Chinese government blames the international media, not its own lack of transparency and comprehensive censorship apparatus, for the burgeoning rumors. 

March 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Eknelygoda's wife latest victim of Sri Lankan intolerance

Sri Lankans are calling for a boycott of U.S. products after the U.S. sponsored the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into possible war crimes. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week's U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists.

March 26, 2012 2:04 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists

Sri Lankan ruling party lawmakers demonstrate in front of the parliament against the U.N. Human Rights Council in Colombo Thursday. (Reuters)

In the wake of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists, the government has resorted to outright threats of violence against journalists who might dare to return home after taking part in the Geneva discussions.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Pakistan, USA

Ahmed Rashid on U.S. policy in South Asia

At Columbia University on Monday evening, CPJ board member Ahmed Rashid held forth to a full house in a conversation with Steve Coll about U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you're reading this blog, there's most likely no need to explain who Rashid is--or Coll, for that matter. The earliest reference I could find on cpj.org to Rashid dated back to 2000, about events in 1999, when he was the Islamabad bureau chief for the now-defunct Far Eastern Economic Review. His latest book, Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, is the most recent installment in a steady stream of trenchant, reliable, reality-based analysis of geopolitical affairs in Central and South Asia. If you need to be convinced, check out Foreign Policy's list of Top 100 Global Thinkers.

A video of the event, which was co-sponsored by CPJ, is now available here.

Blog   |   China

As Chinese politician censored, exiled journalist triumphs

A Chinese woman carries a protrait of Bo Xilai, until recently a rising political star with little tolerance for critics. (AFP)

The political ouster of Bo Xilai, Chinese Communist Party top dog in the major southwestern city of Chongqing, has been making headlines around the world. Bo notoriously silenced critics like investigative journalist Jiang Weiping, but the shoe is now on the other foot, at least for a while.

Many China watchers are familiar with Bo because he was in line for a position in the inner circle of Chinese politics, until state media announced his replacement last week. CPJ has reported on Bo for different reasons. Jiang, CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Award winner, spent five years behind bars in China, after revealing several corruption scandals involving Bo, a former mayor of Dalian city and then governor of the province, Liaoning, where Jiang worked.

March 19, 2012 3:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Four years on, wife calls for Tibetan filmmaker's release

Lhamo Tso has traveled to Europe and America to publicize her husband Dhondup
Wangchen's imprisonment. (CPJ)

Lhamo Tso has not spoken to her husband Dhondup Wangchen since March 17, 2008. She, their four children, and his elderly parents live in India, and hear of him only when his sister visits the Xichuan Prison in Qinghai province, western China, where he is serving six years. Through glass, he passes on the news: He's contracted hepatitis, though the prison won't let the family pay for proper medical treatment. He's working less -- promoted from 17-hour days in a brick kiln to manufacturing acupuncture needles. His two lawyers have been told their Beijing-based firm will be put out of business if they continue to work on his case.

March 16, 2012 3:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka media restrictions come amid rise in abductions

Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa protest in Colombo against the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On March 9, Sri Lanka's military authorities told all news and media organizations that they would have to get prior approval before releasing text or SMS news alerts containing any news about the military or police.

Blog   |   India, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Arrest in bombing case prompts scrutiny in India

Plainclothes police escort Syed Mohammed Kazmi, an alleged suspect in last month's bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, from a local court, in New Delhi Wednesday. (AP/Manish Swarup)

To many in the Indian media community, the arrest of independent journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi police's Special Cell on March 6 for his alleged involvement in a bombing brings back troublesome memories.

March 9, 2012 5:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Will China's new detention law matter? Ask Zhang Mingyu

"Zhang Mingyu isn't out of danger yet."

These words, posted at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday on the Sina Weibo account of Chongqing property developer Zhang Mingyu after his detention by police, mark the latest twist in a story of political intrigue leading up to this week's legislative meetings in Beijing. As required by China's hardworking censorship machine, the state media has approached these meetings with a heavy dose of old-school propaganda, along with excruciatingly dull depictions of handshakes and applause and descriptions of work sessions sucked clean of any controversy. 

Blog   |   China

Journalists at work in China: Tibet and Beijing edition

A hostess fills tea cups for delegates inside the Tibet room at the Great Hall of the People before the Tibetan delegation meets as part of the National People's Congress in Beijing Wednesday. (AP/Andy Wong)

China media analysts are looking to two significant events to shape coverage this month: The anniversary of a failed uprising in Tibet, and the annual meetings of China's top political bodies, the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing. Journalists at work in both areas attracted coverage of their own today--but from vastly different angles.

Blog   |   China

On board the election bus in China's Wukan

A villager stands near ballot writing booths at a school playground in Wukan village in Guangdong province Friday, one day before the election of a seven-member village committee. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Village elections taking place this weekend in southern Guangdong province's Wukan illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of China's media control. Censorship measures have not prevented strong domestic and international coverage of the democratic process. But has official tolerance of dissenting views increased since leaders cracked down on the attempted Jasmine revolution last year? Or is Wukan not a real challenge to one-party rule, and therefore OK to write about?

March 2, 2012 2:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

'Invisible Tibet' blogger elicits China's extra-judicial ire

In this photo taken February 27, Chinese paramilitary and riot police stand guard near barricades set up along the main street of a Tibetan monastery town in Sichuan province. (AP/Gillian Wong)

Beijing-based blogger Woeser reported on her website Invisible Tibet today that she has been confined to her residence by Beijing public security officers who are stationed outside her home. Woeser, an outspoken critic of Chinese government policies in Tibet, has written about a series of recent self-immolations among monks and arrests of writers in western China.

Blog   |   Nepal

Two years after Nepal murder, no progress, mission finds

Members of the International Media Mission to Nepal with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, center. (Federation of Nepalese Journalists)

On the evening of March 1, 2010, Arun Singhaniya, owner of Janakpur Today newspaper and Janakpur Today Radio, stepped out of a prayer service during a holy celebration in Janakpur, Nepal's second largest city. A gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed the news proprietor, making him the second person affiliated with the Janakpur Today news group to be murdered within a year.

Blog   |   China

Ethnic violence renews information clampdown in China

Tibetans gather on the side of a street in Nangqian county, China's Qinghai province, to protest Chinese rule. (AP)

Two months into 2012, all-too-familiar stories are emerging from China's troubled minority regions, Tibet and Xinjiang. Following riots against Chinese rule in 2008 and 2009, violence and its corollaries--increased security and censorship--have become commonplace. Independent bloggers and journalists who cover the unrest pay a high price: Over half the 27 journalists documented by CPJ in Chinese prisons on December 1, 2011, came from ethnic minorities. Now we're bracing ourselves for the next wave of arrests.

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Bangladeshi journalists call for justice in couple's murder

Journalists demand justice for the murder of Meherun Runi and Golam Mustofa Sarowar. The banner says, 'Stop the attack on journalists.' (AP/Pavel Rahman)

On February 11, two Bangladeshi television journalists, Meherun Runi and her husband Golam Mustofa Sarowar, were murdered in their Dhaka home. Their 5-year-old son found their bodies. No arrests have yet been made and no motive has been publicly disclosed, although police claim they know why the couple was killed. Journalists have plenty of reason to be skeptical, and they staged a nationwide strike today to call attention to the case.

February 27, 2012 3:38 PM ET

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Blog   |   Malaysia

No joke: Malaysian cartoonist stands up to government

Zunar with copies of banned cartoon collections. (AP/Lai Seng Sin)

Tuesday marks the next step in a legal faceoff between Malaysian authorities and the well-known political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, also known as Zunar. Hearings will resume in civil lawsuit filed by Zunar that challenges the legality of his arrest and detention in September 2010. Malaysian police arrested him hours ahead of the scheduled launch of a new book of political cartoons, Cartoon-o-phobia. He was held until the next day on the accusation that his book violated the country's repressive Sedition Act. Although he was released without being formally charged, police served a search warrant at his office and seized dozens of copies of his book. 

February 27, 2012 3:19 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka, Syria, UK, USA

Recalling Marie Colvin, the 'greatest of our generation'

In her final hours, Marie Colvin gave this damning report to CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Bravery, generosity, and commitment: These are the three characteristics of Marie Colvin that have surfaced, again and again, in the many tributes spoken and published since the veteran Sunday Times reporter was killed Wednesday in the besieged city of Homs by Syrian forces.

February 23, 2012 3:41 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Threats and menace: Pakistan's war on words

Pakistani military stand guard during a protest by journalists over the death of Saleem Shahzad in June 2011. (AP/B.K.Bangash)

In Pakistan, the term "a war of words" can take on a menacing dimension beyond the metaphorical. Words--written, spoken, or reported--regularly land journalists in trouble, a very literal, physical sort of trouble. Reporters have become accustomed to being threatened, and over the years they've seen threats sometimes build to abductions, beatings, and even death. Such violence seldom comes without a string of prior warnings.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Threats to Pakistani journalists don't let up

In the last few days, messages from two journalists in Pakistan have made me realize that I can't turn away from publicizing the threats they are facing, because they just keep coming. 

Blog   |   China, USA

Archaic media policies make China a poor partner

President Obama meets with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping Tuesday at the  White House. (AP/Susan Walsh)

President Obama has promised to raise issues of human rights when he and his administration meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the next day. After that, Xi, billed as China's next leader, is expected to make some speeches, visit a few factories, stop at the Pentagon, sign some contracts that will strengthen economic ties between the two countries, and then head home.

February 14, 2012 3:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   Brazil, China, Internet, Mexico, USA

Brazil set to test Twitter's selective blocking policy

I've been telling reporters that Twitter's new national blocking policy was like Chekhov's gun. Its recent appearance inevitably prefigured its future use.

February 10, 2012 4:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Old issues, new debates on Internet freedom in India

Just how free should the Internet be in India? And whose job is it to police the Web?

Two recent court cases turn on these questions and, more specifically, whether Internet companies have a responsibility to filter content. In a country where Internet usage is growing exponentially, but where the scars of communal violence, terrorism, and identity politics are fresh, the answers are likely to have deep ramifications for years to come.

February 10, 2012 3:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   Denmark, India

India: Let us in!

Tom Heinemann with his wife and camerawoman, Lotte la Cour (Paul Gomes)

In 2005, we deliberately violated the immigration laws of India. We broke the law by producing a documentary film even though we had entered the country on a tourist visa. We broke the law because we wanted to show that Scandinavian companies were in violation of many other laws in India.

February 10, 2012 11:25 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

In high-tech China, low-tech media control works too

Tibetan monks lead a prayer vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in London Wednesday. (AFP/Justin Tallis)

China's investment in high-tech Internet surveillance technology is well known, and the byzantine rules of its Central Propaganda Department have inspired books and academic treatises.

But among the many tools in the box for media control, there's one that's very simple and low-tech: Keep journalists away.

Blog   |   China

Chinese media little help with Chongqing mystery

Wang Lijun, until recently a deputy mayor and police chief, has been put on a medical "vacation." (Reuters)

The website of Xinhua News, China's state media flagship, leads today with EU's threats of sanctions against Syria. Elsewhere on their Chinese-language site, one can read about Wen Jiabao's remarks to the visiting Canadian prime minister, or look at photos of pretty white ladies lounging around, if that's your style. 

February 8, 2012 5:40 PM ET

Blog   |   India

What's behind India's Internet censorship?

We have been posting a lot about the challenges facing the Internet in India recently--see Mannika Chopra's "India struggles to cope with growing Internet penetration." On Tuesday, Angela Saini, a guest blogger on The Guardian's Comment Is Free site, posted "Internet censorship could damage India's democracy," with the subhead "Google and Facebook have been asked to remove offensive content, but it's not just out of a fear of stoking religious hatred." Saini makes the point that the official resistance to the increasing penetration of the Internet goes beyond fears of religious or ethnic violence:

February 8, 2012 5:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Pakistan's Abbas: Journalists hostage to 'power of gun'

Pakistani journalists protest the killing of Mukarram Khan Aatif in Peshawar. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

CPJ award winner Mazhar Abbas penned a strong Sunday op-ed piece, "Death is the only news--Challenges of working in conflict zones," for The News. It's about conditions for journalists working in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Baluchistan. As Abbas says, "The killing of one journalist is a message for another." He goes on to describe the situation in FATA:

Blog   |   China, Internet, UK, USA

Can selective blocking pre-empt wider censorship?

A screen shot showing part of a Twitter blog post in which the company announced it could now censor messages on a country-by-country basis. (AP/Twitter)

Last week, Twitter provoked a fierce debate online when it announced a new capability--and related policy--to hide tweets on a country-specific basis. By building this feature into its website's basic code, Twitter said it hoped to offer a more tailored response to legal demands to remove tweets globally. The company will inform users if any tweet they see has been obscured, and provide a record of all demands to remove content with the U.S.-based site chillingeffects.org.

February 3, 2012 5:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, USA

Does the Internet boost freedom? We decide, book says

Rebecca MacKinnon, shown here in Tunisia last year, asserts in a new book that citizens and governments must decide the power of the Internet. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

The Internet doesn't bring freedom. Not automatically, anyway.

That's one of the main messages of Rebecca MacKinnon's new book, Consent of the Networked, which had its New York launch at the offices of the New America Foundation last night. In a conversation with CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker, MacKinnon, a CPJ board member, said it's up to concerned citizens, governments, and corporations to make decisions about how the Internet is used. She contrasted the Twitter-powered revolt in Egypt last year with the "networked authoritarianism" of China, where corporations are collaborators in a system designed to preserve Communist Party rule.

Blog   |   India

India's challenge: Intolerance vs. intellectual freedom

Visitors wait for Salman Rushdie's video conference at the Jaipur Literature Festival, which was called off after Muslim groups protested. (AP/Manish Swarup)

Because of criticism from Hindu fundamentalists, the showing of a documentary by filmmaker Sanjay Kak at the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce in Pune has been indefinitely postponed. The conservative student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisha protested Kak's film, "Jashn-e-Azadi" (How we celebrate freedom), which is critical of the Indian army's role in Kashmir. In fact, the whole conference, scheduled to start Friday, has been postponed, according to the investigative magazine Tehelka and the BBC.

January 31, 2012 4:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese press has impact, against the odds

The sky over Beijing, as it turns out, isn't quite as blue as the government long claimed. (Reuters/David Gray)

In China, state control over the media hasn't become more lax in recent years. Each year brings a new excuse for Communist Party censors to tighten the screws. The year of the rabbit brought the Arab Spring, and fears of a Jasmine Revolution. The year of the dragon brings a major political transition

Blog   |   India

Can an Indian cartoonist be barred from mocking the state?

The case of a cartoonist charged with treason and offending India's national sentiments reflects a growing debate over what constitutes freedom of expression in India. His accusers argue that while it is permissible to make fun of politicians, you cannot make fun of the state. Not everyone agrees.

January 30, 2012 3:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Black January? A foreign plot, says Sri Lankan government

Sri Lankan journalists stage the "Black January" protest, demanding the government punish the culprits responsible for killing journalists. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)

On Monday, I wrote about two demonstrations scheduled for Sri Lanka this week. Both were meant to commemorate the ugly string of anti-press attacks in recent Januaries, which has included journalists killed and abducted, television stations bombed, websites attacked, and media offices torched. But Wednesday's Black January effort, publicized by the Free Media Movement (FMM) and other media support groups, was sabotaged and had to be moved at the last minute. A source in Colombo gave the following account, the outlines of which were confirmed by other CPJ sources:

Blog   |   Pakistan

Mazhar Abbas: Shahzad was no Pearl

Pakistani journalists protest the killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad. (AFP/Rizwan Tabassum)

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in Karachi on January 23, 2002. On February 21 of that year, a video of his beheading was released. In the wake of the judicial inquiry into the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, veteran Pakistani journalist Mazhar Abbas has taken a comparative look at the two investigations with this article from the most recent magazine section of The News on Sunday.

January 24, 2012 2:22 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, Eknelygoda asks that humanity trump cruelty

Sandhya Eknelygoda and sons Sanjay and Harith. (CPJ)

A couple of weeks ago, I described the terrible incidence of anti-press abuse that has come each recent January in Sri Lanka. Media activists have come to call the month "Black January" for good reason, as this email message details: 

Blog   |   India

Oprah's guards not only ones to assail Indian journalists

Oprah Winfrey's first visit to India brought delighted coverage by the Indian media. Her meetings and tweetings with Bollywood stars, her bright orange sari, and her trips to slums and to the Taj Mahal were lovingly detailed by newspapers and TV outlets in that country. 

January 19, 2012 2:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Mukarram Khan Aatif, a fearless reporter and friend

Protesters denounce the murder of Mukarram Khan Aatif. (AFP/A. Majeed)

It was in January four years ago that nearly 100 journalists from all over Pakistan got together to launch a new TV channel in Lahore, Dunya TV. That was where I first met Mukarram Khan Aatif, our reporter from Mohmand.

January 19, 2012 1:16 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

Freedom with limits in Burma

Win Maw, a journalist for Democratic Voice of Burma, is greeted by his wife as he arrives at Yangon airport after being released from prison Friday, Jan. 13. (AP/Khin Maung Win)

When President Thein Sein pardoned over 300 political prisoners last week in Burma, CPJ reported that at least nine journalists were among those released. Since then, the exile-run Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has announced that all of its jailed reporters, including a group of eight who had remained anonymous, are now free.

Blog   |   Pakistan

A deeper reading: Umar Cheema on the Shahzad report

With the shooting of Mukarram Khan Aatif on Tuesday, the once high-profile case of Saleem Shahzad has almost been overtaken by events. The day before Aatif's death, Umar Cheema had sent me a link to his analysis of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Saleem Shahzad.

January 18, 2012 3:47 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

One year on: Remembering Wali Khan Babar

Pakistani journalists protest the death of Wali Khan Babar, killed one year ago today. (AFP/Asif Hassan)

Today is the first anniversary of the killing of Geo TV broadcast reporter Wali Khan Babar in Karachi, a case that has almost been forgotten, particularly in the shadow of the release of the judicial inquiry into the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad. The report on Shahzad has been posted on the Ministry of Information's website.

January 13, 2012 1:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Fiji

Fiji's emergency ends, but media oppression continues

Fiji's military leadership on Saturday lifted emergency regulations it had been using to stymie the country's press since 2009, according to local government websites. Good news? Maybe. Yet the regime still restricts the media, and anyone else who dares to question the legitimacy of the 2006 coup that brought its leaders to power--suggesting they are more concerned about appearances than press freedom.

January 11, 2012 4:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

No culprits named in Shahzad investigation, media reports

About six months after it was launched, the commission investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad submitted its report to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. In the past, the government has not released results of such investigations into the deaths of journalists, but there might be an exception this time. There are early media leaks of its content: The Express Tribune's bylined story is "No culprit named in Saleem Shahzad report," and Dawn's story ("Posted by a reporter," the byline says) is here. Dawn echoes The Express Tribune's headline a bit further down in its posting:  "According to sources, the commission has stopped short of fixing responsibility for the journalist`s killing." But with no names named, the government might find it politically viable to make the report public.

January 11, 2012 2:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

The HRCP's call to address threats against journalists

A quick pointer to a statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Monday: It said, in part, that "The HRCP is alarmed at reports of threats received by journalists on account of their work." The commission asked the government to ensure that threats to journalists end and that risks associated with practicing journalism in general are eliminated, as noted in the English-language daily Dawn.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's woeful January way-points

For Sri Lankan journalists, January might be the cruelest month. In January 2011, Sonali Samarasinghe wrote about the death of her husband Lasantha Wickramatunga two years earlier on January 8, 2009. In January 2010 I reported in "Sri Lanka: A year later, still failing to fight media attacks" about the government's inactivity in investigating Wickramatunga's death one year on. That was a follow up to the February 2009 "Failure to Investigate," in which CPJ had investigated his death and two other January attacks --- one a bombing raid on an independent television station and the other -- an attack similar to that on Wickramatunga, though not fatal -- on Upali Tennakoon, the editor of a Sinhala newspaper.

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