Current Lebanese media laws exist in the perfect state of chaos. For example, a print journalist who is a member of the Journalists' Syndicate, according to the Publication Law, is protected from administrative arrest for an opinion piece or an article he writes. However, if the same journalist broadcasts the very same opinion and some find it defamatory, according to the penal code, he can end up in jail. Provisions concerning media and journalists are scattered among numerous pieces of legislation like the penal code, the Publications Law, the Audiovisual Media Law, and the Military Justice Code.
Just before a new round of nuclear talks with Iran began on December 6, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interviewed a high-ranking Iranian official who indicated that two German journalists detained in Iran would possibly be allowed to spend the Christmas holiday with their families at the German Embassy.
Today we released our annual census of imprisoned journalists around the world, citing 145 reporters, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of nine from 2009 figures. The tally begs the question, What's in a number?
As CPJ has previously documented, journalists in Egypt have faced a deterioration in press freedom in the run-up to the parliamentary vote on Sunday. Editors have been fired, TV shows suspended, and regulations over SMS texting suddenly tightened. In the final few days, a new forum found itself caught up in this attempt to control the media message--the social networking site Facebook.
The last few weeks have been extremely busy for everyone at CPJ as we've been preparing for the 2010 International Press Freedom Awards. Today's press conference in Washington will be followed by a series of events culminating in our awards ceremony Tuesday in New York. As always, the awardees make it special.
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