CPJ Update
June 2007
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists


Return to front page | See previous Updates

CPJ hosts advance screening of Pearl’s ‘Mighty Heart’
CPJ hosted an advance screening of “A Mighty Heart,” which recounts the life and death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, at the Time Warner Center on May 31. The film, starring Angelina Jolie, is based on Mariane Pearl’s account of her husband’s abduction and murder in Pakistan in 2002. Following the screening, former Associated Press correspondent and CPJ board member Terry Anderson moderated a discussion with Alix M. Freedman, deputy managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, author and CPJ board member Kati Marton, and the film’s producer, Andrew Eaton (right), about impunity in the murder of journalists. The discussion will be a special feature on the home DVD version of the film, which opens June 22.

CPJ outraged at attack on Mtetwa, a 2005 awardee
CPJ called for a full and transparent investigation into the May 8 police beating of Zimbabwean media and human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, a 2005 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award. Mtetwa, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, suffered bruises on her back, arms, and legs after police in Harare beat her and three colleagues with rubber clubs, she told CPJ. Mtetwa has defended dozens of journalists and fought for press freedom, all at great personal risk.

As U.S. holds journalists without charge, concerns raised anew
A panel sponsored by CPJ and the National Press Club's Freedom of the Press Committee raised concern about the U.S. military’s long-term detention of two journalists without charge. Al-Jazeera camera operator Sami al-Haj (far left), now at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been jailed for more than five years, while Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein (immediate left) has been held for 14 months in Iraq. The May 8 panel, moderated by board member Clarence Page, included Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of the AP; Zachary Katznelson, an attorney for al-Haj; Joel Campagna, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa; and National Press Club President Jerry Zremski, Washington bureau chief for The Buffalo News. The U.S. Defense Department declined an invitation to participate. CPJ outlined the al-Haj case and called for due process in a special report in October 2006, “The Enemy?” The discussion was shown on C-SPAN.

CPJ urges action in meeting with Mexican ambassador
In a meeting with CPJ, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana, expressed support for strengthening the powers of his country’s special prosecutor for press crimes. Page, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, and Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauria met with the ambassador on May 8 to express concern about the wave of deadly attacks against the media. “We need to ensure that the office of the special prosecutor has teeth so it can entirely fulfill the mandate for which it was created,” Sarukhan told the CPJ delegation. Sarukhan pledged to help set up meetings with high-ranking government officials in Mexico City to further discuss the problem.

In Russia, CPJ addresses ‘crisis in journalism’
CPJ Europe Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova took part in the International Federation of Journalists Congress, held May 28 to June 2 in Moscow. Ognianova spoke at a panel on “The Global Crisis in Journalism,” where she presented CPJ’s recent findings on Russia. Ognianova highlighted the serious erosion in Russian press freedom in CPJ’s May 3 report, Backsliders. She also recounted a battling Moscow newspaper in the new edition of Dangerous Assignments, describing the backstory in an accompanying audio report.

And in Bolivia, CPJ meets with President Morales
Lauria and board member Josh Friedman met on Sunday with Bolivian President Evo Morales (right). The CPJ delegation travels from La Paz to Santa Cruz this week to meet with other government officials, journalists, and human rights organizations to discuss the tense relationship between the administration and the press.

News and notes
We’re pleased to announce that Tom Rhodes will be joining the staff as Africa program coordinator beginning June 18. Rhodes is relocating to New York from Juba, Sudan, where he is the journalist program manager of the Juba Post, a weekly that covers local and national affairs.

Board member Gene Roberts will lead a June 21 luncheon discussion on “The Race Beat,” the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning book that he wrote with Hank Klibanoff. The discussion will be at CPJ offices from 12:30 to 2 p.m. To attend, please contact Denise Abatemarco at [email protected] or (212) 465 9344 Ext. 122.

Call for donations
CPJ’s journalist assistance program distributes donated computers to journalists forced in exile. If you or your office can make donation of a used or new laptop computer please contact Elisabeth Witchel at [email protected] or 212-465-9344 x 146.

In Dangerous Assignments
Western news organizations and journalists have a long-term obligation to help protect their Iraqi colleagues, writes George Packer in the new edition of Dangerous Assignments. In his column, “Our Debt to Iraqi Journalists,” Packer examines the deaths of 115 Iraqi journalists and media support workers since the war began. Most have been murdered in a systematic effort to make journalism and other aspects of civil society impossible, notes Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker. “That Iraqi journalists are continuing to work at all is a testament to their courage,” Packer writes, “because every one of them is marked for death.”