Middle East & North Africa

2012

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran, Iraq, Turkey

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Iran's Vast Diaspora

Journalists who have fled Iran to avoid prison face a tense and lengthy process toward resettlement, an uncertain financial and professional future, and most of all, fear that the Iranian government will catch up with them. By María Salazar-Ferro and Sheryl A. Mendez
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Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press in 2011: From Iran Into Exile


This video companion to Attacks on the Press recounts the story of Iranian journalist Javad Moghimi Parsa. Time magazine published one of the photos he took during his off-duty coverage of the unrest that came after the 2009 elections. Called a spy, he fled into exile. (2:47)

Read the Attacks on the Press 2011 country profile on Iran.

February 21, 2012 11:17 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2011: The Year in Photos

Photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and other news outlets documented historic events in 2011, often at great peril. The Year in Photographs: Press Freedom in 2011 features images from the Arab uprisings, South Asia's armed conflicts, and political repression in the Americas, Africa, and Europe.

February 21, 2012 11:16 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Bahrain

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Bahrain

The government waged a brutal multifaceted crackdown against independent news media covering the country’s months-long protest movement. Security forces subjected journalists to assaults, expulsions, detentions, politicized trials, prison terms, and lethal mistreatment in custody. Both international and local reporters were targeted: A journalist for the U.S. broadcaster ABC was beaten and his camera was confiscated in February; a photographer for the independent domestic daily Al-Wasat was beaten while covering a March protest. Authorities used live ammunition against protesters and reporters: The New York Times reported that two of its journalists came under helicopter fire in February. The Ministry of Information expelled CNN correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom over coverage of the unrest, and detained members of a CNN crew trying to interview human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. In June, a court convicted two critical journalistic bloggers on a series of antistate charges and sentenced them to lengthy terms. Reports of torture and mistreatment of detainees were common: Two journalists, one a founder of Al-Wasat, died in government custody under circumstances authorities would not fully explain. Al-Wasat, the country’s premier independent paper, was in the crosshairs throughout the year: Armed assailants stormed its printing facility in March; the Information Ministry briefly shut the paper in April; and the government filed criminal charges against three senior editors for “false news” the same month. CPJ honored Al-Wasat founder and editor Mansoor al-Jamri with its 2011 International Press Freedom Award.

February 21, 2012 4:30 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Yemen

A besieged government and its supporters retaliated fiercely against journalists covering the months of popular protests that sought an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule. Authorities detained local journalists, expelled international reporters, and confiscated newspapers in an effort to silence coverage, while government supporters and plainclothes agents assaulted media workers in the field. Two journalists covering anti-government protests were killed by gunfire, one by security forces who fired live ammunition to disperse a demonstration, the other by a sniper suspected to have been acting on behalf of the government. The government singled out Al-Jazeera in a months-long effort to silence its coverage. In March, plainclothes agents raided the station's Sana'a bureau, confiscating equipment. The raid followed the expulsion of two Al-Jazeera correspondents. Days later, authorities ordered Al-Jazeera's offices shut and its journalists stripped of accreditation. Other newsrooms were under direct fire. Armed men in civilian clothes tried to storm the offices of the independent daily Al-Oula, seriously wounding an editorial trainee, while military forces shelled the Yemeni satellite broadcaster Suhail TV, whose staff endured numerous other threats and detentions. In a rebuke to the regime, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to renowned Yemeni press freedom activist Tawakul Karman, chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, along with two female African leaders.

February 21, 2012 12:12 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tunisia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Tunisia

The press enjoyed new freedom after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January amid widespread protests, although a photographer was killed covering the unrest. The release of veteran journalist Fahem Boukadous after several months in prison was welcome news for a press corps accustomed to continued harassment and detention during Ben Ali's 23-year reign. News media were able to report freely during parliamentary elections in October; no major press freedom violations were reported during the voting. But throughout the year, journalists were still vulnerable to assault. In May, plainclothes police attacked several local and international journalists who were covering anti-government demonstrations. Licenses were issued to more than 100 new publications during the year, but some vestiges of censorship lingered. Hannibal TV, a station owned by a Ben Ali relative, was forced off the air for more than three hours in January.

February 21, 2012 12:11 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Syria

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Syria

The regime enforced an effective media blackout in March, banning international journalists from reporting or entering the country and detaining local journalists who tried to cover protests seeking an end to Bashar al-Assad’s rule. In a widespread campaign to silence media coverage, the government detained and assaulted journalists, expelled foreign journalists, and disabled mobile phones, landlines, electricity, and the Internet in cities where the protests broke out. The regime also extracted passwords of social media sites from journalists by using violence, and defaced social networking pages, while the pro-government online group Syrian Electronic Army hacked social media sites and posted pro-regime comments. In April, Al-Jazeera suspended its Damascus bureau after several of its journalists were harassed and received threats. Three days after the brutal assault of famed cartoonist Ali Ferzat in August, the government passed a new media law that “banned” the imprisonment of journalists and allowed for greater freedom of expression. It then followed up by jailing several journalists. In November, cameraman Ferzat Jarban was the first journalist to be killed in Syria in connection with his work since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992.

February 21, 2012 12:10 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Sudan

Sudan continued to impose extensive censorship by confiscating newspapers and shutting news outlets, and it maintained a hostile atmosphere through the frequent use of harassment and detention. Numerous press freedom violations were reported in the run-up to the January referendum that led to independence for South Sudan. On the eve of South Sudan's independence in July, the state-run National Council for Press and Publications announced the withdrawal of licenses for six newspapers partly owned by South Sudanese citizens that had run commentary critical of the Khartoum government. In September, the council ordered the suspension of another six sports-oriented publications for allegedly “inciting violence between teams.” In June, authorities filed politicized criminal defamation charges against several journalists who covered the alleged rape and torture of a youth activist. After the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, President Omar al-Bashir announced that he would pardon all imprisoned journalists. Jafaar al-Subki Ibrahim, a reporter for the private daily Al-Sahafa who had been held incommunicado and without charge since November 2010, was released after the announcement. But no formal pardon was ever issued, and four journalists were still in detention in late year. In September alone, the National Intelligence and Security Services blocked the distribution of four opposition newspapers without cause.

February 21, 2012 12:09 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Saudi Arabia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities maintained a suffocating atmosphere of censorship as they further tightened the country's highly restrictive media law. In May, a royal decree amended five articles of the law, barring the publication of any material that contravened Sharia law, impinged on state interests, promoted foreign interests, harmed public order or national security, or enabled criminal activity. In January, the Kingdom issued new regulations for online media that included several restrictive and vaguely worded provisions that grant the Ministry of Culture and Information sweeping powers to censor news outlets and sanction journalists. The government withdrew the accreditation of Riyadh-based Reuters correspondent Ulf Laessing in March, apparently angered by his coverage of a pro-reform protest. Reuters stood by the reporting. The same month, amid popular uprisings across the region, authorities banned three critical columnists working for the government-controlled daily Al-Watan. Authorities did not cite a reason, but all three had written about the region's political unrest. In late year, as demonstrations broke out in the kingdom's eastern province, authorities blocked local and international journalists from gaining access to the region. With a few exceptions, the demonstrations went uncovered.

February 21, 2012 12:08 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Morocco

King Mohamed VI pledged a series of constitutional reforms in March after the region’s wave of popular uprisings passed through the kingdom. But the reforms did not extend to opening up the press. Authorities took concerted measures to suppress coverage of mass protests in Casablanca’s streets. During a March protest in the capital, Rabat, uniformed police assaulted  several journalists covering its violent dispersal. The biggest and most controversial case in the kingdom was that of Rachid Nini, a prominent government critic, executive editor of the Moroccan daily Al-Massae, and owner of Al-Massae Media Group. He was detained in April and sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “denigrating judicial rulings” and “compromising the security and safety of the homeland and citizens.”

February 21, 2012 12:07 AM ET

2012

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