Middle East & North Africa

2012

Attacks on the Press   |   Libya

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Libya

Journalists worked in extraordinarily dangerous conditions during the eight-month uprising that ended 42 years of rule by Muammar Qaddafi and led to his death. Five journalists were killed amid fierce fighting between rebels and loyalists. Qaddafi's regime unleashed a widespread campaign to silence foreign and local journalists, detaining dozens in abusive conditions. In February, Qaddafi invited reporters to the capital, Tripoli, only to restrict them to the Rixos Hotel, monitor their every move, and prevent them from reporting on anything other than the government line. In their efforts to block news coverage, authorities also jammed satellite signals, severed Internet service, cut off mobile phone networks and landlines, and attacked news facilities. While the crumbling regime was able to orchestrate coverage for a time in Tripoli, it failed to prevent the press from disseminating information about rebel advances in the rest of the country. Press freedom violations persisted after the Libyan rebel government, known as the National Transitional Council, or NTC, took power in August. One journalist was brutally assaulted in Benghazi that month, and the NTC placed one pro-Qaddafi journalist under house arrest.

February 21, 2012 12:06 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Jordan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Jordan

Security forces tried to restrict coverage of the country’s civil unrest by attacking journalists covering pro-reform protests, often confiscating or destroying their equipment. Authorities raided the office of a news website in April, destroying equipment and threatening staff members. The same month, Al-Jazeera received a series of threats that its offices and journalists would be attacked if the network did not tone down coverage of the protests; the network’s Amman bureau chief said he had received death threats by telephone and social media. Other attacks included the hacking of a news website in February for refusing to take down a critical statement from a group of Jordanian tribesmen calling for political and economic reforms. In an Orwellian maneuver, the lower chamber of parliament passed a bill in September that was marketed as fighting corruption. In fact, some provisions would accomplish the opposite: They would impose heavy new fines against journalists who report on corruption without “solid facts.” Facing heavy opposition from journalists, the upper chamber sent the bill to committee for further review. Despite a long list of press freedom abuses, Jordanian leaders escaped criticism from the United States, which sought to maintain close relations with the kingdom.

February 21, 2012 12:05 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Hamas forces in Gaza cracked down on journalists covering March demonstrations that called for Palestinian unity. Local journalists were attacked, media bureaus raided, and journalistic material confiscated. In April, three photographers were assaulted in the West Bank while covering skirmishes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in a village south of Nablus. In May, an Israeli soldier shot and seriously wounded Palestinian photographer Mohammed Othman, who was covering clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians near the Erez Crossing. New legal restrictions were introduced: In July, the Israeli parliament passed an “anti-boycott” law making it a civil offense to support any boycott, divestment, or sanction campaign aimed at Israel based on its Palestinian policies. Journalists could face legal action for even insinuating support of a boycott. Hamas, meanwhile, adopted a new requirement that international journalists obtain Interior Ministry permission before entering Gaza, news reports said. Israeli authorities were holding four Palestinian journalists without charge in late year; Hamas was imprisoning three others, also without charge.

February 21, 2012 12:04 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Iraq

Five journalists and a media worker were killed as Iraq maintained its position as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. In August, the government adopted a law meant to offer journalists more protection, although its vague provisions did little initially to improve conditions. As demonstrations for economic and political reform spread with the Arab uprisings, journalists were consistently targeted for their coverage. Anti-riot police attacked, detained, and assaulted journalists covering protests. In their attempt to restrict coverage of the unrest, police raided news stations and press freedom groups, destroyed equipment, and arrested journalists. In Iraqi Kurdistan, authorities used aggression and intimidation to restrict journalists' coverage of violent clashes between security forces and protesters. Gunmen raided and destroyed equipment of an independent TV station and a radio station in Sulaymaniyah. Three journalists were fired upon in separate episodes in March, while two journalists were injured covering clashes in Sulaymaniyah in April. Prominent Iraqi Kurdish journalist Asos Hardi was badly beaten by an unidentified assailant.

February 21, 2012 12:03 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Iran

Two years after a contested presidential election, Tehran continued to use the mass imprisonment of journalists to silence dissent and quash critical news coverage. Imprisoned journalists suffered greatly amid the crowded and unsanitary conditions of notorious prisons such as Rajaee Shah and Evin. The health of many detainees severely deteriorated, while numerous others suffered abuse at the hands of prison guards. The detainees also faced a battery of punitive measures, from the denial of family visits to placement in solitary confinement. Authorities continued a practice of freeing some prisoners on furloughs while making new arrests. Six-figure bonds were often posted by the furloughed journalists who faced immense political pressure to falsely implicate their colleagues in crimes. While some large international news organizations maintained a presence in Tehran, their journalists could not move or report freely, particularly outside the capital. Politically sensitive topics such as the country's nuclear program or its plan to eliminate subsidies were largely off-limits to local and international reporters. The government also restricted adversarial reporting by using sophisticated technology to block websites, jamming satellite signals, and banning publications.

February 21, 2012 12:02 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Egypt

During the 18-day uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the government unleashed a systematic campaign to intimidate journalists and obstruct news coverage. Dozens of serious press freedom violations were recorded between January 25 and February 11, as police and government supporters assaulted journalists in the streets. One journalist was killed by sniper fire while covering the demonstrations. Authorities also detained scores of journalists, instituted a six-day Internet blackout, suspended mobile phone service, blocked satellite transmissions, revoked accreditations, erected bureaucratic obstacles for foreign reporters, confiscated equipment, and stormed newsrooms. After Mubarak's fall, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces showed its own hostility to critical news coverage. The council established a new censorship regime in March, telling editors they must obtain approval for coverage involving the armed forces. In July, the council reinstated the historically repressive Information Ministry; in September, it announced it would enforce the Mubarak-era Emergency Law that allows indefinite detention of civilians. Authorities raided broadcasters in September, October, and December, censored newspapers, and arrested critical bloggers. In October, a fatal confrontation between the military and civilians in front of the Television and Radio Union left dozens dead, including a journalist. The next month, at least 35 journalists were detained or assaulted while covering a week of demonstrations demanding the military hand over power to civilians. As the year ended, the first two rounds of parliamentary voting gave Islamist parties a significant lead over secular competitors.

February 21, 2012 12:01 AM ET

Alerts   |   Yemen

BBC reporter attacked in Yemen three times in past year

New York, February 17, 2012--Yemeni authorities must ensure the safety and protection of journalists covering protests in the country and allow them to carry out their work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a BBC Arabic correspondent was attacked for the third time in a year.

February 17, 2012 2:32 PM ET

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Statements   |   Syria, USA

CPJ mourns the death of journalist Anthony Shadid

Anthony Shadid "knew the risks but chose to go because that's what reporters do," CPJ's Robert Mahoney said. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)

New York, February 16, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by the death of New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid, a towering figure in international crisis reporting. Shadid perished following an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.

February 17, 2012 12:01 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Tunisia

Tunisia arrests three journalists over nude photo

New York, February 16, 2012--Three Tunisian journalists were arrested Wednesday for publishing a nude photo in a Tunisian daily, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to release them immediately.

Statements   |   Syria

Syria arrests 14 in attempt to block news

New York, February 16, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the arrests of 14 journalists, bloggers, and press freedom activists with the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). The group has played a key role in getting out information about daily developments in Syria as foreign journalists are virtually banned from the country.

February 16, 2012 1:42 PM ET

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2012

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