Special Reports

2013

Reports   |   Brazil, Egypt, India, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Syria

Syria, Iraq, Egypt most deadly nations for journalists

The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser

This image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrians helping a wounded man from the scene of a government airstrike in Aleppo on December 17. Citizen journalists have been central to documenting the conflict's death and destruction. (AP/Aleppo Media Center)

Reports   |   Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Second worst year on record for jailed journalists

For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser

Turkish journalists protest for media rights in Istanbul on November 5, 2013. Demonstrators proceeded at a rate of one step per minute to highlight the slow process of justice in Turkey. (AFP/Ozan Kose)
December 18, 2013 12:01 AM ET

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Reports   |   USA

The Obama Administration and the Press

Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists. A CPJ special report by Leonard Downie Jr. with reporting by Sara Rafsky

Barack Obama leaves a press conference in the East Room of the White House August 9. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

Reports   |   USA

CPJ's recommendations to the Obama administration

CPJ is disturbed by the pattern of actions by the Obama administration that have chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including matters of national security. The administration's war on leaks to the press through the use of secret subpoenas against news organizations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy, and its increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest -- all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy.

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide

Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

Hopes for press freedom were high after the 2011 revolution ousted Hosni Mubarak, led to an explosion of private media outlets, and set the country on a path to a landmark presidential election. But more than two years later, a deeply polarized Egyptian press has been battered by an array of repressive tactics, from the legal and physical intimidation of Mohamed Morsi’s tenure to the wide censorship of the new military-backed government. A CPJ special report by Sherif Mansour with reporting by Shaimaa Abu Elkhir from Cairo


August 14, 2013 12:05 AM ET

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

1. Morsi’s Failures

By Sherif Mansour

In June 2012, three days before Mohamed Morsi was declared winner of the presidential election, Bassem Youssef, satirist and host of Egypt’s “Al-Bernameg,” defended the Muslim Brotherhood candidate during an appearance on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” He asked the U.S. audience to give democracy in Egypt a chance. So long as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood remained accountable to the people and respected human rights, Youssef reasoned, there was no reason they could not lead Egypt’s historic transition to democratic rule.

Morsi and throngs of supporters in November 2012. (AP)

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

The Killing of Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif

By Sherif Mansour

The fatal shooting of El-Fagr reporter Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif during clashes between anti-government protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the presidential palace last December seemed, at first blush, to fit a sadly familiar pattern: a journalist killed covering a political demonstration, the victim of a stray bullet fired recklessly in the heat of street violence.

Protesters seek justice for Abou Deif. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

2. Military Censorship

By Sherif Mansour

A swarm of police vehicles converged on Media Production City moments after Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi announced on July 3 that Mohamed Morsi had been ousted. The compound outside Cairo is home to nearly every TV station in Egypt, but the police were targeting five particular stations that night: the Muslim Brotherhood-run Misr25, and four pro-Morsi Islamist stations. One by one, the stations’ live coverage went off the air, while police herded and handcuffed about 200 employees, confiscated equipment, and seized cell phones. Taken to a security facility, the employees were interrogated about their associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of the administrative and support workers were released in a few hours, but 22 journalists were kept for more than a day on accusations of conspiring to overthrow the regime.

At a Tahrir Square rally, an image of al-Sisi. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

NGO Case Criminalizes Human Rights Work

By Jean-Paul Marthoz

A criminal case that was launched under the previous transitional military government has cast a shadow over the current government, with its implications that international human rights and democracy workers are somehow foreign agents working against national security.

Courtroom spectators were stunned when verdicts were announced in June. (AP/Ahmed Abd El Latif)

Reports   |   Egypt

On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt

3. CPJ's Recommendations

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations to Egyptian authorities, political parties, and news media, and to the international community.

August 14, 2013 12:02 AM ET

Reports   |   Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Uganda

Journalists in exile 2013

Somalis, Syrians flee violence; Iran crackdown deepens

Fifty-five journalists fled their homes in the past year with help from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most common reason to go into exile was the threat of violence, such as in Somalia and Syria, two of the most deadly countries in the world for the profession. Others fled the threat of prison, especially in Iran, where the government deepened its crackdown ahead of elections. A CPJ special report by Nicole Schilit

Syrians take shelter at a refugee camp near the border with Turkey. (Reuters/Muhammad Najdet Qadour/Shaam News Network)

Reports   |   Somalia

Audio: Exiled Somali journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur

In our special report, "Journalists in Exile," CPJ examines the issues facing journalists who are forced to flee their countries due to intimidation, threats, or fear of imprisonment.

Abdiaziz, 26, a Somali journalist exiled in Uganda, contributed to local and international media outlets before being arrested in January 2013. He was accused under Article 269 of the Somali penal code for insulting the government and spreading false evidence. His crime was interviewing the victim of an alleged rape. After the charges were thrown out and he was released from prison, he fled the country, under harassment and fearing for his safety. 

Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (3:41)

Read CPJ's special report, "Journalists in Exile."

Reports   |   Afghanistan

Audio: Exiled Afghan journalist Barat Ali Batoor

In our special report, "Journalists in Exile," CPJ examines the issues facing journalists who are forced to flee their countries due to intimidation, threats, or fear of imprisonment.

Batoor, 29, an Afghan photojournalist, began receiving threats soon after a photo essay he worked on, "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan," was published in The Washington Post. The photographer would spend time in Pakistan and Indonesia, survive a journey in a boat that capsized, and escape from a detention center before receiving asylum in Australia.

Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (4:15)

Read CPJ's special report, "Journalists in Exile."

June 19, 2013 12:00 AM ET

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Reports   |   Burma

Burma falters, backtracks on press freedom

The media landscape in Burma is more open than ever, as President Thein Sein releases imprisoned journalists and abolishes the former censorship regime. But many threats and obstacles to truly unfettered reporting remain, including restrictive laws held over from the previous military regime. The wider government’s commitment to a more open reporting environment is in doubt. A CPJ special report by Shawn W. Crispin

Villagers protest a copper mine project in the Latpadaung region in March 2013. (Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Reports   |   Burma

Online and in danger in Burma

Early moves by Thein Sein to ease Internet censorship are viewed as a limited concession to press freedom, since Burma has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world. Now, planned foreign investments in mobile infrastructure promise to expand access, but a draft telecommunications law would leave intact many of the vague legal restrictions used to curb online freedoms in the past. By Shawn W. Crispin

Burmese citizens use an Internet café in Rangoon. The country has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world. (AFP)

Reports   |   Burma

An uneasy homecoming for Burma's exile media

The return of exiled Burmese media groups is one of the clearest signs of the country’s improved reporting environment, but the outlets may struggle to compete as Western donors reduce funding. Furthermore, journalists are worried about losing the editorial independence they enjoyed in exile. By Shawn W. Crispin

A journalist works the radio booth of the Democratic Voice of Burma, a media outlet run by exiles in Oslo, Norway. The outlet has recently established a bureau in Burma. (Reuters/Wojciech Moskwa)

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Pakistan's Endangered Press
And the Perilous Web of Militancy, Security, and Politics

More than 20 journalists have been murdered in reprisal for their work in Pakistan over the past decade. Not one case has been solved, not a single conviction won. This perfect record of impunity has fostered an ever-more violent climate for journalists. Fatalities have jumped in the past five years, and today, Pakistan ranks among the world’s deadliest nations for the press. The targeted killings of two journalists—Wali Khan Babar in Karachi and Mukarram Khan Aatif in the tribal areas—illustrate the culture of manipulation, intimidation, and retribution that has led to this killing spree. A CPJ special report by Elizabeth Rubin



May 23, 2013 12:01 AM ET

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Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Introduction

By Bob Dietz

At least 42 journalists have been killed—23 of them murdered—in direct relation to their work in Pakistan in the past decade, CPJ research shows. Not one murder since 2003 has been solved, not a single conviction won. Despite repeated demands from Pakistani and international journalist organizations, not one of these crimes has even been put to a credible trial.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

1. The Murder of Wali Khan Babar

On January 13, 2011, Wali Khan Babar, a 28-year-old correspondent for Geo TV, was driving home after covering another day of gang violence in Karachi. Babar was an unusual face on the airwaves: Popular and handsome, he was a Pashtun from Zhob in Baluchistan near the border with Afghanistan. For Geo, it was a rare boon to have a Pashtun in Karachi, and so the station planned to send him abroad for training to become an anchor.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: Verbatim: Threats, Promises, and Fears

“No half-hearted police measures or words of consolation from the highest offices in the land will suffice in the aftermath of the brutal treatment meted out to journalist Umar Cheema of The News.”

Editorial in the newspaper Dawn condemning the September 2010 abduction and beating of Cheema. Intelligence agents were suspected in the attack. No arrests were made.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

2. A Death in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

On the evening of January 17, 2012, a year and four days after Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar was gunned down on a busy street in Karachi, Mukarram Khan Aatif, a senior journalist in the tribal region of Pakistan, was offering evening prayers at a mosque near his home in Shabqadar. Two men approached and fired three times, shooting him in the chest and head. One of the bullets passed through Aatif and injured the imam as well. Aatif was pronounced dead at the hospital that night.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: For VOA Reporters, a Difficult Balance

The Taliban’s claim that they murdered Voice of America reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif because he failed to present their perspective in his stories was deeply troubling—if not terrifying—to the local reporters of the U.S. government-funded news agency.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

3. Intimidation, Manipulation, and Retribution

A couple of years ago, Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Umar Cheema, and other prominent figures in the news media began going public with the threats they were receiving from intelligence agencies. It was a risky calculation, but the silence, they reasoned, encouraged intimidation and allowed impunity to persist.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: ‘In case something happens to me’

Seven months before his murder, Asia Times Online reporter Saleem Shahzad was summoned to a meeting with Rear Adm. Adnan Nazir, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate’s media wing. During the October 17, 2010, meeting, Shahzad said, he was pressured to retract a story the agency considered embarrassing and urged to disclose his sources for the piece.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Conclusion

The murder of Saleem Shahzad in May 2011 galvanized journalists across Pakistan in a way that few other events have. For a short time their power as a “union” was felt. They secured a commission of inquiry. They named ISI officers who had threatened Shahzad and many other journalists. They detailed those encounters in a public record available on the Internet. The resulting report offers a series of promising recommendations, saying in part:

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Recommendations

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations to Pakistani authorities, the Pakistani news media, and the international community.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Appendix

Journalists Killed 2003-2012: Motive Confirmed

CPJ research has determined that 42 journalists were killed in Pakistan in direct relation to their work from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2012. An additional 12 journalists were killed in unclear circumstances during the time period. Capsule reports on each death follow, beginning with cases in which CPJ has confirmed a work-related motive.


Reports   |   Multimedia, Pakistan

Video: Roots of Impunity

The unsolved murders of three Pakistani journalists reflect a government that is not guaranteeing the rule of law or fundamental human rights. CPJ's Bob Dietz narrates. Animation by Dave Mayers and production by Dana Chivvis

Read our accompanying special report, "Roots of Impunity," which examines the culture of anti-press violence in Pakistan.

Reports   |   Iran

As election nears, Iran's journalists are in chains

Iran continues to jail dozens of journalists, stifling critical news coverage and commentary. Crucial links to the international community have been cut off as the June presidential vote approaches. A CPJ special report by Sherif Mansour 

Reports   |   Iran, Multimedia

Video: Iran's journalists in chains

Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti died from abuse suffered in Evin Prison. In this video, produced by IranWire in cooperation with CPJ, Beheshti's mother describes the anguish she has endured and asks for support for all the other journalists and political prisoners being held in Iran. In all, 40 journalists were jailed as of April 2013, a testament to the iron grip the government has on news and commentary.

May 8, 2013 4:51 PM ET

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Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

The shifting dynamics of censorship and control

As Xi Jinping takes office as president of China, the citizenry he governs is more sophisticated and interconnected than any before, largely because of the Internet. A complex digital censorship system--combined with a more traditional approach to media control, such as jailing journalists--keeps free expression in check. Repressive regimes worldwide look to China as a model, but Beijing's system of control is increasingly endangered. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists


March 11, 2013 6:00 PM ET

Reports   |   China, Multimedia

Video: A Chinese journalist's inside view of censorship

Journalist Liu Jianfeng worked in China’s state-controlled media for nearly two decades. Eventually, frustration with the system and pressure from his colleagues prompted him to quit. He continues to report on public issues such as land grabs, and hopes to find a new model for investigative journalism in China. Jonah Kessel reports. (11:10)

Read our accompanying special report, “Challenged in China,” on the shifting dynamics of censorship and media control.

March 11, 2013 5:59 PM ET

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Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

Preface

By David Schlesinger

There is nothing like reading a report on China and the media to highlight the mass of contradictions that is the country today.

March 11, 2013 5:58 PM ET

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Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

1. Beyond censors' reach, free expression thrives, to a point

By Sophie Beach

On March 24, 2012, investigative journalist Yang Haipeng posted on his Sina Weibo microblog a story he had heard that alleged a link between Neil Heywood, an English businessman who had been found dead in a Chongqing hotel, and Bo Xilai, the powerful Chongqing Communist Party chief. His post is widely recognized as the first significant public mention of a connection between the two men and it spread like wildfire online before being deleted the next day. A month later, Yang’s Sina Weibo account, which had 247,000 followers, was shut down.

Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

2. Although not explicit, legal threats to journalists persist

By Madeline Earp

Even as China’s virtual landscape buzzes with criticism of social injustices, government policy, and propaganda directives, independent journalism and expression are still perceived by the Communist Party as explicit political threats. Authorities also exploit vague legal language to prosecute dissenters based on published content, or bypass due process altogether, holding critics without charge or without notifying family members.

Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

3. Made in China: Models for media and censorship

By Danny O’Brien and Madeline Earp

As the founding editor, in 2005, of the Liberian online investigative news site FrontPage Africa, Rodney Sieh has fought off lawsuits, imprisonment, and death threats. In the face of such pressures, he has still managed to expand the website into one of Liberia’s best-selling daily newspapers, making him a leading figure in both new and traditional news media in the country. It’s not surprising then, that he was one of 17 prominent African journalists and publishers invited by the Chinese government to a three-week “News and Publishing Seminar in Developing Countries” last August in Beijing.

Reports   |   China

Challenged in China

4. CPJ's Recommendations

CPJ offers the following recommendations to Chinese authorities and the international community.

March 11, 2013 5:54 PM ET

Reports   |   China

Internet usage in China

Over the past 10 years, China’s media environment has been transformed by the explosion of the Internet and, since 2010, the phenomenon of weibo, or microblogs, which now have more than 309 million users. Click through the slideshow to see how Internet use has evolved.

March 11, 2013 5:53 PM ET

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Reports   |   China

Journalists Imprisoned in China

China consistently imprisons dozens of journalists, usually under anti-state laws. The makeup of the prisoners has evolved with the rise of the Internet and as ethnic minorities are increasingly targeted amid unrest in prominently Tibetan and Uighur regions. Below, click on years and categories to see the journalists jailed from 2002-2012 and to group them by media, ethnicity, and charges.

March 11, 2013 5:52 PM ET

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Reports   |   China

Bo Xilai Scandal: How news breaks in China

Andy Wong/AP

Chinese censors worked overtime to squelch reports of the downfall of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife on murder charges. But savvy journalists and Internet users stayed with the story and soon it commanded international headlines. Click through the timeline to see how a tightly censored story still made news in China.

March 11, 2013 5:51 PM ET

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