Thirty years ago, when I was snatched off the street in Beirut by radical Shiites calling themselves "Islamic Jihad," the world took my plight and that of other Westerners kidnapped in Lebanon's long war to heart. During the nearly seven years I was held, countless demonstrations were staged on our behalf by churches, journalists, hometowns in America, France, Britain, Ireland and many other countries. Miles of yellow ribbon were tied to oak trees, and newspaper editorials ceaselessly demanded our release. When I finally emerged from the Lebanese gulag, the longest-held Western hostage, there were dozens of boxes of letters waiting for me, from school children and ordinary people across America, along with grand welcome home parties in New York and Washington.
On March 15 the fourth anniversary of the start of the Syrian uprising will be marked. No one knew in the early days of unrest how events would escalate, let alone how the entire region and the journalists covering it would be so deeply impacted.
Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Internet Advocacy team was in Valencia, Spain, for the first Circumvention Tech Festival: a mashup of journalists, activists, technologists, and human rights defenders united by a desire to fight censorship and surveillance. More than 500 registered participants from 40 countries shared their skills, strategies, and experiences in combating these global challenges.
We have been receiving reports of harassment and the use of force directed toward journalists covering the demonstrations in Hong Kong. Most of the incidents came over the weekend with the government's ill-advised attempt to end the protests with police force. But with tensions building today, more clashes with police seem possible.
On Sunday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced a new policy requiring that travelers to the United States turn on their devices at the request of airport security personnel. Devices that cannot be powered on will be barred from the aircraft, and passengers in possession of such devices may also be subjected to additional screening. While a number of commenters have lamented the policy change on the grounds that it is likely to cause confusion and otherwise inconvenience passengers, the move could also aggravate the risks journalists already face when traveling with sensitive materials such as notes, unpublished photographs, or information about sources.
New York, June 12, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about reports that three journalists were injured covering protests against the World Cup in Sao Paulo today. CNN producer Barbara Arvanitidis sought treatment at a hospital for an arm injury and CNN correspondent Shasta Darlington and Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão cameraman Douglas Barbieri suffered minor wounds from canisters of stun grenades thrown by authorities to disperse protesters, according to news reports and statements by CNN journalists on Twitter.
Glenn Greenwald would like to go home to the United States, at least for a visit. But the Guardian journalist and blogger is afraid to do so. He still has material and unpublished stories from his contacts with fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden that he believes U.S. authorities would love to get their hands on. The nine-hour detention and interrogation of Greenwald's Brazilian partner David Miranda by British security services at London's Heathrow airport in August has only compounded his fears.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council discussion about the protection of journalists, Associated Press Executive Editor and CPJ Vice Chair Kathleen Carroll remembered the 31 AP journalists who have died reporting the news and whose names grace the Wall of Honor that visitors pass as they enter the agency's New York headquarters. Most were killed covering war, from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to Vietnam to Iraq. But around the world, Carroll noted, "most journalists who die today are not caught in some wartime crossfire, they are murdered just because of what they do. And those murders are rarely ever solved; the killers rarely ever punished."
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.