State Secrets

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| USA

Upcoming report looks at leak investigations and surveillance

New York, September 30, 2013-- The Committee to Protect Journalists will release its first comprehensive report on press freedom conditions in the United States. Leonard Downie Jr., former Washington Post executive editor and now the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is the author. The report will be released at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on October 10.

In NSA surveillance debate, tech firms urge transparency

Some of the Internet companies at the heart of the outcry over U.S. government surveillance today joined with human rights and press freedom groups, including CPJ, in calling for greater government disclosure of electronic communications monitoring.

In a Hong Kong mall, a television monitor shows Snowden. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Edward Snowden's global travels have highlighted the chasm between the political posturing and actual practices of governments when it comes to free expression. As is well known now, the former government contractor's leaks exposed the widespread phone and digital surveillance being conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, practices at odds with the Obama administration's positioning of the United States as a global leader on Internet freedom and its calls for technology companies to resist foreign demands for censorship and surveillance. 

A protest against pending state secrets legislation in South Africa. (Chris Yelland)

Irrespective of whether South Africa actually implements the most draconian parts of state secrets legislation now under consideration, the media in the continent's most open democracy already feel under threat. The prospect of 25-year jail sentences for journalists publishing "classified" information has galvanized disparate news outlets and journalists groups to work together like never before. 

Stark regional differences are seen as jailings grow significantly in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of journalists are held without charge, many in secret prisons. A CPJ special report

Journalists reporting on protests and civil unrest face a rising threat of detention. Here, Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist. (Reuters)


South Africans protest the information bill outside parliament. (Anna Majavu/Sunday Times)

New York, November 22, 2011--The South African National Assembly today passed an information bill which would sanction unauthorized possession and publication of classified state information with a prison term of up to 25 years, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the upper house of parliament to reject the bill, which has been criticized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Nelson Mandela, among others.

Blog | UK
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, outside Scotland Yard. (Reuters/Andrew Winning)

London's Metropolitan Police this week dropped their attempt to leverage the Official Secrets Act to force The Guardian to reveal confidential sources for stories about the phone-hacking scandal that has gripped the UK's political and media world. The Met's reversal is welcome, but its unprecedented attempt to invoke espionage laws to force a newspaper to reveal confidential sources has itself set a damaging precedent, suggesting that journalists are state enemies for obtaining sensitive information from government officials. 

Prime Minister Najib Razak promises legal reforms. (Reuters)

Bangkok, September 16, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's vow to abolish the Printing Presses and Publishing Act, and urges his administration to follow through with additional press freedom-related reforms.

On Thursday, during an Independence Day national address, Najib vowed to dismantle two harsh security-related laws--the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance--and ease legal restrictions on civil liberties, including the right to assembly, international press reports said. He has also vowed to abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act so that newspapers do not have to reapply annually for permission to publish. The Home Ministry previously had sole discretion over whether to renew newspapers' operating licenses, and its often arbitrary decisions could not be legally appealed.

President Goodluck Jonathan signed a public information bill long in the making. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

There is a deserved celebration in the Nigerian media over the recently passed Freedom of Information Act, which provides citizens with broad access to public records and information held by a public official or institution.  It is the climax of an 11-year struggle to pass such a law in the Nigerian parliament. Indeed, the call for such a law was first made under military rule, in 1993, when the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Civil Liberties Organisation, and the Media Rights Agenda began to clamor for it.

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