Attacks on the Press 1999: Journalists Imprisoned

Algeria (2)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Abdel Aziz Bouteflika
President of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Driss Djazairi
Embassy of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria
2118 Kalorama Road N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 202-667-2174

Djamel Eddine Fahassi, Alger Cha”ne III
Imprisoned: May 6, 1995

Fahassi, at the time a 41-year-old reporter for the state-run radio station Alger Cha”ne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the now banned weekly organ of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) Al-Forqane, was abducted near his home in the al-Harrache suburb of Algiers by four well-dressed men carrying walkie-talkies. According to eyewitnesses who later spoke with his wife, the men called out Fahassi’s name and then pushed him into a waiting car. He has not been seen since, and Algerian authorities have denied any knowledge of his arrest.

Prior to his “disappearance,” Fahassi was targeted by Algerian authorities on at least two occasions in response to his published criticisms of the government. In late 1991, he was arrested following the publication of an article in Al-Forqane criticizing a raid conducted by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood. On January 1, 1992, the Blida military court convicted him of disseminating false information, attacking a state institution, and disseminating information that could harm national unity. He received a one-year suspended sentence and was released after five months. On February 17, 1992, he was arrested a second time for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information. He was transferred to the Ain Salah detention center in southern Algeria, where hundreds of Islamist suspects were interned in the months following the
cancellation of elections in January 1992.

Aziz Bouabdallah, Al Alam al-Siyassi
Imprisoned: April 12, 1997

Three armed men abducted Bouabdallah, a 22-year-old reporter for the daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, from his home in the Chevalier section of Algiers. According to Bouabdallah’s family, the men stormed into their home and, after identifying Bouabdallah, grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door into a waiting car. An article published in the daily El-Watana few days after his abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody and was expected to be released imminently. In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held at the Ch‰teauneuf detention facility in Algiers, where he had been subjected to torture. Bouabdallah’s whereabouts are currently unknown. As in the case of Djamel Eddine Fahassi, authorities have denied any knowledge of his abduction.

Angola (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency José Eduardo dos Santos
President of the Republic of Angola
Gabinete da Presidencia da Republica
Luanda, Angola
Fax: 244-2-343495

Andre Domingos Mussamo,
Angolan National Radio, Folha 8
Imprisoned: April 12, 1997

Police arrested Mussamo, chief editor of the Cuanza Norte provincial branch of Angolan National Radio as well as correspondent for the independent biweekly newspaper Folha 8, in the provincial capital, N’Dalatando. Police accused the editor of crimes against state security after he wrote an article referring to a confidential letter from the provincial governor to President dos Santos (which Mussamo had apparently seen in the governor’s office). Although CPJ could not confirm the contents of the letter, it is known that the article was never published. Mussamo continues to be held without charge.

Burma (8)

Please send appeals to:

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar,
2300 S Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-4089
Fax: 202-332-9046

U Win Tin
Imprisoned: July 4, 1989

U Win Tin, a former editor of two daily newspapers and vice chairman of Burma’s Writers Association, was arrested and sentenced to three years of hard labor. In 1992, the sentence was extended by 10 years. U Win Tin was active in establishing independent publications during the 1988 student democracy movement. He also worked closely with National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and was reportedly one of her closest advisers. On March 28, 1996, prison authorities extended U Win Tin’s sentence by another seven years, after they convicted him of smuggling letters describing conditions at Rangoon’s Insein Prison to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma. He is reported to be in very poor health and was transferred to Rangoon General Hospital in 1997. CPJ was unable to obtain new information about his status in 1999.

U Maung Maung Lay Ngwe,
Imprisoned: September 1990

U Maung Maung Lay Ngwe was arrested and charged with writing and distributing publications that “make people lose respect for the government.” The publications were entitled, collectively, Pe-Tin-Than (“Echoes”). CPJ was unable to obtain new information on his status in 1999.

U Myo Myint Nyein and U Sein Hlaing, What’s Happening?
Imprisoned: September 1990

U Myo Myint Nyein and U Sein Hlaing were arrested for contributing to the preparation, planning, and publication of the satirical news magazine What’s Happening, which the Burmese government claims is anti-government propaganda. They were sentenced to seven years in prison. On March 28, 1996, they were among 21 prisoners tried inside Insein Prison and given an additional seven-year sentence, under the Emergency Provisions Act, for smuggling letters describing prison conditions to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma. In 1999, CPJ was unable to obtain new information about their status.

Daw San San Nwe and U Sein Hla Oo, free-lancers
Imprisoned: August 5, 1994

Dissident writer Daw San San Nwe and journalist U Sein Hla Oo were arrested on charges of contacting anti-government groups and spreading information damaging to the state. On October 6, 1994, they were sentenced to 10 years and seven years in prison, respectively. Three other dissidents, including a former UNICEF worker, received sentences of seven to 15 years in prison on similar charges. Officials said the five had “fabricated and sent anti-government reports” to diplomats in foreign embassies, foreign radio stations, and foreign journalists. San San Nwe allegedly met two French reporters visiting Burma in April 1993 and appeared in a video they produced about the Burmese government.

Both U Sein Hla Oo and Daw San San Nwe were previously imprisoned for their involvement in the National League for Democracy, Burma’s main pro-democracy party. As of December 1994, all five were being held at Insein Prison in Rangoon. In 1999, CPJ was unable to obtain new information about their status.

Ma Myat Mo Mo Tun,
Imprisoned: 1994

Ma Myat Mo Mo Tun, the daughter of imprisoned writer Daw San San Nwe, was arrested in 1994 and sentenced to seven years in prison for spreading information injurious to the state. She is alleged to have recorded “defamatory letters and documents,” made contact with “illegal” groups, and sent anti-government articles to a journal published by an expatriate group. In 1999, CPJ was unable to obtain new information about her status.

Ye Htut, free-lancer
Imprisoned: September 27, 1995

Ye Htut was arrested on charges of sending fabricated news to Burmese dissidents and opposition media abroad and sentenced to seven years in prison. Among the organizations to which Ye Htut allegedly confessed sending reports was the Thailand-based Burma Information Group (BIG), which publishes The Irrawaddy, a newsmagazine focusing on Burmese human-rights issues. Burma’s official media claimed that BIG had presented a false picture of the country to foreign governments and human-rights organizations. In 1999, CPJ was unable to obtain new information on his status.

Cameroon (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Paul Biya
President of the Republic of Cameroon
Palais de l’Unité
Yaoundé, Cameroon
Fax: 237-233022

Anselme Mballa, Le Serment
Imprisoned: July 16, 1999

A court in Yaoundé sentenced Mballa, editor of the private weekly newspaper Le Serment, to a six-month prison term for defamation. While the reasons for the charge remained unclear, some local sources reported that it was in connection with an article written by Mballa in April 1999, in which he criticized the treatment of traditional chiefs by the secretary of state for posts and telecommunications.

China (19)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Jiang Zemin
President, People’s Republic of China
Beijing 100032
People’s Republic of China
Fax: 86-10-6512-5810

Hu Liping, The Beijing Daily
Imprisoned: April 7, 1990
Hu, a staff member of The Beijing Daily, was arrested and was charged with “counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda” and “trafficking in state secrets,” according to a rare release of information on his case from the Chinese Ministry of Justice in 1998. The Beijing Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to a term of 10 years in prison on August 15, 1990. He is being held in the Beijing municipal prison.

Zhang Yafei, Tieliu
Imprisoned: September 1990

Zhang, a former student at Beifang Communications University, was arrested and charged with dissemination of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement. In March 1991, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights after his release. Zhang edited Tieliu, an underground publication about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square.

Chen Yanbin, Tieliu
Imprisoned: Late 1990

Chen, a former university student, was arrested in late 1990 and sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years without political rights after his release. He and Zhang Yafei ran Tieliu, an underground publication about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies of Tieliu were distributed. The government termed the publication “reactionary” and charged Chen with disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement.

Liu Jingsheng, Tansuo
Imprisoned: May 1992

Liu, a former writer and co-editor of the pro-democracy journal Tansuo, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “counterrevolutionary” activities after being tried secretly in July 1994. Liu was arrested in May 1992 and charged with being a member of labor and pro-democracy groups, including the Liberal Democratic Party of China, the Free Labor Union of China, and the Chinese Progressive Alliance. Court documents stated that Liu was involved in organizing and leading anti-government and pro-democracy activities. Prosecutors also accused him and other dissidents who were tried on similar charges of writing and printing political leaflets that were distributed in June 1992, during the third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

Kang Yuchun, Freedom Forum
Imprisoned: May 1992

Kang disappeared on May 6, 1992, and was presumed arrested, according to the New YorkÐbased organization Human Rights Watch. In October 1993, in response to an inquiry from the United Nations Working Group on Disappearances, Chinese authorities said Kang was arrested on May 27, 1992. On July 14, 1994, he and 16 other individuals were tried on charges of being members of counterrevolutionary organizations, most notably the Chinese Progressive Alliance, the Liberal Democratic Party of China, and the Free Labor Union of China. Among the accusations against Kang were that he had launched Freedom Forum, the magazine of the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and commissioned people to write articles for the magazine. In December 1994, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group” and to an additional seven-year imprisonment for disseminating “counterrevolutionary propaganda.”

Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency;
Ma Tao, China Health Education News
Sentenced: August 30, 1993

Wu, a Xinhua News Agency reporter accused of leaking an advance copy of President Jiang Zemin’s 14th Party Congress address to a journalist from the Hong Kong newspaper Express, received a life sentence for allegedly “selling state secrets.” Wu was arrested in the fall of 1992. Ma, editor of China Health Education News, was tried as Wu’s accomplice and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Express editors denied having paid for the leaked speech, and Wu and Ma were tried and convicted in secret. According to the term of her original sentence, Ma should now be released, but CPJ was unable to confirm her legal status in 1999.

Lin Hai, software entrepreneur
Imprisoned: March 25, 1998

Lin, a software entrepreneur and computer engineer, was arrested and charged with “inciting the overthrow of state power” for giving the e-mail addresses of 30,000 Chinese residents to VIP Reference, a U.S.-based Internet magazine that supports democratic reform in China. Lin was tried by the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court on December 4, 1998. The four-hour trial was closed to the public. He told the court that he was innocent and that he had provided the addresses to VIP Reference in the hope that he could eventually build up his Internet business by exchanging e-mail address lists with the magazine, according to the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. VIP Reference used the addresses to distribute articles on human rights and democracy within mainland China. On January 20, 1999, the court announced that it had found Lin guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison. Lin’s appeal was rejected on March 22, 1999, by the Higher
People’s Court of Shanghai.

Yue Tianxiang, Guo Xinmin, and Wang Fengshan,
China Workers’ Monitor
Imprisoned: January 1999
The Tianshui People’s Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison and Guo and Wang to two-year terms on July 5, 1999. All three were charged with “subverting state power,” according to the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. According to the South China Morning Post, Yue, Guo, and Wang were arrested in January for publishing China Workers’ Monitor, a journal that campaigned for workers’ rights.

With help from Wang, Yue and Guo started the journal after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. All three men were reportedly members of the outlawed China Democracy Party and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers.

The first issue of China Workers’ Monitor exposed corruption in the Tianshui City Transport agency. Only two issues were reportedly ever published.

Wang Yingzheng, free-lancer
Imprisoned: February 26, 1999
Police arrested Wang in the city of Xuzhou, in eastern Jiangsu Province, as he was photocopying an article he had written about political reform. The article was based on an open letter that the 19-year-old Wang had addressed to China’s President Jiang Zemin. In the letter, Wang wrote–as translated in a report published by Agence France-Presse–“Many Chinese are discontented with the government’s inability to squash corruption. This is largely due to a lack of opposition parties and a lack of press freedom.”

Wang was reportedly imprisoned for two weeks in September 1998 and questioned about his association with Qin Yongmin, a key leader of the China Democracy Party, who received a 12-year prison sentence in December 1998.

On December 10, 1999, Wang was convicted of subversion and sentenced to three years in prison. His trial was closed to the public, but his family was notified by letter of the verdict, according to the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. Wang’s conviction was apparently based on the open letter and article that he wrote about corruption in the Communist Party.

Liu Xianli, free-lancer
Sentenced: May 11, 1999

The Beijing Intermediate Court found writer Liu Xianli guilty of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to a report by the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

Liu’s putative “crime” was his attempting to publish a book on Chinese dissidents, including Xu Wenli, one of China’s most prominent political prisoners and a leading figure in the China Democracy Party. In December 1998, Xu was himself convicted of subversion and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Wu Yilong, Mao Qingxiang, Zhu Yufu, and Xu Guang, Opposition Party
Imprisoned: June 199

Wu, Mao, Zhu, and Xu were all reportedly detained sometime around June 4, the 10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square. The four, all leading activists of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), were later charged with subversion for editing a pro-democracy magazine called Opposition Party and circulating anti-establishment articles and essays over the Internet.

On October 25, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, in Zhejiang Province, conducted what The New York Times called a “sham trial.” Only two of the defendants were represented by a lawyer, whom they shared. None of the accused were allowed to complete their testimony, according to news reports.

The verdicts were not announced immediately. On November 9, the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported that all four journalists had been convicted of “subversion.” Wu Yilong was sentenced to 11 years in prisonÑone of the most severe sentences imposed on a political prisoner in recent years. Mao Qingxiang was sentenced to eight years in prison; Zhu Yufu, to seven years; and Xu Guang, to five years.

Police arrested Qi at his home in Cangzhou, in Hebei Province. His wife told reporters that police had confiscated his computer, his printer, his fax machine, and a number of documents.

Qi Yanchen, free-lancer
Imprisoned: September 2, 1999

Qi had published many articles in intellectual journals and was associated with the online magazine Consultations, a publication linked to the banned China Development Union (CDU). He also subscribed to the pro-democracy electronic newsletter VIP Reference, which is published by political dissidents based in the United States. Qi also worked as an economist with the local Agricultural Development Bank of China.

Qi’s arrest came after he posted online excerpts of his unpublished book The Collapse of China. The book discussed China’s social instability and suggested possible reforms, according to Richard Long, editor of VIP Reference. Long said Qi was arrested for “spreading anti-government messages via the Internet.”

On December 22, the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported that Qi had been indicted on subversion charges based on his Internet-published writings. A trial was expected shortly.

Zhang Ji, free-lancer
Imprisoned: October, 1999

Zhang Ji, a student at Qiqihar University in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, was charged on November 8 with “disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet,” according to the Hong KongÐbased Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.

Zhang had allegedly been distributing news and infor-mation about the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong. He was arrested sometime in October as part of the Chinese government’s crackdown on the sect.

Using the Internet, Zhang reportedly transmitted news of the crackdown to Falun Gong members in the United States and Canada and also received reports from abroad, which he then circulated among practitioners in China. Before Zhang’s arrest, Chinese authorities had been stepping up their surveillance of the Internet as part of their effort to crush Falun Gong.

Cuba (4)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz
President of Cuba
c/o Cuban Mission to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Fax: 212-779-1679

Bernardo Arévalo Padr–n, L’nea Sur Press
Imprisoned: November 18, 1997

Aguada de Pasajeros state security officers detained and jailed Arévalo Padrón, a correspondent with the Línea Sur Press news agency in the province of Cienfuegos. He had previously been sentenced to six years in prison on October 31, 1997, by the provincial chamber of the court of Aguada de Pasajeros, a town in Cienfuegos. Arévalo Padrón was convicted on the charge of “lack of respect” for President Fidel Castro and Carlos Lage, a member of the Cuban State Council. The conviction stemmed from an article by Arévalo Padrón in which he reported that a helicopter had transported meat from a farm in Aguada de Pasajeros to Communist party officials in Havana, even though ordinary people in Aguada de Pasajeros did not have enough to eat.

Arévalo Padrón is serving his sentence in Ariza prison in Cienfuegos, where he shares a crowded and filthy cell. On November 28, 1997, the Aguada de Pasajeros court rejected Arévalo Padrón’s petition to review the conviction.

On March 10, 1998, Jesús Egozcue Castellanos, who replaced Arévalo Padrón as Línea Sur Press’ correspondent in Aguada de Pasajeros, was detained and searched when he tried to visit Arévalo Padrón. Security officials destroyed letters Egozcue was bringing to Arévalo Padrón and barred him from entering Ariza prison, warning that he would be detained if he returned.

In early April 1998, prison guards confiscated paper and a pen that Arévalo Padrón was keeping in his cell.

On April 11, 1998, state security lieutenant René Orlando and captain Hermes Hernández beat Arévalo Padrón after accusing him of producing anti-government posters in prison. The journalist was subsequently put in solitary confinement. After Arévalo Padrón denounced his beating in a letter to authorities, the perpetrators were handed over to the military prosecutor. Later, another prisoner was identified as having written the posters.

Local journalists report that Arévalo faces constant harassment. A guard warned him that he would not leave prison alive. Arévalo has suffered from bronchitis and was reportedly treated twice for high blood pressure in the prison infirmary. The journalist’s vision has worsened, and prison authorities have not allowed him to be examined by a specialist. During his first six months in prison, Arévalo was prevented from meeting with a Catholic priest and was forbidden to wear a cross.

Leonardo Varona González, Santiago Press;
Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, CubaPress
Imprisoned: October 1, 1998

On the evening of October 1, state security agents arrested González Castellanos, a correspondent for the independent news service CubaPress, in San Germán, in Holguín Province. The following day, the same agents arrested his nephew, Varona González, who works with the independent news agency Santiago Press. Seven months later, both journalists were convicted of showing “disrespect” for President Fidel Castro.

According to his colleagues and relatives, González Castellanos was arrested after he made critical statements about President Castro to state security agents who had stopped him and insulted him as he was returning from a friend’s home.

When family members tried to contact González Castellanos at the local police station the following morning, they were met by a group of protesters. González Castellanos’ relatives, among them Varona González, were so indignant that they painted “Down with Fidel” (“Abajo Fidel”) on the walls of their house. Later that day, an estimated 2,000 people gathered outside González Castellanos’ home and screamed insults.

State security agents then broke into the house. They beat and arrested Varona González and his sister, along with political dissident Roberto Rodríguez Rodríguez, who was visiting the family. Varona González’s sister was released after five days but was told she could face prosecution.

According to local sources, many of the protesters who gathered in front of González Castellanos’ house were farmworkers who had been told they would be docked a day’s pay if they did not participate in the demonstration. After the protest rally, the González Castellanos family’s phone was cut off for nearly a week.

On May 6, 1999, the San Germán municipal court convicted González Castellanos, Varona González, and Rodríguez Rodríguez of “disrespect.” Gonzalez Castellanos was sentenced to two years and seven months of imprisonment, Varona González to one year and four months, and Rodríguez Rodríguez to one year and five months. Their case file identified them as journalists and noted that they had transmitted false information that was broadcast by radio stations abroad.

Several Cuban dissidents were temporarily detained until the trial was over, to prevent them from attending.

While the sedition charges against González Castellanos were ostensibly unrelated to his journalistic work, local journalists suspect that he was deliberately provoked by state security agents in retaliation for news reports that he filed about the activities of political dissidents in Holguín. And while Varona González’s initial arrest was not related to his journalistic work, he was convicted and jailed in reprisal for his reporting (his sister, who was arrested at the same time, was not convicted).

On June 30, 1999, González Castellanos and Varona González were transferred to Holguín’s maximum-security prison, Cuba Sí. When González Castellanos complained about the poor hygiene conditions, the guards threatened to suspend his visiting rights.

Toward the end of 1999, local journalists reported that state security officers were encouraging other inmates to harass González Castellanos and pass on information about him; inmates who refused were threatened and beaten. At year’s end, both journalists were reported to have lost a great deal of weight.

Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, CAPI
Imprisoned: January 18, 1999
Officers of the Revolutionary National Police arrested Díaz Hernández, executive director of CAPI, an independent news service, at his home in the town of Moróno. On January 19, the Morón municipal court convicted Díaz Hernández of being “dangerous” and sentenced him to four years in prison.

Díaz Hernández, who started a hunger strike and refused to drink water after his detention, appealed the conviction. After a summary session on January 22, the provincial court in Ciego de Avila confirmed Díaz Hernández’s sentence even though his attorney was barred from the hearing (he was represented by a state-appointed lawyer). On January 28, Díaz Hernández ended his hunger strike and began taking liquids.

Díaz Hernández is being held in solitary confinement in the Ciego de Avila provincial prison, known as “Canaleta,” in Morón. His colleagues report that state security officials routinely confiscate writing materials, preventing him from working in prison. He is allowed to receive only limited visits.

Díaz Hernández’s conviction was based on the fact that he had previously received six warnings for “dangerousness.” Article 72 of Cuba’s penal code states that a person is considered “dangerous” if he or she is given to committing crimes, a propensity demonstrated by conduct that is in “clear contradiction with the norms of socialist morality.” According to Article 75-1, police may issue a warning for “dangerousness.”

In 1996, Díaz Hernández was fired from his government job after the Vigilance and Protection System, a vigilante group tied to the Communist Party, organized a public rally against him. He then started working for the independent news agency Patria and subsequently founded CAPI.

On February 3, CPJ condemned the incarceration of Díaz Hernández in a letter to President Fidel Castro. On March 17, CPJ issued a Cuba briefing report in collaboration with the Paris-based press freedom organization Reporters Sans Frontières. The report documented the crackdown on Cuba’s independent press that began in early 1999 and demanded the unconditional release of Díaz Hernández.

In July 1999, Díaz Hernández began another hunger strike, this one lasting 17 days. He continued to report on prison life; that caused state security officers to threaten him with prosecution under the Law for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes a sentence of up to 20 years for reporting that authorities deem subversive. Relatives who visited him were frisked and interrogated. At the end of September, after being held in solitary confinement for eight months, Díaz Hernández was transferred to a cubicle in Canaleta Prison, where other inmates convicted of “dangerousness” are also held.

CPJ honored Díaz Hernández with its 1999 International Press Freedom Award. Guests attending CPJ’s annual benefit dinner, on November 23, signed postcards urging President Castro to release Díaz Hernández. They were delivered to Cuba Interest Section in Washington, D.C. on February 4.

Democratic Republic of Congo (2)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Laurent-Desiré Kabila
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Ngaliema, Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Fax: 243-88-02120 or 1-202-234-2609

Polycarpe Honsek-Hokwoy,
La Solidarité
Imprisoned: November 6, 1999

A group of eight armed men arrested Honsek-Hokwoy, editor of the weekly private newspaper La Solidarité, at his newspaper’s offices in Kinshasa and took him to the Gombe public prosecutor’s office for interrogation. The day before, Honsek-Hokwoy had published an article entitled “The Fall of the House of Kabila: Mawampanga arrested at last!” The article reported that police forces had arrested Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwana Nanga after a local judge indicted him on corruption charges. The report was apparently incorrect, but no further details were available at year’s end.

Honsek-Hokwoy was accused of distributing false news. He was being held without trial at a Kinshasa-Gombe military camp.

Djodjo Kazadi, La Palme d’Or
Imprisoned: November 7, 1999

Unidentified armed individuals arrested Kazadi, director of the Kinshasa-based political weekly La Palme d’Or, at his residence and drove him to the Kinshasa-Bandalungwa offices of the National Information Agency, a branch of the state security apparatus, where he was kept in solitary confinement.

In a summary hearing held from November 10 to 12, the authorities accused Kazadi of “contempt against the chief of state and inciting revolt,” although he was apparently never charged. According to local journalists, the arrest was in connection with a November 4 article in La Palme d’Or alleging that residents of Kivu Province, which borders Rwanda, planned a citizens’ arrest of President Kabila for “selling their province to Rwandans and Burundians.”
Kazadi was released on January 15. ANR agents reportedly forced the journalist to sign a document in which he promised never again to publish any article critical of the Kabila government.

Egypt (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Court N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 202-244-4319

Hussein al-Mataani, Sahebat al Gallala
Imprisoned: May 1, 1999
Al-Mataani was arrested on a number of charges stemming from his attempts to form an independent journalists’ union to compete with the government-recognized Journalists’ Syndicate. Al-Mataani was charged with forming a syndicate without approval, collecting money from members, and misrepresenting himself as a journalist. On June 19, he was sentenced to serve three and a half years in prison. In a separate charge that was still pending at year’s end, he was accused of publishing the union’s weekly newspaper, Sahebat al Gallala, without a license.

Ethiopia (8)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 251-155-2030

Tamrat Gemeda, Seife Nebelbal
Imprisoned: October 1997
Tamrat, editor of the weekly Seife Nebelbal, was arrested and charged with “inciting the public to violence” under various provisions of the penal code and Press Proclamation 34/85, under which journalists may be imprisoned for various “press crimes.” Tamrat was charged in connection with an article that he had published about armed conflict between the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a guerrilla organization, and the Ethiopian army. The authorities accused Tamrat of involvement with the OLF. Bail was set at 6,000 birrs (approximately US$750), which Tamrat was unable to pay. He was still in prison at the end of 1999.

Tesfaye Deressa and Solomon Nemera, Urjii
Imprisoned: October 16, 1997
Tesfaye, editor of the newspaper Urjii, and Solomon, the paper’s deputy editor, were abducted from a tearoom near Urjii‘s offices. The journalists were first detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Office prison and were later taken to a district police prison. They were held on charges related to a report in Urjii about the recent killing of alleged Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) members in the Mekanissa area. The article contradicted the government’s version of the same story, as published in state media.

Tefaye and Solomon appeared three times before a district court, but the proceedings were repeatedly postponed because of police requests for more time to continue their investigation. After an initial court appearance, police said they had concluded their investigation but were awaiting the prosecutor’s decision as to bail. No decision had been made when Deressa and Nemera appeared in court again a few days later. Although specific details were not available, local journalists confirmed that bail was finally set (amount unknown), which the journalists were unable to pay. They remained in prison at the end of 1999.

Garoma Bekele, Urjii
Imprisoned: October 27, 1997

Garoma, publisher of the newspaper Urjii, was detained on suspicion of being a member of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). At year’s end, Garoma was being held at the Central Investigation Office prison along with others who had been detained in connection with a series of OLF bomb attacks in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and Harar. On October 31, Garoma appeared in court and asked for bail, a request denied by the prosecutor. He was given a new court appointment for January 13. On February 11, 1998, the journalist was charged with involvement in terrorist acts and taken to the Addis Ababa central prison. At the end of 1999, he remained in prison.

Zemedkun Moges, Atkurot
Imprisoned: December 1997
An Addis Ababa court sentenced Zemedkun, editor of the weekly independent newspaper Atkurot, to two years in prison for allegedly violating various provisions of the penal code and the repressive Press Proclamation 34/85. In March 1999, authorities filed a new charge against him while he was still serving this sentence. According to local journalists, Zemedkun was accused of disseminating false information in an article in which he discussed alleged weaknesses in the Ethiopian army. The court granted Zemedkun bail of 5,000 birrs (approximately US$650), but he was unable to pay and remained in jail at year’s end.

Tilahun Bekele, Fetash
Imprisoned: September 1998
Tilahun, editor of the newspaper Fetash, was detained during the last week of September at the Ma’ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office prison on charges of libel against the Crown mineral water company. Although further details of the case were unavailable, sources in Addis Ababa confirmed that Tilahun was in prison at the end of 1999.

Aberra Wegi, Maebel
Imprisoned: May 12, 1999
Aberra, deputy editor of the independent Amharic weekly Maebel, was arrested on unspecified charges. He was detained for not being able to post bail of 2,000 birrs (approximately US$250). In December, Aberra was charged with libel and “dissemination of fabricated news,” apparently in connection with an article he had published two years earlier, describing tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea before the outbreak of war between the two countries in May 1998. Bail was set at 7,000 birrs, which Aberra was unable to pay.

Bizunesh Debebe, Zegabi
Imprisoned: August 23, 1999

Police arrested Bizunesh, publisher of the weekly independent Zegabi, and charged her with “violating the press law” for failing to publish the name of her newspaper’s deputy editor. While details of the specific charge were unavailable, local journalists commented that Ethiopian authorities often arrest and detain journalists on spurious charges or no charges at all, frequently setting prohibitive bail that they are unable to pay. Bizunesh had apparently not published any articles that were particularly critical of the government. The journalist was unable to raise bail of 5,000 birrs (approximately US$650) and remained in Addis Ababa’s central prison at year’s end.

Gabon (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency El Hadj Omar Bongo
President of the Republic of Gabon
The Presidential Palace
P.O Box 546, Libreville, Gabon
Fax: 241 727 600

Germain Lendoye,
La Cigale Enchantée
Imprisoned: December 22, 1999
Lendoye, a reporter for the satirical weekly La Cigale Enchantée, was arrested by police for nonpayment of a fine for libel and condemned to two months behind bars. A Libreville magistrate imposed the fine of 20,000 CFA francs (US$308) on December 9, after Zacharie Myboto, Gabon’s public-works minister and mayor of the rural town of Mounana, lodged a complaint against the journalist and his publication. The minister claimed he had been libeled by Lendoye in a La Cigale Enchantée article of March 9 that accused him of unfair distribution of real-estate permits for the town of Mounana. Entitled “The Untouchable Duke of Mounana,” Lendoye’s article had serious repercussions for the satirical weekly, which at year’s end had been unable to publish an issue since early October. The newspaper’s publication director, Dorothée Ngouoni, left the country for fear of reprisals. She had been charged with defamation in connection with Lendoye’s article and, like Lendoye, sentenced to a two-month prison term and a US$308 fine.

Iran (2)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o The Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212-867-7086

Mohsen Kadivar, free-lancer
Imprisoned: February 27, 1999
Iranian authorities arrested Kadivar, a reformist cleric and academic, and put him on trial for “disseminating lies” and “misleading public opinion.” On April 21, Iran’s Special Court for Clergy found Kadivar guilty and sentenced him to serve 18 months in prison. The charges stemmed from articles and interviews he had published in Iranian newspapers, as well as public lectures in which he criticized the Islamic Republic.

In one article, published in the now defunct daily Khordad on February 14, Kadivar attacked Iran’s ruling clerics, comparing their authoritarian rule to that of the shah.
His conviction was upheld on appeal in July. Kadivar has been in jail since February 27, when he was first arrested.

Abdullah Nouri, Khordad
Imprisoned: November 28, 1999

In a trial that transfixed the nation, Iran’s Special Court for Clergy convicted Nouri, publisher of the reformist daily Khordad and a former vice president and interior minister, of religious dissent on November 27. The conviction was widely viewed as an attempt by conservative forces within the regime to sideline Nouri, an influential ally of reformist president Muhammad Khatami, in advance of the country’s February 2000 election. Nouri was believed to be a front runner for the important position of speaker of Iran’s Majlis (Parliament).

The charges against him, which included defaming “the system,” insulting religious leaders, and disseminating false information and propaganda against the state, were based on news articles published in Khordad. During the trial, Nouri transfixed the nation with a poignant self-defense in which he sharply criticized the clerical establishment and called for greater freedoms in Iranian society.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and barred from practicing journalism for five years. Khordad was ordered to close. At year’s end, Nouri was serving his sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Lebanon (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Ehud Barak
Prime Minister of Israel
3 Kaplan Street
Kiryat Ben-Gurion
Jerusalem, Israel
Fax: 972-2-652-7239

Cosette Elias Ibrahim, Al-Liwaa
Imprisoned: September 2, 1999
Israeli-occupation forces detained Ibrahim, a Lebanese journalism-school graduate and a free-lance reporter who has worked for various newspapers, including the daily Al-Liwaa, in the town of Rumaish in Israeli-occupied south Lebanon. Ibrahim was in Rumaish to visit family; unconfirmed reports suggest that she was also planning to report on the living conditions of people in occupied south Lebanon.

Ibrahim was taken to the Khiam detention facility in Israel’s occupied zone. It is unclear whether she was seized by Israeli soldiers or by members of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army.

The motives behind her detention were also unclear. Israeli authorities have accused Ibrahim of collaborating with Hezbollah guerrillas and of providing the Lebanese army with information about Israeli military activities in the region.

Lebanese journalists and local human-rights organizations believe that, like many other residents of the occupied zone, Ibrahim was detained for refusing to collaborate with Israeli forces. Other sources maintain that Israeli authorities took offense at articles she wrote about the situation in south Lebanon.

At year’s end, Ibrahim remained incommunicado in Khiam, where she was being held without charges or other legal formalities.

Kuwait (2)

Please send appeals to:
His Highness Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah
Emir of Kuwait
Al-Diwan al-Amiri
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Fax: 965-243-0121

Ibtisam Berto Sulaiman al-Dakhil and
Fawwaz Muhammad al-Awadi Bessisso, Al-Nida’
Imprisoned: June 1991
Along with three other journalists, Bessisso and al-Dakhil were sentenced to life in prison for their work with Al-Nida’, a newspaper launched by Iraqi authorities during Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990. At year’s end, they were the last remaining journalists in prison in Kuwait, which jailed 17 reporters and editors following the gulf war for their work with Al-Nida’.

All 17 journalists were taken into custody after the liberation of Kuwait and charged with collaboration. The defendants were reportedly tortured during their interrogations. The trials, which began on May 19, 1991, in martial-law courts, failed to meet international standards of justice. In particular, prosecutors failed to rebut the journalists’ defense that they had been forced to work for the Iraqi newspaper.

On June 16, 1991, all 17 Al-Nida’ journalists were sentenced to death. Ten days later, following international protests, all martial-law death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The other 15 journalists were freed gradually starting in 1996, most on the occasion of the emir’s annual prisoner amnesty in February.

Nepal (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Krishna Prasad Bhattarai
Prime Minister, The Kingdom of Nepal
Office of the Prime Minister
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: 977-1-227-286

Krishna Sen, Janadesh
Imprisoned: April 20, 1999
Police arrested Sen, editor of the Nepali-language weekly Janadesh, and seized thousands of copies of the newspaper.

According to CPJ’s sources, Sen was arrested in connec-tion with a recent issue of Janadesh that featured an interview with Baburam Bhattarai, one of the leaders of Nepal’s Maoist insurgency. Police reportedly confiscated 20,000 copies of the edition in order to prevent the interview from being widely read.

While Janadesh is considered sympathetic to the Maoist cause, journalists in Nepal told CPJ that it is a vital source of information regarding the guerrilla movement. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists protested Sen’s imprisonment.

Sen was still in custody at the end of December, despite a Supreme Court ruling that his arrest was illegal under the habeas corpus guarantees of Nepal’s constitution. Owing to the harsh conditions of his imprisonment, Sen’s health had deteriorated so badly that he had to be hospitalized at year’s end, according to CPJ’s sources.

South Korea (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Kim Dae Jung
President, Republic of Korea
The Blue House
#1 Sejong-no, Chongno-gu
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Fax: 011-822-770-0253

Son Chung Mu, Inside the World
Imprisoned: June 1, 1998
Son, the publisher of Inside the World magazine, was arrested on June 1. Prosecutors charged Son with criminal defamation and accepting a bribe from former Agency for National Security Planning (NSP) chief Kwon Young Hae to slander then-presidential candidate Kim Dae Jung during the 1997 campaign. Son had also been charged with related “crimes against reputation” in February by the public prosecutor’s office but was not arrested at the time. The charges were brought by the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP), President Kim Dae Jung’s political party, in the aftermath of his victory in the December 1997 elections. The party took exception to articles published in Son’s magazine in 1997 as well as a book he wrote during the 1997 election campaign, Kim Dae Jung: X-File, all of which were highly critical of Kim. On September 23, Son was found guilty of criminal libel and sentenced to two years in prison. The charge that he accepted a bribe to slander Kim and thereby thwart his election was dropped.

Syria (6)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Hafez al-Assad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Walid Al-Moualem
Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
2215 Wyoming Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
United States
Fax: 202-234-9548

Faisal Allush, free-lancer
Imprisoned: 1985

Allush, a journalist and political writer who has been in jail since 1985, was sentenced in June 1993 to 15 years’ imprisonment for membership in the banned Party for Communist Action. He is reportedly being held in Sednaya prison in Damascus.

Samir al-Hassan, Fatah al-Intifada
Imprisoned: April 1986
Al-Hassan, a Palestinian journalist who edited the newspaper Fatah al-Intifada, has been in jail since his arrest in April 1986. In June 1994, Syrian authorities sentenced him to 15 years in prison for being a member of the Party for Communist Action.

Marwan Mohammed, Al-Baath
Imprisoned: October 18, 1987
Mohammed, a technician and journalist with the official publication Al-Baath, was arrested by military-intelligence agents on October 18, 1987. He was convicted and sentenced in 1993 to 10 years in prison for alleged membership in the Party for Communist Action. At year’s end he was in Sednaya Prison in Damascus., along with his colleague Faisal Allush, who was jailed in 1985.

Nou’man Abdo, Al-Tariq
Imprisoned: 1992
Abdo, a journalist working with the magazine Al-Tariq (organ of the Lebanese Communist Party), was arrested at some time in 1992. In 1993, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged membership in the Party for Communist Action. At year’s end he was in Tadmour Prison, in the western Syrian desert town of Palmyra
Nizar Nayyouf, Sawt al-Democratiyya
Imprisoned: January 1992
Nayyouf, a former free-lance journalist, leading member of the independent Committees for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF), and editor of its monthly publication Sawt al-Democratiyya, was arrested in January 1992 and later convicted by the Supreme State Security Court of membership in an unauthorized organization and of disseminating false information. He was severely tortured during his interrogation.

Nayyouf, who is serving a 10-year sentence in solitary confinement in the Mezze military prison, reportedly suffers from Hodgkin’s disease. Syrian authorities apparently refused him treatment in 1998 unless he pledged to refrain from political activity and renounced alleged “false statements” he had made about the human-rights situation in Syria. According to reports, Nayyouf received treatment for his illness in early 1999, and his condition improved as a result. However, medical tests conducted in August 1999 were said to indicate that the disease had returned in full force but that chemotherapy treatment could prolong his life. It was unclear whether he had received such treatment as of this writing.

In addition to Hodgkin’s disease, Nayyouf reportedly suffers from several other serious ailments, including partial paralysis of his lower extremities, the result of torture he allegedly sustained under interrogation. He is also said to suffer from kidney failure and deteriorating eyesight.

Salama George Kila, free-lancer
Imprisoned: March 1992

Kila, a Palestinian writer and journalist, was arrested in March 1992 by security forces in Damascus. His trial began in the summer of 1993. According to the London-based International PEN, Kila had “reportedly written an article on censorship in Syria for a Jordanian daily paper.” The court ruled that he was guilty of a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Since the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is three years, his release was expected in March 1995. He was still in prison at the end of 1999.

Togo (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Gnassingbe Eyadéma,
President of Togo, Lomé, Togo
Fax: 228 21 20 40

Roland Kpagli Comlan,
Imprisoned: December 23, 1999
Law-enforcement officers visited the residence of Comlan, publisher of the private weekly L’Aurore, and arrested him on charges of distributing false news and endangering public order. At year’s end he was detained at the Lomé headquarters of the Togolese Gendarmerie, pending further inquiry.

On December 15, Comlan’s paper erroneously announced the death of a high-school student at the hands of an anti-riot police squad. Armed with clubs and guns, the officers had raided a Lomé high school to break up a gathering of student activists. A brawl ensued, and a female student collapsed but did not die.

According to local journalists, the student’s supposed death was announced at a press conference held by the student union. However, the student later appeared on national television, saying that she had regained consciousness while in the hospital.

Tunisia (2)

Please send appeals to:
M. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
President of the Republic of Tunisia
Presidential Palace
Tunis, Tunisia
Fax: 216-1-744-721

Hamadi Jebali, Al-Fajr
Imprisoned: January 1991
On August 28, 1992, the military court in Bouchoucha sentenced Jebali, editor of Al-Fajr, the weekly newspaper of the banned Islamist Al-Nahda Party, to 16 years in prison. He was tried along with 279 other individuals accused of membership in Al-Nahda. Jebali was convicted of “aggression with the intention of changing the nature of the state” and “membership in an illegal organization.”

During his testimony, Jebali denied the charges against him and displayed evidence that he had been tortured while in custody. Jebali has been in jail since January 1991, when he was sentenced to one year in prison after Al-Fajr published an article calling for the abolition of military courts in Tunisia. International human-rights groups monitoring the mass trial concluded that the proceedings fell far below international standards of justice.

Abdellah Zouari, Al-Fajr
Imprisoned: February 1991

On August 28, 1992, the military court in Bouchoucha sentenced Zouari, a contributor to Al-Fajr, the weekly newspaper of the banned Islamist Al-Nahda Party, to 11 years in prison. Zouari was tried along with 279 other individuals accused of belonging to Al-Nahda. He has been in jail since February 1991, when he was charged with “association with an unrecognized organization.” International human-rights groups monitoring the trial concluded it fell far short of meeting international standards of justice.

Turkey (18)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Bulent Ecevit
Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
c/o His Excellency Baki Ilkin
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 202-612-6744

Sinan Yavuz, Yoksul Halkin Gucu
Imprisoned: August 9, 1993

Yavuz, editor of the left-wing weekly Yoksul Halkin Gucu, was arrested during a police raid on an Istanbul fabric shop. Police reportedly had been told that the shop served as a front and arms-trafficking station for Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol), an outlawed leftist organization responsible for numerous armed terrorist operations in Turkey. The charges against Yavuz show that he was alleged to be a member of Dev Sol, apparently on the basis of his affiliation with Yoksul Halkin Gucu, which the government asserts is Dev Sol’s publishing arm. The evidence against Yavuz consisted of unspecified “documents” relating to Dev Sol and two copies of the far-left magazine Kurtulus, which were allegedly discovered during a search of the fabric shop. Yavuz was alleged to have resisted arrest after attempting to flee during the raid.

Yavuz had been detained on previous occasions but released for lack of evidence. He confessed to nothing in police custody, but the prosecution claimed that other members of Dev Sol who were detained in the same roundup stated that Yavuz was a member of their group. According to court documents, Yavuz waved a Dev Sol banner in the courtroom during his trial, an act that led to his conviction. On December 29, 1994, he was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail and sent to Canakkale Prison. CPJ was unable to confirm whether or not Yavuz was still in prison.

Huseyin Solak, Mucadele
Imprisoned: October 27, 1993
Solak, the Gaziantep bureau chief of the socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested and charged under Article 168/2 of the penal code with membership in Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol), an outlawed underground leftist organization responsible for numerous terrorist operations in Turkey. Solak was convicted on the strength of statements from a witness who said he had seen the journalist distributing copies of Mucadele.

According to the transcript of Solak’s trial, the prosecution witness also testified that Solak had hung unspecified banners in public and served as a lookout while members of Dev Sol threw a Molotov cocktail at a bank in the town of Gaziantep. The prosecution also cited “illegal” documents found after searches of Solak’s home and office. Solak confessed to the charges while in police custody but recanted in court.

On November 24, 1994, Solak was sentenced to serve 12 years and six months in prison. At year’s end he was being held in a Cankiri prison.

Hasan Ozgun, Ozgur Gundem
Imprisoned: December 9, 1993
Ozgun, a Diyarbakir correspondent for the now defunct pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, was arrested during a December 9, 1993, police raid on the paper’s Diyarbakir bureau. He was charged with being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), under Article 168 of the penal code.

Transcripts of Ozgun’s trial show that the prosecution based its case on what it described as Ozgur Gundem‘s pro-PKK slant, following a Turkish-government pattern of harassing journalists affiliated with the publication. The prosecution also submitted copies of the banned PKK publications Serkhabun and Berxehun, found in Ozgun’s possession, as well as photographs and biographical sketches of PKK members from the newspaper’s archive. The state also cited Ozgun’s possession of an unauthorized handgun as evidence of his membership in the PKK.

In his defense, Ozgun maintained that the PKK publications were used as sources of information for newspaper articles and that the photos of PKK members were in the archive because of interviews the newspaper had conducted in the past. Ozgun admitted to having purchased the gun on the black market but denied all other charges.
At year’s end Ozgun was being held in Aydin Prison.

Serdar Gelir, Mucadele
Imprisoned: April 25, 1994
Gelir, Ankara bureau chief for the weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was detained on April 16, 1994. He was formally arrested and imprisoned 10 days later, on the charge of membership in an illegal organization.

The Ministry of Justice informed CPJ that Gelir was charged and convicted under Article 168/2 of the penal code and Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law 3713 and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by the Ankara state security court for being a member of an armed, illegal leftist organization (Devrimci Sol, also known as Dev Sol). Court records, however, indicate that he was sentenced to 12 years and six months. At year’s end, Gelir was being held in Bartin Prison.

Utku Deniz Sirkeci, Tavir
Imprisoned: August 6, 1994

Sirkeci, the Ankara bureau chief of the leftist cultural magazine Tavir, was arrested and charged with membership in the outlawed organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol), under Article 168/2 of the penal code.

Court records from Sirkeci’s trial show that the state accused him of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a bank in Ankara, but the documents do not state what evidence was introduced to support the allegation. Prosecutors also cited Sirkeci’s attendance at the funeral of a Dev Sol activist to support the charge that he was a member of the organization.

In his defense, Sirkeci said he had attended the funeral in his capacity as a journalist. He provided detailed testimony of his torture at the hands of police, who, he alleged, coerced him to confess.

He was convicted and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and confined to the Ankara closed prison. CPJ was unable to confirm whether or not Sirkeci was still in prison at the end of 1999 and is continuing its research into the case.

Aysel Bolucek, Mucadele
Imprisoned: October 11, 1994

Bolucek, an Ankara correspondent for the weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested at her home and charged with membership in an outlawed organization under Article 168/2 of the penal code, partly on the basis of a handwritten document that allegedly linked her to the banned leftist group Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). She has been in prison since her arrest.

Court documents from her trial show that the state also cited the October 8, 1994, issue of Mucadele to support its argument that the magazine was a Dev Sol publication. The prosecutor claimed that the October 8 issue insulted security forces and state officials and praised Dev Sol guerrillas who had been killed in clashes with security forces.

The defense argued that it was illegal for the defendant to be tried twice for the same crime. (Earlier in 1994, Bolucek had been acquitted on a charge of membership in Dev Sol for which the primary evidence was the same handwritten document.) The defense accepted the prosecution’s claim that Bolucek had written the document but said that the police forced her to write it under torture while she was in custody. The defense also argued that a legal publication could not be used as evidence and that the individuals who made incriminating statements about Bolucek to the police had done so under torture and subsequently recanted. But on December 23, 1994, Bolucek was convicted of membership in an outlawed organization and sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail.

At year’s end she was being held in Canakkale prison.

Ozlem Turk, Mucadele
Imprisoned: January 17, 1995
Turk, a reporter in the town of Samsun for the weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested at a relative’s home and charged with membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, under Article 169 of the penal code. Court documents from her trial state that the prosecution’s evidence included the fact that Turk collected money for Mucadele, along with a handwritten autobiography allegedly found in the home of a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front. Two people testified that she was a member of the group.

Turk maintained that the money she had collected came from sales of copies of Mucadele. Turk also claimed that she was forced to confess to the charges under torture. The only material evidence presented at the trial was copies of legal publicationsÑMucadele, Tavir, and Devrimci GenclikÑfound at her home and copies of her alleged autobiography. Police provided expert testimony to authenticate the incriminating documents.

According to court documents, Turk was convicted under Article 168/2 of the penal code and sentenced to 15 years in prison. At year’s end she was being held in Canakkale Prison.

Burhan Gardas, Mucadele
Imprisoned: March 23, 1995
Gardas, the Ankara bureau chief for the weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, has been the target of several prosecutions since 1994, all related to his work as a journalist. Court records state that Gardas was arrested on January 12, 1994, at his office and charged with violating Article 168/2 of the penal code. During a search of the premises, the police reportedly found four copies of “news bulletins” of the outlawed organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). During the trial, the prosecution claimed that police also found banners with left-wing slogans, along with photographs of Dev Sol militants who had been killed in clashes with security forces. The prosecution also claimed that Gardas shouted antistate slogans during his arrest and that he was using Mucadele‘s office for Dev Sol activities.

Gardas denied all charges. His attorney argued that the illegal publications were part of the magazine’s archive and that Gardas had been tortured in prison. (The lawyer submitted a medical report to document the alleged torture.) On May 14, 1994, Gardas was released pending the outcome of his trial.

While awaiting the verdict in the 1994 prosecution, Gardas was arrested on March 23, 1995, when police raided the office of the weekly socialist magazine Kurtulus, the successor to Mucadele, where he was also the Ankara bureau chief. The new charge was that he had violated Article 168/2 of the penal code, again relating to his alleged membership in the banned organization Dev Sol. During the raid, police seized three copies of Kurtulus “news bulletins” and six Kurtulus articles in which illegal rallies were discussed.

Court documents from his second trial, which was held at the Number 2 state security court of Ankara, reveal that the prosecution’s evidence against Gardas consisted of his refusal to talk during a police interrogationÑallegedly part of a Dev Sol policyÑand his possession of publications that the prosecution contended were the mouthpieces of outlawed organizations, including Mucadele and Kurtulus. The state also introduced the testimony of Ali Han, an employee at Kurtulus‘s Ankara bureau, that Gardas was a Dev Sol member. Gardas denied the claim, and his lawyer argued that his remaining silent during police interrogation was a constitutional right and proved nothing.

On July 4, 1995, the Number 1 state security court of Ankara sentenced Gardas to 15 years in prison on the 1994 charge. In 1996, he was convicted and sentenced to an additional 15 years on the second set of charges. He has thus been convicted twice of membership in Dev Sol, each time because of his work as a journalist. At year’s end, Gardas was reportedly serving successive sentences at Aydin Prison.

Necla Can, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: April 9, 1995

Can, a reporter for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was arrested and imprisoned after she attended a political dissident’s funeral in her capacity as a journalist. Can was tried along with 19 other alleged members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C)Ñformerly known as Devrimci Sol or Dev SolÑunder Article 168/2 of the penal code. Trial documents obtained in December 1997 state that police arrested Can at her home on April 9, 1995, after two people told authorities that she was a member of DHKP-C. The two informants later recanted.

Can’s lawyer told CPJ that the charge was based on her attendance at the funeral of a DHKP-C member. Her lawyer argued, however, that she had attended the funeral in her capacity as a journalist. The lawyer also said that Can had testified in court to being beaten while in custody.
Can was convicted on December 21, 1997, and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison. At year’s end, she was being held in Istanbul’s Umraniye prison.

Ozgur Gudenoglu, Mucadele
Imprisoned: May 24, 1995

Gudenoglu, Konya bureau chief of the socialist weekly magazine Mucadele, was arrested, charged, tried, and convicted under Article 168 of the penal code (belonging to an illegal organization). He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison for alleged membership in the outlawed leftist organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). His prosecution is part of the state’s long-standing pattern of harassment of Mucadele and its employees.

Gudenoglu was reportedly confined in Nigde Prison. At the end of 1999, however, CPJ was unable to confirm whether Gudenoglu was still in prison and is continuing its research into the case.

Bulent Oner, Atilim
Imprisoned: June 15, 1995

Oner, a reporter for the now defunct weekly socialist newspaper Atilim, was taken into custody during a June 15, 1995, police raid on the newspaper’s Mersin bureau. On June 24, according to court documents, he was charged with membership in the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) under Article 168 of the penal code.

Investigators reportedly found numerous unspecified “documents” linking Oner to the MLKP. At his trial, two witnesses testified for the state, which asserted that Atilim was published by the MLKP and further accused Oner of writing and distributing unspecified MKLP “declarations.” According to the court documents, the prosecutor also claimed that banners depicting a “disappeared” political activist had been found in Oner’s office.

Oner was convicted, sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail, and sent to Erzurum Prison. At the end of 1999, he was being held in Gaziantep Prison.

Fatma Harman, Atilim
Imprisoned: July 10, 1995

Harman, a reporter for the now defunct weekly socialist newspaper Atilim, was taken into custody during a June 15, 1995, police raid on the newspaper’s Mersin bureau. Her colleague Bulent Oner was also detained.

On June 24, 1995, Harman was formally arrested and charged under Article 168 of the penal code for her alleged membership in the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Atilim‘s lawyer reports that the prosecution based its case on the argument that Atilim was published by the MKLP. The prosecution introduced copies of Atilim found in Harman’s possession as evidence of her affiliation with the MLKP and claimed that several unspecified “banners” were found in the Atilim office. The prosecution also alleged that Harman and Oner both lived in a house belonging to the MLKP. On January 26, 1996, Harman was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and confined to Adana Prison.

Erdal Dogan, Alinteri
Imprisoned: July 10, 1995

Dogan, an Ankara reporter for the now defunct socialist weekly Alinteri, was arrested on July 10, 1995. He was charged under Article 168/2 of the penal code for his alleged membership in the outlawed Turkish Revolutionary Communist Union (TIKB).

According to the court transcript from Dogan’s trial, the prosecution argued that Alinteri was published by the TIKB. The case against Dogan was based on the following evidence: (1) a photograph of Dogan, taken at a 1992 May Day parade, allegedly showing him standing underneath a United Revolutionary Trade Union banner; (2) a photograph of Dogan taken on the anniversary of a TIKB militant’s death; (3) a photograph alleged to show Dogan attending an illegal demonstration in Ankara; (4) a statement of an alleged member of the TIKB, who claimed that Dogan belonged to the organization.

The defense argued that the allegedly incriminating statement was invalid, because it had been extracted under torture. Dogan’s lawyer told CPJ that the photograph from the militant’s memorial was blurry, and Dogan testified in court that he had attended the May Day parade as a journalist. He was convicted, sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison, and confined to Bursa Prison. At year’s end he was being held in Gebze Prison.

Sadik Celik, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: December 23, 1995
Although Celik, Zonguldak bureau chief for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was detained and charged with violating Article 168/2 of the penal code for alleged membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), the state’s case rested almost exclusively on his work as a journalist.

The prosecution claimed that Kurtulus was the publication of the DHKP-C and that Celik’s position with the magazine proved he was a member of the group. Celik was accused of conducting “seminars” for the DHKP-C at the magazine’s office, propagandizing for the organization, transporting copies of the magazine from Istanbul to Zonguldak by bus, and organizing the magazine’s distribution in Zonguldak. The prosecution also stated that Celik’s name appeared in a document written by a leader of the DHKP-C (it is not clear whether the document was introduced as material evidence).

The prosecution claimed that Celik’s refusal to testify in police custody proved his guilt. The defense argued that the prosecution could not substantiate any of its claims. Celik acknowledged having distributed the magazine in his capacity as Kurtulus‘s bureau chief. He said that he held meetings in the office to discuss the magazine’s affairs. The defense presented the statements of two Kurtulus reporters to corroborate Celik’s statements.

On October 17, 1996, Celik was sentenced to serve 12 years and six months in prison. At the end of 1999 he was being held in Canakkale prison.

Erhan Il, Devrimci Emek
Imprisoned: February 16, 1996
Il was a reporter for the now defunct far-left magazine Devrimci Emek and served as its editor from 1993 to 1994. Court documents state that Il was arrested and charged under Article 168/2 of the penal code for alleged membership in the Turkish Communist Leninist Labor Party’s (TKEP-L) youth organization. The prosecution also alleged that in December 1994 he rented a house for the TKEP-L, stored weapons for the organization, and possessed a counterfeit I.D.

Il’s colleagues at Devrimci Emek told CPJ that he was prosecuted on the basis of articles published in the magazine during his tenure as editor. In response to an inquiry from CPJ, the Ministry of Justice stated that Il was convicted “according to amended Article 8/1 of the Anti-Terror Law [disseminating separatist propaganda] and not according to Article 168 of the penal code.”

At the end of 1999, CPJ was unable to confirm whether Il was still in prison and is continuing its research into the case.

Ibrahim Cicek, Atilim
Imprisoned: March 15, 1996

Cicek, former editor of the leftist weekly Atilim, was detained on March 15, 1996, on his way to his father’s house in Istanbul. His wife was detained the following day at their Istanbul home. Cicek was charged with alleged membership in an illegal organization, under Article 168 of the penal code. His lawyer claimed that the only evidence against Cicek was his affiliation with Atilim, which the state asserted was the mouthpiece of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).

Court documents show that Cicek was accused of being an MLKP leader and of having ordered an armed assault on the offices of an ultra-right-wing party in Istanbul, along with having edited Atilim. According to the defense, Cicek claimed that he was tortured by police but made no confession. He was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Nabi Kimran, Iscinin Yolu
Imprisoned: September 9, 1996
Kimran was editor of the leftist weekly Iscinin Yolu, which was subject to repeated government harassment during his tenure.

According to court documents, police apprehended Kimran on a bus during a police operation in advance of the anniversary of the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). He was charged under Article 168 of the penal code for his alleged membership in the MLKP. During his trial, the prosecution charged that Kimran was a leader of the MLKP. The charge was based on the statement of an alleged MLKP sympathizer, who said that Kimran had ordered the bombing of a city bus. Kimran was also caught with a counterfeit I.D., which he claimed to carry because of his fear of being detained in the course of his journalistic work. The prosecution stated that police who searched Kimran’s apartment found documents in his handwriting that demonstrated his affiliation with the MLKP.

Kimran’s lawyer told CPJ that the journalists’ had also faced charges under Articles 7 (engaging in propaganda for an outlawed organization) and 8 (disseminating separatist propaganda) of the Anti-Terror Law.

Staffers from the socialist weekly Atilim said these charges were based on news articles that appeared in Iscinin Yolu during Kimran’s tenure. The penal-code-violation case was prosecuted, but the Anti-Terror Law cases were eventually suspended following the government’s so-called amnesty for jailed editors, on August 14, 1997.

At the end of 1999, CPJ was unable to confirm whether Kimran was still in prison and is continuing to research the case.

Suphi Yilmaz, Ozgur Bakis
Imprisoned: October 2, 1999

Yilmaz, a distributor for the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Bakis, was arrested in the southern coastal city of Mersin while distributing copies of the newspaper. He was charged with disseminating propaganda for an illegal terrorist organization, under Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law. In its indictment, the prosecution stated that Yilmaz “was distributing newspapers that contained articles supporting the illegal separatist organization PKK and that had previously been ordered confiscated.” At year’s end, Yilmaz was in Mersin Prison awaiting trial.

Uzbekistan (3)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Islam Karimov
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
43 Uzbekistanskaya Street
Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700163
Fax: 998-71-139-55-25; 139-55-10

The Syrdariya regional court sentenced Shadi Mardiev, a 62-year-old reporter with the state-run Samarkand regional radio station, to 11 years in prison for defamation and extortion.

The case against Mardiev stemmed from a June 19, 1997, broadcast prepared by Mardiev, which satirized the corrupt practices of deputy prosecutor Talat Abdulkhalikzada. According to Mardiev’s lawyer, Abdulkhalikzada accused the journalist of defamation and further alleged that Mardiev had used the impending broadcast to attempt to extort money from him.

On November 15, 1997, Mardiev was arrested on charges of defamation and extortion under four articles of the Uzbek penal code. Mardiev, known for his critical stance toward corrupt officials and for his writings in the satirical journal Mushtum, was held in pretrial detention at a jail in Samarkand until June 11, 1998, when his case was brought before the Syrdariya regional court.

On August 3, 1998, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal filed by Mardiev’s lawyer, thus upholding Mardiev’s 11-year prison sentence.

At year’s end, Mardiev remained in prison in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan, without hope of an early release. The journalist’s relatives visited him in prison in January 2000 and found him in poor health. He was hospitalized twice in 1999 for a heart condition.

Muhammad Bekjanov and Iusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999

At the request of Uzbek authorities, Ukrainian police arrested Uzbek journalists Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov and extradited them to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Bekjanov was editor of and Ruzimuradov worked on the staff of the newspaper Erk, published in Kyiv, Ukraine, by the banned Uzbek opposition Erk Party. That same day, Ukrainian police arrested and extradited another two Uzbeks, who had arrived in Kyiv to pick up copies of Erk, which they apparently intended to smuggle into Uzbekistan.

For six months, the four suspects were held and tortured in the Tashkent city jail, which observers describe as the worst prison in Uzbekistan.

The arrests were part of a general Uzbek government crackdown on the banned Erk Party and its newspaper. On February 19, Uzbek police arrested the prominent Uzbek writer Mamadali Makhmudov, who was also accused of having links with the Erk Party. On February 24, police in the Yankatbat district in Uzbekistan arrested Bekjanov’s brother, Rashid, for distributing copies of the newspaper. Both Bekjanovs are brothers of the Erk Party’s exiled leader, Muhammad Solih.

Uzbek authorities coerced confessions of guilt from all six men. On August 18, a Tashkent city court sentenced them to jail terms of eight to 15 years for distributing a banned newspaper that contained slanderous criticism of the president (under Article 158-3 of the Uzbek penal code); participating in a banned political association (under Article 216 of the penal code); and attempting to overthrow the regime (under Article 159 of the penal code).

In addition to these charges, Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov were convicted of illegally leaving Uzbekistan and damaging their Uzbek passports. They were sentenced to 14 and 15 years in prison, respectively.

Vietnam (2)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Tran Duc Luong, President,
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Bui Minh Quoc, Lang Biang
Imprisoned: September 1997

Quoc, a poet, journalist, and correspondent for North Vietnamese radio during the Vietnam War, was placed under administrative detention by authorities in the southern resort town of Dalat. The order came after Quoc was accused of circulating pro-democracy letters calling for open trials of dissidents and other legal reforms. Since then, he has been subject to constant surveillance and frequent interrogation. He has not been allowed to leave the vicinity of his house and has been allowed to see family members only in the presence of an armed guard. Vietnamese authorities have also instructed Quoc not to have contact with foreigners or Vietnamese living abroad.

Before his pro-democracy ideas attracted the attention of authorities in 1990, Quoc was the president of the Dalat Writers Association and the editor of the literary and cultural magazine Lang Biang. Since that time, the magazine has been closed down and Quoc has been expelled from the Communist Party because of his political views.

Since the passage of an April 1997 decree allowing virtually unlimited use of administrative detention, Vietnamese authorities have used the tactic to silence dissidents. Administrative detentions are seldom reported in the press and are not subject to formal charges and public trials.

Nguyen Thanh Giang, free-lancer
Imprisoned: March 4, 1999

Giang, a prominent writer and geophysicist, was arrested by police in Hanoi for allegedly possessing “anti-socialist propaganda.”

Vietnamese authorities had frequently harassed Giang for his published writings about corruption within the Communist Party. Giang’s political essaysÑwhich dealt with such issues as peaceful reform, multiparty democracy, and human rightsÑregularly appeared on Internet sites and in newspapers published by Vietnamese living in exile. His arrest followed a series of articles in the government-controlled press arguing that dissidents posed a threat to the state.

On May 10, Giang was released on bail after an international campaign on his behalf. However, he remained under virtual house arrest at year’s end. He was under surveillance, his phone line was disconnected, and he was required to report weekly to the police. He was also forbidden to leave Hanoi without official permission.

Giang complained about this ongoing harassment in an October 14 open letter addressed to the Communist Party leadership. The letter stated that on October 11, police searched his home, confiscated his computer, and took him to the local police station, where he spent two days under interrogation. The police apparently suspected Giang of having authored an unsigned obituary that eulogized a disaffected former leader of the Communist Party.

Yugoslavia (1)

Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
President of Yugoslavia
Savezna Skupstina
11000 Belgrade
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Fax: 381-11-636-775

Nebojsa Ristic, TV Soko
Imprisoned: April 23, 1999
A Sokobanja district court found Ristic, editor of the independent television station TV Soko in Sokobanja, guilty of disseminating false information under Article 218 of the Serbian penal code. He was sentenced to one year in prison. The charges stemmed from a police raid on Ristic’s office. The police found a poster with the logo of the Belgrade-based independent radio station B92 and the slogan “Free Press: Made in Serbia!”
Ristic’s lawyers appealed the decision on April 26, but the appeal was denied. During a September meeting with a CPJ representative in Belgrade, Federal Information Minister Goran Matic promised to investigate the case, but by year’s end Matic had not responded to several additional requests for information from CPJ.