Attacks on the Press in 2000: Journalists in Prison

EIGHTY-ONE JOURNALISTS WERE IN PRISON AROUND THE WORLD at the end of 2000, jailed for practicing their profession. The number is down slightly from the previous year, when 87 were in jail, and represents a significant decline from 1998, when 118 journalists were imprisoned.

While jailing journalists can be an effective means of stifling bad press at home, it is very costly in terms of a country’s international image. Particularly in Eastern Europe and Latin America, many countries use more subtle methods to control the press–punitive tax laws, expensive libel suits, and advertising boycotts. States that routinely jail journalists, on the other hand, are often impervious to international criticism.

China, for example, had 22 journalists in jail at year’s end, more than any other country in the world. CPJ added four Chinese journalists to the list this year based on new information, and documented one new China case in 2000. As documented in CPJ’s special report, The Great Firewall, Chinese authorities have taken extraordinary measures, including the jailing of seven Internet journalists, to suppress critical journalism on the World Wide Web.

In previous years, the Chinese government made concessions to international public opinion by carefully stage-managing the release of prominent dissidents, including journalists, at critical moments. Authorities took a harder line in 2000, when not a single journalist was released.

Three other perennial jailers are Burma, which held at least eight journalists at year’s end (the actual number is thought to be much higher), Ethiopia, which held seven journalists, and Uzbekistan, which held three. Some of the jailed Burmese journalists have been held for more than a decade, and there was little new information about their cases in 2000. In Ethiopia, meanwhile, authorities piled additional charges on journalists who were already in jail, lengthening their sentences.

Three journalists were released from jail in Turkey, either provisionally, on appeal, or after completing their sentences. A fourth, Erhan Il, who was jailed in 1996, was no longer in prison, according to reliable sources in Turkey. While Turkey continues to hold 14 journalists–an unconscionably high number–the number has dropped significantly in recent years and is expected to continue to decline as the remaining jailed journalists complete their sentences. Meanwhile, new prosecutions were rare compared with previous years.

Cuba, the only country in the Americas that regularly jails journalists, held three at the end of 2000. One of them, Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, was released on January 17, 2001, after completing two years of a four-year sentence on the uniquely Cuban charge of “dangerousness.”

One important newcomer to the list is Iran, where six journalists were imprisoned at year’s end. The jailings were just one element in a systematic campaign by Iran’s clerical establishment to stamp out the reformist press, which has persistently criticized conservative elements within the government and called for change. Some 30 reformist newspapers were shut down in 2000, wiping out a vital source of alternative news and information.

In an interview at the beginning of 2001, jailed Iranian investigative reporter Akbar Ganji said, “It is a great honor for a man to defend his ideas against dictators.” Ganji warned of an “explosion” if the crackdown continued.

Our census of imprisoned journalists represents a snapshot of all the journalists who were incarcerated when the clock struck midnight on December 31. It does not include the dozens of journalists who were imprisoned and released during the year; accounts of those cases can be found in the regional sections of this book. In Egypt, for example, the authorities have jailed many journalists for libel under the punitive Press Law, but the three journalists jailed in 2000 were all released before the end of the year (a fourth Egyptian journalist, Hussein al-Mataani, was jailed in 1999; he remains on our list because CPJ was unable to confirm whether or not he had been released). Meanwhile, the four journalists jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo were all released in an amnesty on January 4, 2001, just weeks before President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was murdered by one of his bodyguards.

There was scattered good news in 2000. Syria released five journalists, some of whom had completed their sentences. Two more were amnestied by President Bashar al-Asad, who has allowed local journalists to voice occasional, mild criticisms of the government since he succeeded his late father in June. At the same time, Syrian journalist and human-rights activist Nizar Nayyouf remained in prison at year’s end. Nayyouf has been jailed for nine years and reportedly suffers from Hodgkin’s disease and other ailments.

A word about how this list is compiled: In totalitarian societies where independent journalism is forbidden, CPJ often defends persecuted writers whose governments would view them as political dissidents rather than journalists. This category would embrace the samizdat publishers of the former Soviet Union and the wall-poster essayists of the pre-Tiananmen period in China. We also include political analysts, human-rights activists, and others who were prosecuted over their written or broadcast work. Because such prosecutions threaten all working journalists, we defend these imprisoned writers as colleagues.

CPJ also uses a broad definition of the term “imprisoned.” We consider all journalists held forcibly against their will by governments, guerrillas, or kidnappers to be imprisoned. For example, we include two Algerian journalists, Djamel Eddine Fahassi and Aziz Bouabdallah, who were apparently abducted by government agents in 1995 and 1997, respectively. While there is no information about their whereabouts, CPJ continues to hold the Algerian government responsible for their fate.

At the end of the year, CPJ wrote to every head of state on the following list, requesting information about jailed journalists in each country. While CPJ does not include “missing” journalists on this list, we monitor all such cases. For example, we continue to demand that Belarus account for the disappearance of TV news cameraman Dimitry Zavadsky, who vanished in July 2000.


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 Chaïne III
IMPRISONED: May 6, 1995

Fahassi, at the time a 41-year-old reporter for the state-run radio station Alger Chaïne 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-Watan a 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 Châteauneuf detention facility in Algiers, where he had been subjected to torture. Bouabdallah’s whereabouts are currently unknown. As in the case of Bouabdallah’s colleague Djamel Eddine Fahassi, authorities have denied any knowledge of his abduction.


Please send appeals to:

Senior General Than Shwe
c/o The 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, former editor of the daily Hanthawati 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 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 the horrific living conditions of inmates at Rangoon’s Insein Prison to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma.

U Win Tin is said to be in extremely poor health after years of maltreatment in Burma’s prisons–including a period when he was kept in solitary confinement in one of Insein Prison’s notorious “dog cells,” formerly used as a kennel for the facility’s guard dogs. He has told international observers that he is suffering from spondylitis, a degenerative spine disease.

Maung Maung Lay Ngwe,
IMPRISONED: September 1990

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”).

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

Myo Myint Nyein and Sein Hlaing were arrested for contributing to the preparation, planning, and publication of the satirical news magazine What’s Happening, which the Burmese government claimed was 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.

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 Daw San San Nwe and U Sein Hla Oo were previously imprisoned for their involvement in the National League for Democracy, Burma’s main pro-democracy party.

Ma Myat Mo Mo Tun, free-lancer
IMPRISONED: August 1994

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

Ye Htut,
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 news magazine focusing on Burmese human-rights issues. Burma’s official media claimed that The Irrawaddy had presented a false picture of the country to foreign governments and human-rights organizations.


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Ange Felix Patasse
President of the Central African Republic
Palais de la Presidence
Bangui, Central African Republic
Fax: 263-616-779

Raphaél Kopessoua
, Vouma la Mouche
IMPRISONED: December 19, 2000

Managing editor Koupessoua of the private, pro-opposition weekly Vouma La Mouche, has been in government custody on unspecified charges since his arrest on December 19, 2000. The journalist was arrested while covering a banned meeting of a dozen opposition parties at a stadium in the capital, Bangui. More than 70 demonstrators were also arrested. Opposition parties had called for a civil-disobedience movement starting December 19 to protest overdue salary payment in the public administration, including the state media.

In addition to his journalistic activities, Kopessoua is a union activist and the local representative for the African Workers Union.

Kopessoua was released on January 8, 2001.


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 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.

Zhang Yafei,
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: September 1990

Chen, a former university student, was arrested in September 1990 and sentenced in March 1991 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. In September 2000, the Justice Ministry announced that Chen’s sentence was reduced by three months for good behavior.

Liu Jingsheng, Tansuo

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

Kang disappeared on May 6, 1992, and was presumed arrested, according to the New York­based 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 was one of 16 individuals tried in a Chinese court for their alleged involvement with underground pro-democracy groups. 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. On December 16, 1994, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for “disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda” and for “organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group.”

Wu Shishen,

Ma Tao,
China Health Education News
IMPRISONED: November 6, 1992

Wu, an editor for China’s state news agency Xinhua, was arrested for allegedly leaking an advance copy of President Jiang Zemin’s 14th Party Congress address to a journalist from the Hong Kong newspaper Express. His wife, Ma, editor of China Health Education News, was also arrested on November 6, 1992, and accused of acting as Wu’s accomplice. The Beijing Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial, and on August 30, 1993, sentenced Wu to life imprisonment for “illegally supplying state secrets to foreigners.” Ma was sentenced to six years in prison. According to the term of her original sentence, Ma should have been released in November 1998, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on her legal status.

Hua Di, free-lancer
IMPRISONED: January 5, 1998

Hua, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested while on a visit to China and charged with revealing state secrets. The charge is believed to stem from articles that Hua, a scientist at Stanford University, had written about China’s missile defense system.

On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court tried Hua behind closed doors, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People’s Court nullified Hua’s conviction by the lower court and ordered the case to be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, particularly for a high-profile political case. Nevertheless, in April, the Beijing State Security Bureau rejected a request for Hua to be released on medical parole. Hua suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.On November 23, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court issued a slightly modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison. An appeal was filed on November 28, according to The New York Times. News of Hua’s sentencing broke in February 2001, when a relative gave the i nformation to foreign correspondents based in Beijing.

Gao Qinrong,
IMPRISONED: December 4, 1998

Gao, a reporter for the state news agency Xinhua, was jailed for reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. Xinhua never carried Gao’s article, which was finally published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official People’s Daily that is distributed only among a select group of Party leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend (“Nanfang Zhoumo”) and on China Central Television (CCTV). Gao’s wife, Duan Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media interest, and arranged for his prosecution on false charges. Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a closed, one-day trial. He is being held in a prison in Qixian, Shanxi Province, according to CPJ sources.

Yue Tianxiang, Guo Xinmin,
China Workers’ Monitor
IMPRISONED: January 1999

The Tianshui People’s Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison and Guo to two-years on July 5, 1999. The two journalists were charged with “subverting state power,” according to the Hong Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. A third colleague, Wang Fengshan, was also sentenced to two years imprisonment but was released in August 2000, CPJ learned.

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, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers.

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

Wang Yingzheng,
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 Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Liu Xianli, free-lancer
IMPRISONED: 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 Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

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.

Jiang Qisheng, free-lancer
IMPRISONED: May 18, 1999

Police arrested Jiang late on the night of May 18, 1999, and searched his home, seizing his computer, several documents, and articles he had written for Beijing Spring, a New York­based pro-democracy publication. The arrest followed Jiang’s publication of a series of essays and open letters related to the 10th anniversary of the government’s violent suppression of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. One called for a candlelight vigil on June 4, 1999, another urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the massacre, and a third protested the police’s brutal treatment of Cao Jiahe, an editor of Orient magazine who was detained on May 10, 1999, and tortured while in police custody. Cao was detained for allegedly circulating a petition to remember the hundreds killed by government troops during the Tiananmen crackdown.

Jiang, who had been a leader of the student demonstrations, spent 18 months in jail following the 1989 crackdown, but continued to be outspoken on political issues after his release. He wrote several articles for foreign publications, such as Beijing Spring, and also issued open letters that were circulated both within China and abroad.

During Jiang’s two-and-a-half-hour-long trial, held on November 1, 1999, prosecutors cited an April essay calling for a protest vigil, “Light a Thousand Candles,” as evidence of his anti-state activities. Prosecutors also accused him of circulating an article by Li Xiaoping on political reform, though Jiang said he showed the piece to only three friends.

On December 27, 2000, 13 months after his trial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Jiang to four years in prison. Jiang’s lawyer told journalists that the 13-month delay between the court’s conviction and sentencing “violated the legal process.” In an open letter circulated on January 6, 2001, by the New York­based organization Human Rights in China, four witnesses to the subversion trial said that testimony attributed to them in the official verdict was fabricated.

Wu Yilong, Mao Qingxiang, Zhu Yufu, and Xu Guang, Opposition Party
IMPRISONED: November 1999

Wu, an organizer for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), was detained by police in Guangzhou on April 26, 1999, according to the New York­based organization Human Rights Watch. Mao, Zhu, and Xu, also leading CDP activists, were reportedly detained sometime around June 4, the 10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The four were later charged with subversion for, among other things, establishing a magazine called Opposition Party (“Zai Yedang”) and circulating pro-democracy articles and essays over the Internet.

On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, in Zhejiang Province, conducted what The New York Times described as 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, 1999, the Hong Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that all four journalists had been convicted of subversion. Wu Yilong was sentenced to 11 years in prison, one 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.

News reports in December 2000 indicated that Wu had been held in solitary confinement for the past seven months at No. 4 prison in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, ever since protesting prison conditions in May.

An Jun, free-lancer

Arrested in July 1999, An, an anticorruption campaigner, was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges. The Intermediate People’s Court in Xinyang, Henan Province, announced the verdict on April 19, 2000, citing An’s essays and articles on corruption as evidence of his anti-state activities.

A former manager of an export trading company, An founded the China Corruption Monitor in 1998. The group reportedly exposed more than 100 cases of corruption. During his November 1999 trial, An “said he was only trying to help the government end rampant corruption,” according to the news agency Agence France-Presse.

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

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 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 various aspects of China’s social instability and suggested a number of possible reforms, according to Richard Long, editor of VIP Reference. Long said Qi was arrested for “spreading anti-government messages via the Internet.”

On May 30, 2000, Qi was prosecuted for subversion before the Cangzhou People’s Court. The half-day trial was closed to the public. On September 19, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

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, 1999, with “disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet,” according to the Hong Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Zhang had allegedly been distributing news and information 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.

Huang Qi, Tianwang Web site
IMPRISONED: June 3, 2000

Huang, owner of the dissident Web site Tianwang (, was imprisoned in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, along with his wife, Zeng Li. The arrest happened one day before the 11th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

At 5:00 p.m., four officers from the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) visited Huang’s office to deliver an oral summons for his interrogation. They left after Huang requested a written summons, according to his own account, which he immediately posted on his Web site. Huang continued to post updates until 5:20 p.m., when around a dozen PSB officers arrived at the office. They raided the premises, confiscating notebooks, photographs, and computers. Both Huang and his wife Zeng were taken into custody. Just before the raid, Huang posted a final bulletin to the site:

“Thanks to everybody devoted to democracy in China. They are here now (the policemen). So long.”

Zeng was released on June 6. Later that day, PSB officers informed her that Huang was being charged with subversion, according to the Hong Kong­based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

The Tianwang Web site was established in June 1999 to publicize information about missing persons in China. Gradually, it also began to feature commentary and news articles on topics not normally covered by the state-controlled media. The site published stories about human-rights abuses, government corruption, and–just days before Huang was taken into custody–several pieces about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

After Huang’s arrest, a message posted on Tianwang condemned the “political persecution” of Huang Qi, and noted that authorities had shut down the Web site at the end of February because it “posted a lot of internal news that upset the leaders.”


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Col. Azali Assoumani
Mission of the Federal and Islamic
Republic of the Comoros to the United Nations
New York, NY 10022
Fax: 212-983-4712

Cheick Ali Cassim,
Tropik FM,
IMPRISONED: August 15, 2000

Cheick Ali Cassim, director of the private Tropik FM, was in government (military) custody for “undermining state security through the illegal [possession] of firearms.” His house was searched, but no weapons were found. Cassim is also a local political leader, and his private radio station Tropik FM is a relentless critic of the Comoros’ military government.


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 Rogelio Arévalo Padrón,
Línea Sur Press
IMPRISONED: November 18, 1997

Arévalo Padrón, founder of the Línea Sur Press news agency in the province of Cienfuegos, remains jailed despite being eligible for parole, and his health has suffered as a result of his prolonged imprisonment.

Since April 6, 2000, the journalist has been held in the overcrowded and unsanitary San Marcos labor camp, in the municipality of Lajas, Cienfuegos, where he works cutting weeds with a machete in sugar cane fields. He is being fed an extremely poor diet of rice and watered-down broth. According to the independent news agency CubaPress, prison authorities keep a constant watch on Arévalo Padrón, censor his incoming and outgoing mail, and threaten to send him to a maximum-security prison if he does not meet his production quota.

On October 31, 1997, the Provincial Chamber of the Court of Aguada de Pasajeros, a town in Cienfuegos, sentenced Arévalo Padrón to six years imprisonment for showing “lack of respect” for President Fidel Castro Ruz and for Cuban State Council member Carlos Lage. The charges stemmed from a series of interviews Arévalo Padrón gave in late 1997 to Miami-based radio stations. In the interviews, the journalist alleged that, while Cuban farmers went hungry, helicopters were being used to transport fresh meat from the countryside to the dinner tables of Castro, Lage, and other Communist Party officials in Havana.

On November 18, 1997, state security officers detained Arévalo Padrón and sent him to jail. The journalist served the early part of his sentence in maximum-security Ariza prison in Cienfuegos, where he shared a filthy cell with criminals. On April 11, 1998, state security officers beat up Arévalo Padrón after accusing him of writing anti-government posters in prison. He was subsequently placed in solitary confinement. Later, another prisoner was identified as having written the posters.

While at Ariza, Arévalo Padrón faced constant harassment, according to local colleagues. Fellow inmates who managed to make contact with him were transferred or subjected to reprisals. In addition, Arévalo Padrón suffered bouts of bronchitis and was reportedly treated twice for high blood pressure in the prison infirmary. On January 8, 2000, the journalist was transferred to labor camp No. 20, in the municipality of Abréu, Cienfuegos, where he served four months.

Because of the strenuous work at several labor camps, Arévalo Padrón has developed lower back pain (sacrolumbagia) and coronary blockage. After ignoring Arévalo Padrón’s pain for weeks, in September prison authorities allowed him to undergo a medical examination, CubaPress reported. A doctor determined that Arévalo Padrón’s health conditions make him unable to do physical work and that he should permanently wear an orthopedic bandage. Prison authorities have neglected to provide Arévalo Padrón with the orthopedic bandage, claiming that they lack fuel or transportation to take Arévalo Padrón to a shop where bandages are made, in order to take his measurements.

In mid-October, prison authorities informed Arévalo Padrón that his release on parole had been approved. However, when Libertad Acosta, Arévalo Padrón’s wife, hired a lawyer to press for his release, the lawyer told her that the Aguada de Pasajeros court had not met to discuss Arévalo Padrón’s case and had not requested that prison authorities send a report on his behavior. In violation of Cuban law, Arévalo Padrón remains held in the San Marcos labor camp.

On July 25, 2000, CPJ wrote a protest letter urging President Fidel Castro to ensure that imprisoned journalists Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, and Arévalo Padrón be immediately released from prison, and that their unjust convictions be reversed.

Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández,
Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, IMPRISONED: January 18, 1999

Díaz Hernández, executive director of the independent news service Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes (CAPI), was imprisoned during all of 2000 at the Canaleta prison, but was released on January 17, 2001.

On January 18, 1999, the journalist was arrested at his home in the town of Morón, in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, by officers of the Revolutionary National Police (PNR). The next day he was convicted of “dangerousness” and sentenced to four years in prison by the Morón Municipal Court. Díaz Hernández subsequently started a hunger strike and refused to drink water after his detention to appeal the conviction.

After a summary session on January 22, 1999, the Provincial Court in Ciego de Ávila confirmed Díaz Hernández’s sentence even though he was not permitted to have his attorney present (he was represented by a state-appointed lawyer). He ended his hunger strike on January 28 and began drinking liquids.

In July of the same year, Díaz Hernández started another hunger strike, this one lasting 17 days. In September, after spending eight months in solitary confinement, the journalist was transferred to a section of the prison where other inmates convicted of “dangerousness” were held.

CPJ’s local sources reported that on November 11, 1999, just before the Ninth Ibero-American Summit held in Havana, Díaz Hernández went on a third hunger strike to call for a general amnesty for political prisoners in Cuba. He was again placed in solitary confinement, even though his sentence calls for correctional work in a labor camp.

On November 23, 1999, CPJ honored Díaz Hernández with an International Press Freedom Award. Guests at the awards ceremony in New York City signed 312 postcards urging President Fidel Castro Ruz to release the journalist immediately. The postcards were delivered via Federal Express to the Cuba Interests Section in Washington D.C. on February 4, 2000.

In July 2000, Díaz Hernández’s colleagues reported that the journalist was suffering from hepatitis and was not receiving proper medical treatment. Díaz Hernández’s condition was diagnosed only after his family took a urine sample without the prison guards’ knowledge. The same month, prison guards took Díaz Hernández’s books away from him, and forbade his relatives to bring any books to the journalist.

Last October, Díaz Hernández was placed in a cell with nine other inmates convicted of “dangerousness,” according to CAPI. Because his family gave him medicines and vitamins, he appeared to have recovered from hepatitis. Although Díaz Hernández was allowed to have books again in his cell, prison guards at Canaleta continued to withhold some of his books and letters that they had confiscated in July.

On January 17, 2001, without explanation, prison authorities summoned the journalist’s parents to Canaleta prison. Once they arrived, Díaz Hernández was released, bearing a document stating that his sentence had been suspended. Having served two years, Díaz Hernández was at the midpoint of his sentence.

Manuel Antonio González Castellanos,
IMPRISONED: October 1, 1998

González Castellanos, the imprisoned correspondent for the independent news agency CubaPress in the eastern province of Holguín, has been denied medical assistance and legal benefits.

In mid-November 2000, González Castellanos, who is eligible for parole but has been denied this benefit, was told to gather his personal belongings, because he was one of 60 prisoners to be transferred to a labor camp, where conditions would be less harsh. When the day of the transfer arrived, González Castellanos was called and told that he would stay at the Holguín Provisional Prison. To protest this arbitrary treatment, the journalist refused to accept the two-month sentence reduction that prison authorities had granted him.

In a prison visit on November 18, 2000, González Castellanos’s “reeducation” officer told the journalist’s relatives that only the state security agency had jurisdiction in his case.

The journalist was arrested on October 1, 1998, for making critical statements about President Fidel Castro Ruz to state security agents who had stopped and insulted him as he was walking home from a friend’s house. González Castellanos was detained in the Holguín Provisional Prison, where he spent seven months awaiting trial. On May 6, 1999, the San Germán Municipal Court convicted him of “disrespect” and sentenced him to two years and seven months’ imprisonment.

While the sedition charges against González Castellanos did not arise directly from his journalistic work, local journalists suspect that González Castellanos was deliberately provoked by state security agents in retaliation for his reporting on the activities of political dissidents.

In July 1998, González Castellanos was contacted by a man claiming to have information for him sent by a Cuban exile in Miami. When they met, this man questioned González Castellanos about his journalistic work and told him that a Cuban exile group wanted to recruit him for subversive activities. González Castellanos declined the offer and later determined that the man with whom he had met had never been in touch with the Miami exiles that he claimed to represent. González Castellanos believed the man was a state security agent attempting to entrap him.

On June 30, 1999, González Castellanos was transferred to Holguín’s maximum-security prison, Cuba Sí, where he was routinely harassed by guards. When he complained about poor hygienic conditions, the guards threatened to suspend his visiting rights. In late 1999, local independent journalists reported that state security officers had promised to grant other inmates special privileges if they would harass González Castellanos and pass on information about the journalist.

On March 3, 2000, González Castellanos was transferred back to Holguín Provisional Prison. On June 26, he was confined in a punishment cell for 10 days, after being assaulted and punched in the head by the prison’s “reeducation” officer and a guard for protesting against the confiscation of his handwritten notes.

Upon release from the punishment cell, González Castellanos was placed in a labor unit. He had a severe cold for two months and lost considerable weight, but was denied proper medical attention. The journalist’s condition improved only after his family managed to provide him with medication.


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Joseph Kabila
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Ngaliema, Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Fax: 011-234-88-02120/1-202-234-2609

Freddy Loseke Lisumbu La Yayenga
, La Libre Afrique
IMPRISONED: December 31, 1999

Loseke, editor of the independent weekly La Libre Afrique, was arrested at his Kinshasa home and held in solitary confinement at the Kokolo military base. He was stripped of all his clothes, flogged, and left to spend the night in a dingy, windowless cell.

Loseke’s arrest resulted from two articles that he published in the December 29 and December 31, 1999 issues of La Libre Afrique, which has since ceased publication. Both reports alleged an imminent army-sponsored plot to overthrow President Kabila.

Loseke was initially charged with “betrayal of the state in times of war,” a crime punishable by death.

Loseke’s trial opened on January 11, 2000, at the Court of Military Order (COM) in Kinshasa. Despite the DRC’s constitutional due process guarantees, he was denied legal representation. During the hearing, he was forced to reveal confidential sources. He identified General Hilaire Muland Kapend as the chief conspirator, outlined the coup plot, and named the plotters’ meeting spot. As a result of Loseke’s forced testimony, police arrested several suspects, including General Kapend (who was later released, according to international news reports).

On April 14, a physically exhausted Loseke once again appeared before the COM, this time with legal representation. In their closing argument, Loseke’s lawyers pleaded for his temporary release from detention on health grounds (Loseke suffers from kidney failure, sources in Kinshasa reported). The presiding military judge quickly dismissed the motion, however.

Without any explanation, and over the objections of Loseke’s lawyers, the charge was later changed to “insulting the army.” Without further deliberation, the journalist was found guilty of this second charge on May 19, 2000, and sentenced to three years in prison. (COM decisions cannot be appealed.)

CPJ protested Loseke’s detention in four separate letters to President Kabila, sent on January 20, March 13, May 3, and June 26. Kabila ordered Loseke’s release from prison on January 4, 2001, after 369 days in detention. According to the DRC press-freedom organization Journaliste en Danger, this was one of several recent amnesties granted under Kabila’s “policy of national reconciliation.”

Aime Kakese Vinalu,
Le Carrousel
IMPRISONED: June 24, 2000

Jean-Pierre Ekanga Mukuna,
La Tribune de la Nation
IMPRISONED: August 17, 2000

Police arrested Vinalu on June 24, 2000, in connection with two articles that he wrote in the June 20 edition of Le Carrousel. One article lamented the lack of cooperation among various DRC opposition movements and charged that free speech was impossible in the DRC because “to dare speak one’s mind is a sure guarantee that one will be accused of endangering state security.” The other piece speculated on possible reasons behind a recent public confrontation between President Kabila and Minister for Mineral Resources Victor M’Poyo (who was subsequently removed from his post).

On July 26, the military prosecutor told local reporters that Vinalu’s articles had had the effect of “demoralizing the Army,” describing them as “veiled calls to opposition leaders and sympathizers to rebel against the powers that be.” The military prosecutor further announced that Vinalu would be tried in a court martial because his alleged offenses amounted to “high treason,” an offense punishable by death.

Mukuna was arrested on June 23, 2000, reportedly for refusing to reveal Vinalu’s home address. He was released on July 10, but then re-arrested on August 17, when he appeared in court to testify on Vinalu’s behalf. He was also charged with high treason and jailed at Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Centre.

Both journalists were sentenced to two years in jail without parole on September 12, 2000. They were released on January 4, 2001 by presidential amnesty.

Pierre-Sosthene Kambidi, Le Phare
IMPRISONED: December 31, 2000

Kambidi, the Kinshasa daily Le Phare‘s permanent correspondent in Tshikapa (West Kasaï Province), was arrested and remained in custody of the local branch of the National Information Agency (ANR). The order to arrest the journalist allegedly came from Tshikapa’s administrator, Kalemba Tshibuabua, according to the local press-freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED). Kalemba blames the journalist for his critical articles in Le Phare and his alleged links with the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). JED also quoted Kabimdi’s family members as saying that the journalist was arrested because of his “intention to publish an article on the illegal nature of [the administrator’s] appointment to Tshikapa.”

Kambidi was reportedly released on January 2, 2001.


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. It was unclear whether al-Mataani was also convicted on the separate charge of publishing the union’s weekly newspaper, Sahebat al Gallala, without a license By the end of December 2000, CPJ was unable to confirm if al-Mataani was still in prison.


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

Garuma Bekele, Solomon Nemera, and Tesfaye Deressa, Urji
IMPRISONED: October 16, 1997

Garuma, publisher of the weekly newspaper Urji, and the paper’s editor Deressa were arrested in Addis Ababa a few days after the publication of a report on the killing by government forces of three alleged members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Urji article contradicted the official version of the incident by stating that the three were indeed of the Oromo ethnic group but were not involved with the OLF.

Three weeks later, police arrested Nemera, a journalist with Urji, who had just been appointed the paper’s editor to replace Deressa. It remains unclear what motivated Nemera’s arrest.

In October 1999, Garuma and Deressa were tried and sentenced to a year in jail each for publishing “false information.” Nemera also received the same sentence in February 2000, presumably on the same charge. In addition, the three men were charged with terrorist activities, along with three dozen other members of the Oromo ethnic group, under Article 252 of Ethiopia’s Penal Code. The Article provides that court hearings in such cases be held in secrecy and that convicted terrorists are jailed for at least 15 years. No bail is allowed.

Tamrat Gemeda, Seife Nebelbal
IMPRISONED: October 1997

Gemeda, a journalist with the private Amharic weekly Seife Nebelbal, completed his initial jail term but must remain in detention, unable to afford bail, while trials for numerous other charges are pending. He is now being held on charges of involvement with a guerrilla organization, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Arrested in October 1997 for “inciting the public to violence” in an article about the armed conflict between the government and the OLF, Gemeda was sentenced to three years in jail under various provisions of the Penal Code and Press Proclamation 34/1992. In March 2000, he was given an additional one-year jail term for publishing “false information” in connection with the same article. Court officials on numerous occasions declined to accept bail from him on the grounds that in 1997 he had gone into hiding when he was supposed to appear in court. In fact, the journalist was being held in an Addis Ababa jail. He has since then been trying to obtain confirmation of his detention from the prison authorities.

Tewodros Kassa, Ethiop

The Federal High Court convicted Kassa, editor of the private Amharic weekly Ethiop, of disseminating false information that could incite people to political violence, under Articles 10(1) and 20(21) of Press Proclamation 34/1992 and Article 48(6) of the Penal Code. The charges stemmed from an Ethiop article, whose contents remain unclear. Some local sources have told CPJ that Kassa’s article was about the murder by poisoning of a commander of the Ethiopian Army by a female spy of the armed separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Kassa was given a choice between serving one year in prison or paying a fine of 15,000 birr (US$1850), according to the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA).

On November 13, the jailed Kassa was called to court to face the new charge of “defaming the good reputation of Duki Feyssa by disseminating false information through the newspaper.” According to the EFJA, this charge resulted from an Ethiop article titled “Businessman Killed by Unidentified Force,” which speculated that local businessman Duki Feyssa, a suspected OLF member, may have been killed by state security forces. When Kassa finishes his current jail term, he will be forced to fight this new charge.

Bizunish Debebe,
IMPRISONED: July 31, 2000

Debebe, editor in chief of the private Amharic weekly, Zegabi, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for violating the Press Law by publishing an article entitled, “OLF launches attack in Bale.” CPJ was unable to confirm the exact charge or other details in the case, but journalists who covered the separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were often jailed for “distribution of false news likely to incite violence” or “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Debebe, a veteran of Ethiopia’s very small community of women journalists, has been a regular target of the regime. Most recently, in August 1999, she was charged with violating the press law by failing to publish the name of her newspaper’s deputy editor, and sentenced to a year behind bars. She posted bail at the start of 2000 and was released on February 2. She was again arrested on July 31.

Melese Shine,
IMPRISONED: November 2000

Shine, editor of the intermittently distributed private Amharic weekly Ethiop, was charged with disseminating false information that endangers national security, under Article 10/20/1 of Press Proclamation 34/1992 and Article 480(b) of the Penal Code.

The charge resulted from an article published in Ethiop in September 2000 entitled, “Eritrean Opposition Forces Being Trained in Areas of Rama and Assayita.” Shine’s arrest seems to have been triggered by the claim that Ethiopia was organizing Eritrean opposition forces as a retaliatory measure.

The Federal High Court had recently reduced bail requirements for violations of the Press Law. In Shine’s case, however, the court demanded bail of 10,000 birr (US$1200), an exorbitant sum for an independent journalist in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the trial was postponed until October 2001.

With the help of international press-freedom groups, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association was able to raise enough money to pay Shine’s bail, and complete all other necessary formalities to secure the journalist’s release. On January 6, 2001, the Federal High Court ordered Shine’s release; he was freed the next day.


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

Abdullah Nouri, Khordad
IMPRISONED: November 28, 1999

In a trial that gripped the nation, the 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, 1999. 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 frontrunner 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 more freedom 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.

Akbar Ganji,
Sobh-e-Emrooz, Fat’h
IMPRISONED: April 22, 2000

Ganji, a leading investigative reporter for the reformist daily Sobh-e-Emrooz and a member of the editorial board of the pro-reform daily Fath, was arrested because of his writings and for participating in a conference about the Iranian reform movement that took place in Germany. He faced prosecution in both the Press Court and the Revolutionary Court.

The Press Court case stemmed from Ganji’s investigative articles about the alleged involvement of senior intelligence officials and other regime hardliners in the 1998 killings of several Iranian dissidents and intellectuals. In the Revolutionary Court case, he was accused of propaganda against the Islamic regime and threatening national security in comments at a Berlin conference on the future of the Iranian reform movement.

During a dramatic court appearance on November 9, Ganji charged that he had been hung upside down and beaten by guards at Tehran’s Evin Prison, where he was being held in solitary confinement.

Latif Safari,
IMPRISONED: April 23, 2000

Safari, director of the banned daily Neshat, which was closed by court order in September, 1999, was imprisoned after an appellate court upheld a 30-month jail sentence that the court had imposed on September 20, 1999. Safari was convicted on several charges, including defamation, inciting unrest, and “insulting the sanctity and tenets of Islam.” These charges stemmed from articles published in Neshat during Safari’s tenure as director, including an opinion piece that challenged the use of capital punishment in Iran.

He is serving his sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Emadeddin Baghi
, Fat’h, Neshat
IMPRISONED: May 29, 2000

Baghi, who had written for the banned daily Neshat and was a member of the editorial board of another outlawed daily, Fat’h, was detained during the middle of a closed-door trial on charges related to his work as a journalist. On July 17, Tehran’s Press Court sentenced him to five and a half years in prison.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Baghi had been charged with publishing articles that “questioned the validity of…Islamic law,” with “threatening national security, and…for spreading unsubstantiated news stories” about the role of “agents of the Intelligence Ministry in the serial murder of intellectuals and dissidents in 1998.” The charges were based on complaints lodged by a number of government agencies, including the Intelligence Ministry, the conservative controlled Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and former security officials.

The charges also included mention of a 1999 piece Baghi published in Neshat in response to another article criticizing the death penalty that had itself landed Neshat editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin in jail. The closed-door trial began on May 1. In late October, an appeals court reduced the sentence to three years. He remains in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin
, Asr-e-Azadegan, Neshat
IMPRISONED: April 10, 2000

An appellate court sentenced Shamsolvaezin, editor of the daily Asr-e-Azadegan, to 30 months in prison for allegedly insulting Islamic principles in a 1999 article that criticized capital punishment in Iran. Shamsolvaezin was taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison shortly after the verdict.

The article was published in the now-defunct daily Neshat, which Shamsolvaezin edited until judicial authorities closed the paper in September 1999. On November 27, 1999, a Tehran court sentenced Shamsolvaezin to three years in prison. The appeals court reduced the sentence to 30 months after acquitting him of allegedly forging the article, which was written by a London-based activist, Hossein Baqerzadeh.

On November 23, 2000, CPJ honored Shamsolvaezin with an International Press Freedom Award.

Ahmed Zeid-Abadi,
IMPRISONED: August 7, 2000

Zeid-Abadi, a journalist with the moderate daily Hamshahri, was arrested by order of Tehran’s Press Court. The court announced that Zeid-Abadi had been arrested after ignoring a summons to appear before the court.

Police searched the journalist’s home and confiscated books and other materials. Zeid-Abadi was still imprisoned at year’s end; the motive for his arrest was unclear.


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’

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. As of December 2000, 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’.

Kuwaiti authorities arrested Bessisso and al-Dakhil after the liberation of Kuwait and charged them with collaboration. The defendants were reportedly tortured during their interrogations. The trial, which began on May 19, 1991, in a martial-law court, failed to meet international standards of justice. In particular, prosecutors did not rebut the journalists’ defense that they had been forced to work for the Iraqi newspaper.

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


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Girija Prasad Koirala
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 19, 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 connection 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 a pro-Maoist paper, 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 2000, despite a Supreme Court ruling in August 1999 that his arrest was illegal under the habeas corpus guarantees of Nepal’s constitution. According to Sen’s lawyer, police and district officials then conspired to keep Sen in detention by forging release papers and re-arresting him on trumped-up charges. Sen’s next court appearance was scheduled for February 2001.


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Mamadou Tandja
President of the Republic
Niamey, Niger
Fax: 227-72-2245

Soumaina Maiga,
IMPRISONED: November 16, 2000

On November 16, a Niamey court sentenced Maiga, publisher of the private weekly L’Enquêteur, to eight months in prison and a fine of US$685. The paper’s managing editor Dahirou Gouro and a reporter, Salif Dago, also received six-month suspended sentences and a fine of US$410 each.

The three journalists were convicted of “disturbing the public order” and of “spreading false information.” Niger’s Defense Ministry filed a complaint against L’Enquêteur after the weekly ran an article about a protracted dispute between Benin and Niger concerning Tete Island, a small landmass in the Niger River that both countries claim. L’Enquêteur reported that Benin had deployed troops on Tete Island to evict residents with Niger citizenship, and alleged that Benin was planning to cut diplomatic relations with Niger. The three journalists were first arrested between October 23 and 25 and were held for a week before they were released on bail pending their trial. L’Enquêteur, meanwhile, has ceased publishing.

Maiga was released on January 19, 2001.


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Bashar 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

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 is serving a 10-year sentence and reportedly suffers from Hodgkin’s disease and several other serious ailments, including partial paralysis of his lower extremities as a result of torture. He is also said to suffer from kidney failure and deteriorating eyesight.


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,
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,
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.


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. He is currently in a prison in Sincan, a district just outside Ankara.

Huseyin Solak,
IMPRISONED: October 27, 1993

Solak, the Gaziantep bureau chief of the socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested and charged under Article 168 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. As of December 2000 he was being held in a prison in the town of Cankiri.

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.

As of December 2000, Ozgun was believed to be in Aydin Prison.

Serdar Gelir,
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 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. As of December 2000, Gelir was being held in a prison in the town of Sincan, outside Ankara.

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 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. At year’s end, he was being held in a prison in the town of Sincan, outside Ankara.

Aysel Bolucek,
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 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 contained material that 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.

As of December 2000, she was being held in Kutahya 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 publications–Mucadele, Tavir, and Devrimci Genclik–found 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 of the Penal Code and sentenced to 15 years in prison. As of December 2000 she was being held in Kutahya 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 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). In the course of 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 anti-state 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 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 No. 2 State Security Court of Ankara, reveal that the prosecution’s evidence against Gardas consisted of his refusal to talk during a police interrogation–allegedly part of a Dev Sol policy–and 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‘ Ankara bureau, that Gardas was a Dev Sol member. Gardas denied the claim, and his lawyer argued that his silence during police interrogation was a constitutional right and proved nothing.

On July 4, 1995, the No. 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. As of December 2000, Gardas was serving his term at a prison in Sincan, a district just outside of Ankara.

Ozgur Gudenoglu,
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 year’s end.

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. As of December 2000, it was unclear where he was being held.

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 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. As of December 2000 he was being held in a prison in the town of Sincan, outside Ankara.

Sadik Celik,
IMPRISONED: December 23, 1995

Although Celik, Zonguldak bureau chief for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was detained and charged with violating Article 168 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‘ 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 12 years and six months in prison. As of December 2000 he was being held in Edirne 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 journalist was also charged 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 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.

As of December 2000, Kimran was being held in Kandira Prison.


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 or 988-71-139-5510

Shodi Mardiev
, Samarkand Radio
IMPRISONED: November 15, 1997

Shodi Mardiev, a reporter with the state-run Samarkand radio station, was in failing health as he served an 11-year prison term for defamation and extortion.

Mardiev was originally sentenced on June 11, 1998. Though his sentence was later cut in half under President Islam Karimov’s decrees of April 30, 1999, and August 28, 2000, Mardiev still has approximately three years left to serve. Given his age (60-plus) and increasingly poor health, he may die in prison if he is forced to serve his remaining sentence.

Mardiev is being held in Penal Colony 64/47 in the town of Kizil-tepa in the Navoi region. Local human-rights groups say many political prisoners are sent to this particular correctional facility. Prisoners are allowed only one visit every three months, and may receive only one package every four months from outside the prison. The prison is also notorious for its poor-quality medical facilities and food services.

Mardiev’s physical and mental health have suffered as a result of these poor conditions. Shortly after his arrest in November 1997, the journalist suffered two cerebral hemorrhages while in a pre-trial detention center. He was hospitalized twice last year for a heart condition, and is not receiving proper medical attention.

Mardiev is known for his criticism of government officials and for his satirical writings in the journal Mushtum. His imprisonment stemmed from charges by Samarkand deputy prosecutor Talat Abdulkhalikzada that Mardiev had defamed him in a June 19, 1997, broadcast that the journalist produced for state radio in Samarkand. Abdulkhalikzada also alleged that Mardiev had used the threat of the impending broadcast in an attempt to extort money from him, although he provided the court with little evidence to support this allegation.

On January 12 and November 20, 2000, CPJ wrote to President Karimov, urging that Mardiev be released on humanitarian grounds and that the charges against him be dropped.

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

Muhammad Bekjanov and Iusuf Ruzimuradov had been involved in the production and distribution of the opposition newspaper Erk and were imprisoned for 14 years and 15 years, respectively, at trial in Tashkent in August 1999. They were convicted on charges of distributing a banned newspaper containing slanderous criticism of President Islam Karimov, participating in a banned political protest, and attempting to overthrow the regime. In addition, the court found them guilty of illegally leaving the country and damaging their Uzbek passports.

The condition of Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov’s pre-trail detention and the prison camp in which they are being held are shocking. Both men were tortured during their six-month pre-trial detention in the Tashkent city prison. Today they are suffering appalling conditions in “strict regime” penal colonies and their health is deteriorating.

According to human-rights activists in Tashkent, Bekjanov was transferred on November 27 to ‘strict-regime’ Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi in central Uzbekistan. His health is reportedly poor and he has been suffering from dysentery. He has lost considerable weight, and like many prisoners in Uzbek camps is suffering from malnutrition. Local sources have informed CPJ that Ruzimuradov is being held in strict regime Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali near the town of Karshi.


Please send appeals to:

His Excellency Tran Duc Luong, President,
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Fax: 844-823-1872

Nguyen Thanh Giang,
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 essays–which dealt with such issues as peaceful reform, multiparty democracy, and human rights–regularly 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, 1999, Giang was released on bail after an international campaign on his behalf. However, he remained under house arrest, and his activities were closely monitored.

Ha Sy Phu, free-lancer
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2000

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Tu, a scientist and political essayist better known by his pen name, Ha Sy Phu, was placed under house arrest and charged with treason. The arrest came after an April 28 raid on Ha’s home in Dalat, Lam Dong Province, during which police confiscated a computer, a printer, and several diskettes. They returned on May 12, with orders for his arrest signed by Col. Nguyen Van Do, police chief of Lam Dong Province.

The case had its origins in official suspicion that Ha helped draft a pro-democracy declaration, according to CPJ sources, and it followed on long-standing harassment of the writer by the government. Ha was held under Administrative Detention Directive 31/CP, which provides for indefinite house arrest without due process, and was required to report daily to the Dalat police for interrogation. Treason is punishable with the death penalty.

Though the treason charge was not withdrawn, official harassment of Ha Sy Phu had eased slightly by year’s end. However, he remained under house arrest.