CPJ Update

CPJ Update
September 2006
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji visits CPJ
On August 17, members of CPJ staff met with formerly imprisoned Iranian journalist and reform advocate Akbar Ganji to learn more about conditions for journalists in Iran and ways to advocate for press freedom there. Ganji, who spent six years in prison for investigative articles that implicated top officials in a series of murders, was visiting the United States to raise awareness about human rights violations in Iran.

Ganji told CPJ that the threat of jail keeps most journalists from writing articles on sensitive topics, and that self-censorship has become the norm in Iran.

To learn more about Akbar Ganji, click here: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/iran20mar06na.html

CPJ urges Sudan to release Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter
In a letter to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on August 28, CPJ called for the immediate release of Paul Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who was charged on August 26 with espionage and two other criminal counts in a Sudanese court. On August 6, pro-Sudanese government forces detained Salopek along with his Chadian interpreter Suleiman Abakar Moussa and driver Idriss Abdelrahman Anu, in Sudan’s Darfur region. Salopek was on a freelance assignment for the U.S. magazine National Geographic to report on the culture, geography, and history of Africa’s Sahel region. Their trial is scheduled for September 10.

To read the letter about Salopek’s detention and prosecution, click here: http://www.cpj.org/protests/06ltrs/mideast/sudan28aug06pl.html

CPJ welcomes release of kidnapped Fox News journalists
CPJ welcomed the August 27 release of Fox News Channel correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig in Gaza after they were held for almost two weeks by a previously unknown group called the Holy Jihad Brigades. After gunmen ambushed and abducted the crew in the center of Gaza City on August 14, CPJ repeatedly called for their immediate and unconditional release in a series of statements carried widely in domestic and international media.

At a news conference following their release, both men said they hoped the kidnapping would not deter journalists from continuing to report in Gaza. “My biggest concern really is that, as a result of what happened to us, foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming to tell the story and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine,” Wiig told reporters. “You guys need us on the streets, and you need people to be aware of the story.”

To read more about the release of the Fox News journalists, click here: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/gaza27aug06na.html

CPJ protests travel ban in southern Lebanon
Days before the Israel-Lebanon ceasefire of August 14, CPJ expressed alarm at Israeli military actions that sharply restricted the ability of the press to cover the conflict in Lebanon and endangered the lives of civilians, including members of the press. In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on August 9, CPJ stated particular concern for the safety of an estimated 250 journalists in Tyre, who were hunkered down in hotels and unable to move after the Israel Defense Forces banned vehicle travel south of the Litani River effective August 7. “We would like to stress that these limitations apply to journalists as well,” an IDF statement said.

CPJ urged Olmert to lift the travel ban to allow journalists to do their work and reminded him that the deliberate targeting of civilians is in violation of international law.

To read the letter to Prime Minister Olmert, click here: http://www.cpj.org/protests/06ltrs/mideast/israel-lebanon09aug06pl.html

Pakistani officials pledge review of journalist killings
A CPJ mission to Pakistan this summer secured a pledge from authorities to do more to solve the murders of seven Pakistani journalists. Officials in Islamabad promised the CPJ delegation on July 28 that they would review investigative records and reveal government information on the journalists’ deaths including Hayatullah Khan who was found murdered in June. CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz led the mission with CPJ Board Member and anchor of the soon to be launched Al-Jazeera International Dave Marash and journalist Richard Murphy. The officials, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Secretary of the Interior Syed Kamal Shah, and Northwest Frontier Gov. Ali Mohammed Jan Orekzai, also pledged to establish a continuing dialogue with Pakistani journalist organizations and to assure them of government support for journalists’ safety.

To learn more about the mission to Pakistan, click here: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/asia/pak26july06na.html

Upcoming events:

September 28, Impunity Panel:
Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism will host a panel discussion on impunity and ways of seeking justice in the cases of murdered journalists moderated by CPJ Board Member Clarence Page on the evening of Thursday, September 28 from 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Panelists include Dr. Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, Ukrainian journalist and activist Myroslava Gongadze who has campaigned tirelessly for justice in the 2000 murder of her husband Georgy Gongadze, from the Philippines, respected investigative journalist and press freedom activist Sheila Coronel, and Bob Rivard, executive vice-president and editor of the San Antonio Express-News and author of “Trail of Feathers,” an account of his search for the killers of reporter Philip True who disappeared in Mexico in 1998.

To find out more, contact Communications Director Abi Wright at [email protected]

October 8, Jon Stewart interviewed by David Remnick:
As part of The New Yorker Festival 2006, New Yorker Editor David Remnick will interview Jon Stewart, host of the award-winning “Daily Show” on Comedy Central at 4 p.m. Sunday October 8 at the Director’s Guild at 110 West 57th Street. The New Yorker will donate all proceeds from the event to CPJ and to the U.S.O. of Metropolitan New York.

Tickets are available beginning September 7 through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com.