CPJ Update

April 2007

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

CPJ alarmed by threats against kidnapped Afghan journalist
CPJ issued an open letter on April 2 urging the release of abducted Afghan journalist Ajmal Nakshbandi, who has been held captive by the Taliban since March 4. Nakshbandi was abducted in Helmand province with La Repubblica reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and driver Sayed Agha. A reporter in his own right, he was serving as Mastrogiacomo’s translator. Agha was beheaded a few days after the three men were seized, and Mastrogiacomo was released on March 19. The letter is signed by more than 80 prominent journalists from an array of local and international news organizations. Those signing include CPJ board member and CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, CPJ Honorary Co-Chairman Terry Anderson, and Carlotta Gall of The New York Times.
Read the letter

CPJ to accept Elliot-Black Award
The American Ethical Union has named CPJ as the 2007 recipient of the Elliot-Black Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations in the larger community who have made a significant ethical contribution to society at personal risk and hardship. CPJ will accept the award on June 16.

CPJ hails news of U.S. journalist’s release from federal prison
CPJ welcomes the release of freelance journalist Josh Wolf from a federal prison in California on April 3. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, CPJ board chairman and Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul E. Steiger, CPJ founder and board member Michael Massing, CPJ board member and Oregonian Editor Sandra Mims Rowe, and Deputy Director Robert Mahoney spoke with Wolf during a conference call on March 29, days before his release. Wolf, 24, was jailed for nearly eight months, longer than any reporter in U.S. history, after refusing to provide raw video footage of July 2005 San Francisco street protests to a federal grand jury. “No more purpose is served by keeping you in jail,” said Steiger during the call.
In March 29 interview, Wolf tells CPJ why he chose not to testify

In Morocco, CPJ addresses beleaguered independent press
CPJ Middle East Program Coordinator Joel Campagna left on March 28 for a mission to Morocco, where he is conducting research and meeting with government officials regarding the erosion of press freedom under a government-inspired judicial assault against outspoken newspapers. Campagna will be joined by CPJ consultant Kamel Labidi and board member Dave Marash, Washington Anchor for Al-Jazeera English. Campagna will follow his week-long trip with a mission to Egypt in early April. On April 19, CPJ will host a luncheon debrief on the mission featuring prominent Moroccan journalist Aboubakr Jamai, who resigned as publisher of Morocco’s independent weekly Le Journal Hebdomadaire in January in an effort to shield the paper from record damages he was ordered to pay last year in a controversial defamation suit.

CPJ meets with Prince Felipe de Borbón in Madrid
and Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría met with Prince Felipe de Borbón in Madrid on March 5 to present CPJ’s annual survey, Attacks on the Press, and to inform him of the results of recent advocacy missions and press freedom conditions in Latin America and worldwide. Joining them were Spanish journalist and lawyer Borja Bergareche and Fernando Urbaneja, president of the Madrid-based press group Asociación de la Prensa Madrileña (APM). The group also met with prominent publishers and editors, government officials, and congressmen. On March 6, the delegation held a press conference to present Attacks on the Press, including extensive Spanish-language sections. The conference was held at APM headquarters and received widespread coverage.

Staff news
CPJ is pleased to welcome three new staff members. Tracy McNamara will serve as Deputy Editor, bringing experience as an editor and writer for Time Inc. magazines and Columbia Journalism Review, among others. Sebastian Dettman joins us as the new Executive Assistant and Board Liaison. He has a keen interest in human rights issues, particularly in Asia, and has interned at several non-profits and worked as a legal secretary. Karen Phillips has taken up a new staff position three days a week as Journalist Assistance Program Associate. Phillips came to CPJ from PEN American Center, where she worked with the Freedom to Write program, and she is also a freelance translator of Spanish literature.

We are also delighted to announce the birth of daughter Lucy on March 27 to our Communications Director Abi Wright and her husband Stuart MacPhee. Lucy joins big brother Cal and big sister Ann.

Staff appearances
• CPJ Washington Representative and Journalist Security Program Coordinator Frank Smyth spoke about press freedom concerns during election cycles at the Fourth Global Electoral Organization Conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the International Foundation for Elections Systems. Smyth also spoke about press freedom concerns in future armed conflicts at an April 2 panel moderated by CPJ board member and Al-Jazeera English Washington Anchor Dave Marash. The panel was part of the 3rd Annual Al-Jazeera Forum in Doha, Qatar.

• CPJ Europe Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova spoke at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture on March 18 about women journalists in countries of the former Soviet Union who were killed for their work, focusing on the cases of Anna Politkovskaya in Russia and Ogulsapar Muradova in Turkmenistan, who were both murdered in 2006. From April 2 to April 4 Ognianova is taking part in a conference, “Russian Journalism Under Fire,” organized by and held at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

• On April 5th, CPJ will join Amnesty International USA and Women’s WORLD & Law Students for Human Rights (NYU) in honoring Lydia Cacho, the 2007 Ginetta Sagan Fund Award Recipient. Cacho, an investigative journalist who focuses on gender-based violence in Mexico, has received repeated death threats and judicial harassment because of her work.

• Reuters CEO Tom Glocer and Reuters Editor-in-chief David Schlesinger will host a cocktail reception with CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger and Executive Director Joel Simon at Reuters’ London headquarters on April 23. CNN Chief International Correspondent and CPJ board member Christiane Amanpour will be the guest speaker.

• Later this month, CPJ will release a report based on its January mission to Venezuela, where Lauría and CPJ board member Victor Navasky will express alarm about the lack of transparency in President Hugo Chávez Frias’ decision not to renew the broadcast concession of private television station RCTV. CPJ will host a luncheon debrief on the mission following the release on April 25.