CPJ Impact

October 2008

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award winners
The Committee to Protect Journalists is proud to honor five courageous journalists from Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, and Cuba, and a media lawyer from Zimbabwe at its 2008 International Press Freedom Awards on November 25, 2008, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. These men and women have risked imprisonment, harassment, and their lives to stand up for press freedom.

Bilal Hussein, a photographer for The Associated Press, won a Pulitzer Prize covering the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq, but the native Iraqi was arrested by U.S. forces in April 2006. He was held for two years without charge.

Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad, the team behind Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghanistan’s leading independent news agency, have managed to keep Pajhwok running and timely in spite of threats to its staff and the country’s instability.

Andrew Mwenda, founder and managing editor of The Independent, a hard-hitting newsmagazine critical of the Ugandan government, has fought for press freedom despite ongoing harassment by police and persecution from the government throughout his journalism career.

Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez was part of Cuba’s flourishing independent press movement when he was arrested and jailed along with 28 other journalists in Fidel Castro’s massive crackdown on political dissidents in March 2003.

Beatrice Mtetwa, Zimbabwe’s leading media and human rights lawyer, will receive CPJ’s Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement. Mtetwa has won acquittals for dozens of journalists arrested under Zimbabwe’s repressive media laws.

For more information on the dinner and the awardees, please click here.

CPJ aids U.S. filmmaker in Nigeria
Filmmaker Andrew Berends was shooting his documentary “Delta Boys” when Nigerian security officials detained him. His friends immediately contacted CPJ as part of their coordinated effort to win his freedom. In addition to publicizing the case, CPJ sent a protest letter to Nigeria’s Vice President Jonathan Goodluck and asked Nigerian Sen. Chris Anyanwu to urge the ministers of Information and Defense to assist in the release of Berends and his translator Samuel George, which she did. Berends was released on September 9 and returned home to the United States. He talked about his experience on CPJ’s blog .

CPJ welcomes Jehad Ali to the U.S.
Jehad Ali was shot by Iraqi insurgents in December 2005 while filming for Al-Iraqiya and left for dead. Though he received 11 bullet wounds, he managed to survive–but his ordeal was just beginning. In Iraq, he faced continued threats while trying to heal and he was unable to get proper treatment for his leg. A chance meeting led CBS’ Lara Logan to champion his case. Logan contacted CPJ’s Journalist Assistance program, which worked with her to raise money to help bring Jehad to the U.S. for surgery. Ali arrived in New York on September 26 to meet the CPJ staff before traveling to California to receive medical treatment.

Ali’s story will be featured in the Fall/Winter 2008 edition of Dangerous Assignments.

“Finding Elmar’s Killers”: A CPJ Special Report
When Elmar Huseynov, editor of Azerbaijan’s newsweekly Monitor, was gunned down in 2005, his friend and colleague Eynulla Fatullayev went looking for his killers. But in the midst of his reporting, Fatullayev found himself the target of an investigation. He was eventually sentenced to eight and a half years in jail. “Finding Elmar’s Killers” is an in-depth report by CPJ’s Nina Ognianova that outlines the dire situation for the independent press in Azeribaijan, focusing on Fatullayev’s case.

Read the full report online now and the reaction of Azerbaijan to this report.

“The Smiling Oppressor”: A CPJ Special Report
Prime Minister Ben AliTunisia promotes itself as a progressive nation that protects human rights, but a CPJ investigation has found that it aggressively silences journalists and others who challenge the policies of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including Internet journalist Slim Boukhdhir. During a mission to the country, former Middle East Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna worked to get Boukhdhir out of jail. The journalist was released soon after CPJ’s trip.

Read the full report “The Smiling Oppressor” and watch the audio slide show online now.

“The Disappeared”: A CPJ Special Report
Mexico’s criminal gangs have a long history of silencing the press by brazenly gunning down reporters in broad daylight. But in a new report, “The Disappeared,” CPJ details an ominous new trend: Seven Mexican reporters have vanished in just three years, a tally nearly unprecedented worldwide. This powerful report has grabbed the attention of the Spanish-language press, garnering coverage in major news outlets across Latin America including Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia.

Read the full report online now.

Staff News
CPJ welcomes two new staff members this month. Sharon Mootoo has joined us as ournew bookkeeper. She brings solid bookkeeping experience and is a great addition to CPJ.Sharon replaces Bhahrat Shah, who left the position this month after a long tenure working at CPJ. We wish him the best in all his future endeavors.

Alice Forbes Spear has joined the CPJ staff as our new development assistant. After graduating from NYU with a major that combined human rights and creative writing, she interned for a year at Doctors Without Borders in their development department.

We are excited to report that Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, is quoted extensively in the first Spanish edition of Vanity Fair (September 2008). In a lengthy feature, “Oficio Mortal” (“Lethal Profession”), Ognianova discusses impunity in the murders of a dozen Russian journalists under the presidency of Vladimir Putin, the overall climate of censorship in Russia, and the chilling effect of new anti-extremism laws that Russian authorities use selectively to muzzle critics.

Meredith Greene Megaw
Communications Director
The Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
212-465-1004 x105