Anti-state activity is the most used charge against journalists
New York, April 29, 2014–As World Press Freedom Day approaches, journalists are languishing in prisons across the globe. Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov has been in jail for 15 years–one of the longest imprisonments of journalists worldwide. Prominent Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi has been beaten and whipped in custody, and Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai could barely walk or talk during a recent prison visit. All three are convicted on anti-state charges, the leading accusation used to imprison journalists. They are among 10 emblematic cases highlighted in a new campaign by the Committee to Protect Journalists launched today.
“Intolerant, repressive societies are using anti-state charges and ‘terrorist’ labels to intimidate, detain, and imprison journalists,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “On World Press Freedom Day, we must come together as global citizens to share these brave individuals’ vital stories while calling on oppressive governments to release all journalists from jail.”
CPJ research has documented a rise in the jailing of journalists since 2000, a year before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States fueled a global expansion of anti-terrorism and national security laws. Governments have exploited these laws to silence critical journalists covering sensitive issues such as insurgencies, political opposition, and ethnic minorities. Of the 211 journalists in jail at the time of CPJ’s most recent prison census, 124, or 60 percent, were jailed on anti-state charges–far more than jailed on any other type of charge.
The campaign, launched ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, details cases of 10 journalists imprisoned by some of the world’s worst violators of press freedom, including China, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Turkey.
China and Iran are currently the leading jailers of journalists, with each country holding about 35 journalists, according to a recent CPJ estimate. Turkey was the leading jailer when CPJ published its most recent prison census at the end of 2013.
Join with CPJ in calling on authorities in repressive countries to #FreeThePress and release all journalists held for no other crime than covering issues in the public interest.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide
Note to editors:
CPJ regional and global experts are available for interviews in the lead-up to World Press Freedom Day.
UNESCO’s official theme for World Press Freedom Day 2014 is Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda. CPJ has repeatedly called for independent media to be put at the center of a new United Nations framework for global development.