CPJ Launches 2017 Free the Press Campaign

Governments using anti-state legislation to silence the press

New York, January 26, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists today launched its annual Free the Press Campaign to raise awareness of journalists imprisoned worldwide with an event at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. This year, the campaign will highlight the cases of 10 journalists imprisoned around the world.

“The imprisoned journalists whose cases we are highlighting this year are jailed under sweeping, vague national security or anti-terrorism laws. But journalism is not terrorism,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch. “We repeat our urgent call for these and all journalists jailed for their work to be freed, and for the reform of the easily abused laws that put them behind bars in the first place.”

In its annual census of journalists imprisoned around the world, CPJ documented the cases of 259 journalists behind bars on December 1, 2016–the highest number since CPJ began keeping records in 1990. Of those, 182 were serving sentences on anti-state charges. Particularly since 2001, governments have repeatedly exploited national security laws to silence critical journalists covering sensitive issues such as insurgencies, political opposition, and ethnic minorities.

This campaign draws attention to this government tactic and calls on all governments to stop trying to silence the press under the guise of fighting terrorism or otherwise protecting the state. Each month, from February through November, CPJ will highlight the case of a specific journalist imprisoned on anti-state charges.

The journalists featured in the 2017 campaign are:

  • Ahmed Abba, Cameroon, jailed since 2015
  • Abdullah Kılıç, Turkey, jailed since 2016
  • Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Vietnam, jailed since 2016
  • Issa Saharkhiz, Iran, jailed since 2015
  • İnan Kızılkaya, Turkey, jailed since 2016
  • Darsema Sori, Ethiopia, jailed since 2015
  • Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan), Egypt, jailed since 2013
  • Santosh Yadav, India, jailed since 2015
  • Musa Kart, Turkey, jailed since 2016
  • Saleh Idris Gama, Eritrea/Ethiopia, jailed since 2006

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