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Blog   |   Azerbaijan

International coalition marks anniversary of crackdown on rights in Azerbaijan

A year after the Azerbaijani government launched an unprecedented crackdown on human rights including press freedom, the situation in the country continues to deteriorate, the Sports for Rights coalition said today. The coalition of international organizations, including CPJ, released a statement today to mark the anniversary of what is widely described as the worst government campaign against critics that Baku has ever carried out.

July 30, 2015 2:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   Hungary

New hurdles for Hungary's press as Orbán restricts FOI requests

Viktor Orbán at a European Parliament debate about Hungary in May. His government has brought in a law that will make it harder for journalists and others to make Freedom of Information Act requests. (AFP/Frederick Florin)

"This is the best thing that has ever happened in Hungary." Katalin Erdélyi, a freedom of information activist, was referring to a ground-breaking website launched in Hungary in 2012. "I was glad because I realized the potential and how it will help me get all the information I longed for," she told me. The website, KiMitTud (WhoKnowsWhat, in English) is a simple online tool that helps average citizens file information requests to public bodies, and to view and comment on other people's requests. "I alone filed around 500 requests since the launch," Erdélyi said.

Blog   |   Ukraine

Mission Journal: Crimea's journalists in exile as Russia muzzles free press

A mural in Sevastopol shows President Vladimir Putin in a Navy uniform. Crimea's press is struggling to survive after Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian region. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

"First they asked if my parents had any guns or drugs in the apartment, then they showed my picture to my mother and asked her to identify me," Anna Andriyevskaya said. The Crimean journalist, who is living in exile in Kiev, was describing a raid on her parents' home by Russian FSB agents. "Any other mother would have probably suffered a heart attack if police asked them to ID their children," she said.

Blog   |   Ukraine

How patriotism with a Cold War tinge is damaging Crimea's press

Newspapers are sold in Sevastopol in March 2014. Independent journalism has struggled after Crimea was illegally annexed. (AFP/Viktor Drachev)

"You should move to Kiev," I was trying to persuade a friend of mine to leave Crimea.

I first met him at the time when cassettes were used in voice recorders, there were no e-mail addresses on business cards, and people preferred to make acquaintances in bars, not online. He asked me not to make his name public, but all you need to know about him is that he is 30, lives in Crimea, and is an objective journalist. Lately, there has been a shortage of objectivity in the Crimean media.

Blog   |   Turkey

Erdoğan vs the press: Insult law used to silence president's critics

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left, looks at a cell phone during a meeting in 2013. Since Erdoğan became president there has been an increase in insult charges filed against Turkey's press. (AP/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known for being intolerant of critics. During his third term as prime minister, Turkey was the leading jailer of journalists in the world with more than 60 behind bars at the height of the crackdown in 2012. Most of those have been released, but the press faces another threat--Article 299 of the penal code, "Insulting the President," which carries a prison term of more than four years if content deemed to be offensive is published in the press.

Blog   |   Azerbaijan

Baku 2015: Press freedom, Azerbaijan, and the European Games

Azerbaijani singer Faig Agayev, left, and wrestler Farid Mansurov take part in the Baku Games torch relay on June 9. Azerbaijan has cracked down on the press in the lead up to the first European Games. (AFP/Tofik Babayev)

Tomorrow 50 countries are due to take part in the opening ceremony of the inaugural European Games in Baku, but Azerbaijan's most prominent journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, will not be at the celebrations. The award-winning investigative reporter has been in jail since December on retaliatory charges over her writing on corruption.

Blog   |   France, Internet, Security

French surveillance law passes National Assembly, but it's not the last word

Protesters demonstrate against the government's bill giving spies sweeping new surveillance powers on May 4, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Alain Jocard)

Until the last moment the opponents of a very controversial French intelligence bill tried to be heard. On Monday May 4 on the eve of the vote, activists kept calling deputies to convince them to reject the bill. They had no chance however, since the Socialist government could count on a solid majority from both mainstream left and right at the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament. The bill was swiftly and overwhelmingly adopted on Tuesday afternoon with 438 for, 86 against, and 42 abstentions. It will now be sent to the Senate where, despite the chamber being dominated by the center-right opposition, it is not expected to face significant hurdles. "It should be on the statute books by July ," BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield predicted.

Blog   |   Spain

Why Spain's new gag law is threat to free flow of information

A hologram of protesters is projected outside parliament in Madrid on April 10 in opposition to Spain's restrictive 'gag law,' which bans rallies near government buildings and threatens fines for photographing police. (Reuters/Susana Vera)

On July 1 a public security law is due to come into force in Spain amid an increasingly vocal chorus of concern among the media and press freedom groups. The bill--dubbed the "ley mordaza," or "gag law," by opposition groups--would define protests in front of parliament and other government buildings as a "disturbance of public safety," and ban the "unauthorized use" of images of law enforcement authorities or riot police. The punishment for either offense will be a €30,000 ($33,000) fine.

Blog   |   CPJ

On World Press Freedom Day and journalists' safety

Last week, I met a Cameroonian journalist who worked in the Congo until he fled following a series of threats and an attack on his home by armed men who assaulted his sister. Elie Smith, a TV host who documented alleged abuses by police and was outspoken in his criticism of the government, said he thought he had been under surveillance and that he had received multiple threats via text message.

Blog   |   Azerbaijan, Ireland

CPJ, HRW call on president of European Olympic Committees to engage with Azerbaijan on press freedom, human rights

A delegation of representatives from CPJ and Human Rights Watch met yesterday with Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, at the Dublin headquarters of the Olympic Council of Ireland. The delegation discussed the dismal state of press freedom and human rights in Azerbaijan, the host of the first-ever European Games in June and one of the 10 Most Censored Countries in the world.

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