CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Europe & Central Asia

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.

Blog   |   France, Luxembourg

Reporter who broke LuxLeaks story faces charges in Luxembourg

A flag flutters over a Luxembourg city street, above. French journalist Edouard Perrin, who helped expose the LuxLeaks tax revelations, has been indicted in the country. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

The French journalist who helped break the LuxLeaks scandal, which exposed a large-scale, state-blessed system of tax avoidance in placid Luxembourg late last year, was indicted on April 23. A statement from the Luxembourg prosecutor's office accused Edouard Perrin of "being the co-author, if not an accomplice, in the infractions committed by a former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee" already charged with leaking documents exposing the scheme, according to reports.

Blog   |   Azerbaijan

International coalition calls on European Court to prioritize Azerbaijani press cases

Azerbaijan, one of the 10 Most Censored Countries in the world, according to new research by the Committee to Protect Journalists, is to host the first-ever European Games this June. As Baku prepares to bask in the spotlight by hosting an international mega-event yet again, eight of the country's independent journalists, including award-winning investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, languish in jail in retaliation for their work. Azerbaijan's most prominent media freedom defender, Emin Huseynov, has taken refuge at the Swiss embassy to avoid politically motivated prosecution and imprisonment; dozens of human rights defenders and civil activists have been jailed or forced into exile; and the work of multiple independent nongovernmental organizations and media outlets has been paralyzed or shuttered by authorities that have zero tolerance for criticism or dissent.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Internet

Cyberattacks rattle French, Belgian media outlets

A picture taken on April 9, 2015, shows a note on the window of a newsroom at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group. (AFP/Thomas Samson)

The headquarters of Le Soir in the center of Brussels, two blocks away from the Parliament, look serene in the spring sunshine. No sign of violence scars the glass and stone facade. But the leading Belgian francophone daily, the flagship of the Rossel media group, has suffered a concussion. On Sunday a wave of hacking attacks rocked the paper. At 07:00 p.m., the hottest moment of the day when articles were pouring in and had to be published on deadline, the Newsgate data center started to slow down, the Wifi was disabled, the journalists’ professional and personal emails were neutralized. The paper-- where I am a columnist--immediately took emergency measures, separating the Internet from the intranet, to counter the attack and prevent the hackers from taking over the websites.

Blog   |   France, Internet

In blocking websites, France abandons role as guardian of free speech

A sign welcomes Bernard Cazeneuve to Facebook's offices in California. France's Interior Minister was in the U.S. in February to press technology companies for help in blocking content. (AFP/Susana Bates)

Attempts by the French government this week to use vague legislation to block five websites for "condoning terrorism" would be troubling anywhere, but it is especially tragic coming from the country that gave us the champion of free speech and tolerance, Voltaire.

March 19, 2015 10:32 AM ET

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Blog   |   France

Charlie Hebdo attack unites France on free expression, but will solidarity hold?

A vigil in France for victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack. In cities across the world, pens and signs reading I Am Charlie were held aloft in honor of those killed in the gun attack. (AFP/Thierry Zoccolan)

The attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has sent shock waves through France and beyond. Not only because 12 people have been killed in cold blood and many were wounded in what was the deadliest terrorist attack in France since 1961, when right wingers bombed a train killing 28 people. Not only because, after an attack in neighboring Belgium last May and French citizens joining extremist fighters in Syria and Iraq in recent months, the country feared something dramatic might happen soon, and that it eventually did.

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