Middle East & North Africa / 2011

CPJ Blog

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Responding to Turkey's appalling press freedom record

December 23, 2011 10:36 AM ET

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would like to take credit for Turkey's economic growth and increasing regional influence, but when challenged on his country's abysmal  press freedom record he tends to blame others, including the media itself which, he says, exaggerates the problem. But the facts speak for themselves,...

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Several tallies, one conclusion on Turkish press freedom

December 8, 2011 4:13 PM ET

Press freedom in Turkey is under assault. Thousands of criminal cases have been filed against reporters, the Criminal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act are used routinely to silence critical news coverage, and Kurdish journalists face constant persecution. Today CPJ released its annual prison census, which tracks cases of journalists jailed for...

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Awardees to their colleagues: Buck the system

November 23, 2011 11:49 AM ET

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But...

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Defending the middle ground of online journalism

November 14, 2011 6:57 PM ET

It's easy to use polarizing descriptions of online news-gathering. It's the domain of citizen journalists, blogging without pay and institutional support, or it's a sector filled with the digital works of "mainstream media" facing financial worries and struggling to offer employees the protection they once provided. But there is a...

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Hetherington exhibition opens new Documentary Center

October 20, 2011 12:43 PM ET

CPJ is proud to support the inaugural exhibition this weekend of the Bronx Documentary Center, featuring work by acclaimed photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed in an explosion in Libya in April....

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Video: Egyptian soldiers storm Al-Hurra studio

October 14, 2011 1:32 PM ET

When Egyptian security forces stormed the Cairo offices of U.S. government-funded Al-Hurra television station Sunday night, the studio was live on the air, covering clashes just outside its building between the military and civilians that left dozens dead (including Al-Tareeq cameraman Wael Mikhael). During the raid, Al-Hurra anchor Amr...

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When a bug fix can save a journalist's life

September 29, 2011 9:22 AM ET

One of the most exciting aspects of working on Internet technologies is how quickly the tools you build can spread to millions of users worldwide. It's a heady experience, one that has occurred time and again here in Silicon Valley. But there's also responsibility that attaches to that excitement. For...

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Video: Yemeni cameraman films himself being wounded

September 20, 2011 12:29 PM ET

New video from The Telegraph shows Yemeni journalist Hassan al-Wadhaf's footage of being hit in the face by sniper fire during protests in Sana'a. Al-Wadhaf, who is in critical condition, works for the Arabic Media Agency....

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NATO responds to CPJ, but questions remain unanswered

September 13, 2011 1:42 PM ET

On August 4, CPJ wrote to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen requesting information about the July 30 attacks on broadcast facilities in Libya in which NATO aircraft destroyed three broadcast dishes. As we noted in our letter, CPJ is concerned any time a media outlet faces a military attack....

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The 'new' Syrian media law is nothing new

September 7, 2011 12:46 PM ET

On August 28, President Bashar al-Assad approved a new media law that purportedly upholds freedom of expression and bans the arrest of journalists. Yet less than a week later, on Saturday, a Syrian journalist and contributor to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat was arrested, CPJ reported. Just two days before...

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Catching the Internet's spies in Iran and elsewhere

September 1, 2011 10:34 AM ET

In August, Google introduced a new, if rather obscure, security feature to its Chrome web browser, designed to be triggered only under extreme circumstances. If you were talking to Google's servers using the web's secure "https" protocol, your browser makes a number of checks to ensure that you are really...

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Smashing the hand that holds the pen

August 26, 2011 2:22 PM ET

Ali Ferzat likes to work through the night. His attackers knew that. Masked men grabbed Syria's most famous cartoonist as he set out for home from his office near Damascus' central Umayyad Square at around 5 a.m. on Thursday, and bundled him into a van. A few hours later,...

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Video: Journalists holed up in Rixos Hotel

August 24, 2011 9:13 AM ET

About 35 international journalists remained holed up in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel today, unable to leave the location, according to news reports. New video from The Guardian, above, shows reporters and photojournalists inside the hotel. BBC correspondent Matthew Price said conditions "deteriorated massively" overnight as forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi...

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Request to NATO for clarification on Libya TV attack

August 4, 2011 5:51 PM ET

On July 30, NATO warplanes attacked three transmission towers in Libya. The goal apparently was to knock Libyan state television off the air because, NATO alleged, "it was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks...

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Q&A: Two of Turkey's leading journalists speak from jail

August 1, 2011 4:43 PM ET

The arrest of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener in March this year has put press freedom in Turkey under the international spotlight. Authorities said the journalists had not been detained because of their reporting but as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged ultranationalist plot to overthrow the...

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Editor's killing still haunts Turkey

July 29, 2011 2:40 PM ET

There's a policeman on duty these days in the lobby of the elegant apartment building that houses Agos and a receptionist behind security glass buzzes you in to the newspaper's cluttered offices. That's about the only indication that the outspoken Turkish-Armenian editor whom I interviewed here in Istanbul in...

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Israel's 'anti-boycott' law hurts the country's journalists

July 28, 2011 3:12 PM ET

Two weeks ago, late on a Monday evening, the Israeli parliament passed a controversial law aimed at protecting the country from calls to boycott Israel because of its policies about Palestinians. The law, dubbed the "anti-boycott" law, makes supporting these campaigns a civil offense in the state of Israel....

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Journalists take stage: Q&A with 'Record' playwright

July 17, 2011 5:24 PM ET

The true stories of journalists from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the United States, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will hit the stage July 20 at London's Arcola Theatre. "On the Record," which runs through August 13, examines the careers of six journalists, the risks they face, and their determination...

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When rape is inevitable: Surviving imprisonment in Iran

July 7, 2011 3:05 PM ET

As I read the account of Saeeda Siabi in an Iranian prison it became hard for me to breathe. Her descriptions of being raped in front of her 4-month-old son stopped the air in my chest. "They took me to a torture room and tied me to a bed,"...

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Google+ for journalists at risk

July 1, 2011 2:25 PM ET

When they're creating new features, software designers talk in terms of "use cases." A use case describes steps that future customers might perform with a website. "Starting a group with friends," would be a use case for Facebook. "Buying a book" would be case for Amazon's designers. ...

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Kings, queens, and torture in Bahrain

June 28, 2011 2:24 PM ET

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark visited Bahrain in February at the invitation of King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa. As part of the official program, the queen honored Hamad with the "Storkorset af Dannebrog," the second highest Danish royal order. Although the visit took place about two weeks before...

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Syria's Assad gives tacit OK to online attacks on press

June 24, 2011 2:20 PM ET

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave his third public address on the vast unrest that has roiled his nation. Reporters described him as nervous. He, the reporters, or perhaps both, may have been thinking about the significance of speech No. 3. Both Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali...

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CPJ's exiled journalists survey: Behind the numbers

June 20, 2011 12:00 AM ET

In 2007, my colleague Karen Phillips suggested we do something to mark World Refugee Day. Initially planning to publish a brief statement, I set about reviewing our data for background, checking in with older journalist cases about their current situation and looking broadly for trends to highlight. As the...

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Beyond the Amina hoax: Real cases in the Middle East

June 15, 2011 6:07 PM ET

A Gay Girl in Damascus was a personal blog, said to be written by a young woman named Amina Arraf, that appeared to give an everyday record of being a lesbian in modern-day Syria. Following the events of the Arab Spring, as the political situation in Syria grew less stable,...

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November 23 becomes International Day to End Impunity

June 10, 2011 2:59 PM ET

Members from around the world of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange met in Beirut last week. On the second day of our conference, amid discussions of the daily problems journalists face, we received word of the abduction and murder of Pakistani investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad. A day later,...

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In journalist security field, maturing and understanding

June 7, 2011 8:57 AM ET

Journalist security is still a maturing field, but news organizations are devoting more attention to preparing their reporters and photographers for the dangers particular to the profession. That means understanding risks that are constantly evolving. The brutal attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan at a Cairo demonstration has drawn...

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Syrian Facebook users develop strategies against online threats

May 24, 2011 8:36 PM ET

Jennifer Preston in the New York Times reports on some stories that we also have been hearing from Syrian Internet use. She documents incidents of passwords extracted by force, and the deliberate defacing of social networking pages by security forces, apparently in order to sabotage reports of unrest from that...

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Journalists under attack in Libya: The tally

May 20, 2011 5:40 PM ET

CPJ has documented more than 80 attacks on the press since political unrest erupted in Libya last month. They include five fatalities, at least three serious injuries, at least 50 detentions, 11 assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of Al-Jazeera and Al-Hurra transmissions, at least four instances...

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Parvaz says Syria detained her for Al-Jazeera work

May 19, 2011 4:27 PM ET

Al-Jazeera has interviewed Dorothy Parvaz, the network journalist who was held for 19 days in Syria and Iran. Parvaz describes how the Syrian government told her at first that she was believed to be a U.S. spy, but later it became clear, she said, that she was being held because...

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Video: 'Living in silence: Journalists in exile'

May 19, 2011 2:49 PM ET

We write a lot at CPJ about the terrible things that happen to journalists because of their reporting, but we don't often get a chance to show you what happens to them after they are forced to flee their homes and land abroad. This video, about three such journalists, is...

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After the prelude: Remembering Tim Hetherington

May 17, 2011 10:59 AM ET

On Friday, May 13, some 500 people gathered at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mayfair, London, to remember, celebrate, and lay to rest photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington.  ...

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Syrian Facebook: Low-tech threats and high-tech scrutiny

May 6, 2011 4:58 PM ET

Journalists and online news-gatherers have been struggling to collect and distribute high-quality information about recent events in Syria. Foreign journalists have been turned away at the border; local online reporters have been detained. The quality of Internet and mobile phone connectivity has been extremely variable, with reports of Net and...

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Chris Hondros: Images of life and death

April 22, 2011 6:04 PM ET

Photojournalist Chris Hondros, who was killed in Libyaon April 20, captured humanity at its worst and its best, in times of war and despair and at moments of kindness and hope. Here are some of his photos, from some of the world's most treacherous spots, courtesy of Getty Images. window.jQuery...

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Tribute to Chris Hondros, who ventured far with his torch

April 22, 2011 4:49 PM ET

My dear friend Chris. In the silence, I hear the symphony of memories that was your life as I knew it. I see your waving hand gestures and wry smile as you recount stories whilst we sit together in the tropical Liberian heat discussing everything from classical music to...

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Anti-press violence in Iraqi Kurdistan, past and present

April 22, 2011 12:57 PM ET

Kurdistan is different, as nearly every Iraqi Kurd I have ever met has said. Far less violent than the rest of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the parts of the north controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government have escaped the kind of sectarian unrest that continues to...

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Tim Hetherington: A star inexorably, humbly rising

April 22, 2011 12:35 PM ET

I first met Tim Hetherington in Monrovia in 2005, in the run-up to Liberia's then historic elections, which officially drew the line under the country's 14-year civil war. Tim had already reported from Liberia in the chaotic final stages of that war in 2003, marching for days on end...

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Al-Jazeera journalist pans China's Libya coverage

April 19, 2011 1:58 PM ET

In reporting on the Libyan conflict, China's media "emphasize only the humanitarian disasters caused by Western air bombardments, and [report] sparingly if at all on the violent suppression and massacre of the people by Qaddafi," Al-Jazeera's Beijing bureau chief, Ezzat Shahrour, writes on his blog. Chinese readers so far have...

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When a defender is persecuted, what rights are left?

April 15, 2011 2:03 PM ET

Everyone at some point has needed someone to stand up for them. These people shine in our memories for gestures or actions taken on our behalf, whether as children against the schoolyard bully or as adults in favor of a scholarly proposition or professional advance. But an especially powerful embodiment...

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Q&A: NYT's Lynsey Addario on Libya sexual assault

April 4, 2011 12:09 PM ET

New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario is speaking publicly about sexual aggression she experienced while detained in Libya last month by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. Addario was held for six days with Times colleagues Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell, and Tyler Hicks, all of whom were subjected to physical...

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Taking risks to tell the story: NYT journalists discuss Libya

April 1, 2011 2:49 PM ET

On March 15, four New York Times journalists were detained in Libya while crossing a checkpoint after they entered the country without visas. They were released six days later. The four--photojournalists Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks, and reporters Anthony Shadid and Stephen Farrell--came to Columbia University's Graduate School of...

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Remembering South Sudan's pioneer female reporter

March 30, 2011 6:17 PM ET

When The Juba Post's star reporter, Apollonia Mathia, told me that so-called "tong tong" rebels had attacked again near Gumba, in southern Sudan, I looked at her warily. "Let me get the camera I'll check it out," she said. Apollonia planned to hop on our rickety motorbike to cover...

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Q&A: Ayman Mohyeldin, Al-Jazeera English correspondent

March 24, 2011 11:28 AM ET

For the millions of non-Arabic speakers around the world who followed Egypt's revolution live one journalist stood out--Ayman Mohyeldin of Al-Jazeera English. Mohyeldin, 32, used his knowledge of the region and of the West to make sense of the events unfolding in Cairo's Tahrir Square for an international audience....

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At SXSW Interactive, theory and reality converge

March 17, 2011 5:44 PM ET

I've just returned from a hectic week at SXSW Interactive, the annual gathering of digital technologists and creators in Austin, Texas. Conferences like this are often moments of isolation from the rest of the world, where attendees become consumed with the trivia of the event itself. But because many of...

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BBC reporters recount abuse in Libya

March 15, 2011 5:03 PM ET

In this video from London's Guardian, a team of BBC journalists describes abuse at the hands of forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Read more about their ordeal in this CPJ news alert....

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Safety advisories for journalists covering Libya

March 11, 2011 2:42 PM ET

The Libyan conflict is the most recent in a string of dangerous international stories. Several journalists are missing. A BBC crew was detained and subjected to beatings and a mock execution. TV crews report having their equipment seized. The Europe-based International News Safety Institute, a consortium of news organizations and...

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Zimbabwe charges 45 with treason for viewing Egypt footage

March 4, 2011 1:56 PM ET

The right to receive and impart information is a fundamental human right enshrined in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but in Zimbabwe, watching news of North African and Middle East protests apparently amounts to treason. ...

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Libya's disordered Internet

February 22, 2011 3:52 PM ET

Craig Labowitz at Arbor has been sifting through the evidence of how countries in the Middle East have been blocking and throttling the Internet in the last week. His analysis indicates that while both Bahrain and Yemen had periods of slowed or impaired access, only Libya seems to have taken the drastic...

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Documenting sexual violence against journalists

February 16, 2011 3:46 PM ET

The news of the sexual assault against CPJ board member and CBS correspondent Lara Logan hit us hard on Tuesday. At CPJ, we work daily to advocate on behalf of journalists under attack in all kinds of horrific situations around the world. Because of Lara's untiring work with our...

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Courage in documenting Egypt's revolution

February 11, 2011 5:14 PM ET

Today, on its 18th day, the Egyptian revolution has finally achieved its goal, deposing Hosni Mubarak and his regime. Egyptian journalists who have courageously found ways to work under the yoke of Mubarak's censorship and repression are releasing a sigh of relief that they've held in for three long...

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Reporter goes inside Egypt's Mukhabarat torture regime

February 10, 2011 10:37 AM ET

When Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Robert Tait was taken into custody by Egyptian authorities at a police checkpoint near central Cairo on February 4, he didn't know he'd become witness to torture. But, cuffed and blindfolded for 28 hours, Tait heard and saw beatings and electrocutions. "My experience,...

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CPJ's Simon on Huffington Post: What is at stake in Egypt

February 8, 2011 12:02 PM ET

CPJ's executive director lays out "What Is at Stake With Egypt's Media Crackdown" in a February 3 piece on the Huffington Post. Joel Simon writes: "With no witnesses, those undertaking the violence in Egypt will have a free hand to carry out their brutal campaign without restraint. Standing up for...

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CPJ's Abdel Dayem talks Egypt on Democracy Now!

February 8, 2011 10:11 AM ET

CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem spoke to Democracy Now! on February 5 about the deteriorating environment for journalists in Egypt. He told host Amy Goodman that state news outlets have become something unrecognizable: "State-owned media are no longer engaged in the business of news,"...

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Egypt rejoins the Net

February 2, 2011 2:05 PM ET

Internet connectivity has been restored to Egypt, though it's hard to tell from the outside just how reliable that connection is. Monitoring organizations Renesys and BGPMon provide technical details on their blogs. For a more dynamic display, RIPE, the community which helps co-ordinate the European Internet, has a live graph...

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What the Internet loses from Egypt's disappearance

February 1, 2011 2:01 PM ET

Last night at 20:54 UTC, Noor Group, the only remaining Internet service provider in Egypt with a consumer broadband service, depeered with the rest of the Internet. There are now only 12 Egyptian networks connected to the Net, none of which appear to be offering public connections....

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Mideast stations circumvent Al-Jazeera blockage

February 1, 2011 12:54 PM ET

As massive protests endure throughout Egypt, the regime continues to disrupt the media as well as phone and Internet service. CPJ is closely following the censorship of the news, and will update on our blog today as developments break. Here's what's new:...

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Government lies are exposed in Egypt's Tahrir Square

February 1, 2011 12:18 PM ET

Hosni Mubarak's regime has had 29 years to perfect its always brazen but never convincing justifications for repressing journalists who expose the travesties he and his henchmen regularly visit upon the people of Egypt. It has also long enlisted state-owned media to disseminate the ruling party's half-truths and outright...

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China limits reporting on Egypt unrest in favor of 'harmony'

January 31, 2011 6:01 PM ET

Chinese information authorities are filtering results of Chinese-language Internet searches for "Egypt" and "Cairo," according to Global Voices Online and The Wall Street Journal. The unrest raging there could prompt comparison with the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or incite anti-government demonstrations....

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Watching Egypt disappear from the Internet

January 28, 2011 3:48 PM ET

My colleague at CPJ, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, was the first to mail me. "Just a second ago," he wrote, "about 10 contacts of mine all disappeared off instant messaging in unison. That cannot be a coincidence."...

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Detained UK reporter records riots in Egypt

January 26, 2011 1:03 PM ET

As anti-government demonstrations continue in Cairo, Jack Shenker, a reporter for the U.K. Guardian, has captured some remarkable audio. Shenker, dragged around, punched and abused, was taken into a security truck with protesters on Tuesday night--then he turned on his recorder. He describes how "police have been incredibly violent"...

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Preventing video takedowns when reporting

January 25, 2011 3:39 PM ET

Watching the stream of reporting from Egypt today, I've noticed some unconfirmed reports that videos of the events uploaded to YouTube have been taken down by the company. I haven't been able to find any concrete examples, so I can't say whether this is true. YouTube takedowns did happen for...

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Tunisian TV station's suspension reflects tenuous freedom

January 25, 2011 11:13 AM ET

On Sunday, the privately owned broadcaster Hannibal TV was forced off the air for more than three hours. The state-owned news agency Agence Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) issued a statement stating that an arrest warrant had been issued for the station's owner on charges of "high treason" for an alleged...

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Will Tunisia's 'Internet revolution' endure?

January 25, 2011 10:31 AM ET

There has been a great deal written online about how much of a positive role the Internet played in recent events in Tunisia (if you'd like to catch up, Alex Howard's link round-up provides a good summary of the many sides, both for and against). At CPJ, our focus is...

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Freed! Fahem Boukadous released in Tunisia

January 19, 2011 9:16 PM ET

For those who have spent countless hours exposing and combating Tunisia's vast press freedom abuses, today is truly a glorious day. Tunisian authorities released the ailing imprisoned journalist Fahem Boukadous, a day after CPJ called on the transitional government to honor its pledge to free all political prisoners. Today, we...

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Tunisia invades, censors Facebook, other accounts

January 5, 2011 12:48 PM ET

The Tunisian government has been a notorious censor for many years, for journalists online and off. In the wake of widespread domestic protests in December, however, the authorities appear to have turned to even more repressive tactics to silence reporting. In the case of Internet bloggers, this includes what seems...

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A year after siege, Al-Ayyam is sorely missed in Yemen

January 4, 2011 4:14 PM ET

Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of the multiday siege by Yemeni police and security personnel of the compound that houses the offices of the independent daily Al-Ayyam. During its assault on the headquarters of the critical daily, the government used automatic machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and heavy...

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