Press Uncuffed

#FreeThePress Spotlight

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Press Uncuffed is a campaign CPJ ran in partnership with students from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2015 and early 2016 to raise awareness of imprisoned journalists and to call for their release. The students, led by Knight chair in public affairs journalism and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, won the Do Good Challenge for their work on the campaign, which including them designing, producing, and selling bracelets bearing the names of imprisoned journalists. The students also ran an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise money to produce the bracelets.

Over the course of the campaign, seven of the 13 journalists featured in it were released from prison. You can read their stories below.

Learn more at Press Uncuffed or view this video discussion about the campaign, which was held at the Newseum.

For information on journalists imprisoned around the world, see CPJ’s annual prison census. If you’d like to stay involved in our efforts to free journalists behind bars, please sign up here and follow us on Facebook.


Jason Rezaian Iran

Charge: Anti-State
544 days in prison

Portrait of Gao Yu

Gao Yu China

Charge: Anti-State
582 days in prison


Ta Phong Tan Vietnam

Charge: Anti-State
1,476 days in prison

Bheki Makhubu Swaziland

Charge: Retaliatory
447 days in prison

Portrait of Ammar Abdulrasool

Ammar Abdulrasool Bahrain

Charge: Retaliatory
285 days in prison

Portrait of Pedro Canche

Pedro Canché Mexico

Charge: Anti-State
272 days in prison


Reeyot Alemu Ethiopia

Charge: Anti-State
1,480 days in prison


Khadija Ismayilova Azerbaijan

Charge: Retaliatory
538 days in prison

We welcome the releases of the journalists featured above, but journalists remain imprisoned around the world, including some who were featured in this campaign. CPJ continues to work for journalists’ right to work freely without fear of being jailed for their reporting.


Ilham Tohti China

Charge: Anti-State

Portrait of Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega Ethiopia

Charge: Anti-State


Mahmoud Abou Zeid “Shawkan,” Egypt

Charge: Retaliatory & Anti-State


Yusuf Ruzimuradov Uzbekistan

Charge: Anti-State

Portrait of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mauritania

Charge: Ethnic/Religious Insult