Europe & Central Asia


Alerts   |   Turkey

In Turkey, Odatv publisher conditionally released

Istanbul, December 28, 2012--Turkish authorities on Thursday released Soner Yalçın, owner and publisher of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv, from prison for the duration of his trial, according to news reports. Yalçın, who has been jailed since February 2011 on anti-state charges, could be re-arrested and jailed if he is convicted.

December 28, 2012 4:14 PM ET


Alerts   |   UK

Two journalists attacked in a week in Northern Ireland

Protesters block the road in front of Belfast City Hall to protest a decision to limit display of the union flag. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

London, December 19, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that two attacks against journalists in Northern Ireland have taken place over the past week. On Friday, a pipe bomb was left at the door of the home of freelance press photographer Mark Pearce. On Monday, Adrian Rutherford, a reporter with the daily Belfast Telegraph, was attacked by a gang while covering Loyalist protests in East Belfast.

Alerts   |   Russia

Russia still far from solving Politkovskaya murder

Former police official Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov arrives in court Friday. He was jailed for 11 years for his role in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. (Reuters/Anton Petrov)

New York, December 17, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called for a retrial of a key defendant in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. The defendant, a former senior police official, was sentenced Friday in a deal that Politkovskaya's family and colleagues fear will not ultimately identify the crime's true masterminds.

Moscow City Court wrapped up the two-day, closed trial of former police Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who was originally charged with organizing the 2006 killing of the prominent Novaya Gazeta correspondent but, under a deal he cut with investigators, was tried only for being an accomplice. According to the deal, Pavlyuchenkov was obligated to fully confess his role in the murder and name its mastermind, Novaya Gazeta said. The journalist's family and colleagues say Pavlyuchenkov did not fulfill those conditions, but their appeals to invalidate the deal were denied.

Alerts   |   Mexico, Romania

Photographer arrested during protests in Mexico

Demonstrators clash with the police in Saturday's protest in Mexico City. (AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Mexico City, December 7, 2012--Mexican authorities must immediately release a freelance Romanian photojournalist who was detained on Saturday while covering a protest related to the presidential inauguration, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

December 7, 2012 4:02 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Russia

News anchor shot dead in Russia's North Caucasus

Kazbek Gekkiyev was shot dead on Wednesday. (Reuters/VGTRK)

New York, December 6, 2012--Authorities should immediately investigate Wednesday's murder of a journalist in Russia's volatile North Caucasus and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two unidentified men shot Kazbek Gekkiyev, 28, in the head three times while he was returning home from work with his friend at around 9 p.m. in Nalchik, the capital of the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, according to local and international news reports. The gunmen asked Gekkiyev his name before they shot him and then fled in a getaway vehicle, according to the state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. The journalist's friend was unharmed, news reports said.

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Kazakh court bans broadcaster, suspends news website

New York, December 6, 2012--A court in Kazakhstan has banned an independent news outlet on charges of extremism, a ruling that comes within weeks of the country's election to the U.N. Human Rights Council, according to news reports. Dozens of other independent and opposition news outlets face similar charges that could result in their being shut down.

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, news outlets face charges of extremism

New York, November 28, 2012--The politicized prosecution of dozens of independent news outlets in Kazakhstan is at odds with the country's commitment to press freedom and deeply stains its recent election to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ calls on Kazakh authorities to dismiss the case and allow the outlets to operate freely.

Alerts   |   Syria, Ukraine

Video emerges of Ukrainian journalist captive in Syria

A still from the November 7 video. (YouTube)

New York, November 14, 2012--A Ukrainian journalist who was kidnapped in Syria in mid-October appeared in a short video last week pleading for her embassy to meet the demands of her captors, according to news reports. At least two other international journalists are believed to be held captive in Syria and the whereabouts of a third are unknown, according to CPJ research.

Alerts   |   Guinea-Bissau, Portugal

Guinea-Bissau expels journalist; another flees into hiding

Authorities in Guinea-Bissau have expelled a journalist whose news outlet had covered former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, seen here voting in a 2012 election he was favored to win, but lost. (AFP/Issouf Sanogo)

New York, November 1, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Monday's decision by authorities in Guinea-Bissau to expel Portuguese journalist Fernando Teixeira Gomes from the country in connection with his critical coverage of the transitional government.

Alerts   |   Syria, Ukraine

One journalist killed, another reported missing in Syria

New York, October 16, 2012--The heavy toll on news media covering the conflict in Syria has grown yet again over the past week as a journalist for a pro-government TV station was killed and a Ukrainian journalist working for Russian news outlets is believed to be kidnapped.

Alerts   |   Russia

Russia must investigate threats against leading researcher

Tanya Lokshina announced today that she has received threatening text messages. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)

New York, October 4, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns threats against Tanya Lokshina, a leading Russian researcher and writer known for her work documenting human rights abuses in the North Caucasus. CPJ calls for an urgent, thorough, and effective investigation that tracks down all responsible.

Alerts   |   Italy

Editor sentenced to prison for libel in Italy

Alessandro Sallusti (AP/Luca Bruno)

Brussels, September 28, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the criminal defamation conviction and 14-month prison sentence handed to Alessandro Sallusti, editor-in-chief of the Milan-based daily Il Giornale, and calls on Italian authorities to reform the country's defamation laws.

On Wednesday, the Fifth Chamber of the Cassation Court, Italy's highest, upheld an earlier guilty verdict delivered against Sallusti by a lower court in Milan in June, 2011. 

Alerts   |   Belarus

AP, Reuters journalists beaten, detained in Belarus

AP photographer Sergei Grits. (AP/Vasily Fedosenko)

New York, September 18, 2012--Authorities in Belarus must immediately investigate the attack and detention of at least seven journalists reporting on a protest in downtown Minsk today and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Agents in plainclothes repeatedly hit several journalists covering an opposition protest organized by activists calling for a boycott of Sunday's parliamentary vote, according to news reports. Sergei Grits, a photographer for The Associated Press, said his face was covered with blood after one of the assailants punched him and broke his glasses, according to AP.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia, Sweden

Ethiopia should release journalists still in prison

Swedish journalists Johan Persson
and Martin Schibbye appear on state television. (ETV/YouTube)

Nairobi, September 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Ethiopian government to set free six journalists in prison for their work, a day after Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were pardoned and released from Kality Prison in the capital Addis Ababa.

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Independent journalist jailed in Azerbaijan

New York, August 27, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a prison sentence imposed Thursday against Faramaz Novruzoglu, a freelance journalist who has faced years of persecution in reprisal for his coverage of alleged government corruption. CPJ also calls for an appeals court to reverse last week's unjust ruling and release Novruzoglu on appeal.

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Two journalists brutally beaten in Kazakh capital

New York, August 14, 2012--Authorities in Kazakhstan must thoroughly investigate attacks on two journalists in separate episodes in the past week and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Alerts   |   Tajikistan

News site blocked after covering Tajik official's murder

New York, July 24, 2012--Authorities in Tajikistan blocked domestic access to the independent regional news website Asia-Plus on Monday after the outlet reported on the murder of a high-ranking security official and its aftermath, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government to immediately restore access to the site.

Alerts   |   Belarus

KGB puts editor in jail over photos of teddy bears

A teddy bear carrying messages of press freedom lands in a tree. (Studio Total)

New York, July 18, 2012--Belarusian security agents should immediately release a website editor who has been jailed for publishing photographs of teddy bears, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The KGB, the nation's security service, is holding Anton Suryapin for alleged complicity in an illegal border crossing--a charge that can bring up to seven years in prison--after the editor ran photos of the stuffed animals, which were reportedly dropped from the skies over Minsk as part of a publicity stunt.

"Are Belarusian security agents worried that teddy bears are engaged in an illegal border crossing? It would be hard to keep a straight face about these absurd charges were it not for the fact that Anton Suryapin is sitting in jail," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "We call on authorities to immediately release Suryapin and drop these senseless criminal charges against him."

Alerts   |   Russia

Former police colonel indicted in Politkovskaya murder

Retired police lieutenant colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, seen here in detention in 2011, was indicted in the Politkovskaya murder today. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

New York, July 16, 2012--Russian authorities have formally indicted retired police Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov on charges of complicity in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, Russia's Investigative Committee said today. Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter with the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and a fierce critic of the war in Chechnya, was slain in her apartment building on October 7, 2006. 

Alerts   |   Belarus, Poland

In Belarus, journalist charged with libeling Lukashenko

Andrzej Poczobut, a correspondent for Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza, was convicted of insulting Aleksandr Lukashenko in 2011 and given a suspended sentence. (AP/Sergei Grits)

New York, July 2, 2012--Andrzej Poczobut, the prominent Grodno-based correspondent for the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, was formally indicted Saturday on criminal charges of libeling President Aleksandr Lukashenko through a series of articles critical of administration policies.

Alerts   |   Belarus

Journalists imprisoned, threatened in Belarus

New York, June 26, 2012--Belarusian authorities should immediately release a critical journalist who was tried, convicted and sentenced to prison in a single day on a vague charge of hooliganism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. In an unrelated incident, a Belarus correspondent for the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta received a threatening package in the mail, the paper reported.

Alerts   |   Belarus

In Belarus, journalist arrested, charged with libel

Andrzej Poczobut, seen here outside a courthouse in 2011, has been arrested and charged with libel. (AFP/Kseniya Avimova)

New York, June 21, 2012--Authorities in Belarus must drop the charges against a prominent journalist arrested today for libel against the president, and immediately release him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Andrzej Poczobut has been targeted in the past for his critical writing, CPJ research shows.

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Photojournalist faces criminal charges in Azerbaijan

Moscow, June 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Azerbaijani authorities to immediately drop criminal charges against Mehman Huseynov, a photojournalist and blogger with the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan.

Letters   |   Kyrgyzstan

CPJ urges Kyrgyzstan to release Azimjon Askarov

Dear President Atambayev: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention a new report we have issued on Azimjon Askarov, an investigative journalist and human rights defender who was sentenced in September 2010 to life in prison. CPJ's review of Askarov's case, outlined in the attached report, has found that his probe and trial were marred by numerous procedural violations, including his torture in custody and the lack of any evidence implicating him in criminal activity.

June 13, 2012 1:00 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Syria, Turkey

Syria detains journalists, releases others

Turkish journalist Adem Özköse, pictured Monday at the Istanbul office of his newspaper Milat, and freelance cameraman Hamit Coşkun were released Saturday from detention in Syria. (AP/Chris Torchia)

New York, May 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Syria's release of several journalists and press freedom activists over the weekend, but condemns the continued detention of at least nine journalists--and likely several more--including two journalists arrested without charge in the past month.

Letters   |   Pakistan, UK

Cameron and Gilani should discuss journalist security

Dear Prime Minister Cameron: As you begin your meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to review the Pakistan-U.K. Enhanced Strategic Dialogue, we would like to draw your attention to concerns regarding the protection of journalists in Pakistan. CPJ data show that the country has been ranked the deadliest in the world for journalists for two consecutive years. This year, Pakistan also placed 10th on CPJ's Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are regularly murdered and their killers go free.

Alerts   |   Montenegro

Journalist sentenced to jail for libel in Montenegro

New York, April 30, 2012--The appeals court in Montenegro must overturn a libel verdict and four-month jail sentence given to journalist Petar Komnenic, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The Montenegrin authorities, who are seeking to join the European Union, decriminalized libel after the journalist's original conviction, according to news reports.

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Kazakh journalist in surgery after being shot, stabbed

New York, April 19, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's attack on a reporter in Kazakhstan and calls on authorities to immediately investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Unidentified assailants shot and stabbed Lukpan Akhmedyarov, a journalist with the independent newspaper Uralskaya Nedelya, in Uralsk, a city in western Kazakhstan, as he returned home from work at around 10:30 p.m., Akhmedyarov's chief editor, Tamara Eslyamova, told CPJ today. Eslyamova said the journalist was in surgery late today.

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan

Several reporters assaulted, one hospitalized in Baku

Idrak Abbasov was hospitalized Wednesday. (IRFS)

New York, April 18, 2012--Azerbaijani authorities must promptly investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of today's brutal assault in Baku on five independent reporters, including award-winning journalist Idrak Abbasov, who is now hospitalized, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Letters   |   Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, crackdown on press as contest nears

Dear President Aliyev: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the recent wave of journalist imprisonments in Azerbaijan. With at least six journalists currently behind bars, Azerbaijan is now among the top 10 global jailers of the press, ahead of Uzbekistan and just behind Ethiopia, according to CPJ research. This crackdown comes in the run-up to Eurovision, the international song contest that Baku is hosting in May, which will gather journalists from more than 40 participating countries and fix the world's eyes on Azerbaijan.

Alerts   |   Turkey

Investigation, threats against freed Turkish journalists

Journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık were threatened shortly after their release from prison. Here, colleagues protest the journalists' imprisonment, which lasted more than a year. (AP)

New York, March 22, 2012--Turkish authorities must immediately dismiss the new criminal investigation against journalist Ahmet Şık and should thoroughly investigate threats made against Şık and investigative journalist Nedim Şener, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Statements   |   Turkey

Turkey releases journalists, grave concerns remain

New York, March 12, 2012--The release of Turkish journalists Nedim Şener, Ahmet Şık, Muhammet Sait Çakır, and Coşkun Musluk, who are among dozens of journalists imprisoned in Turkey for alleged participation in a purported antistate plot known as Ergenekon, is a welcome development, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

March 12, 2012 2:21 PM ET


Alerts   |   Russia

Moscow police must investigate attacks on journalists

Police and protesters at Pushkin Square on Monday. (AP/Sergey Ponomarev)

New York, March 7, 2012--A reporter covering a post-election protest in Moscow suffered a concussion after being assaulted by police, the most serious of at least three attacks on journalists reporting on demonstrations on Monday, news reports said. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the assaults and calls on police to hold the assailants accountable under the law.

Alerts   |   Azerbaijan, Iran

Journalist for Iranian media imprisoned in Azerbaijan

New York, February 22, 2012--Anar Bayramli, Baku-based correspondent for Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV and news agency Fars, has been imprisoned for two months pending trial over drug charges. The Committee to Protect Journalists has determined the charges are fabricated and calls on authorities in Azerbaijan to release him immediately.

February 22, 2012 11:16 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Bahrain, Belarus, Mexico, Pakistan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Profiles in Freedom

CPJ awardee Natalya Radina.

How does one negotiate the choice to stay and report potentially dangerous news, rather than take a less risky assignment, leave the profession, or flee the country? The recipients of the 2011 International Press Freedom Awards explain. By Kristin Jones

Attacks on the Press   |   Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Spain, Turkey, UK

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Europe, a Leader That Lags

Until his last days in office, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi pursued restrictive legislation known as the 'gag law.' (Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo)

In the EU, some countries appear more immune than others to scrutiny and reproach. Anti-terror laws, political and economic concerns, and a lack of common standards all challenge the credibility of the EU's diplomacy. By Jean-Paul Marthoz

Attacks on the Press   |   Russia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Impunity Still the Norm in Russia

Russian investigators have adopted a more serious tone when discussing unsolved journalist murders, but officials still lack the will to apprehend masterminds of the killings. The lack of convictions takes a serious toll on investigative journalism. By Nina Ognianova

Attacks on the Press   |   Turkey

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Turkey's Legal Problem

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, buoyed by a landslide election victory, has led an attack on press freedom. (AP/Boris Grdanoski)

With the aid of anachronistic legislation and a rigid judiciary, Turkish officials and politicians have curbed free expression by subjecting journalists to endless court proceedings and legal costs. The EU and the U.S. are no help. By Robert Mahoney

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Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2011: The Year in Photos

Photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and other news outlets documented historic events in 2011, often at great peril. The Year in Photographs: Press Freedom in 2011 features images from the Arab uprisings, South Asia's armed conflicts, and political repression in the Americas, Africa, and Europe.

February 21, 2012 11:16 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Uzbekistan

Authoritarian leader Islam Karimov marked Media Workers Day by calling for an independent domestic press, the state news agency UzA reported, but his long-standing policies of repression belied such statements. The regime is a persistent jailer of journalists, often ranking among the worst in the region. Embattled reporter Abdumalik Boboyev faced official obstruction when he tried to travel to Germany; officials cited his prosecution in 2010 on charges of “insulting the Uzbek nation” as reason. Two other reporters faced retaliation after they participated in media seminars outside Uzbekistan. In the face of official intimidation, domestic media complied with censorship regulations and refrained from covering the popular uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa. Mindful of the role the Internet played in the Arab revolutions, Uzbek authorities expanded their list of internally blocked news websites and created a state commission to censor content in the Uzbekistan domain.

February 21, 2012 12:56 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Ukraine

The government failed to deliver on President Viktor Yanukovych's promises to investigate official harassment of news media and ensure justice in the 2000 murder of online journalist Georgy Gongadze. Prosecutors indicted former President Leonid Kuchma on abuse-of-office charges in connection with the Gongadze slaying, alleging that he had ordered subordinates to silence the journalist. But after the Constitutional Court found that a key audiotape was inadmissible, a trial court in Kyiv dismissed the case in December. The ongoing trial of Aleksei Pukach, the former Interior Ministry general charged with strangling Gongadze, was marked by irregularities, delays, and secrecy. The developments were seen as significant setbacks in the fight against impunity. As in past years, the domestic press faced persistent danger as reporters endured threats, physical attacks, and censorship. Investigators reported no progress in the case of Vasyl Klymentyev, an editor who went missing in 2010 after reporting on alleged local corruption. Kharkiv-based cable television carriers stopped carrying programming from the independent news outlet ATN in August, according to press reports. ATN said regional authorities pressured the carriers to drop its critical news coverage.

February 21, 2012 12:55 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tajikistan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Tajikistan

Investigative journalists were targeted with retaliatory arrests and debilitating lawsuits, marking a decline in press freedom conditions. Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov, a reporter for the independent weekly Nuri Zindagi, was imprisoned for nearly a year on defamation charges related to stories on government corruption in the northern Sogd region. BBC correspondent Urinboy Usmonov spent a month in jail after security agents arrested him on extremism charges stemming from his reports on the banned Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The independent newspaper Asia Plus and reporter Ramziya Mirzobekova faced a civil lawsuit from a senior Interior Ministry official who accused them of spreading false information in a story about a man who died in government custody, press reports said. And a Dushanbe-based independent newspaper, Paykon, was forced to close after a state agency won a sizable judgment in a defamation case related to a letter alleging corruption. In September, President Emomali Rahmon ended the requirement that senior officials convene quarterly press conferences, diminishing already-limited access to leaders.

February 21, 2012 12:54 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Russia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Russia

Authorities detained at least six journalists covering December protests over flawed parliamentary elections, but in a rare phenomenon Kremlin-controlled television reported on demonstrations that brought tens of thousands of Muscovites onto the streets. In December, a gunman killed the founder of the weekly Chernovik, the 20th work-related murder in Russia since 2000. CPJ advocated extensively against impunity in anti-press attacks, calling on the European Commission to press the issue in meetings with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Authorities made progress in two murder cases. In April, two suspects were found guilty in the 2009 murders of journalist Anastasiya Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov; in May, the defendants were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The suspected gunman and several suspected organizers in the 2006 killing of Anna Politkovskaya were indicted. But impunity prevailed in the savage beatings of journalists Mikhail Beketov and Oleg Kashin. Authorities retaliated against one international reporter. Luke Harding, Moscow correspondent for The Guardian of London, was barred from re-entering the country in February after writing about U.S. diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks that described Kremlin officials in unflattering terms.

February 21, 2012 12:53 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kyrgyzstan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Kyrgyzstan

As President Roza Otunbayeva declared her commitment to press freedom, parliament decriminalized libel, eliminating a tool used by authorities in the past to suppress critical journalism. But rising violence, censorship, and politically motivated prosecutions marred the year in Kyrgyzstan. Parliament ordered state agencies to block domestic access to the critical website Fergana News, although the order was not immediately implemented. Ahead of the October 30 presidential vote won by Almazbek Atambayev, legislators ordered domestic broadcasters to screen foreign-produced programming and remove content that could insult the candidates. An investigative commission under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe found Kyrgyz authorities complicit in the ethnic conflict that gripped the south in June 2010. The conflict continued to cast a dark shadow over press freedom. Authorities brought trumped-up extremism charges against two ethnic Uzbek media owners, who went into exile after being compelled to give up their news assets. Another ethnic Uzbek journalist, Azimjon Askarov, was serving a life prison term on fabricated charges despite international calls for his release. Legislators banned local media from publishing images of the conflict on its anniversary.

February 21, 2012 12:52 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kazakhstan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Kazakhstan

The convictions of three men in the 2009 murder in Almaty of prominent Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk was a bright spot in Kazakhstan's otherwise grim press freedom record. The government had yet to reform its media laws in line with international standards, despite its promises to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE. To the contrary, the upper chamber of parliament approved a bill in December requiring international broadcasters to register with the government and imposing limits on foreign content aired by local cable carriers. Editor Ramazan Yesergepov continued to serve a three-year prison term on fabricated charges of collecting state secrets after a local court denied him early release. In November, an Almaty court convicted reporter Valery Surganov on defamation charges stemming from an article alleging police improprieties; the court imposed severe restrictions on his movements as penalty. The cases were a sobering reminder of the cost of critical journalism. In April, President Nursultan Nazarbayev won a fourth term in an election so uncompetitive that he took 95 percent of the vote, according to official results. OSCE monitors criticized the restrictive media climate in the run-up to the vote.

February 21, 2012 12:51 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Hungary

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Hungary

On January 1, 2011, the day Hungary assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union, a restrictive new media law came into force. The law created a National Media and Infocommunications Authority--staffed with appointees of the ruling Fidesz party--that was given vast powers to regulate news media. The law established heavy fines for violations such as carrying "imbalanced news coverage" or running content that violates "public morality." The law applied to all news media, reaching beyond national borders to foreign outlets "aimed at the territory of Hungary." The measure triggered protests in Hungary and throughout Europe, where it was seen as violating the Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Hungarian lawmakers agreed to minor changes in response to pressure from the European Commission. In December, the country's Constitutional Court struck down a provision that would have obliged journalists to reveal confidential sources. The court also exempted print media from the law as of May 2012, although it left intact most other anti-press provisions. The domestic media scene reflected deep polarization between supporters and adversaries of the center-right Fidesz. Political pressures were rife in public broadcasting: In July, 570 employees of the four state-run media companies were dismissed, representing about 16 percent of the workforce. Authorities reassigned the broadcast frequency of the largest opposition radio station, Klubradio, to an entertainment broadcaster in December, citing a higher bid.

February 21, 2012 12:50 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Belarus

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Belarus

After a rigged December 2010 presidential vote, authoritarian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko unleashed two waves of repression against critics and political opponents, one in early year and one in summer. The KGB and police raided independent newsrooms and journalists' homes, confiscated reporting equipment, and jailed independent reporters. Politicized courts handed suspended prison terms to prominent journalists Irina Khalip and Andrzej Poczobut. Police used brutal force against reporters who covered nationwide anti-government protests. Critical news websites experienced multiple denial-of-service attacks and official blocking. The suspicious 2010 death of Aleh Byabenin, founder of the pro-opposition news website Charter 97, remained unexamined. With a domestic economy suffering, Lukashenko promised to free jailed critics if the European Union lifted travel and trade sanctions. During a year of relentless attacks on journalists, the Lukashenko administration reinforced its reputation as Europe's most repressive regime for the press.

February 21, 2012 12:49 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Azerbaijan

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Azerbaijan

Four years after Eynulla Fatullayev was imprisoned on a series of fabricated charges, and more than a year after the European Court of Human Rights ordered his immediate release, the editor finally walked free. In an interview with CPJ, Fatullayev praised the international community for its sustained support. Attacks against domestic journalists covering sensitive subjects continued with impunity. Freelance reporter Rafiq Tagi, who wrote critically about Islamist politics and government policies, died after being stabbed on a Baku street. Two reporters for the pro-opposition newspaper Azadlyg were beaten in reprisal for their work, while the editor of the independent newspaper Khural was jailed in late year on retaliatory charges. Hostility toward international reporters was on the rise: Members of a Swedish television crew working on a human rights documentary were deported; a U.S. freelancer and a British researcher were assaulted; and a photojournalist was denied entry based on her Armenian ethnicity.

February 21, 2012 12:48 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Italy

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Italy

Silvio Berlusconi’s government crumbled in November amid the country’s economic crisis, ending a tenure marked by manipulation and restriction of the press. As prime minister and media owner, Berlusconi owned or controlled all of Italy’s major national television channels, ensuring news coverage favorable to his administration. He worked methodically for three years to enact controversial legislation to prevent print and online media from publishing embarrassing information about alleged corruption in his government and his dalliances with young women. Even in the final days of his tenure, Berlusconi sought to revive a bill that would have limited the use of police wiretaps, penalized journalists for publishing the contents of wiretaps, and forced websites to publish “corrections” to information considered damaging to a person’s image within 48 hours of receiving a complaint. Parliament had already postponed action on the measure, termed Berlusconi’s “gag law,” in 2010. In Perugia, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini used Italy’s harsh defamation laws to intimidate journalists, authors, and media outlets--in Italy and the United States--that reported critically about his performance in two high-profile cases.

February 21, 2012 12:04 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   UK

Attacks on the Press in 2011: United Kingdom

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal and subsequent public inquiry raised concerns that public interest journalism could suffer from efforts to curtail unethical practices through regulation. While investigating related police leaks, Scotland Yard invoked the Official Secrets Act to pressure a journalist to reveal sources for her coverage of the scandal. Authorities ultimately backed down from the unprecedented effort. Several journalists came under attack while covering mass riots in urban areas in August. Prime Minister David Cameron said news outlets must hand over raw footage of rioters and suggested the government restrict social media tools to curb street violence. The government drafted a defamation bill aimed at reforming the U.K.'s much-criticized libel laws. The measure had yet to go through parliament.

February 21, 2012 12:03 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   France

Attacks on the Press in 2011: France

France’s press freedom record continued a downward slide, in large part because authorities attempted to violate the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and interfere with editorial decisions. Most of the recent cases stemmed from the “Bettencourt affair,” the alleged illegal financing of the presidential party by the billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. In 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office ordered the secret services to identify sources leaking information about the matter to the press. Journalists from major media outlets were targeted, and the secret services obtained phone records of a Le Monde journalist. In October, the director of domestic intelligence was charged with violating the secrecy of correspondence and confidentiality of sources. Press-government relations were further strained during the 18-month abduction of two France 3 journalists in Afghanistan, which ended in June. Élysée Palace and the army had criticized the “recklessness” of the reporters. In November, the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed and its website was hacked after the satirical weekly published a spoof edition “guest-edited” by Prophet Muhammad.

February 21, 2012 12:02 AM ET

Letters   |   Kazakhstan

CPJ urges Kazakhstan to stop repressing media

Dear President Nazarbayev: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the ongoing crackdown by Kazakhstan's security service, the KNB, against independent journalists. The imprisonment of Vzglyad editor Igor Vinyavsky and interrogations of independent reporters by KNB agents appear to be reprisals for critical reporting on government policies, including a December 2011 confrontation in which authorities killed civilians.

February 16, 2012 3:02 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Kazakh authorities interrogate editor, raid newsroom

New York, February 2, 2012--The Kazakh security service, or KNB, must immediately cease intimidating Oksana Makushina, deputy editor of Golos Respubliki, and return reporting equipment confiscated today from the independent weekly, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Alerts   |   Kazakhstan

Editor detained, newsrooms raided in Kazakhstan

New York, January 24, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention by the Kazakh security service, or KNB, of Igor Vinyavsky, editor of the Almaty-based independent weekly Vzglyad, and calls for his immediate release. Vinyavsky was detained in an ongoing crackdown by the KNB on critical media and opposition activists, which also involved a raid on independent broadcaster Stan TV.

January 24, 2012 5:20 PM ET


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