New York, December 27, 2013--The Ukrainian government must ensure that a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation is conducted in the brutal attack early Wednesday on prominent journalist Tetyana Chornovol, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Chornovol remains hospitalized in the capital, Kiev, with a concussion and multiple head injuries.
New York, December 20, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's conviction by Moscow's Lyublinsky court of Russian businessman Pavel Sopot for inciting the 2000 murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Igor Domnikov. The court sentenced Sopot to a seven-year term in a high-security prison, and ordered him to pay the journalist's widow 1 million rubles (US$30,317) in compensation.
Istanbul, December 19, 2013--A Turkish journalist is the latest reporter to be abducted in Syria, where approximately 30 journalists are missing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Bünyamin Aygün, a photojournalist for the daily Milliyet, was abducted in November, but the case was not made public before this week.
New York, December 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports a Malian website based in Paris has been threatened by Mali's government after posting an Associated Press (AP) story today implicating Malian soldiers in extrajudicial killings.
New York, December 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of two Spanish journalists who were abducted in Syria almost three months ago. Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova have been held captive by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) since September 16, the families of the journalists announced today.
A video report by a Euronews cameraman shows him being attacked by police during clashes in Kiev. (YouTube/Euronews)
New York, December 2, 2013--At least 51 journalists were attacked while covering protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and other cities over the weekend, according to news reports and local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attacks and calls on Ukrainian authorities to ensure that journalists are free to cover political developments.
New York, November 26, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s conviction and sentencing of Russian opposition blogger Sergei Reznik to 18 months in prison in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. CPJ urges Russian authorities to scrap the verdict on appeal.
New York, November 18, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the many voices around the world demanding justice for murdered journalists and remembering the fallen on November 23, International Day to End Impunity. As Russia finalizes preparations for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and looks to its upcoming tenure on the U.N. Human Rights Council, this is the ideal time for Moscow to affirm its commitment to tackling impunity, CPJ said. Read the full letter.
New York, November 14, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan should release on appeal a journalist sentenced to four years in jail on trumped-up charges of hooliganism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The conviction comes as Azerbaijan is scheduled to assume the rotating chairmanship in the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe in May.
CPJ's 2013 International Press Freedom Awards
New York, November 13, 2013 -- Four outstanding journalists who have endured and defied media repression in Ecuador, Egypt, Turkey, and Vietnam will be honored with the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2013 International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous journalism. All have faced recrimination for their work, including harassment, imprisonment, and censorship. CPJ will present Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief of ProPublica and former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the cause of press freedom. The awards dinner is open for press coverage. Accreditation requests are accepted until noon on November 25.
New York, November 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today calls on Malian and French authorities to conduct an efficient investigation into the killings of two French journalists on Saturday and ensure the killers are brought to justice.
CPJ launches US report
Following CPJ's release of its report on the state of press freedom in the United States, the organization is pursuing high-level meetings with the White House. CPJ had drafted six recommendations that were shared with President Obama, including calling for a guarantee that journalists would not be at legal risk or prosecuted for receiving confidential and/or classified information.
CPJ continues to work toward securing a meeting with the Obama administration in order to discuss the report's findings.
"Given our 32-year history fighting for press freedom around the world, we believe CPJ can make an important contribution to the press freedom concerns and debate in the United States," CPJ Chairman Sandy Rowe wrote in a blog published the day after the report.
New York, October 31, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a decision by the Moscow City Court today to revoke the license of independent online news agency Rosbalt and urges Russian authorities to overturn the ruling on appeal.
New York, October 28, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Britain's three main political parties to reconsider a royal charter that would establish a new press regulator in the United Kingdom. The Privy Council, the assembly that formally advises the Queen, is scheduled to review on Wednesday the proposed charter agreed by the three parties.
New York, October 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's statement today in which he urged members of parliament to investigate whether the Guardian had broken the law or damaged national security by publishing the NSA files.
New York, October 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the abduction of two French journalists in Syria and calls on all sides of the conflict to stop targeting the press. Nicolas Hénin, who regularly reports for French news magazine Le Point and Franco-German TV channel Arte, and Pierre Torres, a photographer covering local elections, were abducted by an unidentified group in Raqqa on June 22, the French Foreign Ministry said today in a statement.
On September 18, 2013, British freelance journalist and former videographer for The Times of London Kieron Bryan, 29, was detained along with Russian freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and 28 Greenpeace activists and ship crew members off the north coast of Russia. Bryan was covering a Greenpeace demonstration in protest of oil mining in the Arctic, according to local and international press reports.
Upon receiving the news, Hinostroza told CPJ: "It will be an honor for me to receive this recognition, which will drive me to continue working for freedom of expression in my country and support the different processes that are being developed around the world to defend this right."
New York, September 27, 2013--Russian authorities should immediately release a freelance photographer who was detained nine days ago while covering a Greenpeace demonstration, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A court on Thursday ordered Denis Sinyakov to be held for two months pending an investigation into accusations of piracy, news reports said.
New York, September 24, 2013--Uzbek authorities should immediately release Sergei Naumov, an independent freelance journalist who reports on human rights abuses in the closed Central Asian society, and scrap the fabricated charges against him on appeal.
New York, September 19, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan must immediately release a journalist who was arrested on Tuesday on fabricated charges and ordered detained for two months, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The press in Azerbaijan must be allowed to freely cover the country's next presidential vote, scheduled for October 9, if it is to be legitimate, CPJ said.
Ankara, September 17, 2013--Heated anti-press rhetoric, the firing of leading journalists, threats to restrict online speech, and a series of physical and legal assaults further damaged the press freedom environment in Turkey in the months following the Gezi Park protests that began last May. In a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the government to take specific action to address the crisis.
Dear Prime Minister Erdoğan, as an independent international press freedom advocacy organization, we are concerned about the continued press freedom crisis in Turkey. We believe the government's failure to safeguard press freedom undermines the great strengths of your nation.
New York, August 23, 2013--The next president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should ensure that future host countries comply with human rights in full accordance with the Olympic Charter, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said today. On August 2, 2013, Human Rights Watch and CPJ sent a letter to the six IOC presidential candidates asking for their views on several rights issues relevant to the Olympic Movement and in particular to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron: The U.K.'s use of anti-terror laws to seize journalistic material from David Miranda, partner and assistant to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, is deeply troubling and not in keeping with the U.K's historic commitment to press freedom. We call on you to launch a thorough and transparent investigation and to ensure that his confiscated equipment and data are returned at once.
Istanbul, August 7, 2013--A Turkish appellate court should overturn the convictions of numerous journalists who have been convicted in connection with Ergenekon, a broad anti-government conspiracy, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The journalists were convicted on flawed penal and anti-terror laws that conflate news coverage and commentary with terrorism.
New York, August 5, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan should stop their practice of jailing journalists in retaliation for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A district court in Baku on Friday ordered the imprisonment of Sardar Alibeili, chief editor of the independent newspaper P.S. Nota, for two months pending investigation of a criminal hooliganism charge, according to news reports. Alibeili, who has faced trumped-up charges in the past, faces up to seven years in jail on the new charge, the reports said.
New York, July 29, 2013--Federal authorities in Ukraine should take over the investigation into today's brutal attack on a TV journalist who had regularly reported on allegations of corruption in the regional police force, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Sergei Ostapenko, a reporter for Irta, suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the attack outside his apartment building in Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, according to news reports.
New York, July 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that numerous Turkish journalists, including the leading columnist Yavuz Baydar, have been fired or forced to resign from news outlets in apparent retaliation for their independent coverage of anti-government demonstrations that swept the country.
New York, July 22, 2013--Two assailants on Sunday severely beat Oleg Bogdanov, a Ukrainian journalist who has been subjected to an escalating series of attacks in recent months that have included threats and an arson attack on his car, according to news reports.
New York, July 18, 2013--Russian authorities must free on appeal the anti-corruption blogger and opposition activist Aleksei Navalny, who was convicted on politicized charges of embezzlement today and sentenced to five years in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Navalny was jailed immediately after the verdict was announced, according to news reports.
New York, July 17, 2013--As a court prepares to review the case of Belarusian journalist Irina Khalip on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on local authorities to end their persecution of Khalip and allow her return to a free life.
New York, July 11, 2013--A court in western Kazakhstan has sentenced four men to terms ranging from 11 to 15 years for carrying out the brutal attack on Kazakh journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov in April 2012, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes this conviction, but calls on Kazakh authorities to identify the masterminds behind the attack and bring them to justice.
New York, July 9, 2013--Four Turkish journalists in Egypt were briefly taken into military custody today, following an assault on another Turk on Sunday, according to news reports. Separately, an Egyptian journalist was severely beaten by Muslim Brotherhood supporters last week.
New York, July 9, 2013--Today's murder of an editor in the volatile republic of Dagestan is a grim reminder that Russia is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, deputy editor of the independent news outlet Novoye Delo and a contributor to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel, had been the target of previous threats and attacks.
New York, June 27, 2013--Uzbek President Islam Karimov should follow through on his public commitment today to support his country's journalists by releasing the unjustly jailed reporter Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. News accounts have reported that the health of Abdurakhmanov, who has been imprisoned since 2008, has deteriorated in prison.
New York, June 26, 2013--Prosecution and court authorities in the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk should act immediately to rescind an order that blocks public access to an independent news site, among several others, in a case notably lacking in evidence, legal basis, and fair play, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, June 24, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a spurious and inflammatory Twitter campaign begun Sunday by Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek against a local BBC reporter. Gökçek labeled BBC reporter Selin Girit as a traitor and a spy in apparent disagreement with the BBC's coverage of anti-government protests that have swept the country.
Istanbul, June 20, 2013--Two journalists were detained and one newsroom raided this week as Turkish authorities continued a broad crackdown on dissent, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government to halt its obstruction of journalists seeking to cover the protests that have swept the nation.
Istanbul, June 17, 2013--Anti-press violence intensified in Istanbul on Sunday as police aggressively sought to obstruct reporters covering demonstrations against the government, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to halt their harassment of the press.
New York, June 17, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan should lift the travel ban imposed against journalist Mehman Huseynov and allow him to travel freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Istanbul, June 14, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Turkish state media regulator to reverse its decision to penalize four TV stations in connection with their coverage of the demonstrations that have occurred nationwide over the past two weeks.
New York, June 7, 2013--Two French journalists covering the Syrian conflict have been reported missing by their employer, according to news reports. The news comes amid reports that two other international journalists missing in Syria since April are alive.
Istanbul, June 6, 2013--Turkish police have targeted journalists photographing law enforcement clashes with protesters in a series of attacks, detentions, and obstructions documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Istanbul, June 5, 2013--Turkish authorities should not interfere with the free flow of information online or in any other media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a senior government official suggested Internet restrictions could be in the offing.
Istanbul, June 3, 2013--The press has come under fire from both government officials and protesters amid nationwide demonstrations in Turkey, with instances of attacks, obstruction, detention, and vandalism being reported, according to news accounts and local journalists.
Istanbul, May 31, 2013--At least two journalists were reported injured today as Turkish police trained water cannons and tear gas on peaceful protesters in the city's central Taksim Square, according to news accounts and CPJ interviews.
Istanbul, May 24, 2013--Turkish authorities should reverse on appeal the jail term handed down this week to a Turkish Armenian author and blogger who was convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, May 20, 2013--Several assailants beat two reporters covering an opposition protest outside Ukrainian Interior Ministry headquarters in Kiev on Saturday in view of police officers who failed to intervene, according to local and international press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the beating and the inaction of police, and it calls on authorities to hold both assailants and officers fully accountable under the law.
New York, May 14, 2013--Azerbaijani parliament's approval to extend criminal defamation laws to include Internet speech is a serious setback for press freedom in a country that severely curtails free expression already, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ calls on President Ilham Aliyev to veto the bill.
New York, May 13, 2013--Syrian authorities must immediately release and ensure the well-being of a German freelance journalist who has reportedly been detained for more than a week, according to the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.
New York, May 8, 2013--Today's arrest in Moscow of a local businessman suspected of organizing a brutal attack that led to the death in 2000 of investigative reporter Igor Domnikov is a long-overdue step toward justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Russian authorities must now ensure that all of those involved in planning the attack are brought to justice, CPJ said.
New York, April 30, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the well-being of two European journalists who went missing in western Syria three weeks ago. News reports identified the journalists as Domenico Quirico, a veteran reporter for the Italian daily La Stampa, and Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a Belgian academic and freelance writer, although the accounts did not say if the two were traveling together.
Police in Minsk on April 26, 2013, detained for three days two reporters for the Poland-based Radio Racyja, according to the local press. The journalists, Gennady Barbarich and Aleksandr Yaroshevich, were taken into police custody on disobedience charges after reporting on a state-authorized rally, called Chernobylskiy Shlyakh, in commemoration of the April 1986 nuclear plant explosion in Chernobyl.
Istanbul, April 25, 2013--An Istanbul court convicted a Turkish editor of "publicly insulting the president" and sentenced him to a conditional term of 14 months in prison, according to news reports. Ali Örnek would be jailed if he repeats the perceived offense sometime in the next five years under amendments to Turkey's criminal code introduced in 2012.
The Italian Foreign Minister announced in a statement on April 13, 2013, that four Italian journalists abducted in northern Syria on April 4, 2013, had been released. News accounts reported that the journalists were believed to have been held for more than a week by the rebel group, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, but the foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the information.
New York, April 15, 2013--Prosecutors in Abakan, capital of the Republic of Khakassia in southern Siberia, should drop the criminal defamation charges against an online journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. News accounts are reporting that after four months of investigation, Mikhail Afanasyev's case is moving to court, although no date has yet been set.
New York, April 9, 2013--Lawyers for Ferghana News, a website blocked in Kyrgyzstan for more than a year, have filed an appeal urging the courts to overturn the ban that they say violates fundamental civil rights. The Committee to Protect Journalists urges the court to find in favor of the website and order restoration of domestic access immediately.
New York, April 5, 2013--An Azerbaijani court has sentenced the editor of a religious news website to eight years in prison on charges related to his coverage of events involving the Muslim community. The Committee to Protect Journalists considers the charges to be fabricated and calls on the courts to overturn the conviction on appeal.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron: You recently spoke out in defense of press freedom in Africa by raising the case of an imprisoned Somali journalist when you met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The journalist was subsequently released. The moral authority of a British prime minister to mount such a defense stems in part from Britain's history of nearly 300 years without government regulation of the press.
New York, April 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ongoing imprisonment of independent Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov, whose health has severely deteriorated in jail, and urges authorities to immediately release him so that he may receive medical care. Bekjanov and a colleague, both of whom were jailed in 1999, have been in prison for longer than any other journalists worldwide, according to CPJ research.
Jörg Armbruster, a correspondent for the German public broadcaster ARD, was seriously injured by gunfire during a military clash in Aleppo on March 29, 2013, according to news reports. After emergency surgery inside Syria on the same day, Armbruster was transferred by ambulance to Turkey, where he was treated by an emergency medical team. After his condition stabilized, he was evacuated to Stuttgart on April 1, according to the ARD subsidiary SWR.
New York, March 18, 2013--An appellate court in Azerbaijan should overturn the baseless convictions of two journalists charged with inciting mass disorder, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, March 18, 2013--A member of Russia's parliament has used his public Twitter account to threaten two journalists with the independent daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, according to news reports.
Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the deteriorating climate of press freedom in Azerbaijan, which undermines your government's commitments to press freedom and human rights, mars the country's international image, and obstructs the transparency of the upcoming October presidential vote in which you reportedly plan to seek re-election. We call on you to start reversing this trend and allow the press to report freely without fear of imprisonment, attacks, or politicized lawsuits.
A court in the city of Adana released Özlem Ağuş, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), from prison on February 25, 2013, pending a trial, DIHA reported. The journalist was imprisoned on March 6, 2012, on charges that included membership in the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, which the government designated a terrorist group.
New York, March 6, 2013--Ukrainian authorities must apprehend the assailants who brutally attacked an independent editor on Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On February 11, three unidentified assailants attacked and beat Victor Nedosvetey, editor of the regional newspaper Nepravilnaya Gazeta, in the city of Naryan-Mar, capital of Russia's northwestern Nenets Autonomous District, his news outlet reported.
Dear Prosecutor General Salyanova: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the case of Azimjon Askarov, an investigative reporter and human rights activist imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan. CPJ has written widely about Askarov, who was sentenced to a life term on fabricated charges in a trial marred by procedural violations. Now, following new evidence that has come to light, we ask that you respect Kyrgyzstan's commitment to the rule of law and fulfill the public pledges that President Almazbek Atambayev has made in regards to the journalist's case.
New York, February 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by today's defamation ruling against independent Tajik weekly Imruz News in closed court proceedings, the organization said.
New York, February 19, 2013--Belarusian authorities must stop harassing Irina Khalip and trying to force the prominent Novaya Gazeta reporter into exile, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement today.
On Monday, Aleksandr Kupchenya, head of the corrections department of the Minsk City Police Directorate, told Khalip that she should use the opportunity of her travel ban being temporarily lifted to leave the country permanently, she told the Minsk-based Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).
CPJ's Robert Mahoney identifies the 10 countries where press freedom suffered the most in 2012. They include Syria, the world's deadliest country for the press; Russia, where repressive laws took effect; Brazil, where journalist murders soared; and Ethiopia, where terror laws are used to silence the press. (3:26)
Countries hosting the Olympics assume global obligations. What if they renege? By Nina Ognianova and Kristin Jones
Press freedom remained in a deep freeze under authoritarian leader Islam Karimov. The authorities continued to imprison critical journalists on lengthy terms. Muhammad Bekjanov, one of the two longest-imprisoned journalists in the world, was sentenced to an additional prison term just days before his scheduled release. The handful of independent journalists in the country faced politicized prosecution, censorship, and other forms of repression. The authorities permitted minimal Western media presence. A BBC journalist who broke a story on forced sterilization of Uzbek women was barred from entering the country in February. The authorities continued their practice of hiring “experts” to build fabricated criminal cases against journalists on charges ranging from national defamation to extremism. Using that tactic, prosecutors filed criminal cases against two independent reporters in 2012. The government’s vast censorship practices earned it a place on CPJ’s 10 Most Censored Countries list, published in May. The authorities aggressively expanded censorship during the year: The state communications agency was told to block websites deemed “threatening to the nation’s information space”; the education ministry barred college students from visiting Internet cafés; and the government raided and seized control of the local branch of the Russian telecommunications company, MTS, causing up to 10 million Uzbeks to lose mobile Internet and phone access. In a July documentary, a state-owned broadcaster called online activism a weapon worse than bombs.
The Leveson inquiry, begun in 2011 after revelations of phone-hacking and other ethical lapses by the press, drew to a close with the issuance of a lengthy report that proposed the creation of an independent regulatory body backed by statute. Critics, including CPJ, warned that statutory regulation would infringe on press freedom; Prime Minister David Cameron urged instead that the industry strengthen self-regulation. Some progress was made toward the reform of libel laws, which are highly unfavorable to journalists because they allow for “libel tourism,” the practice of filing claims based on minimum circulation within the United Kingdom even when plaintiffs and defendants are not based there. Libel legislation introduced in May would limit long and costly proceedings and make it easier for frivolous cases to be quickly dismissed. Press freedom advocates said such reform would be an important step forward, but urged lawmakers to strengthen public-interest defense and protect Internet service providers. The measure was pending in the House of Lords in late year. In June, the Home Office proposed a measure to increase government surveillance of all online communications. The proposal met with strong criticism--detractors called it the “snooper’s charter”--and a Parliamentary review committee dismissed it as excessive. The government sought to allow Sweden to extradite Julian Assange for questioning in an alleged assault, prompting the WikiLeaks founder to take refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. One journalist in Belfast was threatened in 2012, and the 11-year-old murder of Irish reporter Martin O’Hagen remained unsolved.
As Ukraine prepared to assume the 2013 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the nation’s leaders undermined one of the organization’s core values: freedom of the press. Censorship, denial of public information, physical attacks against reporters, and politicized lawsuits against news outlets marred the nation’s press freedom climate, the Kiev-based Institute for Mass Information, or IMI, reported. The boldest attack against the free press was parliament’s vote to criminalize defamation. Legislators were forced to withdraw the bill within weeks in the face of nationwide protests and international outcry. Protests also greeted a government tax investigation into the opposition broadcaster TVi. Starting in July, tax police and prosecutors raided the station’s newsroom and froze its bank accounts. Prosecutors eventually dropped their case against TVi owner Nikolai Knyazhitskiy but imposed a fine against the station. Impunity prevailed in ongoing assaults against reporters, as it did in the 2000 murder of Georgy Gongadze, the first online reporter in the world to be killed for his work. Although the trial of a former Interior Ministry general on charges of carrying out Gongadze’s brutal slaying began in July 2011, the proceedings ground away without resolution in late 2012. The prosecution has been pockmarked by the government’s procedural missteps. In June, an appellate court said prosecutors could not pursue a case against former president Leonid Kuchma, who has long been accused of ordering the murder.
With 49 journalists imprisoned for their work as of December 1, Turkey emerged as the world’s worst jailer of the press. Kurdish journalists, charged with supporting terrorism by covering the activities of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, made up the majority of the imprisoned journalists. They are charged under a vague anti-terror law that allows the authorities to equate coverage of banned groups with terrorism itself. A CPJ special report issued in October found highly repressive aspects of the penal code and anti-terror law, a criminal procedure code that favors the state, and a harsh anti-press tone set at the top levels of government. Intense government pressure caused media owners to dismiss critical journalists and generated pervasive self-censorship throughout the profession. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has filed several defamation lawsuits in recent years, publicly denigrated numerous critical journalists. CPJ conducted three fact-finding and advocacy missions to Turkey in 2012, meeting with journalists, lawyers, diplomats, and Turkey’s justice minister, Sadullah Ergin. CPJ urged Ergin to undertake a case-by-case review of all detained journalists.
Authoritarian leader Emomali Rahmon praised journalists' mission at a ceremony said to mark the centennial of the Tajik press, but his speech came with a contradictory message: Rahmon urged news outlets not to publish reports that could damage Tajikistan's international image, cause pessimism, or undermine public order. Such was the gap between rhetoric and reality. Rahmon signed into law a measure decriminalizing libel, even as statutes still impose prison penalties of up to five years for coverage deemed insulting to the president. The authorities blocked access to several independent news websites for up to three months after the outlets questioned the official account of a security general's killing and alleged that Rahmon had stepped up surveillance of local religious groups. Among the blocked outlets were both local and international outlets, including the popular Asia Plus, Ferghana News, Lenta, and the BBC, the Dushanbe-based National Association of Independent Mass Media in Tajikistan reported. The authorities also announced the creation of a volunteer-staffed cyberunit to identify supposedly extremist content and material insulting to the president. Citing the unit's findings, the state communications chief declared Facebook a "hotbed of slander" and ordered it blocked nationwide.
The beginning of Vladimir Putin’s third term as president was marked by a crackdown on civil society and critical opinion. Putin signed laws that suppress dissent by limiting public assembly, criminalizing defamation, and authorizing state censorship of critical websites. A Cold War-era chill settled in as lawmakers passed a measure requiring nongovernmental groups receiving international grants to register as “foreign agents,” and the administration expelled the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations children’s agency. Illustrating the growing climate of intolerance, a court convicted members of a punk band on “hooliganism” charges and sentenced them to prison in connection with an anti-Putin stunt at a Moscow church. Deadly anti-press violence persisted: Assailants in the North Caucasus city of Nalchik gunned down a news anchor for the state-owned broadcaster VGTRK. Authorities made little substantive progress in addressing impunity in previous journalist murders. A former police colonel was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of helping plot the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Family and colleagues were dismayed that the suspect made a deal with investigators to be tried behind closed doors. And the country’s top criminal investigator threatened a leading newspaper editor in response to a critical commentary.
President Almazbek Atambayev and his ministers declared their commitment to press freedom and rule of law even as government agencies routinely subjected independent reporters to intimidation. Kyrgyzstan resisted domestic and international calls for the release of Azimjon Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek investigative reporter and human rights defender serving a life term on fabricated charges, including the murder of a police officer during ethnic violence and inciting ethnic hatred. In a June special report, CPJ found that regional authorities targeted, tortured, and imprisoned Askarov in retaliation for his coverage of the June 2010 conflict between ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz residents in the south, along with his long record of in-depth reporting on abuses by regional police. The 2010 clashes continued to cast a shadow over Kyrgyzstan's press freedom record. In February, the authorities blocked domestic access to the independent regional news website Ferghana News stemming from its reporting on the conflict. Uzbek-language media outlets, which were forced to close in the aftermath of the conflict, began to make their way back into the market, but in smaller numbers, local press freedom groups reported. As in previous years, independent journalists and news outlets battled politicized prosecutions and retaliatory lawsuits. Impunity continued in the 2007 murder of prominent editor Alisher Saipov and in the 2011 attack on his brother, journalist Shokhrukh Saipov.
Nursultan Nazarbayev's authoritarian government cracked down on critical news coverage with a flurry of early-year legislation and newsroom raids that came just weeks after deadly clashes between police and striking oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen. In January, in the wake of the December 2011 labor unrest, Nazarbayev's government enacted legislation barring distribution of print or electronic news that the authorities deem a threat to national security. The authorities also imposed new regulations that require Internet café managers to block access to blacklisted websites and proxy servers, monitor client activity, and share client information with government security services. A third measure requires international broadcasters airing programming in Kazakhstan to register with the state. The government also deployed KNB security agents to harass news media that covered the violent crackdown against the strikers, which left 16 civilians dead. Agents raided the independent broadcaster Stan TV, demanded its recorded material concerning Zhanaozen, and interrogated its 15 journalists about the clashes. The KNB also detained editor Igor Vinyavsky for several weeks and intimidated his family and colleagues when they denounced the arrest. In November, just weeks after Kazakhstan was elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, authorities asked the courts to shut dozens of critical news outlets on extremism and mass disorder charges in connection to their reporting on Zhanaozen clashes. Unknown assailants shot and stabbed Lukpan Akhmedyarov, an award-winning journalist who had criticized official actions in Zhanaozen. He was among five critical news reporters who were brutally attacked in separate assaults during the year. All of the attacks remained unsolved in late year.
Despite pressure from the European Commission, the Hungarian government implemented a media law that requires "balanced reporting" and imposes fines for transgressions. The government adopted only minor amendments in response to demands from the commission. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing party, Fidesz, was able to withstand the pressure thanks to the support of the European People's Party and the underlying fears of EU member states about conceding sovereignty to Brussels. The restrictive media law was a barometer of a wider pattern of deteriorating press freedom. Opposition media faced financial pressure as most public and private advertising went to pro-government outlets. The government-controlled Media Council sought to award the FM frequency of Klubrádió, a leading opposition station, to a rival broadcaster in a long-running battle that was pending in late year. While segments of private media remain critical, public broadcasting was under tight government control.
After five years of tension between the media and Élysée Palace under Nicolas Sarkozy, a new Socialist government sought to cool down the atmosphere. President François Hollande promised to review his predecessor’s policies on public broadcasting and to give up the presidential privilege of directly appointing its executives. The judiciary brought good news for the press: A judge dismissed a criminal case against Augustin Scalbert, a Rue89 journalist indicted in June 2010 on charges of “stealing and keeping” a video that showed Sarkozy scolding France 3 journalists. And prosecutor Philippe Courroye was indicted on charges of unlawfully trying to identify the sources used by Le Monde journalists investigating the Bettencourt affair, the questionable funding of Sarkozy’s party by billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. But a number of media outlets faced new lawsuits claiming defamation or insult (Mediapart, Libération), and endangerment of life or incitement to hatred (Charlie Hebdo). Several French journalists were also victims of violence: Gilles Jacquier and Rémi Ochlik were killed and Edith Bouvier was wounded in Syria, while Roméo Langlois was abducted in Colombia.
President Aleksandr Lukashenko presided over one of the world's most censored nations, continuing policies that sought to suffocate critical journalism and dissenting opinion. At least four reporters, all of them known for critical coverage, were barred from traveling outside the country in March. Another four reporters were jailed during the year, while numerous others faced threats, harassment, fines, and assaults. The government's repressive practices were illustrated by its harsh reaction to a Swedish ad agency stunt in which hundreds of teddy bears pinned with press freedom slogans were airdropped over the country. The KGB jailed one reporter who covered the stunt, and interrogated and fined two others who published photos and stories about the airdrop. The episode led to the sacking of top army generals and a foreign minister, along with the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador. The country grew increasingly isolated during the year. In February, the government expelled Polish and European Union ambassadors after the EU widened travel bans against Belarusian officials due to the country's human rights failures. Lukashenko himself was subjected to an embarrassing travel restriction: He was barred from the 2012 Olympic Games in London because of an EU travel ban imposed after Minsk harshly cracked down on election protests in December 2010. In September 2012, the country's parliamentary election was marred by reports that election officials obstructed opposition candidates seeking to register, that state-controlled media refused to grant opposition candidates equitable coverage, and that the KGB cracked down on online activists. Throughout the year, critical media--both local and international--faced domestic blocking online, denial of accreditation, and distribution hurdles.
Baku viciously cracked down on domestic dissent as it hosted two major international events, the Eurovision 2012 song contest and the Internet Governance Forum. Authorities imprisoned at least nine critical journalists on a variety of retaliatory charges, including hooliganism, drug possession, and extortion. CPJ concluded that the charges were fabricated. International human rights groups, including CPJ, criticized the Eurovision organizer, the European Broadcasting Union, for standing by passively as President Ilham Aliyev’s government jailed and intimidated detractors. The broadcasting union, while expressing concern about the abuses, said the contest was an “apolitical” event. Several independent journalists, including award-winning reporter Idrak Abbasov, were brutally assaulted on assignment, but the assailants, believed to have included police and security officers, enjoyed impunity. Investigative journalist Khadija Ismailova was subjected to a contemptible intimidation campaign after reporting on the ruling family’s extensive business interests. State media smeared her reputation, and anonymous individuals circulated intimate videos and photos. Parliament responded to Ismailova’s coverage by passing legislation giving the president broad immunity from prosecution and barring corporations from disclosing a wide range of financial information. Aliyev signed the bills into law in July.
Analyses and data track press freedom conditions. Elisabeth Witchel recounts a mother's anguished pursuit of justice in Russia. Nina Ognianova and Kristin Jones examine the implications of repressive nations hosting the Olympics. And Jean-Paul Marthoz reveals the censorship imposed by religious extremists.
Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world's worst jailer. A CPJ special report
Attacks on the Press | Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand
New York, February 13, 2013--A state prosecutor in Baku, the capital, asked a court today to convict imprisoned journalist Avaz Zeynally on charges of extortion and bribery and sentence him to 11 years in jail, according to news reports. Zeynally, editor of the independent daily Khural, has been held in pretrial detention since October 2011.
Istanbul, February 11, 2013--The release of at least seven journalists and media workers from pretrial detention is a positive step toward restoring the press freedom climate in Turkey, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, February 6, 2013--Authorities in Kazakhstan should cease harassing the staff of embattled independent newspaper Respublika, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, February 6, 2013--Azerbaijani authorities should drop charges of organizing mass disorder against Tofiq Yaqublu, a columnist for leading opposition daily Yeni Musavat, and immediately release him from jail, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron: In anticipation of your meeting with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud next week, we would like to bring to your attention recent actions taken by the Somali government, as well as the increasing number of unsolved journalist murders in the country.
New York, January 29, 2013--The conviction today of a former high-ranking Ukrainian police official in the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze is a long-overdue step, but justice will not be fully served until all of the perpetrators are held responsible, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Gongadze, founder and editor of the critical news website Ukrainska Pravda, was the first online journalist worldwide to be murdered for his work, according to CPJ research.
January 22, 2013, Istanbul, Turkey--Turkish authorities should halt their practice of jailing journalists on vague anti-terror charges and allow the local press to report freely without fear of imprisonment or harassment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, January 17, 2013--Tajik authorities must lift their order blocking domestic access to at least three news websites that have reported critically about issues such as energy shortages, rising unemployment, and human rights abuses, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The order, which also applied to Facebook, is at least the fourth such ban since the beginning of 2012.
A journalist in Astana, the capital, said in a press conference on January 4, 2013, that he had staged his own disappearance in December to attract government attention to ongoing abuses in the country, according to news reports. Local journalists and press freedom organizations condemned the act, which they said caused "great damage" to the Kazakh press.
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