CPJ in the Dominican Republic
CPJ Journalist Assistance Coordinator Elisabeth Witchel traveled to the
Dominican Republic in late March to visit Haitian journalist Pierre Elisem
(left) in the hospital. Elisem, director and owner of Radio Hispagnola,
in Haiti's northern city of Trou du Nord, was shot on February 21 by unidentified
gunmen. A bullet hit his neck, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. Witchel
and CPJ's Americas Program Coordinator Carlos LaurÌa helped arrange for
Elisem's evacuation to the Dominican Republic, where he was admitted to
a private clinic for treatment. CPJ continues to provide assistance for
Elisem's medical care.
CPJ in Russia and Kazakhstan
Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Alex Lupis traveled to
Moscow at the end of March to research and write a story about Chechen
journalist Ali Astamirov, who was working for Agence France-Presse when
he was abducted on July 7, 2003. Astamirov's whereabouts remain unknown.
While in Moscow, Lupis also met with Russian journalist Grigory Pasko,
a former military reporter who was released from prison in January 2003
after serving 45 months in jail for his work. Lupis then traveled to Kazakhstan,
where he participated in a training conference for Central Asian press
freedom activists. While there, Lupis met with the embattled staff of
the opposition newspaper Assandi Times, as well as Sergei Duvanov,
a prominent journalist known for his criticism of Kazakh authorities.
CPJ's advocacy bears results
Journalist gains asylum: CPJ helped Haitian journalist Jean
Roland Chery get asylum in the United States. Since then, Chery has been
working with Americas program to provide invaluable research about the
current crisis in Haiti.
Journalists released from prison after CPJ's sustained advocacy efforts:
The government of President Zine Al-Abdine Ben Ali released jailed cyberjournalist
Zouhair Yahyaoui on November 18, 2003. Yahyaoui, who edited and published
the online journal TUNeZINE, had been in prison since June 2002.
He was arrested and sentenced to 28 months in jail on charges of intentionally
publishing false information and using stolen communication lines to post
his Web site. See http://www.cpj.org/news/2003/Tunisia19nov03na.html
In January 2004, King Mohammed VI pardoned journalists Ali Lmrabet (left),
owner and editor of the weeklies Demain and Douman, and
Mohammed al-Herd, editor of the Oujda-based weekly Al-Sharq. Lmrabet
had been convicted of several charges, including "insulting the king,"
while al-Herd was found guilty of extolling terrorist acts. See: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Morocco07jan04na.html
On March 19, 2004, South Korean freelance photojournalist Jae Hyun
Seok was released from prison in Shandong Province, China. Seok, who was
arrested in January 2003, was serving a two-year sentence on charges of
human trafficking. At the time of his arrest, he was taking photographs
of North Korean refugees in Yantai, Shandong Province, who were boarding
fishing boats bound for South Korea and Japan. See: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/China19mar04na.html
Rakhim Esenov and Ashyrguly Bayryev, freelancers for the Turkmen Service
of the U.S. governmentfunded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),
were detained in late February and early March by agents from the National
Security Service (MNB) in the capital, Ashgabat. They were released in
March. Esenov was arrested and charged with instigating social, ethnic,
and religious hatred after smuggling 800 copies of his banned novel Ventsenosny
Skitalets (The Crowned Wanderer) into Turkmenistan. Bayryev was arrested
and charged with slander, with no explanation of the charge. Both journalists
have been told to stop reporting for RFE/RL and are not permitted to leave
Ashgabat. See: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Turkmen24mar04na.html
A judge granted bail to freelance journalist Khawar Mehdi Rizvi (right)
on March 27, 2004, in an anti-terrorism court in the southwestern Pakistani
city of Quetta. Police have accused Rizvi of fabricating video footage
of Taliban activity in Pakistan. Rizvi says is innocent, and that he was
tortured while in police custody. He is still charged with sedition, conspiracy,
and impersonation, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
New director of development
CPJ is pleased to announce that John Weis will be joining us as the
new director of development on April 26. John has been the deputy director
of development at Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for
Human Rights) for the last three years.
Grant From the Open Society Institute
CPJ is grateful to the Open Society Institute for its $25,000 grant
to the journalist assistance program.
CPJ's Campagna to moderate panel
Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna will moderate a panel discussion
on journalists' security issues in Iraq at the joint American Society
of Newspaper Editors-Newspaper Association of America (ASNE-NAA) convention
in Washington, D.C. on April 21. Panelists will include CPJ board member
Dave Marash of ABC News and "Nightline."