CPJ Update
April 2008
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

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CPJ Update
April 2008
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

In Spain, CPJ calls for release of jailed Cuban journalists

  Text Box: Carlos Lauría in Madrid

On March 17, five years after Cuba’s massive crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists, CPJ traveled to Madrid to present “Cuba’s Long Black Spring,” a special report detailing the 2003 crackdown and the toll it has taken on journalists and their families. At a well-attended press conference at the Press Association of Madrid, Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría discussed ongoing efforts to free more than 20 journalists still imprisoned in Cuba. Lauría was joined by Raúl Rivero, a Cuban journalist who spent more than a year in prison; Antonio Muñoz Molina, the Spanish writer; and Fernando González Urbaneja, president of the Press Association of Madrid.

The Spanish government has played a key role in the release of several independent Cuban journalists including José Gabriel Ramón Castillo and Alejandro González Raga. CPJ’s new Europe Consultant Borja Bergareche produced a video featuring the two Cuban journalists’ first interviews since their release in February.

In conjunc

tion with the report’s release, several prominent writers, including Noam Chomsky, Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Juan Goytisolo, voiced their support for those still imprisoned in Cuba. The report’s release received wide coverage in the international media, including stories by The Associated Press, CNN International, and a lengthy segment on Spanish news channel TVE.

As part of CPJ’s lunchtime discussion series, Lauría and Americas Researcher Maria Salazar led a discussion about the report and the future for journalists in Cuba at CPJ’s offices in New York on March 25.

Three journalists tell CPJ about the war in Iraq

Text Box: Bobby Gosh
Three veteran journalists who have reported from Iraq throughout the war spoke with Communications Director Abi Wright about their experiences covering the deadliest conflict for the press ever documented by CPJ. Their stories are featured in the Web-based video report Dateline Iraq, produced by Wright to mark the five-year anniversary of the war on March 19.

James Glanz, Baghdad bureau chief of The New York Times, Bobby Ghosh, Time magazine’s world editor, and freelance photographer Jehad Nga share personal anecdotes and discuss the increasing obstacles and dangers journalists face covering the Iraq war. Since the war started in March 2003, 127 journalists and 50 media workers have been killed.

In Ethiopia, CPJ helps foster independent press
CPJ’s long-term advocacy on behalf of Ethiopian journalists continued to pay dividends in March when the independent newspaper, Harambe, opened for business, joining two other papers that have started up since the media crackdown in 2005.  The founder of Harambe, Wosonseged Gebrekidan, was one of more than a dozen Ethiopian journalists imprisoned during the 2005 crackdown. CPJ lobbied for his release, and helped secure his freedom along with four other editors in August 2007.

CPJ has since urged Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government to allow independent papers such as Harambe to open. Throughout early 2008, CPJ was in direct contact with Ethiopian authorities, advocating for press licenses for five independent publications. CPJ also highlighted this issue in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to her meeting in December with Zenawi.

The situation for the press has improved since 2005, when eight newspapers were banned and 12 others shut down after post-election violence. CPJ continues to monitor the developments closely.

PODER magazine honors CPJ
Executive Director Joel Simon traveled to Miami to receive the “Freedom of the Press Award” at the fifth annual PODER-Boston Consulting Group Business Awards. Attended by business leaders, foundation heads, and philanthropists, the awards honor excellence in leadership in the Americas and throughout the world.

CPJ board member Norman Pearlstine was the moderator for the one-hour “Media and Philanthropy” panel, where Simon was a panelist. The panel discussed the power of the media to disseminate ideas and create change around the world.


CPJ to return to Kurdistan, release findings
Deputy Director Rob Mahoney and Middle East Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna will return to the Kurdistan region of Iraq later this month to urge the government to protect journalists’ rights to report the news.

After CPJ's mission in November, President Massoud Barzani refused to sign a press law that would have tightened restrictions on the media. CPJ lobbied strongly against the law. A report is scheduled to be released at the Kurdistan Press Association in the Kurdish capital of Arbil. The full text will appear in the next edition of Dangerous Assignments and will also be available online at www.cpj.org.  


CPJ to cosponsor Olympic panel in Paris
CPJ Board Chair Paul Steiger and Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz will travel to Paris in mid-April to take part in “Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom,” a panel sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers and the World Press Freedom Committee. CPJ will join other prominent human rights groups to push China to make reforms as the 2008 Summer Olympics approach.

Speakers will included recently freed Chinese journalist Ching Cheong, Gao Yu, an award-winning Chinese journalist, and Watson Meng, the founding editor of the Boxun News Web site.

More information about the conference can be found online.

CPJ investigates press freedom in Mexico
Americas Researcher María Salazar will travel to Mexico in late April to look at the media climate in the north and south of the country. The press freedom situation in Mexico remains tenuous, and the mission will focus on the issues of impunity, self-censorship, and safety for journalists working in all parts of the country. Salazar will take part in an international fact-finding mission about press freedom in Mexico organized by the Danish group International Media Support in conjunction with other international and local press freedom organizations.