As of December 1, 2009 | » Read the accompanying report: "FREELANCERS UNDER FIRE"
You need to upgrade your Flash Player
You need to upgrade your Flash Player
Freelance / Staff
You need to upgrade your Flash Player
Imprisoned: April 20, 2007
Authorities jailed Fatullayev, editor of the now-closed independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gündalik Azarbaycan, after convicting him on a series of politically motivated criminal charges.
The persecution of Fatullayev began shortly after he published an article alleging an official cover-up in the 2005 slaying of journalist Elmar Huseynov, editor of the opposition weekly Monitor. Fatullayev was an investigative reporter for the Monitor, which closed after the murder.
Fatullayev launched Realny Azerbaijan as a successor to the Monitor--and he set out to find Huseynov's killers. In March 2007, he produced an in-depth article that charged Azerbaijani authorities with ignoring evidence in the murder and obstructing the investigation. The piece, "Lead and Roses," alleged that Huseynov's murder was ordered by high-ranking officials in Baku and carried out by a criminal group.
Within a month, in April 2007, a Yasamal District Court judge convicted Fatullayev of defaming the entire Azerbaijani population in an Internet posting that was falsely attributed to him. The posting, published on several Web sites, said Azerbaijanis bore some responsibility for the 1992 killings of residents of the restive Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to local news reports. Fatullayev was sentenced to a 30-month term and jailed immediately, according to the independent news agency Turan.
With Fatullayev jailed, authorities evicted Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan from their Baku offices, citing purported fire safety and building code violations. Both later stopped publishing.
More charges followed. In October 2007, a judge in the Azerbaijani Court of Serious Crimes found Fatullayev guilty of terrorism, incitement to ethnic hatred, and tax evasion. Fatullayev's sentences were consolidated, and he was ordered to serve eight years and six months in prison in all. The terrorism and incitement charges stemmed from a Realny Azerbaijan commentary headlined "The Aliyevs Go to War," which sharply criticized President Ilham Aliyev's foreign policy regarding Iran. The tax evasion charge alleged that Fatullayev had concealed income from his two publications.
The Supreme Court denied Fatullayev's appeal in June 2008, ending domestic legal avenues. Fatullayev appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, which began reviewing the case in September 2008, his lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, told CPJ. The case was pending in late year.
In November, CPJ honored Fatullayev with its International Press Freedom Award.
Imprisoned: November 10, 2007
On November 7, 2007, an unknown couple assailed Zakhidov, editor of the pro-opposition daily Azadlyg, on a Baku street. Zakhidov told local reporters that the woman started screaming as if he had insulted her; a moment later, the man tried to attack him. With the help of passers-by, the journalist said, he was able to fend them off. But the couple later filed a complaint with police, claiming that the editor had assaulted them.
Authorities acted with remarkable speed: On November 10, 2007, a judge at the Yasamal District Court of Baku placed Zakhidov in pretrial detention after police had interrogated him for nine hours. He was charged with "hooliganism" and inflicting "minor bodily harm."
Zakhidov had long been at odds with authorities because of his work for one of Azerbaijan's most critical newspapers. He is also the brother of prominent satirist Sakit Zakhidov, who was also jailed at the time on politicized charges. Sakit Zakhidov was released in April 2009, having served all but two and a half months of a three-year prison term.
On March 7, 2008, a Baku district court sentenced Genimet Zakhidov to four years in jail, despite contradictory testimony from prosecution witnesses and the absence of any evidence of "bodily harm," the journalist's lawyer, Elchin Sadygov, told CPJ. Eyewitnesses for the defense were barred from testifying, he said. Zakhidov was given the maximum penalty allowed by law.
In September 2009, the Azizbayov District Court in Baku rejected a defense bid for a lighter punishment, the independent news Web site Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The court's stated reason: Zakhidov had been reprimanded after he refused to join a volleyball game with inmates, the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety reported.
Imprisoned: July 8, 2009
Baku police detained Milli, 30, publisher of the blog ANTV, and Hajizade, 26, a video blogger and coordinator of the Azerbaijani youth movement Ol! (Yes!), after the two reported that they had been attacked at a local restaurant.
Milli and Hajizade were debating politics with friends when two unknown men interrupted their conversation and started a brawl, they said. When the bloggers went to report the assault to local police, they were arrested for "hooliganism," a criminal charge that carries up to five years in jail. A second charge of "inflicting bodily harm" was added in August. On November 11, a Sabail District Court judge pronounced the bloggers guilty, sentencing Milli to two and a half years in jail and Hajizade to two years.
Shortly before their detention, Milli and Hajizade had posted video sketches that criticized Azerbaijani government policies. They interviewed local residents and posted their opinions online, sharing them through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. Among the issues discussed on their blogs were education, corruption, and poor infrastructure in Azerbaijan, according to multiple news reports and CPJ sources.
Domestic and international rights groups condemned the arrests of Milli and Hajizade as staged by authorities in retaliation for the critical content of their blogs. According to multiple sources, a satirical video the bloggers produced and posted on YouTube in late June may have prompted their arrests. The video criticized the country's importation of donkeys, supposedly at high prices. The sketch depicted a fictional press conference at which Hajizade, wearing a donkey suit, talked to a group of Azerbaijani "journalists."
Imprisoned: October 8, 2009
Editor-in-Chief Alibeili and reporter Novruzoglu were sentenced to three months in prison on charges of insulting the chairman of the pro-government organization Azadlyg Harakatchilari (Freedom Movement) in six Nota articles, according to local press reports and CPJ sources. The articles, published in February and March, accused the group and its chairman, Tahmasib Novruzov, of being government mouthpieces, according to CPJ sources.
In October, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld a trial court's guilty verdict. Alibeili and Novruzoglu, who is also known as Faramaz Allahverdiyev, were taken to prison immediately after the appellate verdict was read.
Novruzoglu and Alibeili had been targeted with criminal defamation complaints in the past. In January 2007, Novruzoglu was given a two-year prison term and Alibeili an 18-month corrective labor sentence on charges of defaming Interior Minister Ramil Usubov in a series of articles that discussed friction and alleged corruption in the ministry. Novruzoglu's health deteriorated in prison and, after a barrage of domestic and international protests, he was released on a presidential pardon in December 2007.
Imprisoned: February 2004
Ne Min, a lawyer and a former stringer for the BBC, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 7, 2004, on charges that he illegally passed information to "antigovernment" organizations operating in border areas, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
It was the second time that Burma's military government had imprisoned the well-known journalist, also known as Win Shwe, on charges related to disseminating information to news sources outside of Burma. In 1989, a military tribunal sentenced Ne Min to 14 years of hard labor for "spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country" and "possession of documents including antigovernment literature, which he planned to send to the BBC," according to official radio reports. He served nine years at Rangoon's Insein Prison before being released in 1998.
Exiled Burmese journalists who spoke with CPJ said that Ne Min had provided news to political groups and exile-run news publications before his second arrest in February 2004.
Imprisoned: January 29, 2008
Nay Phone Latt, a businessman also known as Nay Myo Kyaw, wrote a blog and owned three Internet cafés in Rangoon. He went missing on the morning of January 29, 2008, according to exile-run news groups.
The New Delhi-based Mizzima news agency reported that police had detained Nay Phone Latt at an Internet café. The journalist, whose Web site offered perspectives on Burmese youth, had been a youth member of the opposition group National League for Democracy, Reuters said.
A court charged Nay Phone Latt in July 2008 with causing public offense and violating video and electronic laws when he posted caricatures of ruling generals on his blog, according to Reuters. He was being held at the time in Insein Prison, according to a joint report by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
During closed judicial proceedings held at the Insein compound on November 10, 2008, Nay Phone Latt was sentenced on several counts under the penal code to a total of 20 years and six months in prison, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom advocacy group, and news reports. In late 2008, he was transferred to Pa-an Prison in Karen state, news reports said.
In February 2009, the Rangoon Divisional Court commuted the sentence to a total of 12 years. Nay Phone Latt's lawyers continued to challenge the conviction and appeared before the High Court on June 22, according to Mizzima. The court turned back the appeal.
Imprisoned: February 15, 2008
Police conducting a raid on the offices of the weekly Myanmar Nation arrested editor Thet Zin and manager Sein Win Maung, according to local and international news reports. Police also seized the journalists' cell phones, footage of monk-led antigovernment demonstrations that took place in Burma in September 2007, and a report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, according to Aung Din, director of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma. The report detailed killings associated with the military government's crackdown on the 2007 demonstrators.
The New Delhi-based Mizzima news agency cited family members as saying that the two were first detained in the Thingangyun Township police station before being charged with illegal printing and publishing on February 25.
On November 28, 2008, a closed court at the Insein Prison compound sentenced each to seven years in prison.
Police ordered Myanmar Nation's staff to stop publishing temporarily, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom advocacy group with representatives in Bangkok. The news Web site Irrawaddy said the newspaper was allowed to resume publishing in March 2008; by October of that year, exile-run groups said, the journal had shut down for lack of leadership.
Thet Zin was among 7,000 prisoners released as part of a government amnesty on September 17, 2009, according to international news reports. His colleague remained behind bars in late year.
Imprisoned: June 4, 2008
Police arrested Maung Thura, a well-known comedian who used the online and stage name Zarganar, or "Tweezers," at his home in Rangoon, according to news reports. The police also seized electronic equipment at the time of the arrest, according to Agence France-Presse.
Maung Thura had mobilized hundreds of entertainers to help survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Rangoon and much of the Irrawaddy Delta in May 2008. His footage of relief work in hard-hit areas was circulated on DVD and on the Internet. Photographs and DVD footage of the aftermath of the disaster were among the items police confiscated at the time of his arrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
In the week he was detained, Maung Thura gave several interviews to overseas-based news outlets, including the BBC, criticizing the military junta's response to the disaster. The day after his arrest, state-controlled media published warnings against sending video footage of relief work to foreign news agencies.
During closed proceedings in August 2008 at Insein Prison in Rangoon, the comedian was indicted on at least seven charges, according to international news reports.
On November 21, 2008, the court sentenced Maung Thura to 45 years in prison on three separate counts of violating the Electronic Act. Six days later, the court added 14 years to his term after convicting him on charges of communicating with exiled dissidents and causing public alarm in interviews with foreign media, his defense lawyer, Khin Htay Kywe, told The Associated Press. The sentence was later reduced to a total of 35 years by the Rangoon Divisional Court.
Maung Thura had been detained on several occasions in the past, including in September 2007 for helping Buddhist monks during antigovernment protests, according to the exile-run press freedom group Burma Media Association. He had maintained a blog, Zarganar-windoor, which his supporters continued to update in 2009.
The Democratic Voice of Burma reported that Maung Thura had been transferred to a remote location, Myintkyinar Prison in Kachin state, in December 2008, where he was reported in poor health. His sister-in-law, Ma Nyein, told Irawaddy that the journalist suffered from hypertension and jaundice.
Imprisoned: June 13, 2008
Police arrested Rangoon-based freelance journalist Zaw Thet Htwe on June 13, 2008, in the town of Minbu, where he was visiting his mother, Agence France-Presse reported. The sportswriter had been working with comedian-blogger Maung Thura in delivering aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis and videotaping the relief effort.
The journalist, who formerly edited the popular sports newspaper First Eleven, was indicted in a closed tribunal on August 7, 2008, and was tried along with Maung Thura and two activists, AFP reported. The group faced multiple charges, including violating the Video Act and Electronic Act and disrupting public order and unlawful association, news reports said.
The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma said police confiscated a computer and cell phone during a raid on Zaw Thet Htwe's Rangoon home.
In November 2008, Zaw Thet Htwe was sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison on charges of violating the Electronic Act, according to the Mizzima news agency. The Rangoon Divisional Court later reduced the prison term to 11 years, Mizzima reported. He was put in Taunggyi Prison in Shan state in 2009.
Zaw Thet Htwe had been arrested before, in 2003, and given the death sentence for plotting to overthrow the government, news reports said. The sentence was later commuted. AFP reported that the 2003 arrest was related to a story he published about a misappropriated football grant.
Imprisoned: June 15, 2008
Aung Kyaw San, editor-in-chief of the Myanmar Tribune, was arrested in Rangoon along with 15 others returning from relief activities in the Irrawaddy Delta region, which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB) and the Mizzima news agency.
Photographs that Aung Kyaw San had taken of cyclone victims appeared on some Web sites, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom group run by exiled journalists. Authorities closed the Burmese-language weekly after his arrest and did not allow his family visitation rights, according to the association. On April 10, 2009, a special court in Insein Prison sentenced him to two years' imprisonment for unlawful association, Mizzima reported.
Aung Kyaw San was formerly jailed in 1990 and held for more than three years for activities with the country's pro-democracy movement, AAPPB said.
Imprisoned: July 2009
The video-journalist known publicly as "T" reported news for the Oslo-based media organization Democratic Voice of Burma. He was one of two cameramen on an award-winning international documentary, "Orphans of the Burmese Cyclone," according to news reports.
The Rory Peck Trust announced the arrest on November 18 as it honored "T" and his Burmese colleague, "Z," with the Rory Peck Award for Features for their work on the documentary. The independent UK-based Rory Peck Trust supports freelance journalists. It said "T" had been arrested four months earlier and had recently been charged under the Electronic Act with filming without government permission. Khin Maung Win, deputy executive director of the Democratic Voice of Burma, confirmed the arrest in a November 30 report on the organization's Web site. He said "Z" was in hiding.
"T" was arrested as he left an Internet café in Rangoon six months after completing the documentary, according to UK-based The Independent. The exact date was not reported. He was being held in Insein Prison, according to The Independent. "T" faced a jail sentence of 10 to 15 years, news reports said.
Imprisoned: October 27, 2009
Police and military intelligence officials arrested Thant Zin Soe, an editor and translator at the newsweekly Foreign Affairs, at his home in Rangoon, according to the exile-run groups Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB) and Burma Media Association.
Thant Zin Soe was also a member of the Lin Let Kye (Shining Star) volunteer relief group, which provided unsanctioned relief to Cyclone Nargis survivors and has been targeted by authorities for persecution. No formal charges had been filed against him by December 1, according to the groups. He was being held at the Aung Thabye Detention Center in Rangoon, according to the Burma Media Association.
Imprisoned: October 28, 2009
Six officials arrested Paing Soe Oo in his apartment in Rangoon, according to the exile-run Mizzima news agency. Officials searched his home and seized one of the journalist's notebooks, the report said.
Paing Soe Oo, who formerly worked for the weekly news publications Favorite and Pyi Myanmar, is a freelance online commentator writing under the name Jay Paing. He also was a member of the volunteer relief group Lin Let Kye (Shining Star), which provided unsanctioned relief to Cyclone Nargis survivors and has been targeted by authorities for persecution.
Maung Thura, an organizing member of Lin Let Kye, was serving a total of 35 years for communicating with exiled dissidents and giving interviews to foreign media that criticized the government's disaster relief efforts.
Imprisoned: June 26, 2009
The editor-in-chief of the opposition Khmer-language daily was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison stemming from his reports on alleged government corruption, according to local and international news reports. He was arrested later in his home and imprisoned in Prey Sar Prison near the capital, Phnom Penh, according to the reports.
A Cambodian court ruled that a series of articles published by the daily in April and May, accusing officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of corruption, had violated criminal disinformation laws. The court also fined Hang Chakra 9 million riels (US$2,250), according to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance. Hang Chakra said he stood by his coverage.
Cambodian officials sentenced Hang Chakra under the penal code enacted by the former U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), which allows criminal prosecution and jail terms of up to three years for disinformation. UNTAC's legal authority expired with the promulgation of a new national constitution in 1993, so the use of the criminal code suggests officials had targeted the editor for imprisonment.
Cambodia's National Assembly decriminalized defamation in 2007, and the country's 1995 Press Law broadly protects press freedoms. Publishing "false" information remains a criminal offense, but with a lesser fine of up to 5 million riels (US$1,250), according to the The Phnom Penh Post.
An appeal court upheld the sentence on August 11, according to local news reports. King Norodom Sihamoni wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 27 requesting the journalist's release, other news reports said.
Imprisoned: September 22, 2008
On January 7, 2009, a judge in the commercial city of Douala sentenced Medjo, editor of the weekly tabloid La Détente Libre, to three years in prison and a fine of 2 million CFA francs (US$4,500) on charges of publishing false news, according to local journalists and news reports. Medjo was being held at Douala's New Bell Prison.
Medjo was arrested in September 2008 in connection with a column incorrectly speculating that President Paul Biya had fired Alexis Dipanda Mouelle, president of the Supreme Court, according to the same sources. The story was based on a presidential decree that did not extend Mouelle's term, according to Editor-in-Chief Michée Medjo Gatheu.
While in detention, Medjo suffered heart trouble, and a doctor at Douala's Laquintinie Hospital diagnosed him with a severe ear infection, according to Gatheu. Medjo was seeking medical parole in late year.
Imprisoned: June 24, 2000
Xu was serving a 13-year prison term on charges of "leaking state secrets" through his academic work on military history and "economic crimes" related to unauthorized publishing of foreign policy issues. Some observers believed that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in December 2001, and his appeal to Guangzhou Higher People's Court was rejected in 2002.
According to court documents, the "state secrets" charges against Xu stemmed from his use of historical documents for academic research. Xu, also known as David Tsui, was an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea.
The verdict stated that the Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army of Guangzhou determined that the books had not been declassified 40 years after being labeled "top secret." After his arrest, St. Antony's College at Oxford University, where Xu earned his doctorate and wrote his dissertation on the Korean War, was active in researching the case and calling for his release.
Xu was also the co-founder of a Hong Kong-based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). The "economic crimes" charges were related to the "illegal publication" of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan.
He was arrested just days before an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan, in which he accused the Communist Party of hypocrisy when it condemned countries that criticized China's human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He was spared from hard labor and was allowed to read, research, and teach English in prison, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. He suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
In 2006, Xu's family members were informed that he had received a nine-month reduction in his sentence, according to Dui Hua. He was given another 10-month reduction in April, and is scheduled for release in 2011, the group reported.
Imprisoned: March 13, 2001
Jin and Xu were among four members of an informal discussion group called Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group) who were detained and accused of "subverting state authority." Prosecutors cited online articles and essays on political and social reform as proof of their intent to overthrow the Communist Party leadership.
The two men, along with their colleagues, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai, were charged with subversion on April 20, 2001. More than two years later, on May 29, 2003, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Jin and Xu each to 10 years in prison, while Yang and Zhang each received sentences of eight years. All of the sentences were to be followed by two years' deprivation of political rights.
The four young men were students and recent university graduates who gathered occasionally to discuss politics and reform with four others, including an informant for the Ministry of State Security. The most prominent in the group, Yang, posted his own thoughts, as well as reports by the others, on topics such as rural poverty and village elections, along with essays advocating democratic reform, on the popular Web site Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas). Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer's Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin's "Be a New Citizen, Reform China" and Yang's "Choose Liberalism," in the 2003 verdict against them. The Beijing High People's Court rejected their appeal without hearing defense witnesses. Three of the witnesses who testified against the four men were fellow members of the group and later tried to retract their testimonies.
Yang and Zhang were released on the expiration of their sentences on March 13, 2009, according to international news reports. Xu and Jin remained imprisoned at Beijing's No. 2 Prison. Jin's father told CPJ in October that his son was suffering from abdominal pain, for which he had undergone surgery in 2007. Xu was suffering from psychological stress while in prison, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Imprisoned: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, on charges of "leaking state secrets."
In June 2003, the Kashgar Intermediate People's Court sentenced Memetemin to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against him, which included translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for ETIC. The court also accused him of recruiting reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial.
Imprisoned: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu province, and his family was not notified of his arrest for more than three months. On September 27, 2004, the Changzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of "subversion of state authority," plus four years' deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as in Guangdong province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, he began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name Qing Shuijun. He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name Huang Jin. Huang's writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. He told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writings, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled "Me and My Public Security Friends," he described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Huang's appeal was rejected in December 2004. He was given a 22-month sentence reduction in July 2007, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. The journalist, who suffered from arthritis, was serving his sentence in Pukou Prison in Jiangsu province.
Imprisoned: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written articles online that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government's "counterrevolutionary" ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong's essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, "In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing." Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP), an opposition party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years' deprivation of political rights. Ning received a 12-year sentence.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. He received a sentence reduction to 10 years after an appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In 2009, the group reported that his eyesight was deteriorating.
Imprisoned: November 24, 2004
Shi, the former editorial director of the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Trade News), was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, in November 2004.
He was formally arrested and charged with "providing state secrets to foreigners" by sending an e-mail on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the Web site Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In an anonymous e-mail sent several months before his arrest, Shi transcribed his notes from local propaganda department instructions to his newspaper, which included directives on coverage of the Falun Gong and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.
The National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets retroactively certified the contents of the e-mail as classified, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People's Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June of that year, Hunan Province High People's Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo's participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed dissidents raised questions about the role that international Internet companies play in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi in absentia with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. In November 2007, members of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs rebuked Yahoo executives for their role in the case and for wrongly testifying in earlier hearings that the company did not know the Chinese government's intentions when it sought Shi's account information.
Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft later joined with human rights organizations, academics, and investors to form the Global Network Initiative, which adopted a set of principles to protect online privacy and free expression in October 2008.
Human Rights Watch awarded Shi a Hellman/Hammett grant for persecuted writers in October 2009.
Imprisoned: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas news Web sites, including the U.S.-based Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. He wrote a series of editorials that directly criticized the Communist Party and its control of the media.
Because of police warnings, Zheng's family remained silent about his detention in Yingkou, Liaoning province, until state media reported that he had been arrested on suspicion of inciting subversion. Zheng was initially tried by the Yingkou Intermediate People's Court on April 26, 2005. No verdict was announced and, on July 21, he was tried again on the same charges. As in the April 26 trial, proceedings lasted just three hours. Though officially "open" to the public, the courtroom was closed to all observers except close family members and government officials. Zheng's supporters and a journalist were prevented from entering, according to a local source.
Prosecutors cited dozens of articles written by the journalist, and listed the titles of several essays in which he called for political reform, increased capitalism in China, and an end to the practice of imprisoning writers. On September 20, the court sentenced Zheng to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years' deprivation of political rights.
Sources familiar with the case believe that Zheng's harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders' objections to the Epoch Times series "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," which called the Chinese Communist Party an "evil cult" with a "history of killings" and predicted its demise.
Zheng is diabetic, and his health declined after his imprisonment. After his first appeal was rejected, he intended to pursue an appeal in a higher court, but his defense lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was himself imprisoned in August 2006. Zheng's family was unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
In summer 2008, prison authorities at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning informed Zheng's family that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and received urgent treatment in prison. However, no lawyer would agree to represent Zheng in an appeal for medical parole, according to Zheng Xiaochun, Zheng's brother, who spoke with CPJ by telephone.
Imprisoned: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of "subverting state authority," and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang was a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang's case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a "democratic Chinese transitional government." His colleagues say that without his prior knowledge, he was elected "secretariat" of the fictional government. He later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, who had been convicted of endangering state security. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to the family of a jailed dissident and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. He had already spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In June 2008, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Yang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Guo Qizhen. In April 2008, the PEN American Center announced that Yang was a recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.
Imprisoned: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. Guo was formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People's Court tried Guo on charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" on September 12, 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, plus an additional three years' deprivation of political rights.
In the case presented to the prosecutor on June 16, 2006, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo's crimes, including one titled "Letting Some of the People First Get Rich While Others Cannot Make a Living," in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an "autocratic" and "despotic" regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution. In March 2007, an appeals court upheld Guo's conviction.
Three months later, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Guo's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Yang Tongyan.
Guo is married and has a teenage son. Guo's wife, Zhao Changqing, told CPJ in April 2008 that she had been unable to visit her husband due to the high cost of traveling to the prison. She confirmed that he had suffered beatings that led to a permanent leg injury. The Independent Chinese PEN Center reported in 2009 that he remained dependent on crutches and risked losing the use of a leg altogether. He also suffered from high blood pressure and chest pains.
Imprisoned: September 6, 2006
The founder and editor of the popular news and literary Web site Aiqinhai (Aegean Sea) was taken from his home in Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. In October 2006, Zhang was formally arrested on charges of "inciting subversion." He was sentenced to six years in prison by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in March 2007, followed by one year's deprivation of political rights.
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to online articles critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations' criticism of the government's human rights record and, in particular, to the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as "Olympicgate."
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served a year and a half of "re-education through labor" in 1989 on counterrevolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position in the local writers association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site, Aiqinhai, was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Epoch Times.
In September 2007, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Zhang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Guo Qizhen and Yang Tongyan.
Zhang's health deteriorated significantly in jail, according to his wife, Dong Min, who spoke with CPJ by telephone in October 2008. He suffered from a debilitating disease affecting the nervous system and was unable to perform basic tasks without help. Appeals for parole on medical grounds were not granted and, by 2009, he was no longer able to write, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. His scheduled release date is September 2012.
Imprisoned: September 14, 2006
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was a prolific writer, activist, and legal analyst for the Beijing-based Shengzhe law firm. Police detained him in September 2006 after he reported and gave advice on a number of sensitive political cases facing the local government in his home province of Guangdong.
Yang was detained for three months in 2005 for "sending news overseas" and disturbing public order after he reported on attempts by villagers in Taishi village, Guangdong, to oust a village chief. He was eventually released without prosecution, but remained vocal on behalf of rights defenders, giving repeated interviews to foreign journalists. A police beating he sustained in February 2006 prompted a well-known human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, to stage a high-profile hunger strike. Police in Beijing detained Yang for two days that February after he protested several government actions, including the closure of the popular Yunnan bulletin board, where he had posted information about the Taishi village case.
Yang's September 2006 arrest was for "illegal business activity," international news reports said. After a 15-month pretrial detention, a court convicted him for illegally publishing a magazine in 2001, according to U.S.-based advocacy groups. One of a series of magazines he published since the 1990s, Political Earthquake in Shenyang, exposed one of the largest official graft cases in China's history in Shenyang, Liaoning province, according to the Dui Hua Foundation. CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Awardee, Jiang Weiping, spent five years in prison for reporting on the same case for a magazine in Hong Kong.
Yang's magazine had been published without authorization; police interrogated his assistant and confiscated funds in 2001, but the case attracted no further punitive measures until he became involved in activism.
Yang's defense team from the Mo Shaoping law firm in Beijing argued that a five-year limit for prosecuting illegal publishing had expired by the time of his trial, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, which published the defense statement in 2008. But Yang was still sentenced to five years in prison.
Yang has gone on hunger strike several times to protest ill treatment by authorities in Meizhou Prison in Guangdong. He was brutally force-fed on at least one of these occasions and remained in poor health, according to the advocacy group Human Rights in China (HRIC). The group said his treatment in the detention center before his trial was so aggressive that he attempted suicide. Police subjected him to around-the-clock interrogations for 13 days, HRIC said, and administered electric shocks. The group also said that his family had been persecuted since his imprisonment: His wife was laid off and his two children were held back in school in retribution for his work.
Imprisoned: May 30, 2007
Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested, along with his wife, He Fang, on May 30, 2007, according to the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News. Sun had previously documented harassment by authorities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as a result of his audio, video, and print reports for the banned Chinese-language news site. Boxun News said authorities confiscated a computer and video equipment from the couple at the time of their arrest.
In the arrest warrant, Sun was accused of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1, 2007, said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He in June, but the couple was later denied visits from legal counsel and family members, according to a Boxun News report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
A four-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons and assembling a disorderly crowd was delivered on June 30, 2008, in a hearing closed to Sun's lawyers and family, according to The Associated Press.
Witness testimony about Sun's possession of weapons was contradictory, according to news reports. The disorderly crowd charge was based on an incident in 2004, three years prior to his arrest. Police accused him of disturbing the peace while aiding people evicted from their homes, but the journalist claimed he broke no laws.
Sun's wife, He, was given a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison on similar charges, according to Sun's defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping. She was allowed to return home after the hearing. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter.
Prison authorities transferred Sun to Jiangsu province's Pukou Prison in September 2008, according to a report published by Boxun News. The report said Nanjing authorities refused to return the confiscated equipment. Since seeking a sentence reduction would involve admitting guilt, Sun has resolved to serve the time in full, according to the report.
Imprisoned: June 25, 2007
Qi and a colleague, Ma Shiping, criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the Web site of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi's lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, the two posted photographs on Xinhua news agency's anticorruption Web forum showing a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou.
Police in Tengzhou detained Ma on June 16 on charges of carrying a false press card. Qi, a journalist of 13 years, was arrested in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, more than a week later, and charged with fraud and extortion, Li said. Qi was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008.
Qi was accused of taking money from local officials while reporting several stories, a charge he denied. The people from whom he was accused of extorting money were local officials threatened by his reporting, Li said. Qi told his lawyer and his wife, Jiao Xia, that police beat him during questioning on August 13, 2007, and again during a break in his trial. Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family's home, which limited visits.
Ma, a freelance photographer, was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released on schedule in 2009, according to Jiao Xia.
Imprisoned: August 24, 2007
The Public Security Bureau in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, charged Lü with "inciting subversion of state power," according to human rights groups and news reports. Officials also searched his home and confiscated his computer hard drive and files soon after his detention in August 2007. Police did not notify his wife, Wang Xue'e, of the arrest for more than a month.
The detention was connected to Lü's articles on corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses, which were published on overseas Web sites. Police told his wife that his writings had "attacked the Communist Party," she told CPJ. The day before his arrest, he reported on the trial and two-year sentence of housing rights activist Yang Yunbiao. Lü, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, was the author of the 2000 book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, which was published in Hong Kong.
Following a closed-door, one-day trial on January 22, 2008, at the Intermediate People's Court in Hangzhou, Lü was found guilty of subversion. The court handed down a four-year jail term during a hearing on February 5, 2008. His wife, Wang Xue'e, told CPJ in October 2008 that her husband was being held in Xijiao Prison in Hangzhou, where she had regular visitation rights.
Imprisoned: December 27, 2007
Police charged Hu, a prominent human rights activist and essayist, with "incitement to subvert state power" based on six online commentaries and two interviews with foreign media in which he criticized the Communist Party. On April 3, 2008, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Hu had advocated for AIDS patients, defended the rights of farmers, and promoted environmental protection. His writings, which appeared on his blog, criticized the Communist Party's human rights record, called for democratic reform, and condemned government corruption. They included an open letter to the international community about China's failure to fulfill pledges to improve human rights before the 2008 Olympics. He frequently provided information to other activists and foreign media to highlight human rights abuses in China.
Hu's wife, human rights activist Zeng Jinyan, applied in April 2008 for medical parole for her husband, who suffered from chronic liver disease, but the request was turned down, according to updates posted on her blog, Liao Liao Yuan. The day of the Olympic opening ceremony in August 2008, Zeng was taken to the city of Dalian, Liaoning province, and only allowed to return to her Beijing home after 16 days. She reported this on her blog with no further explanation.
The European Parliament awarded Hu a prestigious human rights accolade, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in October 2008. The Chinese ambassador to the European Union warned that the prize would "bring serious damage to China-EU relations," according to The Associated Press.
In October 2008, Hu was transferred to the Beijing Municipal Prison, according to Zeng's blog. He raised human rights issues in jail, prompting security officials to cut off family visitation rights from November 2008 to February 2009, according to online news reports. Zeng reported that Hu's health was deteriorating and that the prison did not have facilities to treat his liver condition.
Human Rights Watch awarded Hu a Hellman/Hammett grant for persecuted writers in October 2009.
Imprisoned: March 26, 2008
Police in Tongde, Qinghai province, arrested Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker, shortly after he sent footage filmed in Tibet to colleagues, according to the production company, Filming for Tibet. A 25-minute film titled "Jigdrel" (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes. Wangchen's assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was also arrested, once in March 2008, and again in March 2009 after speaking out about his treatment in prison, Filming for Tibet said.
Filming for Tibet was founded in Switzerland by Gyaljong Tsetrin, a relative of Wangchen, who left Tibet in 2002 but maintained contact with people there. Tsetrin told CPJ that he had spoken to Wangchen on March 25, 2008, but that he had lost contact after that. He learned of the detention only later, after speaking by telephone with relatives.
Filming for the documentary was completed shortly before peaceful protests against Chinese rule of Tibet deteriorated into riots in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas of China in March 2008. The filmmakers had gone to Tibet to ask ordinary people about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the Olympics.
The arrests were first publicized when the documentary was launched in August 2008 before a small group of foreign reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6. A second screening was interrupted by hotel management, according to Reuters.
Officials in Xining, Qinghai province, charged the filmmaker with inciting separatism and replaced the Tibetan's own lawyer with a government appointee in July 2009, according to international reports. The film company said a closed trial had begun in late 2009, but no results were reported by late year.
Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his biography. He had recently relocated with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and four children to Dharamsala, India, before returning to Tibet to begin filming, according to a report published in October 2008 by the South China Morning Post.
Tsetrin told CPJ that Wangchen's assistant, Gyatso, was arrested on March 23, 2008. Gyatso, released on October 15, 2008, later described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to Filming in Tibet. The Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that Gyatso was rearrested in March 2009 and released the next month.
Imprisoned: May 9, 2008
Police arrested Chen in Sichuan province shortly after he had been involved in a "strolling" nonviolent protest against a proposed petrochemical plant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, according to English- and Chinese-language news reports.
In November 2008, he was found guilty of inciting subversion against the state, according to international news reports. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors introduced three articles by Chen to demonstrate a purportedly antigovernment stance, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In one piece, an article for the Hong Kong-based political magazine Zheng Ming, Chen portrayed antigovernment protests in Tibet in a positive light. That article, first published in April 2008, was reposted on overseas Web sites. He also published an online article objecting to the Chengdu project, but it was not among the articles cited by the prosecution.
Imprisoned: June 10, 2008
The Web site 6-4tianwang reported that its founder, Qi, had been forced into a car along with two friends on June 10, 2008. On June 18, news reports said police had detained him and charged him with illegally holding state secrets.
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, Huang's site reported on the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the quake, killing hundreds of children, and on efforts to help victims of the disaster. His arrest came shortly after the Web site reported the detention of academic Zeng Hongling, who posted critical articles about earthquake relief on overseas Web sites.
Huang was denied access to a lawyer until September 23, 2008. One of his defense lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told reporters that Huang had been questioned about earthquake-related reports and photos on the Web site immediately after his arrest, but that the state secrets charge stemmed from documents saved on his computer. He said that his client was deprived of sleep during a 24-hour interrogation session after his June arrest.
Huang pleaded not guilty in closed proceedings at Chengdu Wuhou District Court on August 5, 2009. Police arrested a defense witness to prevent him from testifying on Huang's behalf, according to New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
He was sentenced to three years in prison during a brief hearing in November 2009. The reason for the unusually drawn-out legal proceedings was not clear. Analysts speculated that it indicated the weakness of the case against Huang and disagreement among authorities as to the severity of the punishment.
Huang's mother, Pu Wenqing, and wife, Zeng Li, has appealed for medical parole for Huang, who suffers from undisclosed ailments that began during a previous detention, according to news reports. He had spent five years in prison, from 2000 to 2005, on charges of inciting subversion in articles posted on his Web site in 2000.
Imprisoned: July 21, 2008
Police rearrested Du during an apparent crackdown on dissidents prior to the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. His defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ that public security officials arrested the well-known Internet writer at his workplace in Yingcheng in the province of Hubei.
Du had been serving a four-year probationary term, handed down by a court on June 11, 2004, for inciting subversion of state power in articles published on Chinese and overseas Web sites. The probationary terms included reporting monthly to authorities and obtaining permission to travel. Alleging that he had violated the conditions, police revoked Du's probation and jailed him, according to news reports.
Mo told CPJ in October 2008 that the defense team sought to challenge the police decision, but Chinese law does not allow such appeals. Du was in Hanxi Prison in Wuhan, the provincial capital.
Imprisoned: February 26, 2009
Public security officials arrested Kunchok Tsephel, an online writer, in Gannan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south of Gansu province, according to Tibetan rights groups. Kunchok Tsephel ran the Tibetan cultural issues Web site Chomei, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Kate Saunders, U.K. communications director for the International Campaign for Tibet, told CPJ by telephone from New Delhi that she learned of his arrest from two sources.
The detention appeared to be part of a wave of arrests of writers and intellectuals in advance of the 50th anniversary of the 1959 uprising preceding the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet in March. The 2008 anniversary had provoked ethnic rioting in Tibetan areas, and foreign reporters were barred from the region.
In November, a Gannan court sentenced Kunchok Tsephel to 15 years in prison for disclosing state secrets, according to The Associated Press.
Imprisoned: March 17, 2009
The Public Security Bureau arrested Kunga Tsayang during a late-night raid, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which said it had received the information from several sources.
An environmental activist and photographer who also wrote online articles under the pen name Gang-Nyi or "Sun of Snowland," Tsayang maintained his own Web site titled Zindris (Jottings) and contributed to others. He authored several essays on politics in Tibet, including "Who Is the Real Instigator of Protests?" according to New York-based advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet.
Kunga Tsayang was convicted of revealing state secrets and sentenced in November to five years in prison, according to the center. Sentencing was imposed during a closed court proceeding in the Tibetan area of Gannan, Gansu province.
Several Tibetans, including journalists, were arrested around the March 10 anniversary of the failed uprising in 1959 that prompted the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet. Security measures were heightened in the region in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in March 2008.
Imprisoned: April 2009
A monk at Ngaba Gomang Monastery in western Sichuan province, Dokru Tsultrim was arrested in early April for alleged antigovernment writings and articles in support of the Dalai Lama, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and the International Campaign for Tibet.
Dokru Tsultrim, originally from Qinghai province on the Tibetan plateau, also managed a private Tibetan journal, Khawai Tsesok (Life of Snow), which ceased publication after his arrest, the center said. "Zhuori Cicheng" is the Chinese transliteration of his name, according to Tashi Choephel Jamatsang at the center, who provided CPJ with details by e-mail.
Chinese security forces detained the monk in his room at the monastery shortly after the publication of two of his articles criticizing the Chinese government's policies in Tibet, the center said. The exact date of his arrest was unknown. Authorities had not disclosed his whereabouts or legal status by late year.
Imprisoned: July 26, 2009
Public security officials detained Tashi Rabten, a student at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, while he was on summer break at his home in Ngaba county, Sichuan province, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) and international Tibetan rights groups.
Rabten edited the magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in Tibet in March 2008. The magazine was swiftly banned by local authorities, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The journalist later self-published a collection of articles titled "Written in Blood," saying in the introduction that "after an especially intense year of the usual soul-destroying events, something had to be said," the campaign reported. The book and the magazine discussed democracy and recent anti-China protests; the book was banned after he had distributed 400 copies, according to RFA.
Public security officials did not answer calls from reporters seeking information on his whereabouts or legal status.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Argüelles Morán was convicted in April 2003 of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system." He was given a 20-year prison sentence.
Argüelles Morán, a cartographer who, in 2003, was working as director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, was being held at the Canaleta Prison in his home province, his wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ. The 62-year-old was allowed visits every three months, she said.
Vera Nerey told CPJ that her husband was diagnosed with bone and respiratory ailments, and had cataracts in both eyes.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Arroyo Carmona, a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes in his home province of Pinar del Río, was handed a 26-year prison sentence for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the penal code in April 2003.
Arroyo Carmona was being held at the Kilo 5½ Prison, his wife, Elsa González Padrón, told CPJ. The journalist, who was housed in a hall with at least 130 prisoners, waged a hunger strike in May to protest prison conditions, news reports said. Arroyo Carmona--who had been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and pulmonary emphysema--protested a lack of medical attention, unsanitary cell conditions, cruel treatment, and obstruction of his efforts to practice religion. At least three other political prisoners joined the reporter in his protest.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Galván Gutiérrez, a journalist for the independent news agency Havana Press, was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." He was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Galván Gutiérrez, 44, was being held in Guanajay Prison, in the western province of Havana, near his home, his sister, Teresa Galván Gutiérrez, told CPJ. Though prison conditions were harsh, she said, they were better than at the maximum-security Agüica Prison, where the journalist was imprisoned until June 2007.
Galván Gutiérrez was housed alone in a cell in which, he told his sister, he could read and study, although he said books were hard to come by. The journalist suffered severe joint and back pain, she said.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Gálvez Rodríguez worked for government media for 24 years. But in March 2003, as he was working as a freelance reporter in Havana, state security agents arrested him as part of the massive crackdown. He was summarily tried that April under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and given a 14-year prison sentence. The People's Supreme Tribunal, Cuba's highest court, upheld the decision a month later.
In 2009, Gálvez Rodríguez, 65, was being held in solitary confinement at Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, his partner, Irene Viera Silloy, told CPJ. She said the journalist was allowed one family visit every two months. Gálvez Rodríguez suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, and respiratory problems, according to CPJ research. Viera Silloy said he was also diagnosed with pneumonia.
Gálvez Rodríguez continued to write from prison, Viera Silloy told CPJ. She said prison authorities briefly revoked the journalist's phone privileges in September after he refused to wear a prison uniform.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
A physician by profession, García Paneque, 43, joined the independent news agency Libertad in 1998 after being fired from his job at a hospital in eastern Las Tunas because of his political views. In April 2003, a Cuban court sentenced him to 24 years in prison after he was convicted of acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code.
García Paneque was being held at Las Mangas Prison in Granma province, according to his wife, Yamilé Llánez Labrada. Although general prison conditions improved in 2009, she said, the reporter still shared a small cell with several other inmates and complained of difficulty sleeping. García Paneque's parents visited him every 45 days, his wife told CPJ; she and her children, who moved to Texas in 2007, talked to him on the phone monthly.
García Paneque's health has significantly deteriorated in prison. He has been diagnosed with a kidney tumor, internal bleeding, chronic malnutrition, and pneumonia. Llánez Labrada told CPJ that her husband continued to have digestive problems and suffered from malnutrition.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
González Alfonso, a poet and screenwriter, began reporting for Cuba's independent press in 1995. He founded the award-winning newsmagazine De Cuba and a Havana-based association of journalists, and then worked as a freelance reporter and Cuba correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders. He was taken into custody on March 18, 2003. In April, the Havana Provincial Tribunal found him guilty of violating Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for "acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state," and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. That June, the People's Supreme Tribunal Court upheld his conviction.
González Alfonso, 59, was being held at Havana's Combinado del Este Prison, a two-hour car ride from his family home in the capital, his sister, Graciela González-Degard, told CPJ. The reporter's small, windowless cell, she said, was hot and humid, and the prison food was poor. As punishment for his refusal to wear a prison uniform, officials denied him religious assistance, barred his family from bringing him clean clothes, and cut family visitation to once every two months.
González-Degard, who lives in New York but visited her brother in August, told CPJ that he was in good health and spirits, though he suffered from hypertension, arthritis, severe allergies to humidity and dust, chronic bronchitis, and several digestive and circulatory problems. During her three-week visit to Havana, she was followed and harassed by state security agents, she said. She also told CPJ that González Alfonso's two teenage sons had lost employment opportunities as a result of his imprisonment.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
A court in the central province of Villa Clara sentenced independent freelance reporter González Pentón in April 2003 to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."
The youngest of the imprisoned Cuban journalists, González Pentón, 32, was being held in 2009 at La Pendiente Prison in the northern city of Santa Clara, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. González Pentón suffered from stomach problems, according to Laura Pollán Toledo, a human rights activist and wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez. He was allowed occasional visits to his home for good behavior, she said.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Hernández Carrillo, a reporter for the independent news agency Patria in the western city of Colón, was sentenced in April 2003 to 25 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. In 1992, he had been given a two-year prison sentence for allegedly "distributing enemy propaganda and disrespecting Fidel Castro."
Hernández Carrillo, 38, was being held at Guamajal Prison in Santa Clara province in 2009. He suffered from hypertension and gastritis.
On April 14, Hernández Carrillo went on a 10-day hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment, his mother, Asunción Carrillo, said. Prison authorities encouraged other inmates to harass and attack him, he told his mother.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Cuban authorities arrested Pulido López, director of the independent news agency El Mayor in Camagüey, in March 2003. A month later, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code, accused of acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state."
In 2009, the journalist was being held at Kilo 7 Prison in his home province along with more than 100 hardened criminals, his wife, Rebecca Rodríguez Souto, told CPJ. The cell's ventilation was poor, and he shared the restroom facilities with the other inmates, she said. She told CPJ that she was able to visit him once a month and take food and medicine to him.
Pulido López, 49, suffered from chronic bronchitis, gastritis, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. In 2009, his respiratory ailments worsened significantly from the high humidity and poor ventilation, his wife said. She told CPJ that her husband was receiving medical treatment for his respiratory condition only.
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Rodríguez Saludes, director of the Havana-based independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana, was arrested in March 2003 and summarily tried in April under Article 91 of Cuba's penal code for "acting against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." Cuban authorities handed him a 27-year prison sentence.
Rodríguez Saludes, 44, was a well-known photographer who also reported and wrote. He was being held at Toledo Prison in Havana, where he was allowed just one visit every month, according to Laura Pollán Toledo, a human rights activist and wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez.
According to his wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, the journalist had been diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems and hypertension.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Barzaga Lugo, a reporter for the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana, was arrested in March 2003 and accused the following month of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy. Cuban authorities handed him a 15-year prison sentence.
Barzaga Lugo was being held at 1580 Prison in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, according to Laura Pollán Toledo, a human rights activist and wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez. She said the reporter suffered from skin ailments made acute by prison conditions; he did not receive medical treatment for the problem.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
In March 2003, Cuban state security agents raided the Havana home of Fernández Saínz, correspondent for the independent news agency Patria, and then arrested the journalist. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy in April. In June of that year, Cuba's highest court, the People's Supreme Tribunal, upheld his conviction and his 15-year prison sentence.
Fernández Saínz, 60, was being held at Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province, 250 miles (400 kilometers) from his home, CPJ research shows. Prison authorities allowed him family visits once every two months. His wife, Julia Núñez Pacheco, told CPJ that traveling to the prison was difficult and very expensive. A one-way bus ticket cost 85 Cuban pesos (US$3.75), a large portion of the average Cuban monthly salary of 480 Cuban pesos (US$21).
Conditions in Canaleta Prison were very poor, Núñez Pacheco told CPJ. Her husband was housed in a barracks with roughly 40 other inmates with almost no air circulation and bad hygiene. Food was inadequate and often inedible, she said. He suffered from chronic hypertension, emphysema, osteoporosis, prostate ailments, and four kidney cysts, and received scant medical attention.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Fuentes, an economist by training, began working for the Cuban independent press in 1991. On March 19, 2003, he was arrested after a raid on his home in the city of Artemisa. The next month, the freelance reporter was convicted of violating Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which imposes harsh penalties for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." A judge in western Havana province handed him a 26-year prison sentence.
The 60-year-old journalist was being held at the maximum-security Guanajay Prison, his wife, Loyda Valdés González, told CPJ. Valdés González, who is allowed to visit her husband only once every 45 days, said conditions at Guanajay were better than those at other prisons where he had been held. Due to his severe back problems, the reporter did not share a cell with other prisoners. Valdés González said her husband suffered from chronic gastritis that caused him to lose significant amounts of weight.
Valdés González told CPJ that in December 2007, her husband presented an appeal to Cuba's Supreme Tribunal Court. Because Cuban authorities denied Fuentes access to a lawyer, he did so without benefit of counsel. After two years, the court had still not responded to him, Valdés González told CPJ.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Hernández González was arrested in March 2003 as part of the massive crackdown on Cuba's dissidents and independent press. The director of the news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey was sentenced the following month to 25 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code.
Hernández González was held in an isolation cell at the maximum-security Kilo 7 Prison in his home province of Camagüey for much of the year, his mother, Blanca González, told CPJ. He spent all but two hours a week alone, and received family visits only once every 45 days, she said. The journalist was diagnosed with intestinal ailments, and has suffered from pneumonia and knee problems so severe that even standing was difficult, his mother said. In November, doctors also diagnosed Hernández González with several cardiovascular ailments.
Hernández González was moved to the hospital at Combinado del Este Prison in late October, said Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a formerly jailed journalist. His wife, Yaraí Reyes Marín, told CPJ that she requested medical parole for her husband in July 2006, but Cuban authorities did not respond.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
In March 2003, Herrera Acosta was arrested during the massive crackdown on Cuba's dissidents and independent press. A Cuban court sentenced him a month later to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.
Herrera Acosta, Guantánamo correspondent for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental, was being held at the eastern Holguín Provincial Prison in 2009, independent Cuban journalist Miriam Leyva told CPJ. She also said that the reporter was diagnosed with diabetes. His wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, told CPJ that he suffered from psychological ailments. According to Leyva, those problems became more acute over the course of 2009.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Izquierdo Hernández, a reporter in western Havana for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was sentenced in April 2003 to 16 years in prison for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the penal code. Following an appeal the next month, the People's Supreme Tribunal Court upheld his conviction. In 2009, he was being held at the Guanajay Prison in his home province.
Izquierdo Hernández was diagnosed with severe depression, digestive ailments, circulatory problems, emphysema, and asthma, according to Laura Pollán Toledo, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Several state security agents raided Maseda Gutiérrez's home on the second day of the March 2003 crackdown on Cuba's dissidents and independent press. Following a closed-door summary trial the following month, the reporter was charged under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" and Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In June of that year, Cuba's highest court, the People's Supreme Tribunal, dismissed his appeal.
An engineer with a graduate degree in nuclear physics, Maseda Gutiérrez began working as an independent journalist in 1995, according to his wife, Laura Pollán Toledo. Maseda Gutiérrez was a founding member of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro.
In 2009, the reporter was being held at the maximum-security Agüica Prison in western Matanzas province, Pollán Toledo said. She said Maseda Gutiérrez was allowed family visits once every 45 days. CPJ research found that he continued to report on jail conditions and human rights violations from prison. In 2008, Maseda Gutiérrez was awarded CPJ's International Press Freedom Award.
The 66-year-old reporter, the oldest of the imprisoned Cuban journalists, suffered from high blood pressure and a skin condition, his wife said. The skin problems worsened over 2009, but Maseda Gutiérrez did not receive medical treatment, she said.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
On March 19, 2003, state security agents raided the home of Pacheco Ávila, a reporter for the local independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, in central Ciego de Ávila. He was convicted in April under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's Independence and Economy for committing acts "aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system," and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Pacheco Ávila, 39, was being held at Canaleta Prison in his home province, his wife, Oleyvis García Echemendía, told CPJ. She said her husband was in generally good health despite having been diagnosed last year with high blood pressure, acute gastritis, and kidney problems. He was housed in a barracks with at least 30 other prisoners.
On March 20, the sixth anniversary of Pacheco Ávila's arrest, prison authorities granted him a 24-hour home furlough for good behavior. In an interview with U.S.-based Radio Martí, Pacheco Ávila said that while at home, he was able to see his wife and 10-year-old son, and speak by phone with other jailed reporters and family members in other parts of Cuba and abroad.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Prieto Llorente, a freelance reporter in western Isla de la Juventud, was arrested in March 2003 during the massive crackdown on the Cuban independent press. In April of that year, a local court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.
Prieto Llorente was being held in solitary confinement at El Guayabo Prison in his home province, his sister, Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente, told CPJ. In a January 7 letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz, the reporter said his cell measured just 10 feet (three meters) by six and a half feet (two meters), and his meals consisted of spoiled and burned "animal products." According to his sister, the journalist has been diagnosed with allergies, emphysema, back problems, high blood pressure, and depression. He was allowed visits from two family members every two months, his sister told CPJ.
In 2009, Prieto Llorente actively reported on and protested prison conditions. His stories, published on overseas news Web sites, detailed such issues as the brutal punishment inflicted on other inmates by prison guards, and the "slave-like" work that authorities imposed on prisoners. In February, he waged a hunger strike to call attention to the situation at El Guayabo, the Miami-based news Web site Payolibre reported.
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Ruiz Hernández, a reporter for the Havana-based independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in the province of Villa Clara, was arrested on March 19, 2003, during the massive crackdown on the island's dissidents and independent press. He was sentenced in April to 18 years in prison for acting "against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state" under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code.
The reporter, 62, was being held in Nieves Morejón Prison in the central province of Sancti Spíritus, 40 miles (65 kilometers) from his home, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ. He shared quarters with 11 prisoners in a small barracks, she said. The quarters, which he was rarely permitted to leave, had no ventilation and poor lighting. Rojo Arias said other living conditions--including his meals--improved at the prison over the course of 2009. He was allowed a family visit of two hours every two months, his wife told CPJ.
Ruiz Hernández suffered from depression and loss of eyesight. He was also diagnosed with high blood pressure, circulatory problems, and chronic gastrointestinal ailments. Rojo Arias told CPJ that her husband was being treated by prison doctors and that she was allowed to provide him with additional medication.
Imprisoned: April 13, 2007
In early 2007, Sánchez Madan was detained twice and warned to stop working for the independent press after he covered a local corruption scandal and social problems in western Matanzas province, where he lived. He was arrested in April 2007 and, after a one-day trial, Cuban authorities convicted him of "social dangerousness," a vague charge contained in Article 72 of the penal code. The reporter was handed the maximum prison sentence of four years.
In 2009, the reporter was being held at the maximum-security Combinado del Sur Prison, outside the provincial capital of Matanzas, according to CPJ research. His neighbor, Juan Francisco Sigler, told CPJ that prison conditions were very poor. The reporter's mother was allowed to visit once every 45 days, CPJ research shows.
Sánchez Madan continued to report on human rights violations from prison, Sigler said. Prison authorities threatened retaliation, saying they would do everything in their power to keep him jailed if he continued to write, Sigler told CPJ. On at least one occasion, inmates beat the journalist severely at the encouragement of authorities. As further retaliation, the reporter was sent to solitary confinement for weeks at a time, according to Sigler.
Imprisoned: April 18, 2009
Police arrested Du Bouchet Hernández, director of the Havana-based independent news agency Habana Press, while he was visiting relatives outside Havana. Officers alleged that the journalist was shouting antigovernment slogans in the street.
In May, Du Bouchet Hernández was convicted in a summary trial on charges of "disrespect" and distribution of enemy propaganda, and sentenced to three years in prison. Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, president of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation in Havana, told CPJ that the journalist was not allowed a defense lawyer. Miriam Herrera, an independent journalist based in Havana, told CPJ that Du Bouchet Hernández had reported on social issues, which could have upset local authorities.
In 2005, Du Bouchet Hernández had been jailed on "disrespect" charges and sentenced to one year in prison after he enraged authorities with his coverage of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society. The two-day gathering, unprecedented in Cuba, brought together 200 opposition activists and guests in May 2005 to discuss ways to create democracy in Cuba. Du Bouchet Hernández was released in August 2006 after completing his sentence.
Imprisoned: November 7, 2006
Suleiman, known online as Karim Amer, was arrested on the orders of the Prosecutor General's office in the northern city of Alexandria in connection with his critical online writings. In February 2007, a criminal court in Alexandria found him guilty of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak. He was sentenced to a four-year jail term, making him the first Egyptian blogger to be sentenced explicitly for his work.
Suleiman had been a student at Cairo's Al-Azhar University. He was expelled in 2006 because he frequently criticized the state-run religious university, which he accused of promoting extremist ideas, and Mubarak, whom he referred to as a dictator.
Imprisoned: December 26, 2007
Suleiman, known online as Mosad Abu Fagr, wrote about social and political issues affecting the Bedouin community in Sinai on his blog, Wedna N'ish (We Want to Live). He is also a novelist and social activist. He was arrested at his home in Ismailiyya following demonstrations in Sinai to protest the razing of homes on Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip, according to local and international human rights reports.
Accused under the Emergency Law of such wide-ranging offenses as inciting riots and driving without a license, Suleiman was acquitted in February 2008 but not released. At least 13 judicial orders have been issued directing that the journalist be released. Because the Interior Ministry cannot violate the court orders outright, it has instead used the Emergency Law to circumvent them.
Immediately after each order of release--but before Suleiman left prison--the ministry issued a new administrative order directing his continued detention. The provisions of the Emergency Law are such that the government can use the strategy an unlimited number of times. Suleiman has waged at least one hunger strike to protest mistreatment in prison, according to the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
Imprisoned: October 3, 2008
Aziz, 28, a blogger, wrote a number of pieces criticizing the state security apparatus and local religious officials. He also wrote about social, political, and Coptic minority issues. After he posted a link to a novel considered offensive to Islam, police arrested him on suspicion that he was actually the book's anonymous author.
Although it became clear that Aziz was not the novel's author, authorities continued to hold him because of his journalism, according to his attorneys at the legal aid unit of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. His lawyers were prevented from visiting Aziz on multiple occasions, most recently in July. Despite three judicial orders for his release, Aziz remained in custody in late year under the country's Emergency Law. His lawyers said he was mistreated in prison and was pressured to convert to Islam. All of the material on Aziz's blog was deleted by an unidentified party.
Imprisoned: January 1999
The founder and manager of the now-defunct private weekly Tsigenay, Haile was arrested on charges of failing to complete his national service. He was last seen by friends and relatives in the Zara labor camp in Eritrea's lowland desert in 2000.
CPJ sources said Haile was released from prison in 2002 but was assigned to extended military service. His continued deprivation of liberty was part of the government's crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Imprisoned: July 2000
Security agents arrested Keleta, a reporter for the private weekly Tsigenay, while he was on his way to work in July 2000. He has not been heard from since. Sources told CPJ at the time that the reporter was being held in connection with the government's overall crackdown on the press.
Imprisoned: September 2001
Eritrean security forces jailed at least 10 local journalists without trial in the days following September 18, 2001. The arrests took place less than a week after authorities effectively shut down the country's fledgling private press.
Authorities accused the journalists of avoiding the country's compulsory military service, threatening national security, and failing to observe licensing requirements. CPJ research indicates that the crackdown was part of a government drive to crush political dissent ahead of elections scheduled for December 2001, which were subsequently canceled. The private press had reported on divisions within the ruling party, the Eritrean People's Defense Force, and had criticized the increasingly authoritarian nature of President Isaias Afwerki's regime.
The journalists were initially held incommunicado at a police station in Asmara, where they began a hunger strike on March 31, 2002, and smuggled a message out of jail demanding due process. The government responded by transferring them to secret locations and has since refused to divulge their health, whereabouts, or legal status. Several CPJ sources said that most of the journalists were being held in a secret prison camp called Eiraeiro, near the village of Gahtelay.
Among the group of 10 journalists initially arrested, CPJ has confirmed one death. Several CPJ sources said publisher and editor Fesshaye "Joshua" Yohannes, 47, died in a prison outside Asmara on January 11, 2007, after a long illness. Yohannes had received CPJ's International Press Freedom Award in 2002.
In at least three other cases, it was not clear whether the journalists were still alive. Unconfirmed online reports said that Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile, and Said Abdelkader had died in prison. CPJ continues to investigate the status of the three journalists. It lists them on the 2009 prison census as a means of holding the government responsible for their fates.
The government has ignored numerous inquiries from CPJ and other organizations seeking information about the health, whereabouts, or legal status of all of the imprisoned journalists. In the rare cases that the government has responded, its spokesmen have offered alarming blanket denials about the imprisonments. In a 2006 interview with CPJ, presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel denied that the journalists were imprisoned because of what they had written, saying only that they "were involved in acts against the national interest of the state."
In November 2009, a government spokesman went a step further, denying entirely that journalists were being held by the government. "I am not aware of any imprisoned journalists in our country," asserted Emmanuel Hadgo, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information.
The case of Setit co-owner Isaac, an Eritrean with Swedish citizenship, has drawn considerable attention in Sweden, where diplomats, journalists, and grassroots activists campaigned for his release. Isaac was briefly released for a medical checkup on November 19, 2005, and allowed to phone his family and a friend in Sweden. Despite hopes that he would be freed, he was returned to jail two days later with no explanation, according to his colleagues and relatives. In March 2007, Sweden's National Press Club awarded him its Freedom of Expression and Press Prize.
Imprisoned: February 15, 2002
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that Eritrean authorities had arrested three state reporters in February 2002 as part of the government's mass crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
A reporter with the network's Arabic-language service, Saadia Ahmed, was eventually released in early 2005, according to CPJ sources. Eri-TV reporter Said and Eritrean State Radio reporter Aljezeeri remained imprisoned in an undisclosed location, according to local journalists.
Imprisoned: January and February 2009
Eritrean security forces arrested six government journalists as part of a crackdown on staffers connected to Radio Bana, an Education Ministry-sponsored station in Asmara, according to several CPJ sources. Authorities ordered the arrests based on suspicions that the journalists and other staffers had provided information to foreign-based Eritrean opposition organizations and news Web sites, according to the sources.
The journalists were being held in Mai Srwa and Adi Abieto military camps. Other non-journalist staffers were also being held in late year.
The journalists had worked for other state media. Ghirmai Abraham had been producer of an arts program, and Issak Abraham had produced a Sunday entertainment show on state Radio Dimtsi Hafash. Misguina (also a film director and scriptwriter), Nguse (also a poet), and Fesseha (a poet as well) were columnists for the state-run daily Hadas Eritrea. Weldegebriel was the author of a column on celebrities for Hadas Eritrea.
Imprisoned: December 2006
Since disclosing that they had Gama and Tesfazghi in custody in April 2007, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry repeatedly declined to provide information about the whereabouts, legal status, or health of the two Eritrean state television journalists whom the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said were among 41 people "captured" in Somalia on suspicion of terrorism.
Tesfazghi, a producer, and Gama, a cameraman, were picked up by the Kenyan authorities after the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and then handed over to the Ethiopian-backed Somali transitional government in January 2007, according to the Eritrean Foreign Ministry.
In a video aired on state television, the Ethiopian government suggested the journalists were involved in military activities in Somalia. While Eritrean journalists were often conscripted into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. A Foreign Ministry statement said some detainees would be tried "before the competent military court" but did not identify them by name.
Government spokesman Bereket Simon told CPJ in August 2008 that court proceedings were pending, but declined to provide details. In October 2009, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahde Belay told CPJ that he had no information about the two journalists.
Imprisoned: August 24, 2009
Federal High Court Judge Zewdinesh Asres convicted Ali and Wedajo on criminal code and press law charges in connection with their coverage of sensitive topics dating back a number of years, according to local journalists. She sentenced them each to one year in prison.
Ali, editor of the weekly Muslim-oriented newspaper Salafiyya, was convicted in connection with a piece written by a guest columnist and published in 2007 that criticized the Ministry of Education's proposal to restrict headscarves for female Muslim students at public educational institutions, according to defense lawyer Temam Ababulgu.
Wedajo, former editor of Seife Nebelbal, a now-defunct weekly that was banned amid the 2005 government crackdown on the press, was convicted in connection with a 2004 story alleging human rights violations against the ethnic Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country, according to local journalists.
Ali and Wedajo were being held at Kality Prison, outside the capital, Addis Ababa, pending appeals in their case. The Ethiopian government has had a longstanding practice of reviving years-old criminal cases, some of them seemingly dormant, as a way to silence critical journalists.
Imprisoned: July 7, 2006
Manneh, a journalist for the state-controlled Daily Observer, was arrested after he tried to publish a BBC report critical of President Yahya Jammeh. His colleagues witnessed his arrest by two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency on the premises of the Daily Observer.
Demba Jawo, a former president of the Gambian Press Union, said Manneh may have been further targeted for his reporting of the 2005 killing of Ghanaian immigrants in the Gambia.
Gambian security agencies and police have consistently refused to provide information on the journalist's whereabouts, health, or legal status.
Manneh has been seen but a few times since his arrest. A fellow journalist reported seeing him on the grounds of Fatoto Prison in late 2006. The next year, witnesses told the Ghana-based press freedom group Media Foundation of West Africa that Manneh was being treated for high blood pressure at the Royal Victorian Teaching Hospital in Banjul.
The case has galvanized a variety of forces to pressure the Gambian government. In November, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that Manneh's imprisonment was unlawful under international law and called on the Gambian government to release him immediately. In April, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin led a group of six colleagues in calling for Manneh's release. And in 2008, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States ordered the Gambian government to release Manneh and compensate his family for an illegal detention.
Imprisoned: September 20, 2009
Police arrested Chaudhury, a correspondent for the Oriya-language Sambad daily, in Mohana, a southern area of eastern Orissa state, for alleged involvement with antigovernment Maoist groups, according to local news reports. His detention was based on a packet of Maoist literature addressed to the journalist and found in the possession of a bus conductor who was arrested the same day, the reports said. Chaudhury denied any knowledge of the packet or having any connection with Maoists.
Chaudhury, 40, was denied bail by two lower courts and charged with criminal conspiracy and sedition, local news reports said. Sedition, which includes inciting hatred against the government through the written word, carries a possible life term, according to the Indian Express.
More than 100 local journalists staged protests the day after the arrest and petitioned local authorities for Chaudhury's release, news reports said. Maoists, also known as Naxalites, frequently pass materials to journalists in the state as part of their insurgency campaign, reporters said.
Colleagues accused local police of arresting Chaudhury in reprisal for his articles connecting a local police chief to the drug trade, according to news reports. Chaudhury said police made him sign blank papers as part of a "confession," the Indian Express reported, citing the journalist's wife, Minati. A petition for bail was before an Orissa court in late year, news reports said.
Imprisoned: January 25, 2007
Security agents seized Hassanpour, a journalist and former editor for the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, in Kurdistan province, according to news reports.
A Revolutionary Court convicted Hassanpour in July 2007 of endangering national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, one of his attorneys, Sirvan Hosmandi, told CPJ. The journalist was sentenced to death. A court of appeals overturned the death sentence in September 2008 and ordered a new trial on charges of "working for outlawed parties" and espionage, according to the BBC. In November, a trial court convicted Hassanpour on the new charges and re-imposed the death sentence, the BBC said.
Imprisoned: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Authorities accused Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e Mardom, of acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization's Web site. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 11 years in prison.
Imprisoned: October 8, 2008
A clergyman and a blogger, Lotfi was arrested by security forces on a warrant issued by the religious Clergy Court in Qom. Authorities accused him of publishing the views of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's positions.
Authorities did not specify particular articles or publications in which the views were supposedly cited. Lotfi was convicted of several charges, including spreading antistate information, and sentenced to four years in prison, according to news reports.
Imprisoned: November 2008
On December 30, 2008, a spokesman for the Iranian Judiciary confirmed in a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained since November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to local and international news reports.
The exact date of Derakhshan's arrest was unknown, but news of his detention first appeared on November 17, 2008, on Jahan News, a news Web site close to the Iranian intelligence apparatus. At the time, Jahan News reported that he had confessed to "spying for Israel" during the preliminary interrogation.
Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist newspapers, he also contributed opinion pieces to The Guardian of London and The New York Times. The journalist, who lived in Canada during most of this decade, returned to Tehran a few weeks prior to his detention, The Washington Post reported.
In November, the BBC Persian service reported that Derakhshan's family had sought information about his whereabouts and the charges he faced and expressed concern about having very limited contact with him.
Imprisoned: June 2009
Hossein-Zadeh, a journalist for the economic section of the reformist newspaper Hambastegy, was arrested in mid-June, according to Mouj Azadi, a reformist news Web site.
Hossein-Zadeh was being held at Tehran's Evin Prison, where his family had been allowed two visits, the site reported. He is the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tawsu'a and also worked for Etemad e Melli, the newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi. He faced espionage allegations in late year, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Imprisoned: June 2009
Zaid-Abadi, who wrote a weekly column for Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site, was arrested in Tehran, according to news reports. Zaid-Abadi is also the director of the Organization of University Alumni of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi.
Mahdieh Mohammadi, Zaid-Abadi's wife, was allowed to to see the journalist after he had spent 53 days in custody, according to the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He told her that he was being held in inhumane conditions.
Zaid-Abadi was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to local and international news reports. In November, he was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of exile in Gonabad, Razavi Khorasan province, and a lifetime deprivation of social and political activities, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009
Salimi, a photographer who worked for Nesf e Jehan newspaper in Esfahan, was arrested after being summoned by Revolutionary Guards to pick up belongings confiscated during an earlier arrest, according to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, a local human rights watchdog. Salimi had been detained in December 2008 and had spent three months in prison on unspecified charges.
After his most recent arrest, Salimi was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists New Agency. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009
Samimi, manager of the now-defunct monthly Nameh, was being held in Evin Prison after his arrest in Tehran, according to news reports.
His lawyer, Nasrin Sotoodeh, said in mid-October that authorities refused a request to see the case file, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Samimi called his family in October to tell them that he was under pressure to make a false confession, his lawyer told Rooz Online.
Samimi was charged with "creating public anxiety," and "congregation and mutiny to disrupt national security," his lawyer told Zamaneh Radio. The first session of his trial was held on November 23, but no verdict was immediately announced, according to news accounts.
Imprisoned: June 17, 2009
Laylaz, editor of the daily business journal Sarmayeh and a vocal critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic policies, was arrested at home on June 17, his wife, Sepharnaz Panahi, told the BBC Persian service. She said that officers searched their home and confiscated videotapes, hard drives, and letters.
Laylaz was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to local and international news reports. He spent 100 days in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin Prison before being moved to a group cell, where he was denied newspapers, pen, and paper, his wife told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Laylaz was charged with "congregation and mutiny against national security, propagation against the regime, disrupting public order, and keeping classified documents," according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
After a two-hour trial in November, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency and online accounts. His wife told the news Web site Kalameh that the "classified document" that was a centerpiece of the prosecution was actually a published and widely available investigation into the Iranian judiciary.
Imprisoned: June 19, 2009
Amouee, a contributor to several reformist newspapers including Mihan, Hamshahri, Jame'e, Khordad, Norooz, and Sharq, and the author of an eponymous blog, was arrested with his wife, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, according to news reports. Bani-Yaghoub, editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women's Club, a news Web site focusing on women's rights, was released on bail on August 19, according to the BBC Persian service.
Amouee was being held in Tehran's Evin Prison, part of the time in solitary confinement, according to news reports. Farideh Ghayrat, his lawyer, told the Gooya news Web site that her client was arrested without a warrant and that no charges had been filed against him. His wife said Amouee was denied access to his family and lawyer for several weeks, according to Mowjcamp, a news Web site supportive of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Imprisoned: July 3, 2009
Sahar-Khiz, a columnist for the reformist news Web sites Rooz Online and Norooz and a founding member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested while traveling in northern Iran, the association said in a statement.
His son, Mahdi, told the news Web site Rooz Online in mid-September that the family had met with the journalist in the presence of prison officials. Sahar-Khiz told family members that he had access to television and was allowed to walk outside his cell for exercise. Sahar-Khiz's lawyer said that his client was being charged with "participation in riots," "encouraging others to participate in riots," and "insulting the supreme leader," according to Rooz Online.
Sahar-Khiz has had a long career in journalism. He worked for 15 years for IRNA, Iran's official news agency, and ran its New York office for part of that time. He returned to Iran in 1997 to work in Mohammad Khatami's Ministry of Islamic Guidance, in charge of domestic publications. Sahar-Khiz and a superior, Ahmad Bouraghani, came to be known as the architects of a period of relative freedom for the press in Iran. After he was forced to leave the ministry and was banned from government service in a trial, he founded a reformist newspaper, Akhbar-e Eghtesad, and monthly magazine, Aftab, both of which were eventually banned. Sahar-Khiz wrote articles directly critical of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
Imprisoned: July 5, 2009
Bastani, a journalist for the reformist newspaper Farihikhtegan and Jomhoriyat, a news Web site affiliated with the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested when he went to a Tehran court seeking information about his wife, journalist Mehsa Amrabadi, according to local news reports. Amrabadi, arrested along with two other journalists on June 15, was released on August 25.
Bastani was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. In September, his lawyer, Mohammad Sharrif, told the Amir Kabir Newsletter Web site that Bastani had spent weeks in solitary confinement.
On October 20, the news site Norooz reported that a court had sentenced Bastani to six years in prison for "propagating against the regime and congregating and mutinying to create anarchy."
Bastani had been editor-in-chief of the now-banned Neda-ye Eslahat (Voice of Reform) weekly.
Imprisoned: July 9, 2009
The BBC Persian service and other news outlets reported that authorities had detained Abdollahian, a photo editor for the Tehran-based Hamshahri newspaper. Six days after her arrest, she called her family to inform them that she was being held in Evin Prison, according to the news Web site Rooz Online. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.
Imprisoned: July 12, 2009
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted Matin-Pour of having "relations with foreigners and propagating against the regime," according to local news reports. He was sentenced to an eight-year prison term.
Matin-Pour was first arrested in May 2007 and released on bail. He was rearrested in 2009 amid the government's crackdown on the press. The journalist worked for Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari newspapers in western Azerbaijan province, in addition to writing his own blog, according to local news reports. Matin-Pour was suffering from heart and respiratory problems, and his family was not immediately able to secure a medical release for examination outside prison, according to the news Web site Advarnews.
Imprisoned: August 2009
Pajooh was arrested in mid-August, according to the Iran Human Rights Center. On September 7, she contacted her family to tell them she was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran, the organization reported.
Pajooh worked for reformist news outlets such as Etemad e Melli and the Iranian Labor News Agency, and for the Persian service of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Spain's El País. The Human Rights Activists News Agency, a local watchdog, reported on October 12 that the journalist had been under constant interrogation for weeks. RFI reported that she was charged with "propagating against the regime" and had been pressured to make a false confession.
Imprisoned: August 4, 2009
Authorities took Nourbakhsh, editor-in-chief of the reformist newspaper Farhikhtegan, into custody after searching his home, according to news reports. Nourbakhshalso contributed to Jomhoriyat, a news Web site supportive of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Nourbakhsh was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August on vague antistate accusations, according to news reports. He was sentenced to six years in prison on November 3, although the exact charges against him were not immediately disclosed.
Imprisoned: September 5, 2009
Saham News, a Web site affiliated with presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi, reported that its editor-in-chief, Davari, had been detained. Seventeen days after his arrest, the journalist was allowed to contact his family, according to the Tahavolkhani news Web site. His mother said he was being held at Tehran's Evin Prison.
Davari was brought to trial on November 22 on charges of propagation against the regime, congregation and mutiny for disrupting national security, and creating chaos in public order.
In the weeks after the election, Davari had videotaped the testimony of inmates at Kahrizak Detention Center who alleged they had been raped and abused while in custody, according to the Free Iranian Journalists blog.
Imprisoned: October 2009
Sayeh, a freelance journalist and author of the blog Shahr e Saye, was arrested in October, according to Norooz, a news Web site affiliated with reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Sayeh had previously worked as a reporter for Iranian state radio and television.
Sayeh's arrest came after her husband, Saeed Ghoreishi, was arrested along with dozens of people at a gathering to express solidarity with an imprisoned reformist, Norooz reported. He was released on November 24. No formal charges against Sayeh had been disclosed by late year.
Sayeh's blog entries were deleted. Her mother told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters that she met with prosecutors to object to the detention and the lack of information about the case. They said her daughter "had a personal blog where she wrote critical statements against authorities," the committee said.
Imprisoned: October 22, 2009
Mahzadeh, a journalist and novelist, was arrested on his way to work on the orders of the Revolutionary Court's prosecutor's office, according to local news reports.
Mahzadeh, a political analyst and a literary critic who wrote for the Web sites Iranian Diplomacy and Baran, was well-known in Iran for the novel, Take Away Your Laughter. Authorities confiscated a computer from his home, according to news reports. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.
Imprisoned: November 4, 2009
Kohan wrote political commentary on her blog Roozmaregiha and contributed articles to Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site. She was arrested along with her husband, Hojjat Sharifi, an activist with a university student association.
After her original blog, Roozmaregiha, was blocked by the government, she started a new one, Roozmaregiha2, in 2008.
Kohan and her husband were transferred to an undisclosed facility. She was allowed to contact her sister once for a few minutes, according to the reformist news Web site Mowj-e Sabz. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.
Imprisoned: November 4, 2009
Zeidabadi contributed political commentary to Rooz Online, Etemad e Melli, and other reformist publications. The news Web site Bamdad Khabar reported that his wife was allowed to visit him briefly at Evin Prison in mid-November. He told his wife he was being kept in solitary confinement. She said he had been charged, but she could not disclose the details.
Zeidabadi is also a member of Advar Tahkim Vahdat, a politically active alumni organization that has been vocal in condemning recent government actions.
Imprisoned: November 2009
Nazari, who won the Iranian Journalists Association's Best Journalist Award in 2007, was arrested at his home sometime in the second week of November, according to news accounts and human rights groups.
Nazari was editor of Nasim Haraz Monthly, a cultural magazine, and editor-in-chief of Journalism for Peace, a critical Web site focusing on human rights. He is also author of the blog Zemzemeh Haye Divaneh. Nazari told his family about his arrest in a brief telephone call, but was unable to relay details, including his whereabouts, according to Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news Web site.
Nazari had also worked for Etemad e Melli, the newspaper owned by defeated presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi.
Imprisoned: November 22, 2009
Security forces raided the home of Aghaee, a seasoned journalist who contributed to a number of newspapers, including Farhikhtegan, Etemad, Tose'eh, Mardom Salari, and Etemad e Melli. He was also author of the blog Free Tribune.
Aghaee was being held at Evin Prison, according to news accounts. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year. In a letter the journalist asked to be opened in case of his arrest, Aghaee said any confessions he might make in custody should be disregarded as coerced, according to the reformist Web site Jaras.
Imprisoned: September 2, 2008
Jassam, a freelance photographer working for Reuters, was detained by U.S. and Iraqi forces during a raid on his home in Mahmoodiya, south of Baghdad, Reuters reported. At the time of the arrest, a U.S. military spokesman told CPJ that the journalist was deemed "a threat to the security of Iraq and coalition forces."
In November 2008, the Iraqi Central Criminal Court ruled that there was no evidence to hold Jassam and ordered the U.S. military to release him, Reuters reported. U.S. military authorities rejected the court order, saying that he "continued to pose a serious threat to the security and stability of Iraq."
The military has disclosed no evidence against Jassam, and he has never been charged with a crime.
U.S. troops have detained dozens of journalists--mostly Iraqis--since the war in Iraq began in March 2003, CPJ research found. In at least 13 cases, journalists were held for prolonged periods without charge or due process. In all other cases, the journalists were freed without charges ever being substantiated.
Imprisoned: January 7, 2009
Kazakh security service (KNB) agents seized Yesergepov from a hospital bed in Almaty in early January, and placed him in detention in the southern city of Taraz on charges of disclosing state secrets. Yesergepov, editor of Alma-Ata Info, had published two internal KNB memos alongside an article alleging that the regional KNB tried to influence a prosecutor and judge in a criminal tax evasion case.
The KNB classified his case as a state secret, which meant his family and colleagues could not access the case file or attend hearings, according to Rozlana Taukina, head of the Almaty-based Journalists in Danger Foundation. The lawyer who initially defended Yesergepov resigned from the case in June without explanation and left Kazakhstan, Taukina told CPJ.
In August, a Taraz City Court judge sentenced Yesergepov to three years in prison on the charge of "collection of classified information." Raushan Yesergepova, the journalist's wife, told the Kazakh service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that a state-appointed defense lawyer did not attend Yesergepov's final hearing, and that armed police officers prevented her and her husband's supporters from entering the court.
On October 22, a regional court in Taraz rejected Yesergepov's appeal, according to local news reports.
Imprisoned: June 18, 2009
Ould Dehah, founder and manager of Taqadoumy, an independent news Web site, was arrested in connection with a defamation complaint filed by Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, head of the Alliance for Justice and Democracy/Movement for Renewal, an opposition party, according to local news reports.
Sarr alleged that Ould Dehah had falsely accused him of purchasing a villa with money from the military junta, Taqadoumy reported. A Nouakchott court sentenced the journalist on August 19 to six months in jail for breaching public decency, according to local news reports, but acquitted him of the defamation charges.
Authorities had targeted Taqadoumy on other occasions for its critical reporting. The Web site was temporarily blocked in March, and its journalists were frequently detained by authorities, CPJ research found.
Imprisoned: October 15, 2009
A Rabat court sentenced Chahtan, managing editor of the independent weekly Al-Michaal, to a year in jail for "publishing false information" about the health of King Mohammed VI during a period when the monarch had not been seen in public, local journalists told CPJ. Police took the journalist into custody immediately after the ruling.
The court also sentenced Al-Michaal reporters Mostafa Hiran and Rashid Mahameed to three months in prison in connection with the September articles, but they were not immediately taken into custody. Defense attorneys told CPJ that the trial did not meet basic fairness standards, notably in the court's refusal to allow the defense to summon witnesses.
Imprisoned: March 22, 2006
Stomakhin, editor of the small-circulation monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), was imprisoned on March 22, 2006, on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and making public calls to extremist activity. The Butyrsky District Court of Moscow sentenced him to five years behind bars that November. The journalist, his family, and his defense team said his imprisonment was in retaliation for his sharp criticism of the Kremlin's policies in the southern republic of Chechnya.
In her ruling, Judge Lyubov Ishmuratova said Stomakhin's articles "approved Chechen terrorists' criminal actions aimed at the annihilation of the Russian people as an ethnicity." The ruling quoted him as writing: "Let tens of new Chechen snipers take their positions in the mountain ridges and the city ruins and let hundreds, thousands of aggressors fall under righteous bullets! No mercy! Death to the Russian occupiers! ... The Chechens have the full moral right to bomb everything they want in Russia."
Stomakhin, who had pleaded not guilty, said he was "tried for his views and not for any real crime. ... In the articles, I expressed my opinion, with which people were free to agree or disagree," the news agency RIA-Novosti reported. He said an opinion was not a "call to action."
Police arrested Stomakhin in March 2006, a day after he fell from the window of his fourth-floor Moscow apartment while trying to elude police, according to local press reports. He broke both his legs and suffered a back injury.
In May 2007, the Moscow City Court reviewed Stomakhin's appeal for early release but left the verdict unchanged, the independent Caucasus news site Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Stomakhin was later transferred to a prison colony in the village of Burepolom, Nizhny Novgorod region.
In February 2008, the Tonshaevsky Regional Court denied an appeal for Stomakhin's early release, the Moscow-based nonprofit group For Human Rights told Kavkazsky Uzel. Representatives of the group met with him briefly and told the press they were concerned about the journalist's health; the fall from the window in 2006 left him with a permanent limp and spinal cord damage.
Two other appeals for early release, made in 2009, were also denied.
Imprisoned: July 29, 2009
Security agents arrested al-Ghanim, a Syrian blogger living in Saudi Arabia who wrote about social and political issues in both countries, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
Before his arrest, al-Ghanim had signed a petition calling for the release of two activists who were arrested after announcing their intention to attend a sit-in protest in solidarity with Palestinians, according to the network. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year, and al-Ghanim's whereabouts were unknown.
Imprisoned: March 7, 2008
Terrorist Investigation Division forces arrested well-known Tamil columnist and editor J.S. Tissainayagam when he tried to visit detained colleagues Vettivel Jasikaran and Vadivel Valamathy. Jasikaran and Valamathy were released after 19 months in detention.
Tissainayagam was editor of the news Web site OutreachSL at the time of his arrest. He was also a columnist for the Sunday Times and had once edited a Tamil-viewpoint magazine known as North Eastern Monthly.
On August 25, 2008, the Colombo High Court indicted Tissainayagam on terrorism charges stemming from articles published in 2006 in North Eastern Monthly, according to defense lawyer M.A. Sumanthiran. The court said the articles, which detailed displacement of residents and other humanitarian issues in eastern Sri Lanka, incited communal disharmony in violation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Tissainayagam told his lawyer he had written a confession after being forced to watch several brutal interrogations, including one involving Jasikaran.
The magazine, which folded in early 2007, was published by Jasikaran's printing business. In a statement posted on its official Web site, the Peace Secretariat said the journalist and "his business associates" had produced publications "designed to embarrass the Sri Lankan government through false accusations."
On August 31, 2009, the court convicted Tissainayagam and sentenced him to 20 years of hard labor. The same day, CPJ announced that the editor would receive its International Press Freedom Award in November.
Prior to his arrest, Tissainayagam had written several opinion pieces for the Sunday Times, many of which were highly critical of the Sri Lankan government's handling of security issues. One of the final columns before his arrest was titled, "Child Soldiers: What the Govt. Report Did Not Report."
During his World Press Freedom Day address in May, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tissainayagam's case was "emblematic" of the situation of journalists being wrongly jailed around the world.
Imprisoned: June 7, 2007
Al-Arbaji, administrator of the online forum Akhawia, languished in prison until September 2009, when he was finally sentenced to three years in prison by a State Security Court for "spreading false news that weakened the national sentiment," in accordance with Article 286 of the penal code, according to news reports.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said al-Arbaji's alleged confessions were extracted under torture and other forms of duress. The Syrian Center for Media and Free Expression described the case against him as baseless.
Imprisoned: October 20, 2009
Makhlouf, a contributor to the Tunisian news Web site Assabil Online, was arrested after writing an article about pollution in the industrial areas of Nabeul, according to local human rights groups.
He was charged with "harming and disturbing others through the public communication network" and placed at Al-Mornaguia prison, in the southern suburbs of Tunis. His case was pending in late year.
Imprisoned: October 29, 2009
Ben Brik, a contributor to several European media outlets and one of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's top critics, was sentenced November 26 to six months in prison on trumped-up charges of assault, property damage, defamation, and violating public morality, according to CPJ interviews and news reports.
Ben Brik was not brought to the Tunis court when the ruling was issued, according to his wife, Azza Zarrad. His lawyers and family were prevented from visiting him for several days before the court hearing, she said. His lawyers said they would appeal.
Ben Brik was arrested just days after Ben Ali threatened to prosecute Tunisians who "cast doubt" on the results of the October general election. Ben Ali won a fifth term and the ruling Democratic Constitutional Rally won an overwhelming legislative majority in the balloting, which was marred by widespread media suppression.
In 2000, Ben Brik was charged with spreading false information and defaming public institutions in articles published in European media outlets. The charges were dropped after he went on a widely publicized hunger strike to protest judicial and police harassment.
Imprisoned: April 27, 2009
Duruoglu, editor of the liberal news Web site Vatan, was detained during a roundup of suspected members of the leftist organization Revolutionary Headquarters, local news media reported.
Duruoglu was accused of having cooperated with Revolutionary Headquarters, which the Turkish government classified as a terrorist organization, because she knew Ohran Yilmazkaya, one of its leaders. Yilmazkaya died in a shootout with police on the same day Duruoglu was arrested.
Duruoglu said she had known Yilmazkaya from their time in college and that she had interviewed him more recently. But she said she had no involvement in the organization or any knowledge of its inner workings. The Istanbul prosecutor's office requested a 15-year jail sentence when Duruoglu appeared in court on October 1, according to news reports. No trial date was set, and she remained in Bakirköy Prison in late year.
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999
A court in the capital, Tashkent, sentenced Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, to 14 years in prison and Ruzimuradov, a reporter for the paper, to 15 years in prison. They were convicted of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper that criticized President Islam Karimov, participating in a banned political protest, and attempting to overthrow the regime.
Both men were tortured during their pretrial detention in Tashkent City Prison, which left them with serious injuries, Tashkent-based human rights activists told CPJ. On November 15, 1999, Bekjanov was transferred to "strict-regime" Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi. Ruzimuradov was transferred to "strict-regime" Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali, near the southern city of Karshi.
The wives and children of both men fled to the United States in 1999 after their arrests, Erk Party Secretary-General Aranazar Arifov told CPJ.
In 2003, reporters with the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and The Associated Press interviewed Bekjanov in the Tashkent Prison Hospital while he was being treated for tuberculosis he contracted in prison. In the interview, the journalist described torture and beatings that resulted in a broken leg and hearing loss in his right ear, IWPR reported.
In 2007, Bekjanov was jailed in the southwestern city of Kasan, according to the independent news Web site Uznews. His wife, Nina Bekjanova, who was allowed to visit him in October 2006, said he told her that he was still subjected to beatings and torture that caused him to lose most of his teeth, among other things, Uznews reported.
Exiled journalists, human rights workers, and other CPJ sources said they did not know of Ruzimuradov's whereabouts or health.
Imprisoned: July 24, 2002
Authorities arrested Mehliboyev, a contributor to the state-run weekly Hurriyat, at a Tashkent protest rally in support of the banned Islamist opposition party Hizb ut-Tahrir. Following his arrest, Tashkent police raided his room at a local hostel and seized what they described as extremist religious literature.
Mehliboyev spent six months in pretrial detention before he was taken to court in February 2003. In court, prosecutors said he was a member of a religious extremist group and presented political commentary he had written in the spring 2001 edition of Hurriyat as evidence. In the commentary, the journalist argued that Uzbek authorities should give preference to religious ruleover Western-style democracy. Prosecutors insisted his arguments contained ideas from the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Although Mehliboyev said repeatedly during the trial that he had been beaten in prison, the court ignored his statements, a Tashkent-based representative of Human Rights Watch told CPJ at the time.
On February 18, 2003, a district court in Tashkent sentenced Mehliboyev to seven years in prison on charges of anticonstitutional activities, participating in extremist religious organizations, and inciting religious hatred, according to local and international news reports. An appeals court later cut his term by six months.
While in custody, Mehliboyev was sentenced to yet another prison term. In September 2006, the Tashkent regional court sentenced him to six additional years on extremism charges, the independent news Web site Uznews reported. Prison authorities claimed the journalist advocated Hizb ut-Tahrir ideas to other inmates and kept religious writings in his cell. Mehliboyev denied the accusations; he said he had kept only private notes in which he described prison conditions and his treatment.
According to the Tashkent-based human rights group Ezgulik, Mehliboyev was serving his term in a penal colony in the central city of Zarafshan, where he had reportedly been abused.
Imprisoned: August 11, 2004
Authorities convicted Namazov of embezzlement after he wrote several critical articles alleging regional government malfeasance in land management and fiscal auditing, local rights activists reported at the time. He was the editor of the state newspaper Pop Tongi and correspondent for the state newspaper Kishlok Khayoti.
Enraged by Namazov's critique, authorities in the eastern region of Namangan opened a criminal probe against the journalist and his accountants, alleging misuse of newspaper funds and tax evasion. On August 4, 2004, the Turakurgan District Criminal Court in the Namangan region started proceedings.
The journalist said the case had been fabricated in retaliation for his reporting. According to local activists who monitored the trial, prosecutors failed to prove the charges and the judge did not allow Namazov to defend himself. His family reported that their home phone line was cut and that his daughter was suddenly dismissed from her job as a school doctor, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, a local rights activist, told CPJ.
The journalist was sentenced to five and a half years in jail, and his appeal was denied. He was serving his sentence at a prison in eastern Namangan.
Imprisoned: September 12, 2006
In September 2006, authorities in the central Jizzakh region forced Dzhamshid Karimov, a freelance journalist and nephew of President Islam Karimov, into a psychiatric facility in the city of Samarkand. He remained there without access to a lawyer, family, or friends.
According to international rights groups, Uzbek authorities refused to provide access to or release information that would allow independent experts to verify the reasons for Karimov's involuntary confinement. Authorities have not disclosed the court order that led to his forced hospitalization.
Karimov contributed to the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting and a number of independent newspapers and regional online publications. He often criticized the social and economic policies of local and national authorities.
Prior to the detention, Jizzakh authorities had followed Karimov and closely monitored his journalism, according to local news reports. In August 2006, police confiscated his passport when he sought an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan.
Imprisoned: June 7, 2008
Authorities in the western city of Nukus arrested Abdurakhmanov after traffic police claimed they found four ounces (114 grams) of marijuana and less than a quarter ounce (about five grams) of opium in his trunk, the independent news Web site Uznews reported. Authorities initially charged the journalist with drug possession intended for personal use.
Abdurakhmanov covered human rights and economic and social issues for Uznews and, in the past, had reported for the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
The journalist and his lawyers said police planted the drugs in retaliation for his critical reporting. Before his arrest, he had detailed alleged corruption in the regional traffic police for Uznews.
After Abdurakhmanov's initial blood tests revealed no traces of narcotics, authorities changed the charge to drug possession with intent to distribute, Uznews reported. During the pretrial investigation, authorities questioned him primarily about his journalistic sources and the news outlets to which he contributed, said the journalist's brother, Bakhrom, a lawyer who helped with the defense. Galima Bukharbayeva, editor of Uznews and a 2005 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee, said police also searched the journalist's house and confiscated his personal computer along with literature on banned Uzbek opposition leader Muhammad Salikh.
A district court in Nukus heard the case in September 2008. During Abdurakhmanov's trial, his defense lawyer, Rustam Tulyaganov, said, authorities failed to establish a proper chain of custody for the seized drugs. No evidence was offered showing that his fingerprints were on the seized bag. Tulyaganov said prosecutors presented a video in court, purporting to show the seizure of the drugs, but he said the video lacked essential context; for example, a police dog said to have barked at the odor of drugs was not seen at all on the video.
On October 10, 2008, Judge Kadyrbai Dzhamolov sentenced Abdurakhmanov to 10 years in prison. According to Uznews, the journalist was serving his term in a penal colony outside the southern city of Karshi. His health had deteriorated, but prison authorities refused to provide medical treatment, his relatives told Uznews.
Imprisoned: February 22, 2009
Samarkand regional prosecutors seized Saiid at his home in the capital, Tashkent, after a local woman purportedly told prosecutors that she had extorted US$10,000 from a local businessman on the journalist's order, local press reports said. She withdrew her statement days later and said it had been fabricated.
But Saiid remained in custody and, in March, prosecutors announced that they had found another witness to say that he had extorted money--this time, US$5,000 in a supposed 2004 incident, the regional news Web site Ferghana reported. Prosecutors added a forgery charge based on purported statements from local farmers saying that he had used their signatures to create fraudulent court documents.
Before his arrest, the journalist had reported on government agricultural abuses for the independent regional news Web site Voice of Freedom as well as a number of local newspapers. A member of the Tashkent-based human rights group Ezgulik, Saiid had also helped local farmers defend their rights in regional courts, sources told CPJ.
Saiid's lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov, said the proceedings were riddled with procedural violations, notably that officials failed to notify him of hearing dates in the case. Human Rights Watch reported that most prosecution witnesses said their statements against the journalist had been falsified.
On July 30, the Tailak District Court in Samarkand convicted Saiid and sentenced him to 12 and a half years in prison, Ferghana reported. The journalist was sentenced in a closed proceeding without his defense lawyer, family, or the press in attendance. According to Voice of Freedom, Saiid was transferred to a strict-regime penal colony outside the city of Navoi in central Uzbekistan; the prison is known for its large concentration of political prisoners.
In November, Saiid's wife and 6-year-old daughter died in a car accident while on their way to visit him in prison, Ferghana reported. Ezgulik appealed for Saiid's release on humanitarian grounds.
Imprisoned: July 29, 2009
Azócar--host of a political talk show on Táchira-based Televisora del Táchira, correspondent for the national daily El Universal in the western city of San Cristóbal, and author of the blog Gustavoazocar--was accused of irregularities in the assignment of a 2000 advertising contract. An outspoken critic of President Hugo Chávez, he was jailed in 2009 after posting information about the long-running case on his blog.
In March 2006, a state prosecutor in western Táchira ordered Azócar's arrest for allegedly failing to appear before a local court. He was released 10 days later and allowed to continue to work, but was not allowed to leave the country or speak publicly about the legal proceedings against him. On July 29, 2009, however, a local judge issued an arrest warrant for him, stating that the journalist violated those conditions by republishing news reports about the case on his blog.
The first trial judge, Fanny Yasmina Becerra, was taken off the case without explanation in August. Becerra, who had overseen the case since May, was about to hear the trial's final witness when the change was made, Azócar told CPJ. A new judge, José Oliveros, was assigned to the case on September 16. Oliveros announced he would begin a new trial and reaffirmed the decision to hold the journalist in custody throughout the proceedings.
Azócar was being held in the Central Penitentiary of the West in the Andean Táchira province. He said he was in good health, and told CPJ that prison authorities and other prisoners were treating him well. According to Azócar, two local journalists were in charge of his TV program while he was jailed and a handful of local journalism students kept up his blog.
Imprisoned: April 19, 2008
Hai was arrested and held without charge for five months, according to news reports. A closed court convicted him of tax evasion on September 10, 2008.
Hai, who also goes by the name Nguyen Hoang Hai, was an outspoken commentator on his political blog Dieu Cay (The Peasant's Pipe). He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for failing to pay 10 years of taxes on the part of a building he had rented to an optical shop. International news reports quoted his lawyer as saying the taxes should have been paid by the tenant, according to the rental agreement.
Several of Hai's blog entries had touched on politically sensitive issues. He had reported on national protests against China, which disputes Vietnam's claim to sovereignty over the nearby Spratly and Paracel islands. He also called for demonstrations against the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which was to pass through Ho Chi Minh City, according to the Web site of Viet Tan, an exiled pro-democracy organization.
In April 2009, Hai was transferred to the southern Cai Tau Prison, several hours from his home in Ho Chi Minh City, and was denied family visits, according to Viet Tan and international human rights groups.
Imprisoned: May 4, 2009
Security forces arrested Rashid, editor-in-chief of Mukalla Press, during a raid in Al-Mukalla in the province of Hadhramaut, the news site reported. Authorities did not disclose the basis for the detention.
The site had regularly covered clashes between security forces and disaffected residents of the south of the country. The Sana'a-based government sought throughout the year to restrict coverage of tensions in the south, where demonstrators protested policies they saw as marginalizing the region and denying it public services.
Imprisoned: June 18, 2009
Al-Saqldi, editor-in-chief of the Gulf Aden news Web site was arrested by security forces during a raid at his home in Khour Maksar in Aden province, according to local news reports. Security forces confiscated his laptop and camera.
Gulf Aden had intensively covered clashes between security forces and disaffected residents of the south of the country. The Sana'a-based government sought throughout the year to restrict coverage of tensions in the south, where demonstrators protested policies they saw as marginalizing the region and denying it public services.
Aleshteraki, an opposition news Web site, reported in June that al-Saqldi was being held in the security services prison in Sana'a. No formal charges had been disclosed by late year.