As of December 1, 2015
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Baku police arrested Aliyev, editor-in-chief of the independent news website Azadxeber, near a subway station in downtown Baku and charged him with possession of illegal drugs. A local court ordered Aliyev to be held in pretrial detention. Authorities have extended his pretrial detention several times.
Colleagues disputed the charges and said they were in retaliation for his journalism. Aliyev's deputy, Parvin Zeynalov, told local journalists that the outlet's critical reporting on the government's religion policies, including perceived anti-Islamic activities, could have prompted the editor's arrest.
CPJ has documented a pattern in which Azerbaijani authorities file questionable drug charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.
Aliyev's lawyer, Anar Gasimli, told the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, a local press freedom organization, that Aliyev said investigators tortured the journalist in custody and pressured him to admit he had drugs in his possession. The lawyer did not say how Aliyev was tortured. According to the institute, Gasimli said police threatened to plant narcotics in the editor's apartment and file more serious charges against him.
In January 2013, authorities brought additional charges against Aliyev-illegal import and sale of religious literature, making calls to overturn the constitutional regime, and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, the institute reported. In March 2013, investigators finished the investigation against the editor, according to local press reports.
On December 9, 2013, the Baku Court for Grave Crimes sentenced Aliyev to 10 years in prison, according to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel. In June 2014, Azerbaijan's Court of Appeals denied Aliyev's appeal, reports said. He was being held in Azerbaijan's Prison No. 2. CPJ could not determine the state of his health.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan's crackdown on journalists and civil society.
Baku police detained Mamedov, editor of Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), on June 21, 2012, on allegations that they had found about five grams of heroin in his pocket, the Azeri-language service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. After his arrest, Baku police declared they found an additional 30 grams of heroin in Mamedov's home when they searched it the same day, news reports said. A day later, a district court in Baku ordered Mamedov to be held in pretrial detention for three months on drug possession charges. Mamedov's family claims police planted the drugs, and his colleagues said they believed the editor was targeted in retaliation for his reporting, reports said.
Talyshi Sado covered issues affecting the Talysh ethnic minority group in Azerbaijan. Mamedov's articles have been published in Talyshi Sado and on regional and Russia-based news websites, according to Emin Huseynov, director of the local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety. Huseynov told CPJ that Mamedov had investigated the case of Novruzali Mamedov, Talyshi Sado's former chief editor who died in prison in 2009. The two journalists were not related.
In July 2012, authorities lodged more charges against Mamedov, including treason and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, news reports said. Azerbaijan's interior ministry said in a statement that Mamedov had undermined the country's security in articles for Talyshi Sado, through interviews with the Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV, and in unnamed books that he was alleged to have translated and distributed. The statement denounced domestic and international protests against Mamedov's imprisonment and said the journalist used his office to spy for Iran.
In September 2013, Mamedov was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of drug possession, treason, and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, regional press reported. His trial was marred by procedural violations and authorities failed to back up their charges with credible evidence, news reports said.
Local human rights defenders said they believe the conviction was in retaliation for Mamedov's criticism of the authorities' failure to investigate the death of Novruzali Mamedov. News reports said that before his death, the chief editor had been denied adequate medical treatment for several illnesses. Human rights and press freedom groups including CPJ have called for an independent investigation into his death.
According to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel, the court ruled that Hilal Mamedov was to serve his sentence in a strict penal colony. Mamedov was being held at Prison No. 17, outside Baku, according to an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations.
In June 2014, Azerbaijan's Supreme Court denied Mamedov's appeal, the report said. His lawyers filed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which in November 2014 started the first stages of communication with Azerbaijani authorities, a necessary step before the court can begin work on the case, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. In late 2015 CPJ was unable to determine the status of Mamedov's case or of his health.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan's crackdown on journalists and civil society.
Guliyev, chief editor of news website Xeber 44, was arrested on hooliganism charges in September 2012 while reporting on a protest in the southeastern city of Masally, news reports said. Residents were protesting over dancers at a festival who they claimed were not properly clothed, the reports said. Police arrested the demonstrators, who were calling on the festival organizers to respect religious traditions.
During Guliyev's pretrial detention, authorities expanded his charges to include "illegal possession, storage, and transportation of firearms," "participation in activities that disrupt public order," "inciting ethnic and religious hatred," "resisting authority," and "offensive action against the flag and emblem of Azerbaijan."
Guliyev's brother, Azer, told the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel that his brother's imprisonment could be related to his coverage of protests against an official ban on headscarves and veils in public schools. Xeber 44 covers news about religious life in Azerbaijan and international events in the Islamic world. The journalist's lawyer told Kavkazsky Uzel that investigators claimed to have found a grenade while searching Guliyev's home, but his lawyer said the investigators had planted it.
In April 2013, the Lankaran Court on Grave Crimes convicted Guliyev of all charges and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Guliyev's lawyer, Fariz Namazli, told the local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety that the charges against the journalist were not substantiated in court and that the testimony of witnesses conflicted. The lawyer said that Guliyev had been beaten by authorities after his arrest and that he was not immediately granted access to a lawyer.
News reports said that Guliyev filed an appeal, which was denied by regional courts. In July 2014, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld the journalist's sentence.
Guliyev was being held at Prison No. 14, outside Baku, according to Kavkazsky Uzel and an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations. In late 2015, CPJ was unable to determine his health status.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan's crackdown on journalists and civil society.
Police arrested Yaqublu, a columnist for the leading opposition daily Yeni Musavat, when he arrived in Ismayilli to interview residents about riots, according to news reports.
On February 4, 2013, the Nasimi District Court in Baku ordered Yaqublu to be held in pretrial detention for two months on charges of organizing mass disorder and violently resisting police. Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition politician who was arrested with Yaqublu, was imprisoned on similar charges, according to news reports. Authorities extended Yaqublu's pretrial detention several times during the year.
The independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported that the charges against the journalist were in connection with riots in Ismayilli on January 23, 2013. Thousands of residents demonstrated to demand a governor's resignation after regional authorities refused to shut down a motel that was alleged to have housed a brothel, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. News reports said the motel, which protesters later burned, was said to belong to the family of a high-ranking government official. Authorities sent police to quell the demonstrations and more than 100 residents were detained, the radio station's Azeri service said.
Rauf Ariforglu, Yeni Musavat's chief editor, told Kavkazsky Uzel that his newspaper sent Yaqublu to report on the riots and that the journalist had his press card with him at the time of his arrest. Emin Huseynov, head of the local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, confirmed that Yaqublu was in the town to report on the unrest, telling CPJ that staff members saw the journalist working there.
On March 17, 2014, a regional court in Ismayilli convicted Yaqublu of mass disorder and sentenced him to five years in prison, according to news reports. His appeal was denied in September 2014. He was being held at Prison No. 13 in late 2014, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
In April 2015, authorities briefly released Yaqublu to attend the funeral of his 26-year-old daughter, reports said. He returned to prison a week later. CPJ could not determine the details of Yaqublu's health.
Agents with the National Security Agency arrested Hashimli, the editor of the independent news website Moderator and a reporter for the independent newspaper Bizim Yol, outside the offices of the Moderator in Baku. The same day agents claimed to have found a pistol and several grenades after raiding his home without presenting a court order and in the absence of a lawyer, according to news reports.
Agents also raided the newsrooms of the Moderator and Bizim Yol and confiscated equipment, the independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Both outlets are known for coverage of corruption and human rights abuses as well as for critical reporting on the government of President Ilham Aliyev.
On September 19, 2013, the Sabail District Court in Baku ordered that Hashimli be imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into accusations of smuggling and the illegal possession of weapons, according to news reports. Hashimli denied the allegations.
Emin Huseynov, director of the local press freedom group Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that he believed the charges against Hashimli were fabricated and that his arrest was meant to be a threat to the local press in the run-up to the October 2013 election, which Aliyev later won.
Citing Hashimli's lawyer, Huseynov told CPJ that agents had orchestrated the detention of the journalist. He said that a man named Tavvakyul Gurbanov had called Hashimli and asked to meet him outside the Moderator offices about a personal matter. When Hashimli got in Gurbanov's car, agents surrounded the vehicle and searched it. The agents claimed they found six guns and rounds of ammunition. Gurbanov said he brought the weapons along on Hashimli's request, which the journalist denied, according to news reports. Hashimli denied having met Gurbanov before.
Gurbanov was detained and faced similar charges, news reports said.
In November 2013, Hashimli's pretrial detention was extended for three months, according to news reports.
On May 15, 2014, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Hashimli to eight years in prison, the Azerbaijani service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. After the Baku Appeals Court denied his appeal in December 2014, his lawyers asked Azerbaijan's Supreme Court to review the case and acquit the journalist. The court upheld the sentence at a hearing in October 2015, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Hashimli was being held at Prison No. 1, outside Baku, according to an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations. CPJ could not determine the status of Hashimli's health.
Azerbaijan's National Security Agency detained Mirkadyrov when he arrived in Baku from Ankara, according to regional and international press reports. Mirkadyrov, who worked as the Turkey correspondent for the independent Azerbaijani daily newspaper Zerkalo for three years, had been deported from Turkey the day before at the request of Azerbaijani authorities, the reports said.
Mirkadyrov was arrested and charged with espionage, according to news reports. Mirkadyrov was ordered into pretrial detention for three months, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
In July 2014, authorities extended his detention until November 21 of that year, Kavkazsky Uzel said. When the term was about to expire, the Nasimi District Court ordered Mirkadyrov to be kept in pretrial detention for a five more months, regional press reported.
The espionage charges stemmed from Mirkadyrov's trips to Armenia and Georgia, as well as his time in Turkey. He was accused of meeting with Armenian security services and handing them information of a political and military nature, including state secrets, the independent news website Contact reported, citing the Azerbaijani prosecutor-general's office.
Mirkadyrov denied the accusations and said they were politically motivated and in retaliation for his work. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
While reporting for Zerkalo in Turkey, Mirkadyrov often criticized Turkish and Azerbaijani authorities for human rights abuses, news reports said.
According to a Kavkazsky Uzel report that cited Mirkadyrov's wife, Turkish police detained the family in Ankara on April 18, 2014, and accused them of being in the country on expired travel documents. She said their documents were valid through the end of the year. Mirkadyrov was deported the next day. His wife later said that the family showed police a document that said the family was allowed to remain in Turkey until the end of the year, the paper reported. Turkish authorities did not explain the discrepancy, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Mirkadyrov was also involved in nongovernmental projects on improving dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to news reports. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the early 1990s, due to a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Mirkadyrov is being held at the National Security Agency's pretrial detention facility, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. In August 2015, authorities briefly hospitalized him after he complained of hypertension, his lawyer told Kavkazsky Uzel. A month later, news reports said that the journalist's pretrial detention was extended until November 16. A closed-door trial for Mirkadyrov began on November 19, 2015, according to reports.
Police in the eastern Absheron district arrested Hazi, a reporter for the opposition newspaper Azadliq, over claims that he attacked a man at a bus stop, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The day after his arrest, the Absheron District Court ordered the journalist, who also uses the name Haziyev, to be held in pretrial detention for two months, the report said. He was charged with hooliganism.
At the trial in Absheron District Court on November 11, the journalist's lawyer requested that the judge be disqualified because authorities continued to hold Hazi even though his pretrial detention had expired, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The judge denied the request.
Authorities said that while waiting for a bus on his way to work, Hazi attacked and beat a Baku resident named Magerram Hasanov, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. Hazi said in court that he had acted in self-defense, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He said Hasanov had insulted and attacked him. Elton Guliyev, the journalist's lawyer, told Kavkazsky Uzel that he believed authorities had orchestrated the altercation because police arrived moments after it started. Guliyev said he believed Hazi had been imprisoned in retaliation for his journalism.
Hazi often criticized the Azerbaijani government's domestic and foreign policies in his reports for Azadliq, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. As a host for Azadliq's online TV program "Azerbaijan Saati" (Azerbaijani Hour), he was critical of government corruption and human rights abuses in the country.
In January 2015, Hazi was sentenced to five years in jail, news reports said. His appeal was denied. Hazi is being held at Baku Investigative Prison No. 1. CPJ could not determine details of his health.
Ismayilova, an award-winning investigative reporter and program host on Radio Azadlyg, the Azeri service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was arrested in Baku on December 5, 2014.
Authorities charged Ismayilova with inciting a man to commit suicide and ordered her to be imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into the case, news reports said. While she was in jail, authorities raided the radio station's Baku bureau, detained and interrogated its staff, confiscated financial documents and reporting equipment, and sealed the newsroom, reports said.
In January 2015, a Baku court extended Ismayilova's pretrial detention for another two months; a few weeks later, the general prosecutor's office brought new charges against her of embezzlement, illegal business, tax evasion, and abuse of power, according to regional and international press reports.
During her trial, defense witnesses, including RFE/RL representatives, denied the accusations against Ismayilova, telling the court that she did not have authority to conduct business deals, make decisions about hiring, or manipulate fiscal documents, news reports said. Additionally, the man whose attempted suicide authorities used to file original charges against Ismayilova stated publicly that prosecutors had forced him to incriminate the journalist, RFE/RL reported.
On September 1, 2015, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Ismayilova to seven and a half years in prison on charges of illegal business, tax evasion, abuse of power, and embezzlement, local and international press reported. Authorities dropped the charge of incitement to suicide. On November 25, 2015 the Baku Court of Appeals upheld Ismayilova's conviction, according to the Sport for Rights coalition.
Ismayilova is known for her exposés of high-level government corruption, including her investigation into alleged ties between President Ilham Aliyev's family and businesses. For years, Ismayilova also covered Azerbaijan's grave human rights record.
Ismayilova and her lawyer denied the allegations against her, which they said were in retaliation for her coverage. In an article published by the local press two days before Ismayilova's arrest, Ramiz Mehdiyev, head of the presidential administration, accused her of treason and espionage, according to news reports.
Before her imprisonment, authorities had consistently harassed Ismayilova through smear campaigns, prosecution, and travel bans, CPJ research shows. Ismayilova, the 2015 winner of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, is being held in Prison No. 4, according to the Sport for Rights coalition. CPJ was unable to determine Ismayilova's health.
Alsingace, a journalistic blogger and human rights defender, was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent after pro-reform protests swept the country in February 2011.
In June 2011, a military court sentenced Alsingace to life imprisonment for "plotting to topple the monarchy." In all, 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty on similar charges and handed lengthy sentences.
On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy. He was first arrested on anti-state conspiracy charges in August 2010 as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents, but was released in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement.
In September 2012, the High Court of Appeal upheld Alsingace's conviction and life sentence, along with those of his co-defendants. Four months later, on January 7, 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, also upheld the sentences.
In 2015, Alsingace began refusing all solid food to protest the conditions at Jaw Central Prison, where he was being held. In a joint statement on October 7, 2015, the 200th day of his protest, CPJ and other press freedom and human rights organizations called for his release.
In November 2015, Alsingace was temporarily released to allow him to attend his mother's funeral. As of late 2015, he remains detained in a clinic where he is receiving treatment in relation to his hunger strike.
Humaidan, a freelance photojournalist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 26, 2014, in a trial of more than 30 individuals charged with participating in a 2012 attack against a police station on the island of Sitra, according to news reports. The reports said three defendants were acquitted, and the rest were given three to 10 years in prison.
Humaidan was at the station to document the attack as part of his coverage of unrest in the country since anti-government protests erupted in February 2011, according to news reports. His photographs were published by local opposition sites, including the online newsmagazine Alhadath and the news website Alrasid.
Adel Marzouk, head of the Bahrain Press Association, an independent media freedom organization based in London, told CPJ that Humaidan's photographs had exposed police attacks on protesters during demonstrations. Humaidan's family said authorities had sought his arrest for months and had raided their home five times to try to arrest him, news reports said.
The High Court of Appeals upheld Humaidan's sentence on August 31, 2014, despite calls by CPJ and other human rights organizations to throw out the conviction.
In 2014, the U.S. National Press Club honored Humaidan with its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
Humaidan is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Hubail, a photographer, was sentenced to five years in prison on April 28, 2014, on charges of inciting protests against public order, according to news reports. Eight other individuals were sentenced in the same trial, including online activist Jassim al-Nuaimi and artist Sadiq al-Shabani, the reports said.
Hubail was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to the Dry Dock prison on August 5, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported.
The arrest came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14, 2013, that was modeled after the demonstrations that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities.
On August 7, 2013, Hubail was interrogated by the public prosecutor, who accused him of incitement against the regime and calling for illegal gatherings. Hubail's lawyer, Ali al-Asfoor, said in a series of Twitter posts that investigators had questioned Hubail about his photography and purported posts on social media that had called for the protests on August 14.
Hubail, who photographs opposition protests, has had his work published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, the independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas.
Hubail said he was tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail told of being beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep. The Bahraini Information Affairs Authority told CPJ on August 28, 2013, that the government was investigating the torture claims.
The High Court of Appeals upheld Hubail's conviction on September 21, 2014, according to news reports.
In April 2015, someone familiar with Hubail's situation, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told CPJ that Hubail's health has deteriorated and that he has been denied adequate medical care for his heart condition. The journalist is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Bahraini security forces arrested Mearaj at his home in the village of Nuwaidrat and confiscated his computer and phone, according to news reports. On April 8, 2014, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on charges of "insulting the king" and "misusing communication devices" in relation to posts he was accused of writing on the opposition website Lulu Awal, the reports said.
Lulu Awal publishes news and information in opposition to the Bahraini government. The website's YouTube page has posted hundreds of videos showing peaceful protests and violent clashes between protesters and police. Anti-government protests have been a frequent occurrence in the country since the government cracked down on large-scale demonstrations in 2011.
According to news reports citing court documents, Mearaj said he posted news and pictures of demonstrations on several websites, but he denied insulting the king or being responsible for Lulu Awal. Authorities said that a computer seized from his home had been used to post on Lulu Awal, according to news reports. It was not clear if any specific posts on the website led to the arrest and conviction.
Mearaj's sentence was under appeal in late 2015 after repeated delays for more than a year. He is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Authorities raided al-Mosawi's home on February 10, 2014, and arrested him along with his brother, Mohammed, according to news reports. The freelance photographer was transferred to Dry Dock jail after being interrogated about his work as a photographer.
Al-Mosawi's internationally recognized photographs, most of which he posts on social networking sites, have won several awards. His work includes a range of subjects such as wildlife and daily life in Bahrain in addition to opposition protests. Anti-government protests have been a frequent occurrence in Bahrain since the government cracked down on large-scale demonstrations in 2011.
According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the government has frequently abused an overly broad definition of terrorism as a tool to suppress dissent and independent reporting.
The journalist told his family in a phone call from prison in 2014 that he had been beaten and given electric shocks, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
Al-Mosawi and his brother were charged in late 2014 with rioting and participating in a terror organization, according to news reports. On November 23, 2015, al-Mosawi was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and had his citizenship revoked, according to news reports. Since 2012, Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of more than 130 Bahrainis, including journalists, human rights defenders and accused terrorists, according to local human rights groups.
Rahman, 60, acting editor and majority owner of the opposition Bengali-language daily Amar Desh, was arrested at his office on April 11, 2013, according to news reports. Rahman was charged with publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension. The government cited what it said was critical coverage of the Shahbagh movement, which calls for the death penalty for Islamist leaders on trial on war crimes charges.
News reports cited a February 2013 article published in Amar Desh as an example of the daily's critical coverage during heightened political and religious tension. The article, headlined "Bloggers committing contempt of religion and court," criticized self-described atheist bloggers, who helped amplify support for the Shahbagh movement, and called them "enemies of Islam" and their work "vulgar, objectionable propaganda."
Rahman was also charged with sedition and unlawful publication in connection with his paper's reports in December 2012 that questioned the impartiality of a war crimes tribunal set up by the government to investigate mass killings during the war of independence. The paper's reports included leaked Skype conversations of a judge presiding over the tribunal. The controversy led to the judge's resignation.
At his initial hearing in late 2013, Rahman refused to request bail in protest, news reports said.
Rahman was also indicted on corruption charges over allegations that he failed to submit his wealth statement despite being served several legal notices. The charges relate to his tenure as energy adviser in the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government, according to reports. The party, now in opposition, is aligned with Islamist parties.
In August 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced Rahman to three years in prison for not providing details of his wealth, according to news reports. Rahman is facing trial on several other cases. It is unclear if he has been convicted in any of those cases, according to the English-language The Daily Star. CPJ contacted Rahman's newspaper to try to verify the status of his case, but by late 2015 had not received a response.
Rahman was previously arrested in June 2010 and spent 10 months in prison for contempt of court in connection with Amar Desh reports that accused the country's courts of bias in favor of the state.
CPJ could not determine details of his health.
A Dhaka court sentenced Choudhury, an editor of the Bangladeshi tabloid Weekly Blitz, to seven years in prison over his articles about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
Choudhury was convicted of harming the country's interests under section 505(A) of the penal code, having been found to have intentionally written distorting and damaging materials, reports said. Choudhury had written about anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries and the spread of Islamist militancy in Bangladesh.
The prosecutor in the case, Shah Alam Talukder, told Agence France-Presse that Choudhury was taken to prison after the verdict. The editor's family said they would appeal the decision in the High Court, news reports said. No details about his state of health, or where he is being held, have been disclosed.
The sentence was linked to Choudhury's arrest in November 2003 when he tried to travel to Israel to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association. Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens to travel there. Choudhury was released on bail in 2005.
He was charged with passport violations, but the charges were dropped in February 2004 and he was accused of sedition, among other charges, in connection with his articles, according to news reports. The editor was not convicted on the sedition charge, the reports said. He was arrested again in 2012 in connection with embezzlement charges, and the current charges relating to his writing were filed. In Bangladesh, judicial proceedings can take years to resolve. In February 2015, Choudhary was sentenced to four years in prison on the embezzlement charges, according to news reports.
Salam, the owner of Ekushey TV, and Sarwar, a former senior correspondent for the privately owner broadcaster, have been accused of sedition and being in violation of Bangladesh's Pornography Act, according to reports. Some journalists said in news reports and to CPJ that the arrests were related to a speech by Tarique Rahman, the son of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, which was broadcast by the channel on January 5, 2015.
Salam was arrested at the station's offices in Dhaka on January 6, 2015, according to local news reports. At a press conference in Dhaka after his arrest, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said police had charged the chairman of the channel under the Pornography Control Act of 2012. Police said a woman filed a complaint in November 2014 saying she had been vilified in a news program, according to reports. The police said Ekushey TV, which covers local and national news, aired pornographic images of the woman, news reports said. The channel denies the accusations, reports said.
In March 2015, Sarwar was arrested under the Pornography Act after the station's owner, Salam, was said to have confessed to charges brought against him, reports said. CPJ was unable to determine if Sarwar was formally charged under the act. Sarwar was also charged with sedition, according to news reports. After Sarwar's arrest, members of the Jatiya Press Club issued a statement expressing concern over the government's role in undermining independent media in the country, according to reports.
In the speech aired by Ekushey TV on January 5, 2015 Rahman, the senior vice chairman of opposition leader Zia's party, called for the toppling of the Sheikh Hasina-led government, reports said. Rahman, who has been in exile since 2008 and faces corruption charges in Bangladesh, is a fierce critic of Hasina's father, the founder of the country.
Sarwar was fired in the days after the speech was aired, reports said. The broadcaster has not commented in English-language reports on the reason for his dismissal.
Ekushey TV was unavailable in some parts of the country after the airing of Rahman's speech, according to local and international news reports. Cable operators said they were instructed to take Ekushey TV off the air, according to Agence France-Presse. Authorities denied issuing any order, reports said.
Zia, who had been confined to her office earlier in the year after calling on her supporters to topple the Hasina-led government, accused the government of interrupting Ekushey TV broadcasts.
CPJ was unable to determine the state of Salam or Sarwar's health. The journalists are in jail in Dhaka. Salam was denied bail in January 2015 and March 2015, according to reports. CPJ was unable to determine if a court date has been set for them.
Rahman, a reporter at the daily Amader Rajshahi, was taken into custody after a complaint was filed against him by members of the paramilitary force Border Guards Bangladesh, according to The Financial Express.
Rahman's family told CPJ that on September 30, a member of the border guards called Rahman and ordered him to bring his camera, memory card, and mobile phone to a camp in Godagari. At the camp, a guard erased the contacts on his phone and took him to the local police station.
Authorities brought drug-related charges against Rahman, claiming he was in possession of heroin and yaba tablets (a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine), his family and colleagues told CPJ. The family says the allegations are fabricated.
Drug smuggling is rampant along Bangladesh's border with India and Myanmar, according to news reports.
Rahman's parents, Raoshan Ara and Al Amin, told CPJ their son had been arrested in retaliation for his critical reporting on the border guards and powerful drug lords operating along the India-Bangladesh border. Rahman had worked as a freelance journalist for various local papers for four years, and most recently worked at the Amader Rajshahi, Ara told CPJ.
On September 15, Rahman published a report alleging that members of the border guards were collecting excessive money from cattle traders at the border with India before the Eid holiday, Ara told CPJ.
Two people familiar with Rahman's case, who have not been named for security reasons, told CPJ that Rahman had reported on border guards' alleged role in drug smuggling.
The border guards did not respond to CPJ's request for comment.
Rahman's family told CPJ in October 2015 that he is being held at a Rajshahi jail. They reported no health issues, but expressed concern about his mental health. The family told CPJ they had not heard if a date for his trial had been set.
Ahmed Abba, a Nigerian national and correspondent for Radio France Internationale's (RFI) Hausa service, was arrested by Cameroonian officials in Maroua, the capital of the Far North Region of Cameroon, on July 30, 2015, according to a report by RFI. He was taken to the capital, Yaoundé. The journalist was denied access to his lawyer until October 19, RFI told CPJ.
RFI cited the journalist's lawyer, Charles Tchoungang, as saying Abba was interrogated in relation to the activities of the extremist sect Boko Haram, which has renamed itself the Islamic State in West Africa. Formed in 2002, Boko Haram, which is based in northern Nigeria, has been increasing its presence in northern Cameroon since 2014, according to reports. The group has become notorious for mass kidnappings and targeted attacks on civilians, reports said.
According to RFI, Abba mostly covered refugee issues in the region. The outlet said that Abba had reported on attacks carried out by Boko Haram, but that he never cited any Boko Haram sources or conducted investigations into Boko Haram activities.
Dennis Nkwebo, president of the Cameroon Journalism Trade Union, told CPJ in September 2015 that Abba has lived in northern Cameroon for some time. He said the day Abba was arrested he had gone to a meeting at the office of a local governor. The reason for Abba's visit to the governor was not clear.
RFI told CPJ that it had not been told of any specific allegations against Abba. The outlet said that it was not aware that Abba had broken any local laws through his reporting and that it had had no contact with him since his arrest.
Authorities had not disclosed any charges against Abba as of late 2015. RFI said the journalist was healthy and was being held in a prison in Yaoundé.
Yang, 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 power 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 member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based websites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party and advocated the release of jailed Internet writers.
According to the verdict in Yang's case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence was over a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a "democratic Chinese transitional government." His colleagues said he was elected to the leadership of the fictional government without his prior knowledge. 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, a Chinese dissident jailed for endangering state security. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to Wang's family 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. In 2008, the PEN American Center announced that Yang had received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.
Yang's health deteriorated in 2015. He has pleural tuberculosis, nephritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions, according to Radio France Internationale. Because Yang maintains he is innocent, his medical parole applications have been rejected. To demand his right to proper medical care, Yang has staged hunger strikes, according to Radio France Internationale.
Yang is being held in Nanjing No. 1 Prison in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, according to Radio Free Asia.
Tengzhou police arrested Qi, a journalist of 13 years, and charged him with fraud and extortion. He was sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008. The arrest occurred about a week after police detained Qi's colleague, Ma Shiping, a freelance photographer, on charges of carrying a false press card.
Qi and Ma had criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the website of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi's lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, 2007, the two posted photographs on the Xinhua news agency's anti-corruption Web forum that showed a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou. Ma was sentenced in 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released in 2009, according to Jiao.
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 due to be released in 2011, but in May of that year local authorities told him the court had received new evidence against him. On June 9, 2011, less than three weeks before the end of his term, a Shandong provincial court sentenced him to an additional eight years in prison, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia.
Human Rights in China, citing an online article by defense lawyer Li Xiaoyuan, said the court tried Qi on a new count of stealing advertising revenue from China Security Produce News, a former employer. The journalist's supporters speculated that the charge was in reprisal for Qi's statements to his jailers that he would continue reporting after his release, according to The New York Times.
Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family's home, which limits visits. Jiao told journalists in 2012 that her husband offered her a divorce, but she declined. As of late 2015, no new information about Qi's legal status or health had been disclosed.
On two occasions in November 2007, Ekberjan used his cell phone to record sounds of riots in his home town of Turpan. The audio files, which included the noise of rioters, sirens, and a voice-over of Ekberjan describing what was happening, were sent to friends in the Netherlands, and later used in news reports by Radio Free Asia and Phoenix News in Hong Kong. Ekberjan posted links to the news reports on his blog, which was closed by authorities on December 25, 2007, according to the rights group World Uyghur Congress.
In an April 2009 Radio Free Asia report, Ekberjan's mother said he made the recordings on two occasions, but at his trial he faced 21 counts of sending information abroad. She told Radio Free Asia she believed he might have been motivated to send the files to help achieve his ambition of studying abroad. The Turpan Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on February 28, 2008 for "separatism"-trying to break away from the Communist Party-and revealing state secrets, crimes under articles 103 and 11 of the Chinese penal code.
As of April 2009, he was being held in the Xinjiang Number 4 prison in Urumqi, Radio Free Asia reported. No new information about his health or where he is being held has been disclosed, according to Radio Free Asia.
Liu, a longtime advocate of political reform and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was imprisoned on charges of inciting subversion through his writing. Liu was an author of Charter 08, a document promoting universal values, human rights, and democratic reform in China, and was among its 300 original signatories. He was detained in Beijing shortly before the charter was officially released, according to international news reports.
Liu was formally charged with subversion in June 2009, and he was tried in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court in December of that year. Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Sweden were denied access to the trial, the BBC reported. On December 25, 2009, the court convicted Liu of inciting subversion and sentenced him to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights.
The verdict cited several articles Liu had posted on overseas websites, including the BBC's Chinese-language site and the U.S.-based websites Epoch Times and Observe China, all of which had criticized Communist Party rule. Six articles were named, including pieces headlined, "So the Chinese people only deserve 'one-party participatory democracy?'" and "Changing the regime by changing society," as evidence that Liu had incited subversion. Liu's income was generated by his writing, his wife told the court.
The court verdict cited Liu's authorship and distribution of Charter 08 as further evidence of subversion. The Beijing Municipal High People's Court upheld the verdict in February 2010.
In October 2010, the Nobel Prize committee awarded Liu its 2010 peace prize "for his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." In September 2015, Geir Lundestad, who was secretary of the Norwegian Nobel committee when Liu was awarded the prize, claimed that the Norwegian government tried to dissuade the committee for fear of offending the Chinese government, according to reports. Norway's foreign minister at the time, Jonas Gahr Støre, denied the allegations.
Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest in her Beijing apartment since shortly after her husband's detention, according to international news reports. Authorities said she could request permission to visit Liu every two or three months, the BBC reported.
In March 2013, unidentified assailants beat two Hong Kong journalists when they filmed an activist's attempt to visit Liu Xia at her home. In February 2014, Liu Xia spent a brief period in the hospital for treatment of heart problems, depression, and other medical conditions. She remained under house arrest in late 2015.
In June 2013, Liu's brother-in-law, Liu Hui, a manager of a property company, was convicted of fraud in what the journalist's family said was reprisal for Liu Xiaobo's journalistic work. The conviction stemmed from a real-estate dispute that Liu Hui's lawyers said had already been settled. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, news reports said. A court rejected his appeal in August 2013.
Liu Xiaobo was being held in Jinzhou Prison in northeastern China's Liaoning province, according to news reports.
In August 2015, Liu's three brothers visited him for the first time in 13 months. They told reporters at Radio France Internationale that Liu was not allowed to communicate with his family through letters.
Public security officials arrested the online writer Tsang in Gannan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south of Gansu province, according to Tibetan rights groups. Tsang ran the Tibetan cultural issues website Chomei, according to the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Kate Saunders, U.K. communications director for the International Campaign for Tibet, told CPJ 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 March 1959 uprising preceding the Dalai Lama's departure from Tibet. The 2008 anniversary had provoked ethnic rioting in Tibetan areas, and international reporters were barred from the region.
In November 2009, a Gannan court sentenced Tsang to 15 years in prison for disclosing state secrets, according to The Associated Press.
Tsang served four years of his sentence in Dingxi prison in Lanzhu, Gansu province, before being transferred in August 2013 to another prison in Gansu where conditions are harsher and there are serious concerns for his health, according to PEN International. His family is allowed to visit every two months, and is permitted to speak with him only in Chinese via an intercom and separated by glass screen. Not being allowed to converse in Tibetan is difficult for many of his family members, PEN International said.
As of late 2015 it was unclear in which prison Tsang was being held.
Abdulla, editor of the state-run China National Radio Uighur service, was detained in July 2009 and accused of instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region through postings on the Uighur-language website Salkin, which he managed in his spare time, according to international news reports. A court in the regional capital, Urumqi, sentenced him to life imprisonment on April 1, 2010, the reports said. The exact charges against Abdulla were not disclosed.
The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported on the sentence in December 2010, citing an unnamed witness at the trial. Abdulla was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots and for translating articles on the Salkin website, Radio Free Asia reported. The World Uyghur Congress, a rights group based in Germany, confirmed the sentence with contacts in the region, according to The New York Times.
Abdulla is in an unspecified prison in Xinjiang, according to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which monitors human rights and law in China. CPJ could not determine details of his health in late 2015.
Details of Hezim's arrest after the 2009 ethnic unrest in northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region first emerged in March 2011. Police in Xinjiang detained international journalists and severely restricted Internet access for several months after rioting broke out between groups of Han Chinese and the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority on July 5, 2009, in Urumqi, the regional capital.
The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, citing an anonymous source, reported that a court in the region's far western district of Aksu had sentenced Hezim, along with other journalists and dissidents, in July 2010. Several other Uighur website managers received heavy prison terms for posting articles and discussions about the previous year's violence, according to CPJ research.
Hezim edited the Uighur website Orkhun. Erkin Sidick, a U.S.-based Uighur scholar, told CPJ that the editor's whereabouts had been unknown from the time of the rioting until news of the conviction surfaced in 2011. Hezim was sentenced to seven years in prison on undisclosed charges in a trial closed to observers, according to Sidick, who learned the news by telephone from sources in Aksu, the district he comes from. Hezim's family was informed of the sentence but not of the charges against him, Sidick said. Chinese authorities frequently restrict information on sensitive trials, particularly those involving ethnic minorities, according to CPJ research.
Hezim's whereabouts in late 2015 were unknown, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Uighur rights group based in Washington.
Imin was one of several administrators of Uighur-language Web forums who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In August 2010, Imin was sentenced to life in prison on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration, a witness to her trial told the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia.
Imin held a local government post in Urumqi. She contributed poetry and short stories to the cultural website Salkin, and had been invited to moderate the site in late spring 2009, her husband, Behtiyar Omer, told CPJ. Omer confirmed the date of his wife's initial detention in a statement at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in 2011.
Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of demonstrations on July 5, 2009, and of using the Uighur-language website to distribute information about the event, Radio Free Asia reported. Imin had been critical of the government in her online writing, readers of the website told Radio Free Asia. The website was shut down after the riots and its contents were deleted.
Imin was also accused of leaking state secrets by phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. Her husband told CPJ that he called her on July 5, 2009, but only to check on whether she was safe.
The riots, which began as a protest over the death of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong province, turned violent and resulted in the deaths of 200 people, according to the official Chinese government count. Chinese authorities blocked access to the Internet in Xinjiang for months after the riots, and hundreds of protesters were arrested, according to international human rights organizations and local and international media reports.
Imin was being held in the Xinjiang women's prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi, according to the rights group World Uyghur Congress. CPJ could not determine details of her health in late 2015.
Kahar, a reporter and blogger, disappeared during ethnic rioting in Urumqi in July 2009. His family announced in February 2014 that he had been convicted of separatism and was being held in Shikho prison outside Shikho city in the far north of Xinjiang, according to the Uighur service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia.
Kahar worked as a local reporter before launching the Uighur-language website Golden Tarim, which featured articles on Uighur history, culture, politics, and social life.
With the unrest surrounding the riots, it is difficult to determine the exact date of his arrest or where he was initially held. His family had questioned police and government authorities after his disappearance, but received no information, and assumed he had been killed until they were informed of his conviction in 2010, Radio Free Asia reported.
The family was told that Kahar was sentenced to 13 years in prison during a closed court session in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, though they did not know the date of the trial. Kahar's sister Nurgul told Radio Free Asia that during their search for Kahar, the family was told by court officials in Urumqi that he "published illegal news and propagated ideas of ethnic separatism on his website. He was charged with the crime of splitting the nation."
According to a September 2015 report by Radio Free Asia, Kahar's health is failing. His family is allowed only a 15-minute visit with the journalist every four months. "He is losing his courage year by year," Radio Free Asia cited his mother as saying.
Thousands of Uighurs remain unaccounted for in Xinjiang. Many were detained during the 2009 crackdown or other security sweeps by Chinese authorities.
Authorities imprisoned Azat and another journalist, Nureli Obul, in an apparent crackdown on managers of Uighur-language websites. Azat was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Obul to three years on charges of endangering state security, according to international news reports. The Uyghur American Association reported that the pair were sentenced in July 2010.
Their websites, which have been shut down by the government, published news articles and discussion groups on Uighur issues. The New York Times cited friends and relatives of the journalists who said they were prosecuted because they failed to respond quickly enough when they were ordered to delete content that discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang.
The Uyghur PEN Center confirmed to CPJ that Obul was released after completing his sentence. Azat's whereabouts were unknown as of October 2015. As is the case with many Uighur prisoners, the government releases little information on where they are being held.
Security officials arrested Niyaz, a website manager who is sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, according to international news reports. He was convicted of endangering state security and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence before ethnic unrest in July 2009 in China's far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Niyaz, who once worked for the state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. A statement posted on the website quoted Niyaz's wife as saying that though he had given interviews to international media, he had no malicious intentions.
Authorities blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region.
According to Humanitarian China, a San Francisco-based Chinese human rights organization, as of late 2015 Niyaz was being held in Changji prison in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The state of his health and the conditions under which he was being held were unknown.
A court in western Sichuan province sentenced Liu to 10 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion through articles published on overseas websites between April 2009 and February 2010, according to international news reports. One article was titled "Constitutional Democracy for China: Escaping Eastern Autocracy," according to the BBC.
Liu also signed Liu Xiaobo's pro-democracy Charter 08 petition. (Liu Xiaobo, who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, is serving an 11-year term on the same charge.)
Police detained Liu Xianbin on June 28, 2010, according to the U.S.-based prisoner rights group Laogai Research Foundation. He was sentenced in 2011 during a crackdown on bloggers and activists who sought to organize demonstrations inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, according to CPJ research.
Liu spent more than two years in prison for involvement in the 1989 anti-government protests in Tiananmen Square. He later served 10 years of a 13-year sentence handed down in 1999 after he founded a branch of the China Democracy Party, according to The New York Times.
Liu is being held at Chuanzhong prison in Sichuan province, according to China Change, a website tracking human rights in the country.
Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, detained Li, a 52-year-old freelancer, in September 2010, according to international news reports. The Wuhan Intermediate People's Court tried him behind closed doors on April 18, 2011, but did not announce the verdict until January 18, 2012, when he was handed a 10-year prison term and three additional years' political deprivation, according to news reports citing his lawyer. Only Li's mother and daughter were allowed to attend the trial, news reports said.
The court cited 13 of Li's online articles to support the charge of subversion of state power, a more serious count than inciting subversion, which is a common criminal charge used against jailed journalists in China, according to CPJ research. Evidence in the trial cited articles including one headlined "Human beings' heaven is human dignity," in which Li urged respect for ordinary citizens and called for democracy and political reform, according to international news reports. Prosecutors argued that the articles proved Li had "anti-government thoughts" that would ultimately lead to "anti-government actions," according to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Jian Guanghong, a lawyer hired by his family, was detained before the trial and a government-appointed lawyer represented Li instead, according to the group. Prosecutors also cited Li's membership in a small opposition group, the China Social Democracy Party, the group reported.
Li is in Edong prison in Huanggang, Hubei province, according to Boxun News.
Beijing police detained Jin, a freelance writer, Lü Jiaping, a military scholar, and Lü's wife, Yu Junyi, on allegations of inciting subversion in 13 online articles they wrote and distributed together, according to international news reports and human rights groups.
A Beijing court sentenced Lü to 10 years in prison and Jin to eight years in prison on May 13, 2011 for subverting state power, according to the Hong Kong-based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Yu, 71, was given a suspended three-year sentence and kept under residential surveillance, which was lifted in February 2012, according to the group and the English-language, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America. Lü, who is in his 70s, was granted medical parole in February 2015 due to his deteriorating health, according to BBC Chinese.
The court maintains that the three defendants "wrote essays of an inciting nature" and "distributed them through the mail, emails, and by posting them on individuals' Web pages. [They] subsequently were posted and viewed by others on websites such as Boxun News and New Century News," according to a 2012 translation of the appeal verdict published online by William Farris, a lawyer in Beijing. The 13 offending articles, which were principally written by Lü, were listed in the appeal judgment, along with dates, places of publication, and the number of times they were reposted. One 70-word paragraph was reproduced as proof of incitement to subvert the state. The paragraph said in part that the Chinese Communist Party's status as a "governing power and leadership utility has long since been smashed and subverted by the powers that hold the Party at gunpoint."
Jin is serving his sentence in Xian Prison in Shaanxi province, according to China Political Prisoner Concern, a human rights website based in New York.
Police in Suining, Sichuan province, detained Chen alongside dozens of lawyers, writers, and activists who were jailed nationwide after anonymous online calls for a nonviolent "Jasmine Revolution" in China, according to international news reports. The Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that Chen was formally charged on March 28, 2011, with inciting subversion of state power.
Chen's lawyer, Zheng Jianwei, made repeated attempts to visit him but was not allowed access until September 8, 2011, according to the rights group and the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia. Radio Free Asia reported that police had selected four pro-democracy articles Chen had written for overseas websites as the basis for criminal prosecution.
In December 2011, a court in Suining sentenced Chen to nine years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion."
Chen has been jailed twice before. He served a year and a half in prison for participating in the Tiananmen protests in 1989. In 1992 he was sentenced to five years in prison for organizing the Chinese Freedom and Democracy Party.
He is being held in Jialin prison in Sichuan province, according to Boxun News.
Police arrested Jigme, a Tibetan author and monk, at the Rebgong Gartse monastery in the Malho prefecture of Qinghai province, according to news reports. His family was unaware of his whereabouts until a Qinghai court sentenced him to five years in prison on May 14, 2013. The charges have not been disclosed officially, but the Independent Chinese PEN Center says he was accused of separatism.
The conviction was in connection with the second volume of Jigme's book, Tsenpoi Nyingtob (The Warrior's Courage), according to Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. The book contained chapters expressing Jigme's opinions on topics such as Chinese policies in Tibet, self-immolation, minority rights, and the Dalai Lama, according to news reports.
Jigme was briefly detained in 2011 in connection with the first volume of his book, according to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders and Tibetan rights groups. He had written the book as a reflection on widespread protests in Tibetan areas in the spring of 2008, Tibetan scholar Robert Barnett told CPJ. China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights since the protests.
Authorities did not disclose any information on Jigme's health or whereabouts. According to the Independent Chinese PEN Center, he may be in prison in Xining, a city in Qinghai province. In late 2015, CPJ was unable to verify his whereabouts or details of his health.
The Shaoguan People's Procuratorate, a state legal body, issued a statement in June 2013 that said Hu and Liu had been arrested in Guangdong province after confessing to accepting bribes while covering events in the northern city of Shaoguan.
Hu and Liu were sentenced to 13 years and 14 years in prison respectively in June 2014 for accepting bribes and for extortion, according to Shaoguan Daily, a government-run newspaper.
Hu, a staff reporter for the official Guangdong Communist Party newspaper Nanfang Daily, and Liu, a freelance writer, had both written articles published in 2011 in Nanfang Daily and on news websites about a dispute involving the illegal extraction of rare minerals in Shaoguan, according to news reports.
The prosecutors' statement said Hu and Liu accepted 493,000 yuan (about US$82,200) in bribes. The pair were stripped of their press cards and banned from journalism for life, according to the state-run paper China Daily.
Users on Weibo, China's microblog service, said they suspected the reporters' arrests were in retaliation for their reports that exposed problems in the government and judiciary.
Shaoguan authorities had not disclosed the health or whereabouts of the journalists in late 2015.
Dong was detained in Kunming city, Yunnan province, on accusations of misstating his company's registered assets, according to statements from his lawyer. On July 23, 2014, he was sentenced by Wuhua Court in Kunming to six years and six months in prison on charges of illegal business activity and creating a disturbance, according to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Dong, who runs an Internet consulting company, had used the name "Bianmin" on his microblog to criticize authorities and raise concerns about local issues. He also used the microblog to campaign in 2009 for an investigation into the death of a young man in police custody. Authorities had initially said the man's death was an accident but later admitted he had been beaten to death, according to news reports. In 2013, Dong raised safety and environmental concerns about a state-owned oil refinery planned near the city of Kunming and expressed support on his microblog for a protest against the project by Kunming residents in May 2013.
Dong predicted his arrest when he wrote on his microblog, which had about 50,000 followers, that strangers had raided his office in late August and taken three computers. "What crime will they bring against me?" Dong wrote. "Prostituting, gambling, using and selling drugs, evading tax, causing trouble on purpose, fabricating rumors, running a mafia online?"
Dong's friend, Zheng Xiejian, told Reuters in September 2013, "If they want to punish you, they can always find an excuse. They could not find any wrongdoing against Dong and had to settle on this obscure charge."
Although Dong is not a professional journalist, CPJ determined that he was jailed in connection with his news-based commentary published on the Internet. From August 2013, authorities detained scores of people in a stepped-up campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, casts the government in a critical light, according to Chinese media and human rights groups. Many were released, but some were still being held.
During his trial Dong said he was interrogated for seven to eight hours at a time for more than 70 days, while chained to a chair, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. He is in frail condition, the Hong Kong-based group stated.
No information on where Dong is being held had been disclosed as of late 2015.
Yao Wentian, a Hong Kong publisher and honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was placed under residential surveillance in Shenzhen, in China's southern Guangdong province, by state public security officers on October 27, 2013, on "suspicion of smuggling ordinary goods" before he was detained on November 2 and formally arrested on November 12, 2013. Yao's son, Edmond Yao, said his father had been preparing to publish a book titled Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping by the exiled, U.S.-based Chinese author Yu Jie. A previous book by Yu that Yao published, which criticized former Premier Wen Jiabao, is banned in China.
Yao was accused of falsely labeling and smuggling industrial chemicals. His family claimed he was delivering industrial paint to a friend in Shenzhen. At his trial, prosecutors said the cost of the industrial chemicals Yao was accused of smuggling from Hong Kong amounted to more than 1 million yuan (U.S.$163,000), according to reports.
On May 7, 2014 during a closed-door trial at the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, Yao was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison. According to family members, he is being held in Dongguan prison in Shilong in Guangdong province. The elderly Yao's health is poor, the family says, because he is forced to do hard labor and is not receiving medical treatment.
Yao started his publishing business, Morning Bell Press, in Hong Kong in the 1990s. The small business has published many books by Chinese dissident writers.
Tohti, a Uighur scholar, writer, and blogger, was taken from his home by police on January 15, 2014, and the Uighurbiz website he founded, also known as UighurOnline, was closed. The site, which Tohti started in 2006, was published in Chinese and Uighur, and focused on social issues.
Tohti was charged with separatism by Urumqi police on February 20, 2014. He was accused of using his position as a lecturer at Minzu University of China to spread separatist ideas through Uighurbiz. On September 23, 2014, at the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court, Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment. He denied the charges.
Several foreign governments and human rights organizations protested the sentence. The European Union released a statement condemning the life sentence as unjustified. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was concerned by the sentencing and called on Chinese authorities to release him, along with seven of his students.
Tohti's appeal request was rejected at a hearing in a Xinjiang detention center on November 21, 2014, that was scheduled at such short notice that his lawyer was unable to attend. According to Tohti's lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, the blogger's mother and brother visited him in jail on October 15, 2015. Tohti said he would appeal the case again, the lawyer told Radio Free Asia.
Seven of his students-Perhat Halmurat, Shohret Nijat, Luo Yuwei, Mutellip Imin, Abduqeyum Ablimit, Atikem Rozi and Akbar Imin-were charged with being involved with Uighurbiz during a secret trial held in November 2014, according to Tohti's lawyer Li Fangping. Many were administrators for the site, according to state media. According to the political prisoner database of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an organization set up by Congress to monitor human rights and laws in China, Rozi and Mutellip Imin wrote for the site. Imin, who is from Xinjiang and enrolled at Istanbul University in Turkey, has a blog, too. He was arrested when he tried to leave China.
According to The New York Times, three of the students made televised confessions on the state-run China Central Television in September, saying they worked for the site. Halmurat claimed to have written an article, Nijat claimed to have taken part in editorial policy decisions, and Luo, from the Yi minority, claimed to have done design work.
The seven students were sentenced to three to eight years in prison, according to the Global Times, a government-affiliated website. The length of sentence for each student was unclear and details of where they are being held have not been disclosed.
Tohti was being held at the Xinjiang No. 1 Prison in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to Radio Free Asia. Tohti's family has been allowed to visit him only three times since September 2014.
Tohti is a member of the Uyghur PEN Center and an honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center and PEN America.
Wang, publisher of two Chinese-language magazines in Hong Kong-New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face-and Guo, a reporter for the magazines, were detained by police in the southern city of Shenzhen on May 30, 2014, and accused of operating an illegal publication and suspicion of illegal business operations. Liu Haitao, an editorial assistant at the magazines, was detained on June 17, 2014, on the same accusations. Liu did not appear on CPJ's 2014 prison census because the organization was unaware of his arrest.
According to a Hong Kong media report, Wang's wife was also placed under criminal detention on May 30, 2014, and her house was raided the same day. She was held overnight and released on bail. In April 2015, Wang's wife published an open letter on the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun calling for the release of her husband.
Oiwan Lam, founder of Inmedia, an independent media outlet promoting free speech, told CPJ that Wang and Guo were known as politically well-connected journalists who frequently reported insider information and speculation on political affairs in China. In an editorial, the Hong Kong- and Taiwan-based newspaper Apple Daily described Wang's magazines as being "close" to the political factions of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and former Vice President Zeng Qinghong.
Sham Yee Lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, told CPJ that the arrests were part of a wider attempt to suppress the freewheeling publishing industry in Hong Kong.
At a hearing on November 5, 2015, the three journalists and Wang's wife pleaded guilty to the illegal business charges, according to news reports. Wang also pleaded guilty to additional charges of bribery and bid rigging in relation to his other businesses in China, the Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao reported. CPJ was unable to determine when the additional charges were brought against Wang. No verdict was given during the trial, according to news reports.
The journalists were being held in Nanshan Detention Center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, according to the human rights group, Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Lü, a freelance writer, was detained on July 7, 2014, and his home was raided by security officers in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province. He was charged with subversion of state power on August 13, according to Human Rights in China. Two fellow activists told Radio Free Asia that his detention was most likely linked to writing he had published online in previous days about corruption and petitioners.
Lü lost his teaching position at Zhejiang Higher Professional School of Public Security in 1993 over his support of the pro-democracy movement. In 2000 his book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, was published by Hong Kong Culture and Arts Studio. In March 2007 his article "China's Biggest Spy Organization: The Political and Legal Affairs Commission" appeared in Beijing Spring, an overseas democracy magazine. On February 5, 2008, the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to four years in prison and one year's deprivation of political rights on a charge of inciting subversion of state power. A lower court found him guilty of publishing "subversive essays" on foreign websites, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
After his release on August 23, 2011, Lü wrote a series of articles on corruption, organized crime, and other topics. Lü has also reported on the sentencing of rights activists, and frequently voiced support for the protection of basic rights. In October 2013, Lü and others wrote an open letter and petition against China's presence on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
A Hangzhou court tried Lü on September 29, 2015. As the journalist was making a statement during the trial, the presiding judge interrupted and prohibited Lü from speaking, claiming the content of the statement endangered state security, according to Radio Free Asia. A verdict had not been issued as of late 2015.
Lü is being held at Hangzhou Detention Center. He has high blood pressure and diabetes, according to Radio Free Asia. Lü's wife told Radio Free Asia she was not sure whether the medicine the detention center provided to Lü was sufficient.
Tsomo, an online writer from Zatoe County in Qinghai's Yushul Prefecture, was arrested by public security officers at her home at Chiza Sachen village in Zatoe County, on August 23, 2014.
She was accused of breaking China's cyber laws by publishing politically sensitive articles online. Tsomo had written several Chinese language essays on websites and Chinese social media sites. Shortly before her arrest, she wrote about poor living conditions of Tibetans in an area devastated by an earthquake, according to the Tibetan service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia.
It is unclear where Tsomo was being held. As of late 2015, CPJ was unable to determine whether formal charges had been brought against her or whether she had been released.
In September 2014, police in Shanghai detained a group of managers and editors of a leading business media company, the 21st Century Media Group, state press agency Xinhua reported.
The managers and editors were accused of extorting money from companies, particularly ones due to be listed on the stock market, in return for positive coverage on the news website 21st Century Net, daily newspaper 21st Century Business Herald and weekly magazine Money Week, all owned by the group, according to Xinhua. The publications have a focus on business news and a liberal political stance.
On September 29, 2014, Shen Hao, the president of the group, appeared on state television and stated that he had instructed his reporters to blackmail companies into signing advertising deals by threatening to write negative articles about them. Liu Dong and Luo Guanghui made similar televised statements, according to reports.
Former colleagues of Shen and experts on Chinese media told The Washington Post that the group was targeted because it represented independent reporting at odds with the Communist Party's ideology.
According to the Post, Shen founded 21st Century Business Herald in 2001 after he was fired from the Southern Media Group for writing articles that angered a local official. When 21st Century Business Herald became successful, he founded several affiliated publications. In the following years, the group was put under steady pressure for crossing lines in political and financial reporting. In 2003, three editors were jailed and one of its papers was closed, the Post reported.
According to China Digital Times, the government ordered the media to not report on a poem written by Shen's wife in protest of his arrest, and prohibited news outlets from portraying Shen and the other suspects positively.
The Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao reported that the crackdown on the 21st Century Media Group was retaliatory, as the group had been "outspoken and bold for years." A contributor to the overseas Chinese-language news site Boxun told Radio Free Asia in August 2015 that the news outlet was being targeted because "these media outlets ... don't do as they are told."
On October 11, 2014, prosecutors in Shanghai announced that 25 people involved in the extortion scheme had been arrested. On August 20, 2015, prosecutors announced that 30 people involved would stand trial for suspected "extortion" and "coercive business transactions," according to state media.
The government did not publicize the full list of those charged. CPJ was able to confirm that at least nine are journalists.
Shen and his colleagues did not appear on CPJ's 2014 prison census although they were in detention at the time. CPJ added the journalists in 2015 after becoming aware of new details in their case.
Chen, a freelance writer and member of the China Democratic Party and the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was detained on September 11, 2014, in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, on suspicion of subversion of state power, and his home was raided by agents from the Hangzhou Public Security Bureau. He had written several articles for the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun about pro-democracy advocates, many of whom are in the hospital or detention. According to Human Rights in China, Chen was formally arrested on October 22, 2014.
Chen has been jailed before. He was placed under criminal detention on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power on September 14, 2006. On August 16, 2007, he was sentenced by Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court to four years in prison and one year's deprivation of political rights for subversion of state power. After the original verdict was upheld at the appellate court, Chen was jailed at Qiaosi prison in Hangzhou. He was released on September 13, 2010 after serving his term.
Chen was tried on September 29, 2015, by a Hangzhou court, the same day as another dissident writer, Lü Gengsong, but in a separate case. Chen denied all charges, according to Radio Free Asia. A verdict had not been given as of late 2015. Chen was being held at Hangzhou Detention Center.
Wang, a volunteer journalist for the independent human rights news website 64 Tianwang, was arrested on December 10, 2014, while photographing protesters near the Beijing headquarters of the state-run broadcasting agency China Central Television, according to news reports that cited Huang Qi, founder and editor of the website. Wang, who is being held on accusations of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," was denied bail on May 30.
In March 2014, Wang was detained by Chinese authorities after she and two other volunteer journalists published a report on 64 Tianwang about an attempted self-immolation and the defacing of a portrait in Tiananmen Square, news reports said. On that occasion she was held on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" but released on bail about a month later, the reports said. She was not formally charged at the time.
Wang is in poor health and her condition has worsened in custody, according to Radio Free Asia. She was beaten repeatedly by local police and force-fed after she staged hunger strikes to protest her mistreatment, her lawyer told the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Wang is being held at a detention center in Jilin City, Jilin province, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Wang's case is still under investigation and, as of late 2015, she had not been charged, according to 64 Tianwang.
Ye, a regular contributor to Xizi, a local news website in Huizhou prefecture, Guangdong province, was arrested at his home on December 12, 2014. Ye was charged with "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."
Police allege that Ye fabricated and spread false information on the Internet forums Tianya and Xizi, according to the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party. The accusation was based on articles he posted on September 17 and 19, 2014. In one article, Ye mocked the head of the local public security bureau for cracking down on an environmental protest. In another article, he wrote about police visiting a protester's home. Police said Ye's posts caused a protest involving more than 300 people on September 20, the Communist Party newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported.
Before Ye's hearing on August 7, 2015, his lawyer, Liu Hao, told Radio Free Asia that police had ordered him not to speak to the media about the case, but Liu said Ye would deny the charges in court. CPJ was unable to determine what happened at the hearing.
Ye is being held in Huizhou Detention Center in Guangdong province, according to the human rights website China Political Prisoner Concern.
Druklo, a Tibetan writer who goes by only one name, was detained on March 19, according to Radio Free Asia. Druklo's family discovered he had been arrested after they reported him missing, according to Radio Free Asia, which cited a source who refused to be identified.
The government has not given any reason for his detention and it is not clear whether charges have been filed against Druklo, who writes under the name Shokjang, according to Voice of America.
Friends of Druklo said they believed his arrest was related to his blog and social media posts about the current situation in Tibet, including political repression by the Chinese authorities and environmental degradation, according to the Tibet Post .
Druklo was previously detained for more than a month in 2010 on allegations of conducting and instigating separatist activities, according to Radio Free Asia. Druklo had written about the Tibetan protests of 2008 and the harsh responses from the Chinese government.
Druklo is in a detention center in Rebgong county in Qinghai province, according to Radio Free Asia.
Tibetan writer and blogger Lobsang Jamyang, also known as Lomig, was arrested by the Chinese police in Ngaba county in Sichuan province on April 17, according to Radio Free Asia.
Though no reasons were given for his arrest, other Tibetan writers speculated it was because of articles he wrote that were critical of China's policies in Tibet, including on the underlying causes of the 2008 protests and self-immolation, environmental degradation, and restrictions on free speech, according to Tibet Express and other outlets. As well as writing for Tibetan websites such as Choeme, Sengdor and the blog Tsongon, Jamyang published a book titled "Surge of Yellow Mist," according to the website Tibet Express.
As of late 2015, CPJ could not determine whether charges have been brought against Jamyang or where he was being held.
Wang, a reporter for the Beijing-based business magazine Caijing, was arrested on August 25 on suspicion of "colluding with others and fabricating and spreading false information about securities and futures trading." The arrest was made after he wrote an article in Caijing on July 20 that said the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) was examining ways for securities companies to withdraw funds from the stock market, according to a Caijing statement. The commission denied the allegations and called Wang's report "irresponsible," according to news reports. The state-run agency Xinhua reported that the article caused "unusual fluctuations" of the stock market.
The Chinese state broadcaster later aired footage of Wang appearing to say that he regretted writing the story and pleading for leniency with the judicial authorities. Televised confessions are among tactics deployed by Chinese authorities for dealing with journalists who cover sensitive stories.
In September, Radio France Internationale reported that Chinese authorities had placed Wang under "residential surveillance at a designated place," a form of pre-trial custody. It is unclear where Wang was being held as of late 2015, or whether he had been formally charged.
Jiang Yefei, a political cartoonist, was repatriated from Thailand alongside a Chinese activist, Dong Guangping, and detained by Chinese authorities on November 13, 2015 on suspicion of "assisting others to illegally cross the national border," according to the state news agency Xinhua.
Jiang, who is also an activist, fled to Thailand in 2008 after being harassed by Chinese authorities, according to Human Rights Watch. The cartoonist was detained twice that year after giving interviews to the international press in which he criticized the government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake, according to Radio Free Asia. Jiang was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and had been accepted for resettlement by Canada, according to Human Rights Watch and news reports.
While in Thailand, Jiang used his social media accounts and articles published on the overseas Chinese-language news website Boxun to continue to speak publicly against China's human rights record and other policies. The journalist's wife, Chu Ling, told CPJ that since 2014, Jiang has been publishing political cartoons on his Facebook and Google+ page. In 2015, Jiang published a series of cartoons on Boxun, Chu said. She told CPJ that in 2015, as her husband's cartoons became more popular, she and Jiang received several anonymous phone calls from China demanding Jiang stop drawing. Chinese authorities also threatened Jiang's brother in China, asking him to tell his brother to stop drawing, Chu said.
In October 2015, Jiang was arrested by Thai authorities for allegedly breaking immigration rules by helping Dong come to Thailand, according to reports. (Dong had spent 10 months in a Chinese jail for participating in a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre before being released in February 2015, according to the BBC). On November 13, 2015 the Thai government deported Jiang and Dong to China, despite objections raised by human rights organizations and the Canadian government, which had accepted their applications for asylum, according to news reports.
On November 26, 2015 Jiang appeared on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, dressed in prison clothes, and confessed to human trafficking. He said he regretted his actions and pleaded for leniency. According to Chu, from the footage, Jiang looked as if he was in pain. "It was obvious to me that he had been beaten. A friend who was imprisoned for 13 years told me that from his experience in jail, it was clear to him that my husband was tortured," Chu told CPJ. CPJ was unable to verify her claims.
CPJ was unable to determine where Jiang was being held in late 2015.
Egide Mwemero, a Burundian journalist with the independent station Radio Publique Africaine, was arrested in Uvira, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on October 13, 2015, his station manager told CPJ. He had not been charged as of late in the year.
Mwemero, a reporter, was apprehended by Congolese authorities at the offices of Democratic Republic of Congo community radio station Radio le Messager du Peuple, alongside Congolese reporters Manzambi Mupenge and Lucien Kanana, according to Journaliste en Danger, a Congolese press freedom organization. Mupenge and Kanana were released two days later, news reports said. It is not clear why the journalists were arrested.
The Congolese station had partnered with Radio Publique Africaine to broadcast its news and current affairs show "Humura Burundi," according to Journaliste en Danger. Following an attempted coup in Burundi in May 2015, several radio stations were forced off the air and had equipment damaged. Radio Publique Africaine was among those closed. The Congolese station stopped broadcasting the show on October 9, 2015 on the orders of Congolese authorities, a local news report said. No reason for the order was given, according to reports.
Mwemero had been living in exile since fleeing unrest in Burundi after the attempted coup, Bob Rugurika, managing director of Radio Publique Africaine, told CPJ. On the night of November 1, 2015, Mwemero was moved from the police station in Uvira to an undisclosed location. CPJ could not determine his whereabouts in late 2015.
Abdel Nabi was arrested while covering clashes that erupted between pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters and security forces in Alexandria, hours after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was then minister of defense, announced the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Abdel Nabi is a correspondent for the news website Rassd, which is critical of the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and the government that subsequently came to power. Months after Abdel Nabi's arrest, Egypt's prosecutor-general accused the banned Muslim Brotherhood of using several media outlets, including Rassd, to support its plot to take over the government and spread lies about the military and the government
Authorities arrested Abdel Nabi, along with his brother, Ibrahim, while he was photographing the clashes around Sidi Bishr mosque in Alexandria, according to reports by Rassd and other news outlets. Police seized his camera. He was charged with possessing weapons and rioting. No trial date had been set by late 2015.
In June 2015, Rassd issued a statement saying Abdel Nabi had been beaten in prison and placed in solitary confinement. He is being held in Borg el Arab prison on the outskirts of Alexandria.
Abou Zeid, a freelance photographer, was detained while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during the dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, according to news reports.
He was first held in a Cairo stadium with other protesters and foreign correspondents who were released the same day.
Abou Zeid contributed to the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix and the digital media company Corbis. After his detention, Demotix sent a letter to the Egyptian authorities confirming that Abou Zeid had been covering the clashes for the agency, the photographer's brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, told CPJ.
In September 2013, the Egyptian general prosecutor's office extended the journalist's pre-trial detention, Mohamed Abou Zeid, his brother, told CPJ. Mohamed told CPJ in 2014 that Abou Zeid's lawyer and the legal team at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information had appealed for his release. The appeal was denied.
On May 14, 2015, Abou Zeid appeared before a judge for the first time since his arrest, according to news reports. The judge renewed his pre-trial detention, according to the Freedom for Shawkan campaign. The journalist, whose lawyer was not present in court, told the judge about his arrest and denied the allegations against him.
In September 2015, after more than two years of pretrial detention, Abou Zeid's case was referred to a Cairo criminal court for trial. The photographer was charged with weapons possession, illegal assembly, murder, and attempted murder, according to court documents. The trial is scheduled to begin on December 12.
Abou Zeid is being held at Tora Prison. Human rights groups said his health has deteriorated in jail. A campaign for his release has led to global protests and online petitions on his behalf.
Abou Zeid wrote a letter to mark his 600th day in jail in April 2015. The letter described the abuse he has suffered since his arrest and urged advocacy on behalf of detained journalists in Egypt.
Mustafa, co-founder of the news website Rassd, Rassd Executive Director Abdullah al-Fakharny, and Amgad TV presenter Mohamed al-Adly were arrested on August 25, 2013, in the home of the son of a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In February 2014, the three were charged with "spreading chaos" and "forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government" during the dispersal of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
The prosecutor-general accused the Muslim Brotherhood of using several media outlets, including Rassd and Amgad TV, to support its plot to take over the government and spread lies about the military and the government.
Ahmed Helmy, Mustafa's lawyer, denied all of the charges against the journalists.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced all three journalists to life in prison on April 11, 2015. They had been tried along with dozens of other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of a retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
The three journalists were being held in Tora prison, southeast of Cairo. In a letter from prison that was publicized on May 3, 2015, World Press Freedom Day, al-Fakharny described being beaten and abused in custody.
Abuhaj, a videographer, was arrested from his day job at a tax agency in the city of Arish in northern Sinai and charged with inciting violence, participating in demonstrations, and using arms against police, among other crimes, according to news reports and local journalist unions.
Abdel Qader Mubarak, head of the Federation of Journalists and Reporters in Sinai, told CPJ that he believed Abuhaj could have been targeted because of his coverage of Muslim Brotherhood meetings and protests in northern Sinai. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood an illegal organization.
In a statement by the federation, Abuhaj's lawyer, Saeed al-Kassas, said that the accusations against the journalist were based on a leaflet bearing Muslim Brotherhood slogans that police found with Abuhaj. The prosecution was also relying on video footage showing Abuhaj at a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration. Abuhaj told prosecutors that he was using the leaflet as part of his coverage of protests, and that he attended demonstrations as part of his work as a journalist, the federation told CPJ. The lawyer said there was no proof that Abuhaj had participated in any violent activity, according to the federation's statement.
Abuhaj worked for the Sinai Media Center, which is made up of a group of journalists who post news items, videos, and photos online, and feed information to other news outlets. Abuhaj's work, including his coverage of terrorist attacks, was also published by the Rassd Sinai News Network. Abuhaj covered demonstrations, deadly clashes, and the destruction of government buildings that occurred as part of the conflict between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and government forces after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Abuhaj also covered socioeconomic issues such as fuel shortages in northern Sinai.
Terrorist attacks and fighting between state forces and militant groups have made Sinai more dangerous and restrictive to reporters in recent years. Journalists face threats from violent anti-government groups as well as state security forces, Mubarak said.
On November 17, 2013, a court in Arish ordered Abuhaj placed in pretrial detention, according to news reports. His pretrial detention has been periodically renewed, but no trial date had been set in late 2015, Mubarak said.
Abuhaj is being held in Arish Central Prison. He suffers from a problem with his spine and receives medication sent by his family, according to Mubarak.
CPJ did not include Abuhaj in its 2013 or 2014 prison census because the organization was not aware of his imprisonment until May 2015. Abuhaj was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Salah el-Deen was arrested while trying to board a flight from Cairo to Beirut, according to news reports. He was interrogated and accused of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, the reports said. Salah el-Deen's family said he was traveling for medical purposes, but other news reports and Hazem Ghorab, the general manager of Misr 25, told CPJ he was traveling to look for work.
Misr 25, a channel supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, was shut down when the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Ghorab told CPJ that Salah el-Deen was the news manager for the outlet and hosted his own TV show. After the outlet shut down, he could not find work elsewhere. Before working at Misr 25, Salah el-Deen was a managing editor for Youm Sabea, according to that news website.
Salah el-Deen's TV show on Misr 25 was called "Matafi 180" (Firefighters 180). On June 26, 2013, one week before the station was shut down, Salah el-Deen aired an audio recording in which unidentified individuals called for Egyptian security forces to assassinate Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
On his show, Salah el-Deen regularly accused media critical of the Muslim Brotherhood of serving the interests of the former government of President Hosni Mubarak. On June 20, 2013, amid calls for nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood, Salah el-Deen said he received telephone threats in retaliation for his criticism of anti-Brotherhood media. He broadcast the phone numbers from which he received the threats, which he said included statements such as: "Don't you dare let me hear your voice again. ...We will do to you what national security used to do to you earlier." Egyptian police and national security are known to have tortured and killed Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist sympathizers under previous regimes.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced Salah el-Deen to life in prison on April 11, 2015. He was tried, along with 50 other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, on charges of "spreading chaos" and "forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government" during the dispersal in August 2013 of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports.
Salah el-Deen's wife, Najlaa Taha, told CPJ that the journalist was appealing the sentence along with other defendants in the case. The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
Najlaa, who was able to visit the journalist in Tora prison, where he is being held, said that Salah el-Deen's health had deteriorated. The journalist has chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and weak eyesight. In mid-April 2015, he was sent to Al-Manyal hospital in Cairo to be treated, according to news reports, but his wife says he needs additional medical care, which he is not receiving.
CPJ did not include Salah el-Deen in its 2013 or 2014 prison census because the organization was unaware of his case. Salah el-Deen was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Salah was arrested while covering student protests at Al-Azhar University in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo on December 27, 2013, according to the opposition news website El- Shaab el-Jadeed.
Salah, who was 19 at the time of his arrest, was a photojournalist in training with El-Shaab el-Jadeed and was pursuing a degree in media studies at Egypt University for Science and Technology in Cairo, according to his outlet and the regional group Arab Network for Human Rights.
Salah wrote several reportsfor El-Shaab el-Jadeed and took photographs of anti-government protests in November 2013 around Nasr City and other parts of Cairo. El-Shaab el-Jadeed is critical of the current Egyptian government. Magdy Hussein, who was El-Shaab el-Jadeed's editor-in-chief at the time, called for demonstrations in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In February 2014, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Salah to five years in prison on charges of illegal demonstrations and inciting violence, according to local human rights groups and his news outlet. At least 22 others were convicted in the same trial.
In court documents, the judge wrote that he was not convinced that Salah was a journalist, despite the presentation by Salah's defense lawyer of documents and ID cardsindicating his training with El-Shaab el-Jadeed, according to the regional group Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
On March 18, 2014, a higher court amended Salah's sentence to three years in prison, a sentence which he cannot appeal, according to his outlet. Local rights organizations and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate called for a pardon for Salah.
An injunction filed by Salah's defense lawyers against his sentence was rejected by a Cairo court on May 10, 2014, according to his outlet.
CPJ was unable to determine Salah's health status or whereabouts. CPJ's calls in late 2015 to El-Shaab el-Jadeed were not answered.
CPJ did not include Salah on its 2014 prison census because CPJ was unable to determine at the time if his imprisonment was in connection with his journalistic work. Salah was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Fouad, a reporter for the news website Karmoz, was arrested while covering a demonstration by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the neighborhood of Sidi Beshr in Alexandria governorate, according to his employer and local press freedom groups. The protest led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Fouad was charged with "joining a group that aims to disrupt the law," "demonstrating without permission," "blocking a road," and "possessing a weapon," according to news reports, and was being tried in an Alexandria criminal court along with nine other defendants. His trial, initially scheduled to begin in December 2014, was postponed at least six times due to the prison authorities' failure to transfer Fouad and the other defendants to court on time, according to reports citing Fouad's lawyer and family. The next hearing was scheduled for January 10, 2016, news reports said.
Karmoz denied the allegations against Fouad and said he was doing journalistic work at the time of his arrest. The website covers local news and politics in Alexandria.
Fouad is also a college student pursuing a bachelor's degree in sciences at the University of Alexandria. He has been able to take exams for each of the three semesters that have passed since his arrest, according to reports. He is being held in Burj al Arab prison in Alexandria.
Albarbary, the administrative manager of Misr 25, a TV channel affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested in Beirut, where he had gone to reopen and manage another satellite station, Ahrar 25, on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hazem Ghorab, Misr 25's general manager, told CPJ. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
Ahrar 25 operated from Lebanon from September 2013 to February 2014 but faced several disruptions before being finally removed from the air because of pressure from neighboring governments, according to news reports citing Islam Akl, a host at the station.
Albarbary was arrested near Rafik Hariri airport while he was waiting for the arrival of Mokhtar al-Ashry, head of the legal department of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Al-Ashry was detained first and, when Albarbary inquired about him with airport authorities, he was also arrested. Both were detained for five days by Lebanon's National Security, after a request by the Egyptian government, then were deported to Cairo with Egyptian security agents, the reports said. Lebanese authorities said Albarbary had been extradited based on a bilateral extradition treaty between the countries, according to news reports. Ahrar TV staff members fled Lebanon after Albarbary was arrested, according to reports.
Albarbary was charged with "publishing false news" in order to support the Brotherhood's alleged operations room during the dispersal of the August 2013 sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. He was also charged with "spreading chaos" and "forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government" during the dispersal.
Albarbary was tried along with 50 other defendants, including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who faced similar charges. Albarbary's lawyer, Mahmoud Amer, told CPJ that Albarbary was added to the Rabaa operations room case after it was referred to court in March 2014.
On April 11, 2015, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Albarbary to life in prison. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports. The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
Albarbary was being held at Tora prison. In April 2015, his wife said that prison authorities were restricting her visits. Amer told CPJ the journalist was in good health.
CPJ did not include Albarbary on its 2014 prison census because the organization was unable to determine at that time whether his imprisonment was related to his journalistic work. Albarbary was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Shaheen, a correspondent for Freedom and Justice Gate, was arrested on the street in Suez City, according to news reports. Freedom and Justice Gate is a news website affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government has declared a terrorist organization.
In June 2014, a Suez court sentenced Shaheen to three years in prison and 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,400) on charges of inciting and committing violence during protests. His appeal was denied on December 25, 2014, according to his employer, and again on October 7, 2015, according to the local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture Observatory.
Freedom and Justice Gate condemned the arrest and denied the allegations against Shaheen in a statement issued shortly after the journalist's arrest. Shaheen's wife said the court did not allow his defense lawyer to present his case and did not inform them of the verdict, news reports said.
In February 2015, another Suez court sentenced Shaheen to an additional three years on charges of aiding terrorism and broadcasting false news, according to the Journalists Against Torture Observatory. The journalist's wife told the group on May 24, 2015, that their lawyer had appealed the second verdict, but that the court had not yet reviewed the request for appeal.
Shaheen has also faced separate trial in a military court since February 2015 on multiple charges of murder on August 14 and 16, 2013, according to news reports. On August 14, 2013, security forces violently dispersed a sit-in of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo. Hundreds died in the dispersal, triggering violence and unrest throughout the country, in which dozens more people were killed.
His wife told press freedom groups that despite being in prison since the military trial began, he was not transferred from prison to court to attend any hearings in this trial and was therefore listed in the military court's documents as "a fugitive from the law."
In a letter written by Shaheen in prison and published by his outlet in August 2015, the journalist said he believed he was being targeted due to his former affiliation with the Al-Jazeera network, which was banned in Egypt after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. In his letter, Shaheen also denied all the charges against him. Al-Jazeera confirmed to CPJ in October 2015 that Shaheen had been working for the network up until his arrest, but that he and his family requested that the outlet not campaign for his release for fear that it could harm his chances of release.
Abdel Maksoud was first arrested on February 19, 2014, while covering a baby shower for a woman who had been taken into custody and forced to give birth in a hospital in handcuffs, according to news reports. The woman had been arrested on accusations of participating in an anti-government protest.
Activists organized a celebration for the woman and her baby in front of their home in the Al-Zawya Al-Hamra neighborhood in Cairo, days after the mother was released from custody, according to news reports. Police stormed the celebration, and beat and arrested the participants, including Abdel Maksoud, according to news reports.
Abdel Maksoud, a photographer, was covering the celebration for the independent Masr al-Arabia news website, the outlet said. Masr al-Arabia said the journalist was charged with working for Al-Jazeera, which is banned in Egypt on the accusation that it uses its reporting to serve the interests of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
On April 15, 2014, he was arrested again while visiting his family at their house in Mit Ghamr City, north of Cairo. Abdel Maksoud's family told reporters that police came to their house looking for the journalist, and arrested him and one of his brothers, Ibrahim. The next day, the police came back for another brother, Anas. All three were charged with setting fire to cars belonging to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's presidential campaign. The cars had been set on fire a few days before the arrest, according to news reports.
Abdel Maksoud was also charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. His colleagues and friends publicly denied the accusation.
Masr al-Arabia officials said Abdel Maksoud was on assignment for them in Cairo at the time of the alleged crime. Cairo is hundreds of miles from Mit Ghamr City, where the cars were attacked.
While Abdel Maksoud and his brothers were being held in pretrial detention, a court in the city of Mansoura ordered their release on bail twice, but the Ministry of Interior appealed in order to keep them in custody, according to reports citing their lawyer Malek Al-Ghazali. The court refused the ministry's appeal and ordered their release a third time on September 11, 2014, according to the reports.
The journalist's family posted bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds (US$2,000), but the three brothers were not released. Ten days later, on September 21, 2014, Abdel Maksoud's family and his lawyers were told that the prosecution had brought a new case against them and that the three had been charged with participating in an illegal demonstration in Mit Ghamr, according to reports citing their lawyer.
Although the three brothers were in detention, the Mansoura Criminal Court on January 19, 2015, sentenced them in absentia to life in prison on charges of setting fire to cars and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Abdel Maksoud and his defense lawyer were not informed about the court session.
The family's lawyer said they were pursuing a retrial, as is customary when sentences are issued in absentia, according to reports. The retrial, which is being heard in a terrorism circuit court, was continuing in late 2015. The regional group Arabic Network for Human Rights Information told CPJ that Abdel Maksoud's defense team would present evidence that he was working in Cairo at the time of the arson attacks in Mit Ghamr for which he is being tried.
On February 21, 2015, a criminal court in the city of Senbellawein, in the Dakahlia Governorate, sentenced Abdel Maksoud and one of his brothers to two years in prison on separate charges of illegal protests. That sentence was overturned on appeal on May 16, 2015, and the court cleared them of the illegal protest charges.
No trial date had been set for Abdel Maksoud on the charge of working for Al-Jazeera.
In detention and during interrogations, Abdel Maksoud was physically abused, according to his family and colleagues, who said police had pulled out his fingernail in an attempt to pressure him to confess. Abdel Maksoud and his lawyers have denied all of the charges against him.
In late 2015, he was being held in Mit Ghamr prison, which is about 90 kilometers outside Cairo. He has heart problems for which he has received medical attention in custody, according to colleagues. In September, the Egyptian Journalist's Syndicate filed a complaint to the general prosecutor against security officers who it said beat the journalist in his cell after he objected to the confiscation of his medication.
CPJ did not include Abdel Maksoud in its 2014 prison because the organization was unable to determine at the time if Abdel Maksoud's imprisonment was related to his journalistic work. Abdel Maksoud was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Security forces arrested Abu Zeid from his home in the southern governorate of Beni Suef in September 2013 and accused him of publishing false news that harmed public opinion, both on the news website Suef Online as well as on social media affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,according to news reports.
One month later, Abu Zeid was released pending investigation. In September 2014, he was rearrested when he appeared in court and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to his daughter, Fatma, who spoke to CPJ. According to local press freedom groups and Suef Online, he was convicted on charges of publishing false news and joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has declared an illegal organization.
Abu Zeid was a correspondent for Al-Ahram Gate, the online portal of Egypt's main state-run newspaper, Al-Ahram. He also frequently wrote for Suef Online, which was critical of the July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the news website said.
According to Suef Online, Abu Zeid was arrested in connection with an article he wrote for the news website on September 10, 2013, that criticized the local government in Beni Suef. The journalist has written several other articles for Suef Online that criticized the military-backed government.
Abu Zeid's brother, Shaaban Abu Zeid, said at an October 2013 press conference that his brother had been interrogated about his views of Morsi and the dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in on August 14, 2013, in which hundreds of protesters were killed. The journalist's brother said that Abu Zeid was also asked to swear that he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports.
On December 8, 2014, the journalist denied any affiliation with the banned group in a letter he wrote from prison, which was published on social media.
Abu Zeid is being held in a prison in the city of Fayyoum, where he still writes articles critical of the Egyptian governmentfor Suef Online, according to news reports. It is unclear if he is appealing.
CPJ did not include Abu Zeid's case in its 2014 imprisoned census because CPJ was not able to determine at the time if the journalist's imprisonment was related to his work. Abu Zeid was included in CPJ's mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Abdelfattah, a prominent blogger and activist who has written about politics and human rights violations for numerous outlets, including the independent al-Shorouk newspaper and the progressive Mada Masr news website, is serving a five-year prison sentence for organizing an illegal protest and assaulting a police officer, according to reports. Abdelfattah denies the charges.
In late 2015, the blogger was standing trial in a separate case on charges of "insulting the judiciary" on the Internet and in media appearances. The blogger's writing and social media posts were part of the evidence presented by the prosecution, his family and lawyers told CPJ. Co-defendants in this case include former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and a number of journalists and politicians.
Abdelfattah's current sentence is based on charges that he organized a protest on November 26, 2013. The day after the protest an arrest warrant for him was issued and on November 27, 2013, armed agents raided Abdelfattah's Cairo home and took him away for questioning, his family said. Abdelfattah's family, lawyers, and several human rights organizations told CPJ they believe the blogger was charged at least partly in retaliation for his writing about alleged human rights abuses by the police and security forces.
Abdelfattah was held in pretrial detention until the trial began on December 4, 2013, and continued to be detained until he was granted bail in March 2014, according to news reports.
On June 11, 2014 Abdelfattah was barred from entering the courtroom when a judge sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in jail, according to reports. The blogger was then taken into custody from outside the courtroom, according to his family and news reports. Under Egyptian law, cases that conclude with a sentence issued in absentia are referred automatically to retrial.
In September 2014, Abdelfattah was released pending the retrial. When the retrial began in October 2014, he was taken back into custody, according to news reports.
Abdelfattah's sister Mona Seif was among several witnesses who testified in court that the journalist was not among the organizers of the protest. Seif said that she and other members of the No Military Trials group had claimed responsibility for organizing the protest, according to news reports. Defense lawyers submitted cell phone records proving Abdelfattah was not at the site of the protest at the same time as the police officer he was accused of assaulting, the family told CPJ.
The prosecution submitted as evidence tweets and quotes from Abdelfattah's writing in which he was critical of the judiciary and security forces, his family and lawyers told CPJ. State media broadcast tweets and excerpts of Abdelfattah's articles and Facebook posts, branding them proof of his anti-state beliefs, according to news reports.
Abdelfattah had been detained previously for his writing. In October 2011, the blogger was arrested after writing about the Maspero massacre, in which 26 protesters, mostly Coptic Christians, died when the military ran over demonstrators with tanks. This was the first time reports and footage circulated widely online of deadly violence against civilians by the Egyptian military, which was ruling the country at the time. State media and the military government accused the protesters of attacking security forces, and described the bloodshed as sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims.
Abdelfattah was being held in Cairo's Tora prison where he is periodically denied access to books, pens, and paper. Close relatives are able to visit him, according to the family.
CPJ did not include Abdelfattah in its 2014 census because it could not determine whether his arrest was linked to his reporting. Evidence provided to CPJ in 2015, including details of his trial and sentencing, led CPJ to reconsider his case.
Police in plainclothes raided Hassan's home at dawn on December 11, 2014, and took him, his wife, and their infant daughter to the Agouza police station in Cairo, Hassan's wife told CPJ. They did not present a warrant, she said. She was released with their child after a few hours in custody.
Hassan, 31, is a correspondent for the privately owned news website Misr Alan, which is affiliated with a satellite television channel of the same name. Both are sympathetic to ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and his supporters. The website has covered demonstrations against Morsi's ouster.
During the arrest, police told Hassan and his wife that he was being detained because he worked for Misr Alan,Hassan's wife said.
Prosecutors charged Hassan with "spreading false news," "inciting illegal protests," "funding illegal protests," as well as belonging to "an illegal group," according to his wife and local rights groups. The Muslim Brotherhood is banned and listed as a terrorist organization in Egypt.
Hassan's pretrial detention, at the Giza prison, is periodically renewed by the prosecutor's office. His request for release was rejected by a Cairo criminal court on May 3, 2015, according to rights groups. Hassan's wife told CPJ he was in good health in prison.
No trial had been scheduled as of late 2015.
El-Kabbani, a reporter for several news websites, including the Muslim Brotherhood's news website Freedom and Justice Gate and Rassd, has been in pretrial detention since his arrest, according to news reports. In the meantime, his name was added to the sentencing phase in a separate, mass trial, resulting in life in prison.
The journalist is also a press freedom advocate and blogger who co-founded the "Journalists for Reform" movement in 2007. The movement, which identifies itself as a press freedom group, took a stand against the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and is critical of the current administration. Months before el-Kabbani was arrested, he wrote several articles in which he criticized the military-led government for ousting Morsi. His articles, several of which were published in Freedom and Justice Gate, also expressed support for a popular uprising against the government.
El-Kabbani was arrested in his home in the 6th of October neighborhood in Cairo and taken by security agents in plainclothes to the local national security headquarters, according to news reports and human rights groups. El-Kabbani's wife said she and her brothers were also detained for one day and that el-Kabbani was abused in custody.
The reporter was charged with espionage, damaging Egypt's standing abroad, joining an illegal group, and disseminating false information to disturb public security and peace, among other charges, according to news reports. Before his arrest, his house was raided twice by police while he was out, according to the reports.
El-Kabbani's wife said that one of the central pieces of evidence against the journalist was a phone call he had made to Dr. Mohammed Ali Beshr, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egyptian politician who served as minister of state under Morsi. His wife said the phone call was for journalistic purposes.
Cairo's National Security Court continuously renewed el-Kabbani's pretrial detention pending investigation, most recently on May 5, 2015, according to local rights groups and news reports. No trial date was scheduled by late 2015.
Meanwhile, on April 11, 2015, el-Kabbani was sentenced to life in prison on different charges in a separate case, in which he was tried with 50 other defendants, including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. All of them were charged with "spreading chaos" and "forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government" during the August 2013 dispersal of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest Morsi's ouster. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
El-Kabbani's family and lawyer did not know he was being tried in that case until his name was read during the sentencing at the end of the trial, according to news reports. Egyptian authorities listed him as a fugitive in official court documents and tried him in absentia, even though he was in custody for the other case.
The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
The journalist is being held at Scorpion prison, a maximum-security facility that is part of Cairo's Tora prison complex, with restricted visits, according to news reports citing El-Kabbani's wife.
Yaqot, a photographer for the independent news website Karmoz, was detained by two police officers in plainclothes outside the Fauzi Maath police station, in the coastal city of Alexandria, where he had gone after getting a tip about a bomb threat at the station, according to Karmoz.
When Yaqot told the officers that he was a photographer, they verbally harassed him, beat him, and confiscated his press card, mobile phone, camera, and bag, Karmoz reported. The website said Yaqot was taken to his house, where police searched his apartment without a warrant. The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture Observatory reported that Yaqot's lawyer said police did not find any evidence against Yaqot in his apartment.
Yaqot is charged with possessing explosives, which authorities said he had in his bag, "attempting to burn down the Fauzi Maath police station," "participating in an illegal protest," and belonging to an "illegal group," the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Karmoz and Journalists Against Torture. The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt.
Yaqot's trial, scheduled to begin on September 12, was postponed to January 20, 2016, according to news reports.
The journalist's lawyer and Karmoz said that Yaqot was not involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and had no political affiliations, according to news reports. Karmoz said he was arrested while doing his job for the website. Yaqot's lawyer said he submitted documents to authorities that verified Yaqot's legal employment at Karmoz, according to Journalists Against Torture.
Yaqot was being held in the Dekheila police station in Alexandria in pretrial detention. He has written several letters from jail, published by Journalists Against Torture and local media websites. In the letters, he describes the use of beatings and electric torture by security forces to collectively punish the group of detainees with whom he is being held.
Shaaban, an editor and reporter for the independent news website Al-Bedaiah, was arrested when he appeared in court for an appeal hearing, according to Khaled al-Balshy, editor-in-chief of Al-Bedaiah and a board member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.
The appellate court in the city of Alexandria on May 31, 2015, confirmed the February conviction of the editor and sentenced him to 15 months in prison, according to news reports. Shaaban had been convicted in February, along with nine activists, on charges of assaulting police officers and attempting to storm a police station, the reports said. All of them denied the allegation and said the police officer had assaulted them, according to news reports. They were released on bail pending appeal, according to news reports.
The charges stemmed from a March 29, 2013, protest that Shaaban was covering at an Alexandria police station against the alleged police assault of a lawyer, according to Al-Bedaiah. The lawyer was representing defendants who were accused of burning the local headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Shaaban was briefly detained while covering the protest.
Al-Balshy told CPJ that Shaaban would appeal at the Court of Cassation, which would be his last legal resort. The editor said he, his outlet, and the syndicate would ask the prosecutor general to release Shaaban until that court heard his case. Al-Balshy told CPJ that Shaaban has Hepatitis C and requires medical attention.
Shaaban is at Burg Al-Arab prison, in Alexandria, according to news reports.
El-Battawy was arrested by security forces after they raided his house in the village of Tokh in the Qalyubiya governorate, just north of Cairo. Security forces seized el-Battawy's mobile phone, his hard drive, and his personal books and papers, according to news reports. They did not present a warrant or give a reason for his arrest.
El-Battawy was a journalist with the state-owned daily Akhbar al-Youm. He wrote opinion pieces for independent outlets such as Masr al-Arabia and was frequently critical of the state's violence against anti-government protesters and its crackdown on the media. His writing was sometimes satirical. Some of the outlets he has written for, such as opposition newspaper el-Shaab el-Jadeed and Masr al-Arabia, say they have been targets of smear campaigns by government-aligned media, who accuse them of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Police have visited the Masr al-Arabia offices on more than one occasion, in what are described as "routine" inspections.
Two weeks after el-Battawy's arrest, his outlet Akhbar al-Youm published a report claiming that Masr al-Arabia secretly served as a "media militia" for the Muslim Brotherhood. Masr Al-Arabia's Editor-in-Chief Adel Sabry denied the allegations and pointed out factual errors in the report. Akhbar al-Youm published his denial in a statement in its print edition on July 25, 2015.
The journalist's family and lawyers were unable to locate him for five days after his arrest. He was not at Tokh police station, where security forces had told the family they would take him. The Egyptian Journalist's Syndicate issued a statement saying it had filed a complaint to the general prosecutor on the family's behalf, demanding to know the journalist's whereabouts.
On June 23, nearly a week after his arrest, a state-owned news wire reported that el-Battawy was being held at Tora prison.
El-Battawy later told his family that before he was transferred to the prison, he had been held at National Security headquarters in the Cairo neighborhood of Shubra el-Kheima for five days. He said he was blindfolded the entire time and was hit in the face and threatened with electric shock and sexual torture, according to Masr al-Arabia.
The Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying el-Battawy faced charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to news reports. El-Battawy's wife, journalist Rafeeda al-Safty, wrote on Facebookin mid-July 2015 that he was also being questioned on accusations of "possessing explosives," "damaging public property," and "endangering the lives of others."
His wife told reporters in August that Akhbar al-Youm had put the journalist on probation and was moving to terminate his employment because he had not shown up to work since his arrest. Akhbar al-Youm could not be reached for comment.
El-Battawy's wife is able to visit him in Tora prison. His pre-trial detention is renewed by the prosecution periodically. No trial date had been set for the journalist as of late 2015.
Khallaf is the founder and head of the Electronic Media Syndicate, which trains and supports journalists who work online in Egypt. It is independent from the state-recognized Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate, which admits only print journalists and not those working online, or in radio or television.
Khallaf was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum that accused Khallaf and his syndicate, along with other media outlets including the news website Masr Al-Arabiya, of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and receiving money from the group.
Khallaf denied the accusations on his personal Facebook page. The day he was arrested, Masr Al-Arabiya wrote an open letter to the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, saying the outlet was a victim of a smear campaign and that the staff demanded a right of reply.
Khallaf was arrested at the Federation of Egyptian Syndicates in Cairo, to which the Electronic Media Syndicate belongs. He had been summoned for questioning by the federation about the accusations published in Akhbar Elyoum, his lawyer told reporters. When he arrived at the federation's headquarters, police officers arrested him.
After his arrest, prosecutors charged Khallaf with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to the news website Dot Msr. The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and the local Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said Khallaf was charged with "taking pictures and displaying artistic works without a license," among other allegations. A 1998 executive order states that individuals conducting audio and audiovisual work must have a license from the Ministry of Culture. According to AFTE, the accusation is in connection with Khallaf's photographing the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Egypt's prosecutor general, who was assassinated in late June 2015.
The Electronic Media Syndicate issued a statement in September denying the accusations made against it by the prosecution and government-aligned media.
Khallaf is being held in pre-trial detention in Cairo's Tora prison. No trial date had been set as of late in 2015.
National security agents raided the offices of the Mada Foundation for Media Development in the Cairo suburb of 6th of October, and arrested its director, Hisham Jaafar, on October 21, 2015. Staff members at the foundation, who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity, said the agents were masked and armed. The agents detained staff members at the offices for several hours, the staff members said. Human rights lawyers, among them lawyers for the regional rights group the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, were not permitted to enter the offices, according to news reports.
Security forces permitted all staff to leave that evening, but closed the foundation's office, which remained closed late in 2015, staff members said.
After Jaafar's arrest, several agents raided his home, which is within walking distance of the foundation's office, according to accounts from his wife and son on social media and in news reports.
Security agents took Jaafar to an unknown location after his arrest, according to news reports. Three days later, his lawyers were told he was being held in Cairo's Tora prison and had been questioned by national security prosecutors, Khaled el-Balshy, a member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, told CPJ.
The journalist is charged with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and receiving bribes from foreign sources, according to his colleagues. His lawyers were prevented from attending his detention renewal hearing on November 30, 2015, according to news reports.
Jaafar is the former editor-in-chief of the popular website IslamOnline, which covered news and religious and social issues. He founded the Mada Foundation for Media Development in 2010 along with other several former IslamOnline staff members. The foundation provides training and support for local journalists and serves as a hub for research projects on social issues, such as women's rights and religious dialogue. It also launched the website OnIslam, which covers news as well as features on lifestyle, health, and Islamic spirituality.
Several of the foundation's employees have received threats from security forces and some have left the country for fear of arrest, according to employees with whom CPJ spoke.
The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, along with several prominent Egyptian journalists and academics, have called for Jaafar's release, describing him as an independent journalist and researcher with no political affiliations. Former colleagues at IslamOnline and staff at the Mada Foundation told CPJ he had been working on investigative reports about parliamentary reform and a research project on national dialogue before his arrest.
Jaafar's wife has been unable to visit him in prison, and has not been able to send him medication, clothes, or a pair of prescription glasses to replace a pair broken during his arrest, according to social media and Jaafar's colleagues, who spoke to CPJ.
No trial date had been set by December 1, 2015.
Abu Ouf, deputy editor-in-chief of Al-Mesryoon, was arrested during a pre-dawn raid by security forces on his house in the governorate of Qalyubeya, according to his family and outlet. Security forces confiscated Abu Ouf's laptop as well as copies of Al-Mesryoon, a privately owned newspaper which is critical of the Egyptian government.
Prosecutors ordered the journalist to be held in pre-trial detention on charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to reports.
The journalist's outlet and his family have said in news reports that while Abu Ouf wrote about Islamist movements, he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or any Islamist group. The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate has called for his release.
Abu Ouf has used sources from Islamic and jihadist groups, which may be the reason for his arrest, a journalist who knows him and who asked to remain anonymous out of security concerns, told CPJ. Abu Ouf has led coverage of Islamist political parties and movements at Al Mesryoon since the paper was founded in 2005, the journalist said. Abu Ouf was critical both of the leadership of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who took power after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, and Mohamed Morsi, who preceded him, the journalist said.
The Egyptian government interfered with the printing of Al-Mesryoon earlier in 2015, over content critical of el-Sisi.
Abu Ouf is being held in Qanater el-Khaira police station in Qalybeya, according to reports. No trial date had been set in late 2015.
Alexandrani, a freelance journalist and researcher whose work focuses on the Sinai Peninsula and Islamist movements in Egypt, was arrested at Hurghada airport upon his return from Berlin, on November 29, 2015, according to news reports. He was questioned by national security agents in Hurghada before being transferred to Cairo two days later, his wife, Khadeega Gaafar, told CPJ.
On December 1, 2015, national security prosecutors questioned Alexandrani for more than nine hours and charged him with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, promoting the purposes of that group, and intentionally disseminating false information, according to local rights groups and statements made by Alexandrani's lawyers, who were present for the questioning.
Alexandrani has written critically of the Egyptian military's efforts to combat extremist militias in the Sinai Peninsula, including for independent newspapers al-Safir and al-Modon, both based in Lebanon. He has also written for the Egyptian newspaper al-Badil. Government censorship and intimidation has resulted in scarce independent reporting about fighting in the peninsula and its toll on the civilian population.
Alexandrani was a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program in Washington, D.C in the spring of 2015. After leaving the U.S., he moved to Turkey and gave several talks in Berlin and other European cities. The journalist knew he risked arrest over his writing upon returning to Egypt, but was compelled to return for a family emergency, according to statements made by his friends on social media and in news reports.
Regional and international rights and press freedom groups launched campaigns calling for the journalist's release. Alexandrani's wife was able to visit him after he had been questioned at national security headquarters in Cairo, before he was moved to Tora prison, where he is being held. She told CPJ that the journalist is in good health. No trial date had been set by December 1, 2015.
Security agents arrested Ghebrehiwet, a reporter for the now-defunct private weekly Tsigenay, while he was on his way to work. He has not been heard from since. Sources told CPJ at the time that Ghebrehiwet was being held in connection with the government's overall crackdown on the press.
CPJ listed Ghebrehiwet on its annual prison list until 2010, when exiled journalists told the organization that Ghebrehiwet might have been released.
But in 2013, one of Ghebrehiwet's children, who had recently fled Eritrea, said Ghebrehiwet was still in government custody, according to another exiled journalist who spoke to CPJ. The journalist's relative told CPJ in 2014 that Ghebrehiwet was still in prison.
Authorities in 2015 had not disclosed Ghebrehiwet's whereabouts, health status, or any charges against him.
Eritrean authorities have never accounted for the whereabouts, health, or legal status of several newspaper editors who were arrested after the government summarily banned the private press on September 18, 2001, in response to growing criticism of President Isaias Afewerki. CPJ has confirmed that at least one of the journalists had died in secret detention, and is investigating unconfirmed reports that others had also perished in custody.
The journalists' papers had reported on divisions between reformers and conservatives within the ruling party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice, and advocated full implementation of the country's democratic constitution. A dozen top reformist officials, whose pro-democracy statements had been relayed by the independent newspapers, were also arrested.
Authorities initially detained the journalists at a police station in the capital, 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 without bringing them before a court or publicly registering charges. Several CPJ sources said the journalists were confined at the Eiraeiro prison camp or at a military prison, Adi Abeito, based in Asmara.
The exact reasons for the arrests of the journalists are not known.
Local journalists told CPJ in 2014 that they suspected authorities arrested Seyoum Tsehaye, a photojournalist for the country's first independent newspaper, Setit, because of an interview he gave the paper in which he said the government was stifling press freedom. In August 2015, a report by the Guardian said that Seyoum was the first director of the state-owned national TV channel, Eri-TV, and a war photographer who covered the 30-year civil war for independence between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The report said Seyoum was arrested at his home at the age of 49. In 2013, Seyoum's niece, Vanessa Berhe, who lives in Sweden, launched a campaign advocating his release. Seyoum was being held at Eiraeiro Prison, local journalists said.
Authorities arrested Medhanie at his home around the same time, the Guardian said. A lawyer, Medhanie often wrote critical editorials calling for the rule of law to be applied in Eritrea.
Over the years, Eritrean officials have offered vague and inconsistent explanations for the arrests: accusing the journalists of involvement in anti-state conspiracies in connection with foreign intelligence, of skirting military service, and of violating press regulations. Officials, at times, even denied that the journalists existed. Meanwhile, shreds of often unverifiable, second- or third-hand information smuggled out of the country by people fleeing into exile have suggested the deaths of as many as five journalists in custody.
Some of the journalists had been jailed previously. Mattewos Habteab, who had worked with Setit but later founded his own independent weekly, Mekaleh, had written an opinion piece showing the Eritrean governments' disdain for journalists during the country's war of independence (1961-1991). This led to his arrest and detention for several months at the "Track B" military prison in Asmara.
Eritrean security forces arrested Tsigenay founder Yusuf Mohamed Ali on October 14, 2000, over his criticism of the government and the generally critical content of his paper, and imprisoned him at Zara Prison in the Western lowlands of Eritrea, exiled Eritrean journalists told CPJ.
In February 2007, CPJ established that one detainee, Fesshaye "Joshua" Yohannes, a co-founder of the newspaper Setit and a 2002 recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award, had died in custody at the age of 47.
CPJ is seeking corroboration of successive reports that several of the remaining detainees may have died in custody. In August 2012, the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, citing a purported former prison guard, Eyob Habte, said Dawit Habtemichael and Mattewos Habteab had died at Eiraeiro in recent years. In 2010, the Ethiopian government-sponsored Radio Wegahta also cited a purported former Eritrean prison guard as saying that Mattewos had died at Eiraeiro. The same purported guard, Eyob Habte, also claimed Medhanie Haile had died in Eiraeiro Prison.
In August 2006, an un-bylined report on the Ethiopian pro-government website Aigaforum quoted 14 purported former Eiraeiro guards as reporting the deaths of prisoners whose names closely resembled Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile, and Said Abdelkader. The details could not be independently confirmed, although CPJ sources considered it to be generally credible. In 2009, the London-based Eritrean opposition news site Assena published purported death certificates of Fesshaye, Yusuf, Medhanie, and Said.
CPJ continues to list the journalists on the prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for their fates. Relatives of the journalists have told CPJ that they maintain hope their loved ones are still alive.
Idris was a contributor to the government-run Arabic daily newspaper Eritrea al-Haditha, according to an August 2015 report by the Guardian. He later wrote for the private weekly Tsigenay and worked as a reporter at the Eritrean Ministry of Education. In either August or September 2001, Idris wrote an article in Tsigenay that criticized the government's education policy, according to Eritrean journalists in exile. The journalists said he was arrested because of the article.
Authorities arrested Idris in October 2001, news reports said. Idris did not appear on CPJ's census of imprisoned journalists before 2014. His case came to the organization's attention only in 2014, as part of a fresh investigation into the status of long-held prisoners in Eritrea.
Authorities have not disclosed Idris' whereabouts or any charges against him, and the state of his health is unknown. He has a wife and daughter.
Dawit, co-founder of the newspaper Setit, was one of 10 prominent journalists imprisoned in the September 2001 government crackdown on the independent press. In April 2002, Dawit was reportedly hospitalized because of torture. According to his brother, Esayas Issak, he was once again released on November 19, 2005, for medical reasons, but was detained after two days.
Dawit, who has dual Eritrean and Swedish citizenship, has drawn considerable international attention, particularly in Sweden, where members of his family, including his brother, Esayas, live. He won numerous awards and prizes after his arrest, including the Golden Pen of Freedom Award of the World Association of Newspapers.
When asked about Dawit's crime in a May 2009 interview with Swedish freelance journalist Donald Boström, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki said, "I don't know," before asserting that the journalist had made "a big mistake," without offering details. The president even dismissed the issue of Dawit's being tried, stating, "We will not have any trial and we will not free him." Isaias also claimed that since Dawit was Eritrean first, "the involvement of Sweden is irrelevant. ... The Swedish government has nothing to do with this."
In August 2010, Yemane Gebreab, a senior presidential adviser, said in an interview with Swedish daily Aftonbladet that Dawit was being held for "very serious crimes regarding Eritrea's national security and survival as an independent state."
In July 2011, three lawyers-Jesús Alcalá, Prisca Orsonneau, and Percy Bratt-filed a writ of habeas corpus with the High Court of Asmara and the Eritrean representative to the EU, calling on authorities to present Dawit in court. In September that year, which was the 10th anniversary of Dawit's imprisonment, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing "fears for the life" of Dawit, calling for his release, and urging the European Council to consider targeted sanctions against relevant top Eritrean officials.
In a January 2013 interview with a Swedish newspaper, former information minister and government spokesman Ali Abdu pleaded ignorance of Dawit's fate.
In September 2014, the European Union issued a statement calling for Dawit's immediate release and citing Eritrea's violation of international and domestic obligations regarding human rights.
Authorities in 2015 had not disclosed Dawit's health or whereabouts. Dawit is diabetic, according to local journalists and news reports.
Tesfay was a contributor to the independent weekly Setit. Local journalists who have gone into exile said authorities arrested Tesfay after a Setit piece published in August 2001 alleged that an interview published by the state-owned newspaper Haddas Ertra, had been faked.
In the article, Tesfay said Yemane Gebreab, the head of political affairs for Eritrea's ruling party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice, had fabricated an interview with the party's secretary, Alamin Mohamed Said, in which the secretary criticized calls for political reform by an opposition group of veterans of Eritrea's war of independence.
Tesfay, who had close ties to staff at Haddas Erta, claimed in a column that the interview was a fabrication, according to Eritrean journalists in exile, who said they believe the column was the reason behind his arrest. The exact date of the arrest is unknown.
Authorities have not disclosed Tesfay's whereabouts or any charges against him. Tesfay did not appear on CPJ's census of imprisoned journalists before 2014. His case came to the organization's attention only in 2014, as part of a fresh investigation into the status of long-held prisoners in Eritrea.
According to a report by Swedish newspaper Expressen, citing a letter sent by a friend of a purported prison guard, Eyob Habte, Tesfay died from illness in prison. CPJ has been unable to independently confirm the information.
Aljazeeri, a journalist for the Arabic desk of the state broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested in February 2002 for unknown reasons. Local journalists now in exile said that they suspected the arrest was linked to his work and that he was being held in Carceli prison in Asmara.
The exact date of the arrest is unknown. Aljazeeri did not appear on CPJ's census of imprisoned journalists before 2014. His case came to the organization's attention only in 2014 as part of a fresh investigation into the status of long-held prisoners in Eritrea.
While the government's motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Authorities have not disclosed Aljazeeri's health status, whereabouts, or any charges against him.
Hamid, a reporter for the Arabic-language service of the government-controlled national broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested without charge in connection with the government's crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001, according to CPJ sources.
In a July 2002 fact-finding mission to Asmara, the capital, a CPJ delegation learned from local sources that Hamid was among three state media reporters arrested. At least one of the journalists, Saadia Ahmed, was later released, but Hamid was being held in an undisclosed location, CPJ was told.
The government has refused to respond to numerous inquiries from CPJ and other international organizations seeking information about Hamid's whereabouts, health, and legal status.
While the government's motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
In 2014, local journalists who had fled into exile told CPJ that Hamid was still in prison. As of 2015, authorities had not disclosed Hamid's whereabouts, health, or legal status.
Several journalists working for the government-controlled radio station ("Voice of the Masses") were arrested in early 2011, according to CPJ sources. Authorities did not disclose the basis of the arrests. Local journalists told CPJ one of the journalists, Eyob Kessete, was released after several weeks in prison. Eyob, who worked for the Amharic-language service of Dimtsi Hafash, was arrested on allegations that he had helped others flee the country.
The reporters worked for different services of Dimtsi Hafash: Nebiel for the Amharic-language service, Ahmed for the Tigrayan-language service, and Mohamed for the Bilen-language service.
While the government's motivation in imprisoning the journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation, retaliation, and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Authorities as of 2015 had not disclosed the journalists' whereabouts, health, or legal status.
Tesfalidet, a producer for Eritrea's state broadcaster Eri-TV, and Saleh, a cameraman, were arrested in late 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia's invasion of southern Somalia.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry first disclosed the detention of the journalists in April 2007 and presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects. Though Eritrea often conscripted journalists into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. The ministry pledged to subject some of the suspects to military trials but did not identify them by name. In a September 2011 press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.
Tesfalidet and Saleh had not been tried by late 2015, according to local journalists. Ethiopian authorities have not disclosed their legal status, health, or whereabouts.
Police arrested Woubshet, deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, after raiding his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, and confiscating documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of the newspaper, according to local journalists. The outlet's top editor, CPJ International Press Freedom awardee Dawit Kebede, fled the country in November 2011 in fear of being arrested; the newspaper is published online from exile.
Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Woubshet was among several people accused of planning terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia's neighbor, Eritrea, according to news reports. In January 2012, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced Woubshet to 14 years in prison, news reports said.
CPJ believes Woubshet's conviction was in reprisal for Awramba Times' critical coverage of the government. Before his arrest, Woubshet had written a column criticizing what he saw as the ruling party's tactics of weakening and dividing the media and the opposition, Dawit told CPJ. Woubshet had been targeted in the past. He was detained for a week in November 2005 during the government's crackdown on news coverage of unrest that followed disputed elections.
Woubshet did not appeal his conviction and applied for a pardon, according to local journalists. In August 2013, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice rejected the request for a pardon, the Awramba Times reported. In October 2013, Woubshet was honored with the Free Press Africa Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards in Cape Town, South Africa.
Authorities have transferred Woubshet between several prisons, including a remote detention facility in the town of Ziway, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, according to local journalists and the Awramba Times. At Ziway, prison officials placed him in a section for political prisoners known as "chelema bete," where communication and access to open air are limited, according to local journalists and family members who visited him. In February 2014, prison authorities transferred him temporarily to solitary confinement for describing prison conditions in a letter that was published in the private newspaper Ethio-Midhar.
Local journalists said Woubshet contracted a kidney infection while in Ziway, likely by drinking contaminated water. In October 2014, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, where he finally received medical treatment. Woubshet published a book of essays written in prison called The Voice of Freedom in September 2014, which included details of his trial and the challenges Ethiopian journalists face. Police authorities restricted visits by friends and family after the book was released, local journalists said.
In late 2015, the journalist was again being held at Ziway Prison.
Ethiopian security forces arrested Eskinder, a prominent online columnist and former publisher and editor of now-shuttered newspapers, on vague accusations of involvement in a terrorism plot. The arrest came five days after Eskinder published a column on the U.S.-based news website EthioMedia that criticized the government for misusing the country's sweeping anti-terrorism law to jail prominent journalists and dissident intellectuals.
CPJ believes the charges are part of a pattern of government persecution of Eskinder in reprisal for his coverage. In 2011, police detained Eskinder and threatened him in connection with his online columns that drew comparisons between the Egyptian uprising and Ethiopia's 2005 pro-democracy protests, according to news reports. His coverage of the Ethiopian government's repression of the 2005 protests landed him in jail for 17 months on anti-state charges. After his release in 2007, authorities banned his newspapers and denied him licenses to start new ones. He was first arrested in September 1993 in connection with his articles in the Amharic weekly Ethiopis, one of the country's first independent newspapers, about the government's crackdown on dissent in Western Ethiopia, according to CPJ research.
Shortly after Eskinder's 2011 arrest, state television portrayed the journalist as a spy for "foreign forces" and accused him of having links with the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7, which the Ethiopian government designated a terrorist entity. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, government spokesman Shimelis Kemal accused the detainee of plotting "a series of terrorist acts that would likely wreak havoc." Eskinder consistently proclaimed his innocence, but was convicted on the basis of a video of a public town hall meeting in which he discussed the possibility of a popular uprising in Ethiopia if the ruling party did not deliver democratic reform, according to reports.
In July 2012, a federal high court judge in Addis Ababa sentenced Eskinder to 18 years in prison, according to local journalists and news reports. Five exiled journalists were convicted in absentia at the same time.
Also in 2012, a U.N. panel found that Eskinder's imprisonment was "a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression," according to a report published in April 2013.
In May 2013, Ethiopia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal and upheld the sentence.
In January 2014, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers awarded Eskinder its annual Golden Pen of Freedom award. In October 2015, PEN Canada honored him with its One Humanity award at the International Festival of Authors.
In late 2015, Eskinder was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa. His family's visits have been restricted, according to local journalists.
Police officers raided the Addis Ababa home of Yusuf, editor of the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), as part of a broad crackdown on journalists and news outlets reporting on protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims. The Muslims were demonstrating against government policies they said interfered with their religious freedom. The government sought to link the protesters to Islamist extremists and tried to suppress coverage by arresting several local and international journalists and forcing publications to close down, according to local journalists and news reports.
After Yusuf's arrest, other Ye Muslimoch Guday journalists went into hiding, and the publication ceased operations, local journalists told CPJ.
Yusuf spent weeks in pretrial custody at the Maekelawi federal detention center without access to his family and limited contact with his lawyer, according to local journalists.
In October 2012, he was formally charged under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Law with plotting acts of "terrorism [and] intending to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause," according to local journalists. Yusuf told the court he had been beaten in custody, local journalists told CPJ.
Prosecutors accused Yusuf of inciting violence in columns in Ye Muslimoch Guday by alleging that the government-appointed Supreme Council for Muslim Affairs was corrupt and lacked legitimacy, according to local journalists and court documents obtained by CPJ. The prosecution also used as evidence Yusuf's CDs with Islamic teachings even though these were widely available in markets, according to local journalists.
In August 2015, the Addis High Court sentenced Yusuf to seven years in prison, according to local journalists and news reports. The journalist plans to appeal, the sources said.
Yusuf is being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa.
Police arrested Solomon, the managing director of the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), as part of a broad crackdown on journalists and news outlets reporting on peaceful protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims against government policies they said interfered with their religious freedom. The government sought to link the protesters to Islamist extremists and attempted to suppress coverage by arresting several local and international journalists and forcing publications to close down, according to local journalists and news reports.
Solomon was held at the Maekelawi federal detention center for weeks without access to his family and with limited contact with his lawyer, according to local journalists.
A few weeks after his arrest, Solomon was formally charged under the Ethiopian anti-terrorism law, according to local journalists. Authorities have not disclosed any evidence against him. In late 2015, he was being held at Kilinto Prison in Addis Ababa and his trial was ongoing, according to local journalists.
Authorities arrested Zelalem at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, on July 8, 2014, during a mass crackdown on opposition leaders and social media activists ahead of the 2015 elections, exiled Ethiopian journalists told CPJ.
On October 31, 2014, Ethiopia's Federal High Court charged Zelalem under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism law with having links to the diaspora-based opposition group Ginbot 7, according to local journalists and news reports. No evidence was provided regarding his alleged links to Ginbot 7, which the government has designated a terrorist group.
Zelalem, who covers Ethiopian politics and geopolitical issues in the Horn of Africa for the news website De Birhan and contributes to other news websites, was working with exiled Ethiopian journalists to organize a journalism training and security course for himself and two of his colleagues, local journalists said. Zelalem and his colleagues were planning to launch a blog similar to Zone 9, a blogging collective whose members were arrested earlier that year and have since been released, the sources told CPJ.
De Birhan was established in September 2009 as a blog, then became a website that covers news and analysis of Ethiopia and East Africa, according to the website. The website covers politics, culture, and social issues.
Zelalem, who was studying for a master's degree in public administration at Addis Ababa University at the time of his arrest, is being held at Kilinto Prison, in the capital Addis Ababa, local journalists said. He is in good health, according to his family who visited him. His trial was scheduled to begin on November 23, 2015.
He did not appear on CPJ's 2014 prison census because the journalist's family had asked CPJ not to publicize the case, hoping that quiet advocacy would free him. In 2015, after Zelalem had been imprisoned for more than a year, his family asked CPJ to go public with his case.
The Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, convicted magazine owner Temesghen of incitement, defamation, and false publication on October 13, 2014, in the revival of a 2012 defamation case that had been dropped, according to local journalists and news reports. On October 27, 2014, a court sentenced Temesghen to three years' imprisonment, according to news reports.
The conviction stemmed from a series of opinion pieces published in Temesghen's former news magazine Feteh ("Justice") in 2012, according to the charge sheet reviewed by CPJ. The articles discussed the peaceful struggle of Ethiopian youth movements for political change, and two columns criticized alleged government efforts to violently suppress student protests and ethnic minorities, according to the charge sheet.
The court also charged in absentia Mastewal Birhanu, the former publisher of Feteh, with inciting the public to violence by printing the magazine, according to the charge sheet.
Authorities briefly arrested Temesghen on August 23, 2012, in relation to the same articles but inexplicably dropped the charges and released the journalist five days later, according to news reports. In February 2013, a judge in the Federal High Court reinstated the charges without explanation. State prosecutors had announced in December 2012 that they would refile unspecified charges against him, Temesghen told CPJ.
The government also ordered printers to block the distribution of Feteh in July 2012 in connection with a series of articles about the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died the following month,, local journalists said. Authorities blocked three other subsequent publications started by Temesghen, including Addis Times, Le'ilena ("Magnanimity"), and the latest, Fact, according to CPJ research.
The last edition of Fact was published in September 2014, local journalists told CPJ. In August 2014, the Justice Ministry accused Fact and five other independent weekly publications of inciting violence, publishing false news, and undermining public confidence in the government. All of the publications ceased printing.
In March 2015, sources close to Temesghen told CPJ that the journalist had been denied medical care for stomach and back problems and that his health had deteriorated to the point that he had difficulty walking.
He was being held at the remote Ziway Prison, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, local journalists and his relatives told CPJ. In late 2015, prison guards denied Temesghen prison visits from anyone except his mother and brother, local journalists told CPJ.
Khalid Mohammed, Radio Bilal
Authorities arrested Darsema and Khalid, reporters for the faith-based Radio Bilal, on February 18, 2015 after police called them in for questioning, local journalists said. On August 17, 2015, the two were charged along with 18 other defendants under the 2009 anti-terrorism law, accused of inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government and replace it with an Islamic government, according to news reports citing the charge sheet.
Khalid works for Radio Bilal as the news editor and Darsema as senior editor, local journalists said. Darsema had also been a columnist for the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday ("Muslim Affairs") magazine, local journalists told CPJ. The magazine ceased publishing in July 2012 after two of its editors fled into hiding, local journalists said.
Darsema and Khalid extensively covered protests by the Ethiopian Muslim community that began in 2012 to condemn government interference in Islamic affairs, including the government closing of Awoliya College, the country's only Muslim college, in 2011. Authorities claimed the institution was training Islamic radicals, according to news reports. Ethiopian authorities have since sought to silence the demonstrations by arresting protesters, community leaders, and independent reporters, and by shutting down news outlets, according to international news reports and CPJ research.
Darsema and Khalid have been imprisoned by authorities before. On August 2, 2013, they were arrested and held without charge for almost five months. Although no reason was provided, former Radio Bilal Chairman Mohammed Hassen said he believed the journalists were arrested for their extensive coverage and support of the Muslim protests.
Darsema and Khalid were being held at Kilinto Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa. Their trial was scheduled to begin on October 27, 2015, the same sources said.
Two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency arrested Manneh at the office of his newspaper, the pro-government Daily Observer, according to witnesses. The reason for the arrest was unclear, although some colleagues believe it was linked to his attempt to republish a BBC article critical of President Yahya Jammeh.
Despite dozens of inquiries from international organizations, the government has not provided a credible account of what happened to Manneh after he was taken into custody. In 2008, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Gambia had unlawfully seized Manneh and ordered his immediate release.
Sketchy and conflicting details have emerged about Manneh's whereabouts and health. Witnesses reported seeing Manneh in government custody in December 2006 and in July 2007, according to CPJ research. Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police official in 2009 as saying that Manneh had been spotted at Mile 2 Prison in 2008. But the official also speculated that Manneh was no longer alive, AFP reported.
In a nationally televised meeting with local media representatives in March 2011, Jammeh described Manneh as having died, but denied any government involvement in the journalist's fate. "Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh," he said.
But Justice Minister Edward Gomez provided contradictory information just months later. In an October 2011 interview with the local newspaper Daily News, Gomez said that Manneh was alive. "Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, and we will talk about this case later," Gomez told AFP in a subsequent interview.
In February 2012, Reuters reported that Jammeh had asked the United Nations to investigate Manneh's disappearance. "In response to civil society complaints about the disappearance of a journalist in the Gambia, the president of Gambia asked for the U.N. to come in and investigate," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, according to Reuters. In a subsequent interview with CPJ, a government spokesman denied having any knowledge of the request to the U.N.
On June 10, 2014, the ECOWAS court held that previous rulings against the Gambia, including Manneh's case, proved the Gambian government was fostering a climate of impunity which in itself was a violation of freedom of expression.
In a statement in November 2014, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that two U.N. special rapporteurs had been unable to complete their investigation into the legal protection of prisoners in the Gambia after the government denied them access to its prisons. The statement said the fact-finding mission was suspended.
Gambian authorities in late 2015 had not responded to CPJ requests seeking information about Manneh's whereabouts, health, or legal status.
Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, manager of the independent radio station Taranga FM, was forced into a car in Banjul, the capital, on July 17, according to news reports and a relative of the journalist who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal. Ceesay's family member told CPJ the journalist was brought to his family's home by a group of men he identified to relatives as National Intelligence Agency (NIA) agents. The group searched the house and took Ceesay with them when they left. They did not disclose what they were looking for, the relative said.
On August 5, Ceesay was charged with "seditious intention" and publishing false news for allegedly distributing pictures via his mobile phone that authorities said were intended to "raise discontent, hatred, or disaffection among the inhabitants of the Gambia," according to news reports. The photos allegedly showed a gun being pointed at President Yahya Jammeh, the reports indicated.
Ceesay denied sending the photos and said they did not belong to him, news reports said.
Ceesay was detained just four days after he was held for almost two weeks by individuals suspected of being government agents, according to a family member and news reports. After he was freed, Ceesay said he had been subjected to abuse and moved among several undisclosed locations, according to news reports that cited him. He was detained again on July 17.
Ceesay's station, Taranga FM, translates news from international media and local newspapers into local languages, according to CPJ research. The station has been arbitrarily shut down three times in under five years by authorities and the station staff members interrogated several times at the NIA in relation to their work, according to the Gambia Press Union. After a failed coup, Taranga FM was ordered off the air by Gambian authorities from January 1 to 4, 2015, after which it was allowed back on air, but ordered to play only music, news reports said.
CPJ's calls and emails in late 2015 to the NIA were not answered.
The journalist was denied visits from his family until the day of his arraignment on August 5, 2015, a family member told CPJ. He was denied bail in a hearing on September 17, 2015, according to news reports.
Ceesay was facing the same charges in two courts-the Banjul Magistrates' Court, the lower court in Gambia, and the High Court of Gambia-according to news reports and the relative who spoke to CPJ. In October 2015, the lower court withdrew the charges against Ceesay, saying that he should not face the same charges in two separate courts. Ceesay's trial on the same charges was continuing in the higher court in late 2015.
Ceesay's family was able to visit him regularly in Mile 2 prison in Banjul until a hearing on November 11, 2015, when prison authorities told them they would not be allowed to visit again, a relative of Ceesay's told CPJ. The relative said that no reason was given for revoking prison visits, and that when they saw him, Ceesay was in good health.
Plainclothes police arrested Nag on July 16, 2015, at his family's mobile phone shop on the outskirts of Darbha town, according his brother, Sonaru, who was cited by the South Asian media watchdog group The Hoot. The family was told of his arrest three days later.
Police accused Nag of collaborating with a group of villagers who on June 26 allegedly set fire to equipment being used to build roads in Chote Kadma, The Hoot reported. Police said the villagers were Maoists or Maoist sympathizers, according to the media watchdog. Many of those who participated in damaging the equipment fled, and it is unclear how many individuals were arrested, according to news reports.
Nag was charged under the Arms Act, according to his lawyer, Isha Khandelwal, and news reports. He was also charged with banditry under Section 395, arson under Section 435, and criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian penal code.
Nag worked as a stringer for the daily Patrika for three years and frequently covered rural issues including development and access to water and electricity in the region, according to Kamal Shukla, the Kanker-based editor of the daily Bhumkaal Samachaar, who was familiar with the case.
Shukla told CPJ that he was not aware of any specific reports that could have been the reason for Nag's arrest, but he said police in the region frequently target journalists who they believe could serve as informants on Maoist operations.
Khandelwal said Nag could have been targeted because he was "a very vocal journalist" and one of the only tribal journalists working in the vicinity. Khandelwal said that authorities could have been motivated to pre-emptively silence any reporting on intensifying security operations in the region.
Both Shukla and Khandelwal said they were not aware of previous police pressure against Nag.
Hundreds of journalists in the state protested Santosh Yadav and Nag's imprisonment in early October 2015 and called on police to substantiate the allegations against them, according to The Hoot. The Delhi Union of Journalists called for the release of Yadav and Nag and an "end to victimization of journalists in conflict areas where they are caught between the conflicting demands of rebel groups and state forces," according to news reports.
Nag belongs to the indigenous community known as Adivasis. These tribal communities are often caught between Maoists and security forces. Police frequently make arbitrary arrests and pressure members of tribal communities to work as informants, according to news reports.
Nag's brother told The Hoot that the family visited Nag at Jagdalpur jail in Chhattisgarh and said he had been severely beaten while in custody.
CPJ was unable to contact Chhattisgarh police.
Police in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh arrested Yadav on what his colleagues said were fabricated charges brought in connection with his reporting on alleged human rights abuses by local authorities, according to news reports.
The freelance journalist, who is based in Bastar district, contributes reports and photos to several local, privately owned dailies including Dainik Navbharat,Patrika, and Dainik Chhattisgarh. He reported on alleged human rights abuses by the police against tribal communities in the region, according to his lawyer, Isha Khandelwal. Yadav also helps connect members of his community whose relatives are facing arrest to legal aid groups, reports said.
Police charged Yadav with rioting, criminal conspiracy, and attempted murder. He was also charged with "associating with a terrorist organization" and "supporting and aiding terrorist groups" under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, according to the independent news website Scroll. Charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a counterterrorism law, have also been brought against Yadav, according to Khandelwal. Police said Yadav had links to Maoists rebels and had participated in violence between police and Maoists on August 21, 2015, according to The Hindu.
Yadav's colleagues and his lawyer say the journalist was innocent. Khandelwal said Yadav was forced to sign a blank paper that the police have described in court and to the lawyer as a confession, The Hindu reported. The report did not say how he was pressured into signing the paper.
In August 2015, police arrested at least five men from Bhadrimahu, a village in Chhattisgarh, and accused them of helping Maoist rebels carry out an ambush in which a police official was killed, according to news reports. On September 29, 2015, the families of the men went to the police station to secure their release and Yadav accompanied them to cover the encounter. He was arrested later that day.Police denied in news reports that Yadav was arrested for reporting on the case.
For decades Maoists have led an insurgency in the central tribal areas of India. Journalists are frequently targeted by Maoists and government forces in the states affected by the conflict, CPJ research shows. The Maoists are designated as a terrorist organization by the Indian government. Police often carry out arbitrary arrests and pressure residents to serve as informers, and Maoists have killed residents suspected of being informers, according to news reports.
In October 2015, Yadav was placed in pretrial custody, according to news reports. In a protest that month, hundreds of journalists called on police to substantiate the allegations against him and asked why police waited several days before disclosing that he had been arrested, according to The Hoot.
Ajay Yadav, the superintendent of Bastar district police, told journalists he did not consider Yadav a journalist, according to news reports.
Khandelwal told CPJ that Yadav has been harassed by police several times in recent years. According to the People's Union for Civil Liberties, an Indian human rights organization, and reports citing local journalists, the harassment began after police saw Yadav during a May 2013 attack by Maoists that left dozens dead, including three Congress Party officials. The People's Union for Civil Liberties said police presumed Yadav had taken part in the attack because he was one of the first reporters to arrive at the scene.
In 2014, police summoned Yadav to the police station, where they stripped him and held him for several hours, according to Khandelwal and Scroll. News reports did not say why he had been summoned. In August 2014, police filed a case against Yadav that accused him of harassing a woman. The journalist's family and colleagues said that was a false allegation. News reports said that Yadav has been pressured by police to join their efforts to capture Maoists. Yadav's wife, Poonam, told The Hindu that police had threatened to kill him in 2014.
Yadav's next court hearing is scheduled for early 2016, Khandelwal told CPJ. He is being held at Jagdalpur jail in Chhattisgarh. His lawyer said he was in good health.
Singh, who hosts a Punjabi-language news program on YouTube, was arrested in October 2015 in the northern Indian state of Punjab, on anti-terror charges relating to a complaint filed against him in June 1988, according to reports. CPJ could not determine the exact date of his arrest.
Singh's news program "Talking Punjab" has more than 13,000 YouTube subscribers. It features local news, including reports on drug abuse, the government's alleged failure to compensate farmers affected by a pesticide that caused crop damage, and critical reports on the judiciary.
Singh was active on social media and has more than 22,000 followers on his Facebook page, "Surinder Singh - Talking Punjab." Singh had commented on recent political and religious unrest in the state before his arrest. He was also interviewed as a political analyst on Punjabi news programs.
Singh is being held under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as TADA, an anti-terror law introduced in the 1980s, according to reports. The act lapsed in 1995, according to Human Rights Watch.
The complaint made against Singh in 1988 is in connection with his affiliation to the Sikh Students Federation, a student political group, according to the Tribune, Sikh news website Sikh24, and Sikh advocacy groups. After the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, a wave of violence against Sikhs broke out across much of the country.
CPJ was unable to determine the details of the 1988 complaint, and whether he had been arrested or questioned about the complaint at the time.
Singh's next court hearing was scheduled to take place on December 17, 2015, according to a Punjabi-language Facebook post on his page.
Singh is being held at the central jail in Ambala, in neighboring Haryana state. CPJ was unable to determine the state of his health.
Baltej Pannu, a Canadian freelance journalist and presenter for several Punjabi-language radio shows, was arrested over rape allegations in the Indian state of Punjab, where he has been working for the past five years, according to news reports.
Pannu is critical in his reports of the state government, run by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, which he claims has failed to curb rampant drug abuse in Punjab, news accounts said. Several of the radio shows he presents air internationally, including in the Greater Toronto area in Canada, and California, in the U.S.
Pannu has also been interviewed as a political analyst by Punjabi diaspora radio stations and posts critical commentary on social media about politics and drug problems in the state. His Facebook page has more than 34,000 followers. Pannu recently posted on social media that he had been threatened for his critical comments against the government, according to reports.
Badal and his family members hold key positions in the state government. Pannu has claimed members of the ruling party have close links to drug traffickers and organized crime, according to news reports citing Pannu's supporters. The Badals have denied such accusations.
According to the Hindustan Times, which cited a legal complaint filed on November 25, 2015, Pannu allegedly forced a woman to have sex with him against her wishes over several months and then refused to marry her, The alleged sexual assaults happened about five years ago, the report said.
Pannu was charged with rape under section 376 of India's penal code; cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property under section 420; and criminal intimidation under section 506, one of Pannu's lawyers, Mohit Kapoor, told the Canada-based Punjabi language channel 5aab TV in a phone interview.
Pannu denies the allegations, according to local reports. Local reports said that during his court hearing, the journalist said, "I am being framed only because I speak the truth. Because every day I speak out against the system, against the government ... This is a way for the government to silence me. It's a way to silence journalists like me who speak up."
Police claimed they asked Pannu to appear before them during a preliminary investigation, but he failed to do so, which led to his arrest, the Hindustan Times reported.
Kanwar Sandhu, a prominent Punjabi journalist and former executive editor of The Tribune, a Chandigarh-based newspaper popular in several of India's states, said he believed the arrest was politically motivated. Balbir Singh, a member of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party, claimed the arrest was a politically motivated move to silence Pannu, who has exposed alleged failures of the government, according to the Hindustan Times.
More than 3,000 residents from Brampton, a city in Ontario, Canada, where Pannu used to work, gathered at a convention center on November 28, 2015 to protest his arrest in India, reports said.
Security agents seized Hassanpour, 32, editor of the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, Kurdistan province, according to news reports. In July 2007, a Revolutionary Court convicted him of anti-state charges and sentenced him to death. After a series of appeals and reversals, he was re-sentenced in May 2010 to 15 years in prison, his defense lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told the independent press outlet Human Rights Activists News Agency.
The government's case against Hassanpour amounted to a series of assertions by security agents, his defense lawyer, Sirvan Hosmandi, told CPJ in 2008. Hassanpour's sister, Lily, told CPJ that she believed his critical writing was behind the charges.
He has not been allowed furlough during his time in prison despite repeated requests by his lawyer and family, news reports said. His sister told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters in 2013 that the journalist's health had deteriorated in prison from lack of proper medical care.
Hassanpour was being held at Sanandaj Central Prison in Kurdistan province. In January 2014, he was abruptly transferred to Marivan Prison in Kurdistan province, then to Zabol Prison in Sistan and Baluchistan province, and on March 19, 2014, to Zahedan Prison, according to Radio Zamaneh. Hassanpour's sister told Radio Zamaneh that the reason for the transfer could have been a letter he wrote to President Hassan Rouhani in August 2013 in which the journalist expressed hope that voting for Rouhani would help bring peaceful change to Kurdistan province and its citizens.
Hassanpour was transferred back to Marivan Prison on April 19, 2014, according to HRANA. According to reports in August 2015, Hassanpour was then transferred to Sanandaj Central Prison in northwestern Iran.
Plainclothes security officials arrested Kaboudvand, a 49-year-old journalist and human rights activist, at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Authorities charged Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e-Mardom, with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization's website. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 11 years in prison in 2008.
Kaboudvand's health deteriorated in prison, and he was consistently denied requests for medical leave or family visits. His wife, Farinaz Baghban Hassani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) that when his family members were finally allowed to see him, they believed he had developed significant heart problems in custody. News accounts also reported that the journalist experienced severe dizziness and disruption of speech and vision.
Kaboudvand has waged several hunger strikes to protest authorities' refusal to grant him a furlough to see his son, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, according to news reports. After he waged a hunger strike that left him hospitalized, authorities temporarily released him to visit his son in December 2012 on bail of 700 million toman (about US$25,000). The journalist returned to prison after four days, news reports said.
In 2013, security forces told Kaboudvand that they would file additional charges against him in connection with letters they alleged he had written to senior officials calling on them to respect human rights in the country, according to news reports. No additional charges had been filed in late 2014.
On April 17, 2014, security and intelligence agents on Ward 350 of Evin Prison severely beat and injured several prisoners, according to news websites and human rights groups. Kaboudvand was badly injured. His wife, who visited him after the attack, told the reformist news website Kaleme that three of his ribs and two toes had been broken and that he had bruised knees and arms and swelling on the back of his head.
According to a March 2015 report by the ICHRI, Kaboudvand had served two-thirds of his 11-year sentence and was eligible for a conditional parole, but authorities had not responded to the family's request for parole.
On October 2, 2011, nearly a year after Shojaei was first jailed, a special clerical court sentenced him to four years in prison and 50 lashes on multiple charges of "acting against national security," "espionage," and "cooperation with foreign embassies," the reformist news outlet Radio Zamaneh reported.
Shojaei told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in September 2013 that he had been sentenced to an additional year in prison on charges of "insulting Imam Khomeini" after he said in an interview during a previous furlough that Ayatollah Khomeini had "populist conduct." He said that authorities considered the comment an insult.
Shojaei, a blogger and cleric, was also the author of the book Madar-e-Shari'at, about the dissident cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, according to Radio Zamaneh. Shariatmadari had opposed the principle of velayat-e-faqih, which seeks to convey unlimited power to the supreme leader.
Shojaei was being held at Evin Prison, where he endured torture and several months of solitary confinement, according to the Human Rights House of Iran and Radio Zamaneh. The journalist developed a host of health problems-a heart condition, hearing impairment, epilepsy, brain atrophy, spinal disc problems, and diabetes-while he was in prison, reformist news websites said.
Shojaei was granted a medical furlough in November 2011 but was summoned back to Evin Prison in January 2012 before his medical treatment was completed, news reports said. He was briefly hospitalized in September 2012 after having a heart attack and seizure, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency reported that Shojaei has waged multiple hunger strikes to protest his treatment in prison.
HRANA reported on July 28, 2014, that after an eight-day hunger strike, Shojaei was transferred to the infirmary in Evin Prison.
On December 30, 2014, authorities announced that a Special Clerical Court had found Shojaei guilty of "propagating against the state," and "insulting the Supreme Leader," according to Saham News. The new charges were related to an interview he gave to the reformist Kaleme website and statements he made about the Special Clerical Court, which he said treated him cruelly and did not allow him medical treatment while trying him on the original charges.
He was sentenced to an additional four years in prison, 50 lashes, 800,000 toman (about US$260) fine, and permanent defrocking. It was not clear when the sentence was handed down in court.
Abdi was one of at least 30 members of the religious minority Gonabadi dervishes who were arrested after a confrontation with plainclothes agents in the town of Kavar in Fars province, a spokesman for the group told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Among the detainees were journalists affiliated with Majzooban-e-Noor, a website that reports news about the Gonabadi dervish community, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the reformist news website Rooz Online. The Majzooban-e-Noor website listed the journalist detainees as Mostafa Daneshjoo, Afshin Karampour, Reza Entessari, Salehoddin Moradi, and Farshid Yadollahi as directors, and Omid Behrouzi and Amir Eslami as editors. Abdi is listed on the site as a reporter.
The journalists are also lawyers who have represented Gonabadi dervishes in recent years. On January 15, 2013, the journalists refused to attend their trial, saying the Revolutionary Court was not qualified to hear their case, news reports said. The journalists were put in solitary confinement in Evin Prison and charged with "publishing falsehoods," "creating public anxiety," "propaganda against the state," and "acting against national security," according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Majzooban-e-Noor said agents had targeted the journalists in an effort to silence news coverage of the group. The wife of another Majzooban-e-Noor journalist told the campaign that her husband and his colleagues had established the website so that "people would know what is happening to the dervishes." She said the charges against the journalists were unfounded.
In July 2013, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced the journalists to three to 10 years each in prison on charges of "forming the illegal Majzooban-e-Noor group with the intent to disrupt national security," "propaganda against the state," "insulting the Supreme Leader," and "participation in disrupting public order," according to news reports. The journalists again refused to appear in court.
Moradi was given 10 years and six months in prison, and Entessari was given eight years and six months, according to news reports. Daneshjoo, Yadollahi, Eslami, Behrouzi, and Karampour were sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. The journalists were also banned for five years from "membership in groups, parties, sects, and activities in publications, media, and virtual space."
Abdi was given three years in prison. Farhad Nouri, editor of Majzooban-e-Noor, told CPJ in late 2014 that Abdi was still being held in Evin Prison. It is unclear why authorities were still holding him.
Security forces arrested Madani, a former editorial board member of the long-defunct Iran-e-Farda magazine and the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly Refah-e-Ejtemaee (Journal of Social Welfare), and confiscated a computer hard drive from his home, news reports said.
The journalist was placed in solitary confinement after his arrest, Madani's wife, Mansoureh Ettefagh, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in March 2012. She also said their family had not been told of his condition in prison. The reformist news website Kaleme reported that Madani had been subjected to violent interrogations.
Madani faced trial on January 16, 2013, at a Tehran Revolutionary Court on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion," and offered a statement in his own defense, news reports said.
Madani's wife told Kaleme in June 2013 that a Tehran Revolutionary Court had sentenced Madani to six years in prison in the southern city of Bandar Abbas and 10 years' exile to the same city on charges of "assembly and collusion with the intent to commit a crime against national security" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic to benefit regime opposition groups." An appeals court upheld Madani's sentence on February 19, 2014, according to the BBC's Persian service.
In October 2015, the Supreme Court refused to grant Madani a retrial, his wife told ICHRI. The journalist's retrial request was based on the fact that if the charges had been combined in one prosecution, he would have been released under Article 134 of Iran's new penal code, under which a defendant should not serve more than the maximum punishment for the charge with the heaviest sentence, his wife said. Madani was sentenced on multiple charges.
Madani's wife said the journalist had been denied furlough during his more than five years in prison, the ICHRI reported.
Intelligence forces arrested Khosrow Kordpour, editor-in-chief of the Mukrian News Agency, an outlet that covers the arrests and prosecutions of Kurdish activists and documents human rights violations. The U.S. government-funded Radio Farda reported that authorities had a warrant for his arrest and also searched his home, but did not offer further details.
Kordpour's brother, freelance journalist Massoud Kordpour, was arrested at the Boukan Intelligence Office the next day when he went to inquire about the imprisonment of his brother. Authorities later searched his home and confiscated personal items. Massoud Kordpour had frequently covered human rights in Kurdistan province, and his work has been published by RFI Persian, Deutsche Welle Persian, Voice of America Persian, and on local and Kurdish-language websites.
Massoud was initially held in solitary confinement before being transferred to Mahabad Prison in Azerbaijan province. Both journalists were then transferred to Orumiyeh Prison on March 26, 2013, according to the Kurdish news website Kurdpa and Radio Zamaneh.
Neither journalist has been allowed access to his lawyer or family members, according to the independent press service Human Rights Activist News Agency. Another brother, As'ad, told Kurdpa on April 11, 2013, that a judge had forbidden the journalists' family to visit the brothers.
The brothers were taken to court on September 16, 2013, and officially charged with "propaganda against the regime," "insulting the supreme leader," and "publishing falsehoods with the intent to create public anxiety," according to the Mukrian News Agency. The judge did not issue a decision on the defense lawyer's request to release the journalists on bail. Massoud and Khosrow Kordpour were sent back to prison.
Khosrow was sentenced to five years of prison in exile in Tabriz prison for "assembly and collusion," and one year in prison and two years of exile for "propagating against the state." Massoud was sentenced to three years for "assembly and collusion against national security" and six months for "propagating against the state."
In 2014, an appellate court reduced Massoud's sentence to three years in prison and Khosrow's to five years in prison, including two years of imprisonment in exile in Tabriz prison.
Khosrow Kordpour was transferred to Tabriz Prison on March 19, 2014, according to Radio Zamaneh, and he was deniedfurlough, according to HRANA. Massoud Kordpour was allowed a short furlough in August 2014, according to HRANA.
Razavi Faghih, a journalist for several reformist publications, was arrested on March 6, 2014, to begin serving a one-year prison term he was given in 2009. He had been convicted in absentia of "propagating against the regime" for unspecified "security crimes," according to news reports citing the Iranian judiciary. Iranian authorities never disclosed the basis of the charges.
Razavi Faghih wrote for several reformist publications, including Sobh-e Emrooz, Bahar, Doran-e Emrooz, and Vaghaye Etefaghieh, and the English-language news website Rooz Online. He lived in Paris, but frequently traveled to Iran. He was arrested at Tehran's Khomeini International Airport in March 2014.
The week before his 2014 arrest, he made a speech to a gathering of reformists in the city of Hamedan in which he criticized "the Guardian Council, Assembly of Experts, the Parliament and some state leaders," according to the official IRNA news agency, Radio Farda and VOA Persian.
In March 2015, after his one-year term was completed, Iranian authorities refused to release the journalist, telling his brother that he was facing new, unspecified charges, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
In September 2015, while Razavi Faghih was still held in Rajaee Shahr Prison, he was sentenced to an additional three and a half years in prison. Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court convicted him of "insulting the Supreme Leader" and "propagating against the state" in connection with his February 2014 speech.
The journalist was transferred to Imam Khomeini hospital for heart surgery in February 2015 but was taken back to prison a few days later, according to ICHRI. In September 2015, he began refusing to take any food or liquids in protest of not receiving adequate medical attention for his heart condition. Two days later, prison authorities took him to the hospital and he ended his strike, according to reports.
In September 2015, ICHRI reported that Razavi Faghih's family was not able to visit for months and that his brother was told that the journalist had been barred from having visitors.
Razavi Faghih was not included in CPJ's 2014 prison census because he was out on furlough on December 1, 2014.
Mirdamadi has been held in solitary confinement in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards' Ward 2-A at Evin Prison since his arrest on May 10, 2014, according to news reports. On July 27, 2014, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security," according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The journalist had appealed the conviction, Mirdamadi's lawyer told the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency on October 7, 2014, but no date had been set to hear the appeal.
Mirdamadi had worked for now-defunct reformist newspapers such as Toos and Hayat-e No, according to the reformist news website Kaleme. He left Iran after the disputed 2009 presidential election, but wrote for the reformist news outlet Radio Zamaneh, which is based in Amsterdam, and had also given guest interviews to Farsi media outside Iran, according to Radio Farda. In his work, Mirdamadi criticized the views and policies of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
He returned to Iran shortly after the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013. Mirdamadi was summoned and interrogated several times before he was eventually arrested. News accounts did not specify which of his stories had led to the charges.
Mirdamadi is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war. He suffers from neck pain and was hospitalized on May 12, 2015. According to Saham News, Mirdamadi had surgery to remove a metal fragment from his neck on May 23, 2015.
On July 27, 2015, the journalist was granted a five-day furlough to spend time with his family. Mirdamadi's wife and children had traveled to Iran from France to visit him, according to local media.
Rezaian, correspondent for the U.S.-based Washington Post, was arrested in Tehran along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a journalist for the UAE's National newspaper, according to news reports. Rezaian, a U.S. citizen, and Salehi were arrested after their Tehran home was raided by security forces who confiscated their personal belongings, including laptops, books, and notes, news reports said. The Washington Post reported on October 6 that Salehi had been freed the week before.
Before becoming The Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, Rezaian was a freelance reporter who wrote for publications outside Iran including the San Francisco Chronicle and Slate.
On May 26, 2015, Rezaian was tried in Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The charges against him included espionage, "collaborating with hostile governments," "propaganda against the establishment," and allegations that he gathered information "about internal and foreign policy," The Washington Post reported. His case file presented no evidence to justify the charges, according to a statement from Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, the Post reported.
After four closed-door hearings, Rezaian's trial concluded on August 10, 2015. In speaking to reporters after the trial, Ahsan said Iranian law required the verdict to be issued in a week.
On October 12, 2015, Iranian media cited Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, a spokesman for Tehran's Revolutionary Court, as saying that Rezaian had been convicted, according to the Post. Ejei did not specify the charges or whether a sentence had been given, the Post said.
In late 2014, Rezaian's brother, Ali, told CPJ that the journalist had been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest, which had taken a toll on his mental and physical health. He was moved out of solitary in January 2015, his brother told The New York Times. Rezaian, who has high blood pressure, had developed problems with his eyes and other body pains.
The journalist was being held in Evin Prison, according to news reports.
The Iranian journalist and blogger Pourheydar was arrested in Tehran on January 4, 2015, about a month after he returned to Iran from the U.S., where he was living.
Pourheydar has written for numerous reformist outlets, including the dailies Hambastegi, Mardomsalari, and Sobh-e Emrooz and online website Radio Zamaneh and has given interviews to foreign-based media, including BBC Persian, Voice of America, and Radio Farda, in which he is referred to as a journalist.
In December 2010, Pourheydar left Iran and migrated to the U.S. In May 2011, he gave an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about abuse and torture that he had undergone and witnessed as an imprisoned journalist in Iran. He also recorded testimony for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in which he described the pressures he and other Iranian journalists faced, preventing them from reporting to the outside world what was taking place in the country.
Pourheydar returned to Iran in late 2014 and was arrested on January 4, 2015. He was charged with "propagating against the state," "insulting the supreme leader," and "publishing falsehood in cyber space." On August 3, 2015, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Pourheydar to five years in prison.
Iranian authorities have not revealed what alleged wrongdoing led to Pourheydar's arrest and conviction. However, Firouzeh Ramezanzade, his former wife, told CPJ she believes the charges stem from the interviews he gave to human rights organizations and Persian media in which he criticized the Iranian government.
Pourheydar was first held at Evin Prison and later transferred to Rajaee Shahr prison. He appealed the 2015 conviction. The appeals court had not issued a ruling by late 2015, according to news reports.
After Iran's contested presidential election in 2009, Pourheydar was arrested twice. In 2010, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to a five-year suspended prison term for "assembly and collusion with the intent to commit crimes against national security," according to reports.
Farghadani was arrested on January 10, 2015, after she published a YouTube video in which she said that while she was jailed for three months in Evin Prison, female agents had mistreated her. She said that she was stripped and forced to submit to a nude search. In the video, Farghadani also said that cameras were present in the restrooms and shower of Evin Prison.
Farghadani had been imprisoned from August 2014 until November 2014 after she drew a cartoon of members of the Iranian parliament, depicting them as monkeys and cows over their vote to restrict contraception and ban some birth-control methods. She posted the cartoon on her Facebook page.
In February 2015, Farghadani began a hunger strike to protest the poor conditions at Gharchak Prison in the city of Varamin, which does not have a section for political prisoners. Her health suffered considerably. Her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, told the human rights group Amnesty International that Farghadani had a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness.
In June 2015, Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for "insulting parliament members," "insulting the supreme leader," "spreading propaganda against the system," and "gathering and colluding against national security" in connection with the video and the cartoon. She appealed the sentence, reports said.
After her trial, Moghimi and Farghadani were both charged with "illegitimate sexual relations short of adultery" after the two shook hands in prison after her trial. They were tried behind closed doors in October 2015, according to news reports. No verdict had been issued in late 2015.
Cartoonists Rights Network International awarded its 2015 Courage in Editorial Cartooning to Farghadani. In September 2015, she waged another hunger strike, saying prison officials and guards verbally abuse her with sexual slurs and insults.
Mehregan was arrested on August 26, 2015, at the Passport Office in Tehran and was sent to Evin Prison to begin serving a one-year prison sentence he was given in 2012. He was convicted of "propagating against the state" and sentenced to one year in prison and a five-year ban from "journalistic, political, cultural or cyber activities."
In a Facebook post on August 26, 2015, Mehregan's wife, Afsaneh Parchekani, wrote that the journalist's 2012 conviction was in connection with his work as the political editor of the reformist daily Sharq. In December 2010, Mehregan and several other journalists were arrested at Sharq headquarters. Following Iran's disputed presidential election in June 2009, many opposition newspapers had shut down. On the day that Sharq was raided, the newspaper published a special section called "The Student Movement is Alive."
Mehregan has been briefly imprisoned several times in the past few years. He was also arrested in June 2013 after he attended the funeral of Hoda Saber, a jailed Iranian journalist and activist who died of a heart attack after a hunger strike in Evin Prison. In December 2009, when Mehregan was the political editor of the reformist daily Etemad, he was arrested and held for one month after he discussed the government's press policies in an interview with Deutsche Welle's Persian service. He was released on bail.
It is not clear if Mehregan is appealing the conviction.
Sheikh Aghaei, cartoonist and editor of the Kurdish news website Ruwange, was arrested at work in the northwestern city of Mahabad on October 7, 2015, and taken to an undisclosed location, according to the website Mukrian News.
Ruwange covers regional news, including political and social issues, with a special focus on issues of concern to Kurdish Iranians. Some of its reports include a story citing official numbers on how 10 million people in rural Iran are unemployed; a story about Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's speech in late 2015 in which he said dialogue and negotiations with the U.S. are banned; and a story about a Kurdish-Iranian photographer who won an award in the U.S.
According to news reports, Yones Ghorbanifar, another member of Ruwange's editorial board, was arrested on the same day, but released hours later. After the arrests, Ruwange's editorial board said it "no longer had control over the site" and would not be responsible for material that was published on the website.
As of late 2015, the website was still available, but the last story was published on October 7, 2015, the day Sheikh Aghaei was arrested.
According to Mukrian News, judicial and security authorities in Mahabad refused to tell the journalist's family where he had been taken. The authorities did not disclose the reason for the journalist's arrest to his family.
According to news reports, in 2009 Sheikh Aghaei worked for presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign. He was arrested on July 18, 2009, and released shortly after, according to Radio Farda. Although the authorities did not disclose their reasons for the 2009 arrest, his family told journalists at the time that they suspected it was because of Sheikh Aghaei's work in Mousavi's campaign.
On November 3, 2015, local media outlets with close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported that five local journalists had been arrested for being part of an "infiltration network" with links to Western countries. The news website Rah-e Dana quoted an unspecified source in identifying one of the journalists as Ehsan Mazandarani.
Mazandarani, reporter and publisher of the newspaper Farhikhtegan, was arrested at his home. An unidentified reporter at Farhikhtegan, in an interview with ICHRI, speculated that Mazandarani was arrested because of a post on his Instagram page. On October 31, 2015, Mazandarani published a photo of the cover story of Vatan-e Emrooz newspaper, called "Cracking the Mystery of an Armed Quarrel in Yaser," about a disagreement between the son of a former warden of Evin Prison and a bodyguard for the former Iranian president. Mazandarani challenged Vatan-e-Emrooz's story in his Instagram post and said Ehsan Lajavardi, the son of the warden, was to blame for the incident.
Ehsan Mazandarni was also arrested in 2009, following Iran's disputed presidential election. At the time, he was working for the reformist Etemad newspaper. Mazandarani was released three weeks later after posting bond. While the charges against him were never revealed, at the time, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence announced most arrested journalists were accused of "connection with foreigners."
Iranian officials have not publicly disclosed Mazandarani's health status, location, or any charges against him.
Saharkhiz a prominent Iranian journalist, was arrested on November 2, 2015, for "insulting the supreme leader," and "propaganda against the regime," according to his Facebook page. CPJ was unable to determine who wrote the post.
The next day, local media outlets with close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported that five local journalists had been arrested for being part of an "infiltration network" with links to Western countries. The news website Rah-e-Dana quoted an unspecified source in identifying one of the journalists as Issa Saharkhiz.
Iranian authorities did not disclose a reason for the arrest.
The day before his arrest, Saharkhiz had published a Facebook post in which he accused a representative of the Supreme Leader as attempting to interfere in the Iran's coming elections.
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on the day of the arrest, Mehdi, Saharkhiz' son said that all of his father's activities had been legal. "Since two years ago, when my father was released from prison he has just continued giving interviews to media outlets and posts his personal opinions on Facebook," Mehdi said. "Beside these activities, he has not done anything else. The Supreme Leader has a personal vendetta against my father because he dares to criticize him."
Saharkhiz, who previously served as deputy minister of culture, was imprisoned from 2009 to 2013 on charges of "insulting the supreme leader" and "propagating against the state." He has a number of serious health issues, including heart problems, and spent part of his last sentence in a hospital, according to local news reports.
Intelligence officers of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arrested Chitsaz, a columnist for Iran, a popular state newspaper affiliated with Iran's official news agency, on November 2, 2015, according to local news reports. The next day, local media outlets with close ties to the IRGC reported that five local journalists had been arrested for being part of an "infiltration network" with links to Western countries. Saham News, a news website with close ties to detained opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi, reported that Chitsaz was one of the five journalists.
Chitsaz is a former actress and costume designer. She began working as a journalist in recent years and mostly covered foreign policy stories. Saham News reported that she was closely associated with high-profile officials in President Hassan Rouhani's government, but did not elaborate.
Iranian authorities have not disclosed Chitsaz's health status, whereabouts, or any charges against her.
Intelligence officers of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arrested Safarzaee, a reporter for the monthly Andisheh Pouya, on November 2, 2015, local media reported. The next day, local media outlets with close ties to the IRGC reported that five local journalists had been arrested for being part of an "infiltration network" with links to Western countries. Saham News, a news website with close ties to detained opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi, reported that Safarzaee was one of the five journalists.
Safarzaee worked on Andisheh Pouya's international desk and often "interviewed many foreign experts and international politicians," according to Saham News.
Iranian authorities have not disclosed Safarzaee's whereabouts, health status, or any charges against him.
Security agents arrested Heydari, the artistic director of the reformist-leaning daily Shahrvand, at the newspaper's offices in Tehran, according to local news reports. Shahrvand is owned by the relief organization Red Crescent Society.
The allegations against Heydari, 38, are unclear, and the agents who arrested him did not provide a reason for the arrest, according to news reports. Heydari's lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, in an interview with the Tansim news agency, said he was unaware why his client had been arrested. "I haven't had any contact with him since his arrest," Nikbakht said. "Judicial authorities must provide explanation."
Heydari, a cartoonist, has worked for the news outlets Mosharekat, Etemad-e Meli, Bahar, Eghbal and Etefaghiyeh, according to Saham News. His work has been published in international outlets such as Politico and Le Figaro. The last cartoon published before his arrest was about the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, in Shahrvand.
In September 2012, a controversial cartoon by Heydari called "Blindfolding" was published in the daily Sharq. The next day, the newspaper was banned. Critics accused Heydari of insulting Iran-Iraq War veterans by depicting them as entering the eight-year war with Iraq wearing blindfolds. Heydari was summoned to court and denied the cartoon had any link to the war. Both Heydari and Sharq were acquitted of the charges on December 29, 2012, and the newspaper resumed publication.
Heydari was also detained for two weeks in 2009 following Iran's disputed presidential election. He was arrested again in December 2010 on charges of "propaganda against the state." He was released two months later on a 500-million-toman bail (about US$15,000). It is not clear if a trial took place.
The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency reported that Heydari is being held in Evin Prison.
Ali Aliwiwe, the host of an evening news program on Palestinian Radio 4, was arrested by Israeli security forces in an early morning raid at his home in the city of Hebron shortly after he returned from work, according to his outlet.
Raed al-Atrash, the head of national and political programs at the outlet, told CPJ that Aliwiwe was put in administrative detention in Ofer prison, southwest of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times.
The arrest came less than a month after Aliwiwe was released after spending six months in administrative detention, his outlet said.
Al-Atrash said the reason for Aliwiwe's latest arrest was unknown. Aliwiwe had been questioned about his work for the station during his previous detention and an intelligence officer warned Aliwiwe against using his work at the station to incite violence, according to Al-Atrash.
Aliwiwe's arrest came during a particularly tense period, amid a wave of Israeli soldiers and civilians being stabbed by Palestinians, and Israel shooting assailants, alleged assailants, and protesters. On November 2, 2015, two weeks after Aliwiwe's arrest, Israeli forces raided and shut down another Palestinian radio station, Minbar al-Huriya, accusing it of inciting violence, according to news reports. As of late 2015, Radio 4 continued to broadcast from its headquarters in Hebron.
In response to CPJ's questions about Aliwiwe and the raid on Minbar al-Huriya, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces provided a statement on November 11, 2015, that read: "Incitement has been core in aggravation, encouraging and celebration of the recent wave of terror." The statement accused Minbar al-Huriya of glorifying the stabbing attacks and reporting falsified accounts of Israeli forces killing and kidnapping Palestinians to provoke further violence. The Israel Defense Forces did not provide specific examples of incitement by Minbar al-Huriya despite CPJ's request. The Israel Defense Forces referred questions concerning Aliwiwe to the prime minister's office. As of late 2015, CPJ had not received a response.
Al-Atrash denied to CPJ that Aliwiwe or any of his colleagues at Radio 4 incited listeners to violence, saying, "We are a neutral party transmitting the suffering of our people without incitement."
CPJ was not able to review Aliwiwe's radio broadcasts. On his Facebook account, which Aliwiwe used to solicit and disseminate information for and about his broadcast, Aliwiwe reported closely on the unfolding violence in the weeks before his arrest. In his social media posts, reviewed by CPJ, Aliwiwe accused Israeli forces of "executing" Palestinians "in cold blood" on the pretext that they had attempted to carry out stabbings, and shared interviews conducted by his station with families of killed Palestinians. In a post the night of his arrest, Aliwiwe shared his station's report about an Israeli settler who was run over by a Palestinian driver and killed.
A court on January 7, 2013, convicted al-Harbi, a columnist for the local independent news website Sabr, on insult charges in connection with a series of tweets and retweets on his personal Twitter account, starting in October 2012, in which he criticized the government and called on authorities to stop oppressing Kuwaiti citizens, according to news reports. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment under Article 25 of the Kuwaiti penal code, which outlaws public criticism of the "rights and authority of the emir" and finding fault in him, news reports said. He was taken into custody immediately.
In May 2013, an appeals court suspended al-Harbi's sentence pending a constitutional challenge to Article 25 and he was released on bail, news reports said. Two months later, Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, issued a pardon for those sentenced to jail terms for insulting him. The pardon was in commemoration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On December 2, 2013, Kuwait's Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of Article 25 and said that Article 54 of the constitution, which states that the emir is "immune and inviolable," proved that "it is not acceptable that the highest position in the country should be treated like other individuals," according to news reports.
After the Constitutional Court's decision, an appeals court on May 22, 2014, upheld the original two-year sentence for al-Harbi, news reports said. He was arrested on October 22, 2014, and taken to Central Prison, southwest of Kuwait City, his newspaper reported.
Al-Harbi wrote opinion pieces for Sabr, which publishes news and commentary. He wrote extensively about local issues, including corruption and freedom of speech, in the run-up to the December 2012 parliamentary election. He has also written articles that called on the Shia minority to revolt against corruption and criticized the government's attitudes on freedom of speech and women's rights.
On October 28, 2014, al-Harbi was beaten and left in a prison corridor with his hands and feet bound for hours, according to his lawyer, al-Humaidi al-Subaie, and Sabr. His mistreatment set off an outcry on social media, with Kuwaitis tweeting under Arabic hashtags that translate to "The torture of Ayad al-Harbi in Prison" and "The beating of Ayad al-Harbi." Sabr reported that al-Harbi's lawyer filed two official complaints, and the Ministry of Interior summoned two officers over the beating.
Kuwait's highest court, the Court of Cassation, upheld al-Harbi's sentence on April 5, 2015, Sabr reported.
Five years after sentencing Azimjon Askarov to life in prison, Kyrgyzstan continues to resist international calls for his release or to review his case. In July 2015, Kyrgyz authorities publicly lashed out at the U.S. Department of State's decision to give its Human Rights Defenders' Award to Askarov, and terminated a 1993 cooperation agreement with the U.S.
In September 2015, Kyrgyz authorities barred Karim Lahidji, head of the International Federation for Human Rights, and other members of the Paris-based organization from visiting Askarov in jail, news reports said.
Askarov, a contributor to independent news websites including Voice of Freedom and director of the local human rights group Vozdukh (Air), was convicted in September 2010 on charges that included incitement to ethnic hatred and complicity in the murder of a police officer. The charges were filed amid ethnic violence that swept southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, was documenting human rights violations in his hometown of Bazar-Korgon during the unrest.
A June 2012 CPJ special report based on interviews with Askarov, his lawyers, and defense witnesses, as well as a review of court documents, found that authorities had retaliated against Askarov for his reporting on corrupt and abusive practices among regional police and prosecutors. Askarov told CPJ that authorities had long threatened to retaliate against him. Askarov had exposed fabricated criminal cases, arbitrary detentions, and the rape and abusive treatment of detainees in his native Jalal-Abad region.
Authorities accused Askarov of inciting a crowd to kill a Kyrgyz police officer, a case built on the testimony of other officers who claimed the journalist had made provocative remarks. No witness testified to having observed the murder or having seen Askarov participate in any act of violence.
During the trial, Askarov and his lawyer were assaulted, and people who could have provided exculpatory testimony, including his wife and neighbors, were ignored by authorities or too frightened to testify, according to news reports.
Authorities accused Askarov of urging another crowd to take a mayor hostage, although the journalist says no hostage-taking ever took place, and claimed to have found 10 bullets when they searched Askarov's home. The defense disputed the legitimacy of the evidence, noting that investigators had failed to produce witnesses to the search, a step required under Kyrgyz law.
Investigations conducted by Human Rights Watch and an independent international commission set up to investigate events in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 found ethnic Uzbeks were disproportionately targeted for arrest and imprisonment after the unrest. In Askarov's hometown, 19 people died and more than 400 buildings were burned down, but he was the only person convicted, according to local human rights defenders.
A physician hired by the defense team examined Askarov in jail in December 2011 and concluded that he suffered severe and lasting effects from brutality. Askarov told CPJ that he was beaten with a gun, a baton, and a plastic bottle filled with water, once so badly that he lost consciousness.
Askarov's imprisonment has been challenged by the Kyrgyz government's human rights ombudsman and members of the U.N. Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev publicly pledged in December 2012 to review the case if new evidence emerged, but prosecutors failed to pursue leads provided by Askarov's lawyers and CPJ. In November 2012, CPJ honored Askarov in absentia with its International Press Freedom Award.
CPJ submitted a report on Kyrgyzstan's press freedom record, which included Askarov's case, to the U.N. Human Rights Committee in March 2014. In October 2015, CPJ called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the release of Askarov during his visit to the country.
In a July 2014 meeting in Washington, CPJ asked Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova to reopen Askarov's case based on the statements made by defense witnesses. Salyanova told CPJ that prosecutors had declared the statements unfounded and that no corruption had been found in Askarov's case. In September 2014, a judge denied attempts by Askarov's lawyer to have the case reopened, regional press said.
Askarov is being held at a prison colony outside Bishkek, his lawyer told CPJ. Askarov is suffering from hypertension and other unspecified health conditions, Sherzod Askarov, the journalist's son, told CPJ in July.
Mohamed, a blogger and freelance journalist, was sentenced to death on apostasy charges on December 24, 2014, according to news reports. He was arrested almost a year earlier, on January 2, 2014, in his home in the city of Nouadhibou in connection with an article he wrote that was published on the news website Aqlame on December 31, 2013.
The article, called "Religion, religiosity and craftsmen," criticized Mauritania's caste system, an extremely delicate subject, and said that followers of Islam interpreted the religion according to circumstance, Reuters reported.
Mohamed has frequently written articles for news websites that criticize Islamic religious beliefs and conservative practices in Mauritania. He was charged under Article 306 of the Mauritanian criminal code, according to news reports.
The editor of Aqlame, Riad Ould Ahmed, took down the article from the website and issued a statement on January 4, 2014, saying it had been posted accidentally.
A few days after the death sentence was issued, Mauritania's ambassador to the United Nations said in reply to a statement by the International Humanist and Ethical Union that Mohamed had been imprisoned for his own safety in addition to violating the country's laws. Groups of people had called for his death in public protests in Mauritania after his article's publication, according to news reports.
Local news reports said the trial was attended by several religious leaders who insisted on monitoring the proceedings to ensure Shariah law was carried out. When the defendant was brought to court, some in the crowd celebrated by cheering "Allahu Akbar," the reports said. After the 48-hour trial ended with the death sentence, crowds appeared on the streets to celebrate the verdict.
According to Article 306 of the Mauritanian penal code, Muslims convicted of apostasy can have their sentences amended if they repent within three days of being sentenced. Mohamed's lawyers filed an appeal with the court, saying he had repented within the required time frame, according to news reports. His sentence has not been amended, the lawyers said. The last time Mauritania applied the death penalty was in 1987, news reports said.
No date has been scheduled for the sentence to be carried out. Nasser Weddady, a Mauritanian-American activist and regional expert, told CPJ he does not expect the sentence to be carried out, but is concerned that Mohamed could be kept in jail because the government knows that "if they release him, he will be killed."
On January 11, 2014, Mohamed issued a statement from prison denying that he intended to insult the prophet. In February, his lawyer told journalists that Mohamed had been placed in solitary confinement, according to news reports.
In March 2015, dozens of human rights groups signed a joint statement demanding Mohamed's release.
Mohamed was being held in the central prison of Nouadhibou city, according to news reports.
At least 10 police officers raided Mansouri's home in the Agdal neighborhood of the capital, Rabat, and arrested him on March 17, 2015, according to news reports. Police beat and stripped him and did not give a reason for his arrest.
Mansouri is a journalist and press advocate who works as a project manager with the Rabat-based Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), which supports journalists working on sensitive or taboo issues in the country. During his trial, he told the court that before his arrest he was investigating allegations that Moroccan authorities were conducting Internet surveillance of activists and journalists, Samad Iach, Mansouri's colleague at AMJI, told CPJ.
Mansouri was tried on charges of adultery and starting a brothel. On March 30, 2015, a Rabat court convicted him of adultery and sentenced him to 10 months in prison and a fine of US$4,340, news reports said. An appeals court upheld the sentence on May 27, 2015.
Iach, and Mansouri's lawyer, Abdelaziz Noueydi, told CPJ that Mansouri had been targeted by Moroccan authorities to punish him for his work. Noueydi told CPJ that charges of adultery have been used by authorities in the past to tarnish the reputations of journalists and government critics.
Noueydi said that Mansouri's arrest was based on a police report issued on February 10, 2015, a copy of which CPJ obtained, that claimed his doorman and neighbors had reported he was using his apartment for prostitution. In March, the doorman and 14 of the 17 neighbors listed in the report made statements to the court denying they ever made the claim, Maati Monjib, head of Freedom Now, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that defends prisoners of conscience, told CPJ. Noueydi said that based on the court testimony, the brothel charge against Mansouri was dropped.
Mansouri was arrested with a woman whom news reports later identified as a romantic partner. Police said they caught the journalist naked, but Noueydi told CPJ that security forces had stripped the journalist during the arrest to make it seem as if he were engaged in adultery. Adultery is a criminal offense under Morocco's penal code and is punishable by up to a year in prison.
The journalist faces a separate trial, along with six other journalists and human rights workers, on charges of threatening state security in relation to his work as a journalist and press freedom advocate, according to CPJ research and news reports. If convicted, he could face an additional sentence of up to five years in prison.
Mansouri began waging a hunger strike in prison on September 30, 2015, to protest prison authorities' refusal to allow him medical treatment for persistent problems with his teeth, according to news reports. He was being held in Zaki prison in the city of Sale.
Naing, Kyaw, Soe, and Oo were detained by police within a week of Unity's publishing an exposé on its front page alleging that chemical weapons were being produced at a secret military facility in Myanmar's central Magwe division. All four journalists, as well as the weekly news journal's chief executive, San, were held in pretrial detention.
On July 10, 2014, the Pakokku Township Court sentenced all five to 10 years' imprisonment with hard labor under the 1923 Official Secrets Act, which criminalizes acts deemed prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state. The anti-state charges of divulging state secrets and trespassing were filed and prosecuted by the President's Office. The publication closed by July 2014 for financial reasons after the arrest of San, according to reports.
The January 25, 2014, story quoted villagers as saying that the 3,000-acre complex was used for the production of chemical weapons and that technicians who appeared to be Chinese were frequently seen there. The report claimed that several senior military members, including former junta leader Senior General Than Shwe and current Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, had visited the secret facility.
On October 2, 2014, the Magwe Divisional Court reduced all five of their sentences to seven years with hard labor on appeal. On November 26, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal for acquittal by Naing, Kyaw, Soe, and Oo, according to news reports. On the same day, the court denied San's separate appeal for a reduction of his sentence to five years, reports said. A final appeal by all five for "special leave," the last possible appeal option under Myanmar law, was rejected by the Supreme Court on May 15, 2015, according to news reports.
All five were being held at Pakkoku Prison in late year. They are allowed regular visits from family and access to medicine, according to Thiha Saw, a member of the quasi-independent interim Press Council of Myanmar, who advocated their early release.
In January 2015, Reznik, a freelance reporter from southern Russia, was handed a three-year sentence on new charges of insult and misinformation while already serving a jail term handed down in November 2013, news reports said. His initial 18-month prison term on charges including insult, bribery, and deliberately misinforming authorities, was set to expire in May 2015.
Before he was jailed in November 2013, Reznik contributed reports to several regional news websites, including Yuzhnyi Federalnyi, and posted articles to his blog on the LiveJournal platform, according to news reports. His articles criticized municipal and regional authorities and alleged corruption and abuses, reports said.
The original charges against Reznik included allegations that he lied about threats against him. In October 2012, eight months after he reported the threats, he was attacked outside his apartment, according to reports.
In the latest case Reznik was convicted of fresh charges of insult and misleading authorities, and was sentenced by the Leninsky District Court in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, to three years in a prison colony, according to the regional press. The court banned Reznik from practicing journalism for two years after his release, reports said.
A statement about the latest verdict, released by the prosecutor general's office, said that in May 2013, while the earlier case was being investigated, Reznik made a statement that contained deliberately false information about a police agent who testified against him. Prosecutors said that from March 2012 to October 2013 Reznik "repeatedly published on the Internet articles of insulting character against the law enforcement agents of Rostov region, thus depicting his discontent with their fulfillment of duties."
According to Kavkazsky Uzel, the latest criminal case against the journalist was opened in July 2014, while Reznik was serving his first jail term. Russian authorities and news outlets did not specify which of Reznik's articles had spurred the complaint. The journalist denied the accusations in court and said his LiveJournal blog included contributions from other writers, his lawyers told CPJ.
The court began hearing the second case against Reznik in August 2014, but closed the proceedings to the public and press, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He was being held at a pretrial detention facility in Rostov-on-Don, his lawyers told CPJ in early 2015. It was not clear if Reznik was moved after he was sentenced.
The new prison term was reduced by one month on appeal and was set to include the time Reznik had already spent in jail. In May 2015, the journalist's lawyers said they would be appealing the verdict in higher courts, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel said. Galina Arapova, of the Russia-based group Mass Media Defense Center, told CPJ that in September, a regional court denied the appeal Reznik's lawyers filed the previous month. Arapova said that in October 2015, the journalist's lawyers filed his case with the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. CPJ was unable to determine Reznik's health.
Security forces arrested al-Salam, manager of the critical news website Al-Fajr Cultural Network, in the city of Jubail in connection with the site's coverage of pro-reform protests in Eastern Province, news outlets reported. Another site manager, Habib al-Maatiq, was arrested the previous day. The website posts videos from Shia leaders including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, as well as Saudi sheikhs.
According to a court indictment, the two were charged under Article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which prohibits the production, storage, and transmission of material on information networks that disturbs public order, as well as establishing a website without a license.
On December 23, 2013 al-Maatiq was sentenced to one year in prison for establishing a website without a license, and al-Salam to three years, news reports said. Two other individuals who were accused of contributing to Al-Fajr and social media outlets were also sentenced: a teacher, Reda al-Baharna, to one year, and an engineer, Montazer al-Aqili, to five years.
On March 4, 2014, news reports said the Specialized Criminal Court increased sentences on appeal to two years for al-Maatiq and five years for al-Salam, according to news reports. The sentence for al-Baharna was increased to three and a half years and for al-Aqili to seven. In a final appeal in June, al-Salam's sentence was increased yet again to six years and al-Aqili's to eight, news reports said.
Al-Maatiq was released on August 5, 2014, after completing his sentence, according to news reports. The director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Ali Adubisi, told CPJ that al-Salam was being held at the General Intelligence Prison in the city of Dammam.
The kingdom has obstructed coverage of Eastern Province protests, which call for political reforms and greater rights for the country's Shia minority, CPJ research shows. In the absence of independent reporting, coverage of the unrest was carried out by websites such as Al-Fajr Cultural Network.
Badawi, a blogger and the founder of an online discussion forum, was arrested by Saudi security forces in Jeddah on June 17, 2012, according to news reports. In July 2013, he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and 600 lashes on charges of defamation of religion. The sentence was increased on appeal in May 2014 to 10 years' imprisonment, 1,000 lashes, a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (approximately US$267,000), and a 10-year ban on travel and media activity to begin after his release.
The status of the case at the Saudi Supreme Court at the end of 2015 is unclear. On June 7, 2015, news reports said the court had upheld Badawi's sentence. But in August, Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haider, said that an official at the Saudi Ministry of Justice informed her that the court was reviewing the case again.
In January 2015, 50 of the 1,000 lashes had been carried out in one public session, but no additional sessions had taken place as of late 2015.
The charges stemmed from Badawi's long support for free discussion of liberal values in Saudi Arabia, a country founded upon a strict interpretation of Islam. In 2006, Badawi founded an online discussion forum called "Saudi Liberals." By 2008, the forum had grown to more than 1,000 registered members who regularly discussed religion and politics.
In March 2008, Badawi was temporarily detained and his website shut down; two months later, he fled the country, according to Human Rights Watch. But later that year, Badawi returned after prosecutors decided to not pursue charges.
In late 2008, Badawi and his partners upgraded the online forum and called it the Free Saudi Liberal Network, which garnered tens of thousands of registered members posting about religion and politics.
As influence of the forum grew, so did Badawi's presence in other media. He began writing columns for local websites including Al-Jazirah and Al-Bilad about the principles of secular, liberal thought and how to apply it to a Saudi context. In one article published in August 2010 for Al-Hewar al-Mutamaddin, an Arabic website for secular commentary, Badawi wrote "Freedom of expression is the air a thinker breathes, just as it is the fuel that lights the fire of his ideas." In one of the last articles for Al-Jazirah before his arrest, Badawi called on his readers not to blindly follow the Western model but to adopt the features of Saudi identity that are consistent with the "fundamental principles of liberalism."
According to English translations of court documents provided to CPJ by his family, Badawi received five years in prison for establishing the discussion forum and another five years for a series of Facebook posts the court deemed blasphemous. Only one of the discussion forum posts cited by the court was written by Badawi personally, according to the court documents.
CPJ did not previously include Badawi in its annual prison census, despite his arrest in 2012. As his case garnered increasing international attention, CPJ re-evaluated its decision in 2015. CPJ found that although Badawi's prosecution focused on the establishment of a discussion forum, his sentence was partially in retribution for his writing, which crossed many government red lines on religion and politics. In addition, the establishment of the online discussion forum filled a void in the public sphere where journalists would normally operate but are unable to under Saudi censorship.
Al-Safar, a photographer from Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, was arrested in July 2012, according to news reports. The government accused al-Safar of belonging to an 11-person terrorist cell, but it was not clear how the other defendants might have been connected.
On June 18, 2014, the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced al-Safar to seven years' imprisonment and a seven-year travel ban on charges of sending materials over the Internet that would harm the country's reputation, corresponding with a foreign journalist, and organizing protests, among other charges, news reports said. It is not clear which work of al-Safar's led to his conviction.
Al-Safar took pictures for the website Awamphoto, which also identifies him as Jassim al-Awami. The website features pictures of cultural and religious events and rallies from Awamia, a Shia-majority town that has witnessed significant opposition protests against the Sunni Saudi government in recent years. The website has also published photos of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia religious leader who was sentenced to death in October 2014 for "sowing discord" and "undermining national unity," according to news reports. Al-Nimr had strongly supported anti-government protests in the Eastern Province since 2011. His arrest in 2012, in which he was shot by Saudi security forces, set off a new wave of protests.
The director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Ali Adubisi, told CPJ that al-Safar was being held at the General Intelligence Prison in the city of Dammam. It was not clear in late 2015 whether al-Safar was appealing his conviction.
The Saudi Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on February 4, 2014, sentenced al-Ghazzawi, owner of the religious satellite broadcaster Al-Fajr Media Group, to 12 years in prison for "harming the nation's image," according to the official Saudi Press Agency and regional human rights groups.
The prison sentence included a five-year term under Article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which criminalizes the production of material impinging on public order and public morals, among other issues. The court also banned al-Ghazzawi for life from appearing on media outlets and forbade him to leave the country for 20 years.
The court said al-Ghazzawi had incited sedition and hurt the kingdom's reputation. Beginning in 2011, al-Ghazzawi hosted seven episodes of a show called "Fadfadah," in which he criticized the Saudi government and accused it of widespread corruption. In a few of the episodes, he also claimed that the kingdom had adopted a policy of slavery and that Al-Qaeda had been created by Saudi Arabia.
During the trial, al-Ghazzawi said his show was intended to educate Saudi citizens, and he repeated his belief that Al-Qaeda was a Saudi creation, according to news reports.
Al-Ghazzawi was also sentenced for receiving money from a hostile foreign power, the Saudi Press Agency reported. According to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, al-Ghazzawi was accused of taking approximately US$1.8 million from Libya's ousted leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Al-Ghazzawi said the money was payment for the channel's coverage of a Quran recitation contest.
Al-Ghazzawi, who managed Al-Fajr from Cairo, returned to Riyadh in November 2011 to help secure funding for his struggling station, he wrote in an extended statement posted to his Twitter account. In the statement, he accused Saudi officials of luring him back to the country under false pretenses of helping to financially secure his channel while in fact they intended to pressure it to close. He also said he was barred from leaving the country upon his return.
On August 10, 2012, he tweeted that he had been arrested. News reports said the arrest was related to the channel's inability to pay its debt. It was not clear when prosecutors turned their attention to the station's content and funding.
Over the next year, al-Ghazzawi's account remained active with tweets originating from users claiming to be a friend or employee and tweeting updates about his status in prison. On March 4, 2014, the account tweeted that al-Ghazzawi was in good health and had been transferred to a prison in Mecca.
In September 2015, colleagues operating al-Ghazzawi's Twitter account said he was waging a temporary hunger strike to protest conditions in the prison, including inadequate medical care.
The Saudi Specialized Criminal Court on May 6, 2014, sentenced al-Jamal to five years' imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 riyals (US$13,330), according to local news reports. Al-Jamal, a manager of the Al-Awamia news website, was convicted on charges of establishing a website that called for protests, disobeying the king, and disrupting public security.
Twelve days later, on May 18, 2014, al-Jamal was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence, news reports said. In September 2014, al-Jamal's supporters wrote on Facebook that he refused to go to court or cooperate further with the judicial system, which he believed was illegitimate.
The director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Ali Adubisi, told CPJ that al-Jamal was held at the General Intelligence Prison in the city of Dammam.
Al-Awamia covers pro-reform demonstrations in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province and was known for its criticism of the government, according to news reports. Al-Awamia was temporarily shut down after his arrest, the reports said. The kingdom has obstructed coverage of Eastern Province protests, which call for political reforms and greater rights for the country's Shia minority, CPJ research shows.
Saudi writer Zuhair Kutbi was arrested at his home in the city of Mecca on July 15, 2015, according to news reports. Mohamed Jameel, Kutbi's father, told CPJ that Kutbi was accused of inciting public opinion and offending symbols of the state, among other allegations.
According to the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Kutbi's trial on several charges, including verbally abusing public officials, calling for constitutional rule, and inciting public opinion, began on November 4, 2015 before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. The court was founded in 2008 to try terrorism cases but has since been used to prosecute journalists, human rights defenders, and dissidents. The outcome of the trial was pending as of late 2015.
Kutbi wrote regularly for the news website Makkah Online as well as his personal website, and often criticized the government in Saudi Arabia. He has published several books on topics encompassing politics, geography, history, and social and philosophical issues.
On June 22, 2015 he appeared as a guest on a talk show called "Fi Al-Sameem" (In Depth), which airs on the privately owned channel Rotana Khaleejia during the month of Ramadan. On the show, Kutbi criticized the country's National Dialogue as a waste of time and money, and said his remarks had been edited out of the broadcast of the most recent meeting. Participants of the National Dialogue gather once a year to discuss issues including reform, extremism, and national unity. Kutbi also criticized the government for not upholding promises of reform, as well as Saudi intellectuals for not pushing for reform stringently enough.
On July 2, 2015, two weeks before Kutbi's arrest, the government suspended "Fi Al-Sameem" on accusations that another guest insulted the recently deceased King Abdullah during a June 30, 2015 broadcast, according to news reports. It did not broadcast any new episodes through the end of Ramadan in mid-July.
Al-Dood, founder of the independent news website Al-Rakoba, was arrested from his home in the eastern Saudi city of Al-Khobar on July 23, according to a statement by Al-Rakoba and his brother, Hussein al-Hussein, who spoke to CPJ. Saudi security agents confiscated the journalist's laptop and passport and did not provide an explanation for the arrest or disclose any charges against him.
As of late 2015, Al-Dood was being held in Ma'aloumat Prison in the city of Dammam, near al-Khobar. He has been denied access to his lawyer, his brother said.
Al-Dood told his wife during a prison visit in August 2015 that Saudi authorities had told him he would be deported to Sudan, according to the journalist's brother. Al-Hussein told CPJ at the time that as far as he knew, no formal deportation order had been issued.
Al-Dood, a Sudanese citizen, has lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, his brother said. Al-Hussein and Al-Rakoba said al-Dood is a legal resident of Saudi Arabia and that his paperwork was in order. CPJ's calls and emails to the Saudi Embassy in Washington in September 2015 for comment about the case were not answered.
Al-Dood founded Al-Rakoba in 2005. The website, which is critical of the Sudanese government and covers issues such as government corruption and human rights abuses, publishes reports and editorials from Sudanese and international contributors. Sudanese authorities have blocked domestic access to Al-Rakoba several times over the years, according to al-Hussein and CPJ research.
Al-Hussein told CPJ that agents of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have threatened al-Dood for years. Al-Hussein said that NISS agents had told him that they would kill the journalist "if they get hold of him." He told CPJ that al-Dood had also received threatening messages directly from the NISS. The last time al-Dood was in Sudan was in 2008, for his wedding, but he had to cut his trip short and leave because of threats from security forces, his brother said.
Abdirashid, the chairman and a reporter for the independent newspaper Hubsad, and Said, a reporter for the paper, were arrested on November 30, 2015 on orders of the Somaliland Attorney General, according to reports.
Mustafe Mahdi, a lawyer for the two journalists, told CPJ the journalists, who also report for the independent BulshoTV station, were being detained at the Central Investigation Department in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and that they had not been charged. He said that police have said that the legality of the newspaper is under investigation, alleging that its transfer to new owners had not been registered.
BulshovTV managing director Ali Mohamed told CPJ that Hubsad had reported on allegations of local corruption, and that he believed these reports could be the reason for the arrests. He told CPJ that the journalists, who had reported for the paper under its previous ownership, were scheduled to appear in court in early December 2015.
The newspaper had been in operation under its new ownership for three days at the time of the arrests, according to news reports. Abdirashid and Said reported for it under the previous ownership. Somaliland has declared independence from Somalia but is not recognized internationally. Authorities in the semi-autonomous region have a record of harassing and detaining journalists and shutting down news outlets, CPJ research shows.
Al-Mallohi, a blogger, was detained in December 2009 after she was summoned for questioning by security officials, according to local rights groups. In February 2011, she was sentenced by a state security court to five years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets.
The private newspaper Al-Watan said in October 2010 that al-Mallohi was suspected of spying for the United States. But lawyers allowed into the closed court session said the judge "did not give evidence or details as to why she was convicted," the BBC reported. The U.S. State Department condemned the trial, saying in a statement that the allegations of espionage were baseless.
In October 2013, a Syrian court ordered al-Mallohi's release, news reports said. But the order was never carried out and she was transferred to the General Security Directorate in Damascus, according to Amnesty International and news reports. After several months, she was returned to Adra prison on the outskirts of Damascus, the reports said.
It is not clear why al-Mallohi remains in custody despite the court order for her release.
Al-Mallohi's blog was devoted to Palestinian rights and was critical of Israeli policies. It also discussed the frustrations of Arab citizens with their governments and what she perceived to be the stagnation of the Arab world. Al-Mallohi's case gained widespread attention in the Arab blogosphere, on social media websites, and with human rights activists worldwide.
Authorities in 2015 had still not disclosed a reason for al-Mallohi's continued detention.
Jamal, a contributor to local news websites, was detained at a Damascus café along with several human rights activists, according to local news websites. Jamal also aggregated news stories for dissemination to international outlets.
In May 2012, Jamal's case was transferred to a military court, according to news reports. He waged a hunger strike that month to protest his detention, reports said. Authorities had not disclosed any other information about Jamal's legal status, whereabouts, or well-being in late 2015.
Jamal had been arrested several times previously, including once in October 2011 when he was detained along with Sean McAllister, a British reporter working for the U.K.'s Channel 4. Local news websites said his repeated arrests stemmed from his reporting on human rights abuses and the popular uprising.
Othman, who ran a makeshift media center in the besieged Baba Amr district of Homs, was initially held by a military intelligence unit in Aleppo and then transferred to Damascus, Paul Conroy, a photographer for The Sunday Times, said in an interview with the U.K.'s Channel 4.
Conroy, who was injured in the government attack on the Baba Amr media center that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, said Othman was instrumental in getting journalists in and out of the embattled district. He said Othman, originally a vegetable vendor, was one of the first Syrians to use video to document the unrest in Homs. Citizen journalists such as Othman filled the information void as the Syrian regime barred international journalists from entering the country to cover the civil war, CPJ research shows.
Authorities had not disclosed information on Othman's health, whereabouts, or legal status as of late 2015.
International reporters and diplomats, including U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, have expressed concern that Othman has been tortured while in custody, according to news reports. Othman appeared on Syrian state television in May 2012 for what the station described as an interview. The questioning was aimed at asserting a theory of an international media conspiracy against the Syrian regime.
Al-Habaly, a Syrian freelance photojournalist, was arrested as he crossed from Lebanon back to Syria, according to his friends and colleagues.
Al-Habaly's work is featured in several shorts for the Abounaddara Collective, a group of anonymous filmmakers that published short clips on the Syrian conflict once a week since 2011, a representative of the group told CPJ.
A Facebook user posted in September 2012 that he had seen al-Habaly while being held in the military security branch in Homs. Amnesty International reported in October 2012 that an unidentified source told al-Habaly's family he had been transferred to the military intelligence branch in Damascus.
A Syrian lawyer, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, told CPJ in August 2014 that al-Habaly had been referred to a military field court and was being held in Sednaya Prison near Damascus, but did not offer further details. CPJ could not independently confirm the claim.
Sednaya prison has long been known for the brutal treatment of its detainees, even before the Syrian conflict began. At least one journalist, Palestine Today TV reporter Bilal Ahmed Bilal, died in either late 2013 or early 2014 while in custody in Sednaya, his station reported. Reports by local human rights groups and news outlets said he had been tortured to death.
By late 2015, the Syrian government had not disclosed any information about al-Habaly's health, whereabouts, or legal status.
CPJ did not include al-Habaly in its 2012 or 2013 prison census because his work as a journalist had not been publicly disclosed.
Maamou, a contributor to the Damascus-based Shaam News Network, was arrested in Homs, according to accounts from local activists and press freedom groups. Maamou had been covering events in the Homs neighborhoods of Deir Baalba and al-Rabee al-Arabi for the network, contributing reporting and footage.
Shaam has posted tens of thousands of videos documenting the unrest in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. The network's footage has been used by international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC.
Authorities had not disclosed any information on Maamou's whereabouts, well-being, or legal status as of late 2015.
Raslan, a cartoonist who worked for the Hama-based newspaper Al-Fedaa and contributed to several other news websites, was arrested by intelligence officials at his workplace in Hama, according to news reports. Raslan's cartoons, which criticized the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, had been published on his own blog and a number of websites, including that of Al-Jazeera.
Conflicting reports emerged about Raslan's status. Cartoon Rights Network International (CRNI), which has closely tracked Raslan's case, reported that he might have been executed by the Syrian regime after being sentenced to life imprisonment on July 26, 2013. But after reports emerged in October 2013 that Raslan was still alive and his family said it could not confirm his death, CRNI amended its statement and said it was working to verify those claims.
In June 2014, CRNI reported that the Syrian permanent mission to the United Nations admitted that Raslan had been arrested for publishing cartoons that "offended the state's prestige" and that he was under investigation.
But in September 2015, the Syrian news outlet Souriatna Press reported Raslan had died in custody a few months after his arrest, citing an unnamed detainee who was recently released from prison. According to the detainee, Raslan died in a hospital where he had been transferred for treatment after his health deteriorated in connection with torture. The report prompted a wide outpouring of support for Raslan from Syrian journalists, cartoonists, and activists.
As of late 2015, the Syrian government had not publicly confirmed or denied the Souriatna Press report. CPJ called the Syrian permanent mission to the United Nations in October 2015 and was told to send questions about Raslan via email. CPJ had not received any response to its questions as of late 2015.
Mohamed was last seen being taken away by security forces on Revolution Street in Damascus in August 2013, according to local and regional news reports and a Facebook page calling for his release.
Mohamed, a freelance writer, had contributed several critical articles to local news websites, including the pro-reform Alef Today. In his articles, he criticized the government's crackdown on peaceful protests and called for reforms.
Mohamed was the editor-in-chief of the weekly Kassioun before leaving the paper in the summer of 2012, citing a disagreement with the paper's editorial position, according to a staff member at Kassioun who spoke to CPJ. The paper is affiliated with the socialist Popular Will party, which has shown a willingness to engage with the Syrian government, which other opposition groups vehemently refuse to do.
Syrian state security forces had previously held Mohamed for questioning in connection with his journalistic activities after leaving Kassioun, according to news reports that did not specify the exact date of the earlier detention. The journalist had joined Kassioun in 2006, the reports said.
In late 2015, authorities had not disclosed Mohamed's whereabouts, condition, or legal status.
Somyot was arrested at a Thai border checkpoint at Aranyaprathet province while attempting to cross into Cambodia. He was held without bail in a Bangkok detention center for 84 days, the maximum period allowable under Thai law, before lѐse majesté charges were filed against him on July 26, 2011.
Somyot faced two separate charges under the country's lѐse majesté law, which prohibits material deemed offensive to the royal family. Convictions under the law carry a maximum 15-year jail term.
On January 23, 2013, a Bangkok court sentenced Somyot to 11 years in prison for news articles that judges deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy, according to local and foreign news reports. The charges stemmed from two articles published in the now-defunct Voice of Taksin, a highly partisan news magazine affiliated with the political group United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, which closed during a government crackdown on the group in May 2010.
Somyot, a labor activist and political protest leader, was founder and editor of the publication. He initially refused to divulge the name of the author of the articles, but during testimony in court identified the individual as Jakrapob Penkair, a former government spokesman living in self-imposed exile in Cambodia. The articles, published in February and March 2010, were written under the pen name "Jit Polachan."
Days before his arrest, Somyot had started a petition to pressure parliament into removing Article 112, the lѐse majesté law, from the criminal code, according to reports. Under the law, any Thai individual may file lѐse majesté charges. Thai royal family members have never personally filed charges.
Somyot filed an appeal on April 1, 2013. He has been denied bail on 16 occasions on the grounds that he may flee the country, reports said. His family and supporters submitted a 17th application for bail in April 2015.
Somyot's wife and son, both of whom have campaigned for his unconditional release, were briefly detained on May 24, 2014, two days after the military seized power, according to press reports. Military authorities confiscated two of their laptop computers. No charges were filed.
On September 18, 2014, Thailand's Court of Appeals upheld Somyot's conviction and 10-year jail sentence. The court failed to inform Somyot, his defense lawyers, and his family that the hearing would take place on that day, according to local news reports. Somyot's lawyers appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court. The motion was still pending in late 2015.
Somyot, who has hypertension, has been deprived of adequate medical treatment, according to the International Federation for Human Rights, a global rights group. He was being held at Bangkok's Remand Prison in late 2015.
Nut, the editor of the online news aggregator Thai E-News, was sentenced by a military court on November 24, 2014, to nine years in prison on charges of defaming the country's 86-year-old monarch, a criminal offense under the country's lѐse majesté law.
He was arrested during a police raid on his house three days after the military seized power on May 22, 2014, according to news reports. He was refused bail and remained in jail until his trial.
Convictions under Thailand's lѐse majesté law, outlined in Article 112 of the criminal code, carry maximum 15-year jail terms. Nut's sentence was commuted to four and a half years because he pleaded guilty to the anti-royal charges, news reports said. He petitioned for a royal pardon in September 2015, according to a person familiar with the situation who agreed to speak with CPJ on the condition of anonymity. The petition was pending in late year, the person said.
The charges stemmed from an article Nut published in 2009 by Giles Ungpakorn, a Thai university professor and political writer. Ungpakorn faces separate lѐse majesté charges and lives in exile in the United Kingdom, according to reports. Thai E-News is blocked inside Thailand by the Information and Communication Technology Ministry, but continues to operate, reports said. Nut was being held at Bangkok's Remand Prison. According to the person who spoke with CPJ about his case, Nut is healthy and allowed regular exercise.
Duman, former owner and news editor of the socialist weekly Atılım (Leap), was serving a life term at Gebze women's closed prison in Kocaeli on charges of being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP, producing propaganda, and "attempting to change the constitutional order by force." Other charges against her included seizing weapons and forging an official document in relation to her alleged association with MLKP, according to a list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Turkish Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ's request.
CPJ believes the charges are baseless and unsubstantiated after viewing the available court documents, including the indictment.
As evidence of the membership and propaganda charges, authorities cited Duman's attendance at MLKP demonstrations and the testimony of confidential witnesses. Duman's lawyer, Keleş Öztürk, told CPJ that his client was targeted because Atılım had opposed administration policies.
The weapons and forgery charges were mainly pegged to the testimony of Duman's husband, who later said police had threatened sexual violence against his family if he didn't testify against his wife, according to the independent news portal Bianet.
Duman was convicted on all charges on May 4, 2011, according to local press reports.
In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the life sentence. Duman's lawyers appealed to a higher appellate court, Turkey's Constitutional Court. The appeal was still pending in late 2015. CPJ was unable to determine the prisoner's health in late 2015.
A local court sentenced Gök, Ankara correspondent for the leftist magazine Ekmek ve Adalet (Bread and Justice), to six years and three months in prison on charges of being a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People's Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), according to his defense lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana. Gök's lawyers appealed the sentence.
He was being kept at the Ankara F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1, according to a list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Turkish Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ's request.
Karatana told CPJ that the evidence against the journalist consisted of his news coverage and attendance at political demonstrations. She said Gök had been targeted for his reporting on politics and human rights, along with his beliefs as a socialist. Karatana said her client suffers from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder, which has led to a loss of sight and balance. She said he was jailed despite having a medical document that says he has a severe disability and is ineligible for incarceration.
Gök was also serving a life term on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, forgery, bombing, and murder, all dating to the early 1990s, according to the Justice Ministry's updated list. The life sentence was withdrawn in 2002 when Gök was released on parole for health reasons, Karatana told CPJ. When Gök was rearrested in 2004 on the DHKP/C membership charges, the life term was reinstated, she said. She said their appeal against the reinstated life term was rejected.
According to Turkish attorney Hürrem Sönmez, who represents CPJ before the Turkish Justice Ministry, Gök was still in the same prison in late 2015 and his health had deteriorated.
Akyüz, Adana correspondent for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat (Homeland's Freedom) was serving a 12-year term at Ceyhan M Type Closed Prison in Adana, according to a list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Turkish Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ's request.
Akyüz was initially charged with aiding the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Authorities cited as evidence his possession of banned newspapers and his presence at a May Day demonstration in İzmir. He was later convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization, the PKK.
Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the PKK and the KCK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations.
A 2012 trial in Adana made national news when the judge refused to allow Akyüz and other defendants to offer statements in their native Kurdish. A June 2014 report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also found that court officials withheld case documents from Akyüz's lawyer for more than a year.
In late 2015 Akyüz was waiting for Turkey's Constitutional Court to decide whether it would hear an appeal in his case, Hürrem Sönmez, a Turkish attorney who represents CPJ before the Turkish Justice Ministry, said. CPJ was unable to determine the prisoner's health in 2015.
Karavil, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish radio station Radyo Dünya in the southern province of Adana, served more than three years in prison before being convicted on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
As evidence, authorities cited news programs that Karavil produced, his meetings with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, and his wiretapped telephone conversations with colleagues, listeners, and news sources, his lawyer, Vedat Özkan, told CPJ. In one phone conversation, Karavil discussed naming a program "Those Who Imagine the Island," the lawyer said. He said the indictment considered this illegal propaganda because it referred to the imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was being held in a prison on İmralı Island.
In a January 2012 letter to media outlets, Karavil said authorities questioned him about the station's ownership and the content of its programming. Court officials refused to allow Karavil to give statements in his native Kurdish language, Özkan said.
In January 2013, the Eighth Court of Serious Crimes in Adana Province sentenced Karavil to 25 years in prison, Özkan told CPJ. In October 2014, Özkan said the Supreme Court of Appeals had upheld the sentence.
He is currently at the Kırıkkale F Type High Security Closed Prison in Adana, Özkan told CPJ.
Turkish attorney Hürrem Sönmez, who represents CPJ before the Turkish Justice Ministry, said an appeal that Karavil filed with Turkey's Constitutional Court was pending in late 2015. CPJ was unable to determine Karavil's health in 2015.
Süsem, editor of the leftist culture magazine Eylül Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi (September Arts Literature Magazine), was being held at Edirne F Type Prison on charges of helping lead the outlawed Maoist Communist Party, or MKP. Authorities alleged that Süsem's magazine produced propaganda for the party. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
In a letter published in February 2012 by the independent news portal Bianet, Süsem said he had been detained on the MKP accusations and charged in February 2010. He said the evidence against him consisted of journalistic material such as books, postcards, and letters, along with accounts of his newsgathering activities such as phone interviews. Süsem made similar statements in a letter to the Justice Ministry that was cited in news accounts.
Süsem started the magazine, which featured poetry, literature, and opinion pieces from imprisoned socialist intellectuals, during an earlier imprisonment at Tekirdağ F Type Prison. After producing the initial four editions on a photocopier from prison, Süsem transformed the journal into a print publication after his 2007 release from prison and circulated 16 more issues.
Süsem's earlier imprisonment stemmed from allegations in March 2000 that he stole a police officer's handgun that was later used in a murder. Süsem pleaded not guilty to the gun theft and murder charges. The gun possession and related serious charges against Süsem were twice rejected by Turkey's Supreme Court, which ruled in 2005 and 2007 that there was insufficient evidence to link Süsem to the crimes.
However, without new evidence, after Süsem was imprisoned in 2010 on the propaganda charges, the Supreme Court reversed its stance and convicted him in 2011 on gun theft, murder, and other charges. The court also reinstated a life sentence.
The court proceedings that led to his conviction were marked by a number of inconsistencies. For example, in his Bianet letter, Süsem wrote that the police officer, whose stolen gun was later used in a number of crimes, testified that Süsem was not the person who had stolen it. Witness descriptions of the suspect did not match the journalist, Süsem's wife, Eylem, told CPJ.
Eylem Süsem told CPJ that her husband had appealed the life sentence at the European Court of Human Rights, citing long imprisonment and an unjust trial. The case was still pending before the European court in late 2015. She said that the trial on charges of MKP propaganda and leadership was continuing. CPJ was unable to determine Süsem's health in 2015.
Baransu, a former columnist and correspondent for the daily Taraf and founder of the news website Gerçek Gündem (Real Agenda), was being held at Silivri prison in Istanbul on charges of obtaining secret documents, according to his lawyer and news reports. If convicted, he could face up to eight years in prison.
Police searched Baransu's house and detained him on March 1, 2015. He was arrested by a court on March 2 and sent to the Metris Prison in Istanbul before being transferred to Silivri on May 12, according to reports. According to local reports, Baransu was held in substandard conditions. His lawyer Sercan Sakallı told CPJ that his client was not mistreated but "being in Silivri prison is a violation of his rights on its own" given that Silivri is a high-security prison and Baransu has not been tried.
Sakallı said a court order has ruled that the investigation is secret. Baransu's defense team did not have access to the materials of the investigation into their client by year's end, the lawyer said.
He added that authorities have focused on a document titled "The Sovereign Action Plan" that was part of a packet of documents Baransu shared with prosecutors in 2010. That document, the lawyer said, was never made public, and authorities did not previously question the reporter's possession of a classified document.
In 2010 Baransu broke the news of an alleged military coup plan that came to be known as Sledgehammer. Written by Baransu and other then-editors of Taraf as a series, the Sledghammer story was based on what were said to be military documents leaked to Baransu by an anonymous source. "The Sovereign Action Plan" was among these documents, but it was not reported on because it was not related to the alleged coup plan, according to local reports. In court testimony, Baransu said he delivered the documents he had received from the anonymous source to prosecutors in 2010, after Taraf published its series. The documents were then used by Turkish prosecutors to start an investigation in which hundreds of suspects, including journalists, were tried on anti-state charges.
On June 30, 2015, the Anadolu Second Court of the First Instance sentenced Baransu to 10 months in prison on additional charges of insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a series of tweets and retweets about allegations of government corruption in December 2013, Sakallı told CPJ. Sakallı said some of the tweets had been issued from accounts impersonating the journalist.
Sakallı told CPJ that several other cases are pending in Turkish courts against Baransu that stem from his critical reporting in 2013 on issues such as the alleged genetic modification of food products in Turkey and government wrongdoing. In these cases, Baransu is accused of being a member of the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/ Parallel State Structure-a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, the lawyer said.
Rasool, a Turkey-based Iraqi journalist, was working as a fixer with VICE News journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, who are both British, in southeastern Turkey when they were arrested in the province of Diyarbakır on August 27, 2015, according to reports.
The three journalists, who were detained along with their Turkish driver, had been covering clashes between Turkish security forces and separatists with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to reports. Rasool was accused of aiding an illegal organization, according to a prosecution document that CPJ has viewed. In late 2015, he had not been officially charged and no indictment against him has been issued, according to people familiar with his case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity. Rasool is being held at the Kürkçüler F-Type High Security Prison in the southern Turkish city of Adana, these people told CPJ.
According to court documents, the reason for the group's arrest was an anonymous call claiming the journalists had been in contact with the militant group Islamic State. While in detention, the three were asked whether they sympathized with the PKK, according to the prosecution document, which details the testimony given by the journalists during questioning. The journalists denied ties to either group and stated they were only reporting current events. The journalists were asked about their notes, the pictures and video they captured, and the people they interviewed, according to the document.
Hanrahan, Pendlebury, and the driver were later released, according to reports. Hanrahan and Pendlebury were deported to the UK on September 3, 2015. CPJ was unable to determine whether they will face charges.
In October 2015, CPJ and VICE News started a petition to free Rasool. The same month, CPJ participated in a joint mission to Turkey to highlight conditions for the press before the November 1 election. The mission highlighted the case of Rasool and called for his immediate release. In late October, the Directorate General of Prisons and Detention Houses, which is part of Turkey's Justice Ministry, denied the joint mission a visit with Rasool in prison. The directorate did not give a reason for the denial.
On September 20, the SecondPenal Court of Peace in Istanbul ordered Avcı to be held in pretrial detention on charges including "attempting to overthrow the government" and being a member of a terrorist organization, according to news reports. Avcı was detained two days before that in the western city of Izmir, reports said.
Prosecutors charged Avcı in connection with a series of columns he wrote in 2013 and 2014 for the independent daily Bugün (Today) in which he alleged that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, the country's spy agency, had links to a group called Tawhid-Salam, the English-language daily Today's Zaman reported. News reports said that Turkish authorities declared the Iranian-backed group a terrorist organization in 2014.
Avcı's lawyer said the journalist was not allowed to testify in court, news reports said. The lawyer also said Avcı had been mistreated in custody and denied food.
Four police officers were detained in connection with the same case, but three were later released, news reports said. Avcı and the officers were accused of "attempting to overthrow the government," with the journalist allegedly using his column to try to turn public opinion against the ruling party, local reports said.
Avcı is a former prosecutor and the legal representative of Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Broadcast Group, who was imprisoned on anti-state charges in December 2014, according to news reports.
Avcı was being kept in the high-security Silivri Prison in Istanbul in late 2015, according to reports. CPJ was unable to determine the state of his health.
Güven, chief editor of the privately owned weekly newsmagazine Nokta, and Çapan, the magazine's news editor, were detained by police in Istanbul on November 2, 2015, over a front-page cover on the results of Turkey's election, according to reports.
On November 3, Güven and Çapan appeared before the Istanbul 8th Penal Court of Peace, which ordered their detention pending an investigation of claims they incited an armed uprising against the state, according to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. According to the Turkish penal code, the offense carries up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The arrests are related to the post-election issue of Nokta, which is known in Turkey for being critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to local and international news reports. The magazine's front cover included an image of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the headline, "The beginning of Turkey's civil war," local and international press reported. Police obtained a court order for Internet service providers to block Nokta's website and for police to confiscate copies of the magazine, reports said. Nokta's website was still blocked in Turkey as of December 1, 2015.
According to court documents shared by Nokta on its Twitter account on November 2, 2015, Istanbul Prosecutor Umut Tepe issued an order for police to detain and question Çapan and Güven over claims they were in violation of Article 214 of Turkey's penal code, which covers "provoking people to commit crimes."
According to the court documents shared by Nokta, Güven and Çapan denied any wrongdoing. The journalists had not been formally charged by December 1, 2015.
Idris Yılmaz, a reporter with the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, and Vildan Atmaca, a reporter with the women's news agency Jin Haber Ajansı, were detained in the Erciş district of Van, a city in eastern Turkey, on November 13, 2015, according to reports. The two had gone to the district to follow up on claims that Van residents had been injured by Turkish soldiers.
Authorities accused Yılmaz and Atmaca of "making terrorist propaganda" for the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on social media and Yılmaz was also accused of insulting the president on social media, according to documents from the police, prosecutor, and court that were reviewed by CPJ. On November 14, 2015, a court ordered the two reporters to be held pending an investigation, reports said.
Turkish authorities use the country's broad anti-terror laws to prosecute journalists who cover sensitive topics, including Kurdish issues and banned organizations such as the PKK, CPJ has found. CPJ has documented how Turkey has used anti-terror laws for years to imprison journalists and has recently been cracking down on social media posts, particularly by utilizing the country's insult laws.
According to Yılmaz's police testimony, which CPJ has reviewed, the journalist said he and Atmaca were among a group of reporters who had been turned away from a local hospital by police after trying to investigate rumors that residents had been injured by Turkish soldiers. Since a fragile ceasefire between Turkish authorities and PKK fighters ended in July 2015, clashes between security forces and rebels have become frequent in eastern and southeastern Turkey, according to reports.
Yılmaz's testimony says that later that day he and Atmaca were at a café with journalists from other news outlets when plain-clothed police approached and said they were detaining Yılmaz for "producing biased news." Several journalists who stood up for Yılmaz were arrested alongside him but, with the exception of Atmaca, the others were released the next day, according to reports. In a video showing the arrests, which was posted to YouTube by Van TV, police are seen shooting in the air to disperse a crowd.
According to police and court documents that CPJ viewed, Yılmaz was accused of creating terrorism propaganda and running a pro-PKK Facebook page called Ajans Erciş. The reporter stated in police testimony that he had no links to the Facebook page. Yılmaz was questioned about Facebook posts he allegedly made on his personal account that authorities said were pro-PKK, according to the documents. The reporter denied that the posts were terrorist propaganda.
Yılmaz was also accused of insulting the president through a cartoon posted to his personal Facebook page that showed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defecating on a map of Turkey, according to the documents. In testimony before the Erciş Chief Prosecutor's Office on November 13, 2015, the journalist said he did not accept any of the accusations made against him and said he did not think the figure featured in the cartoon looked like the president.
According to police testimony reviewed by CPJ, Atmaca was questioned about posts on her personal Facebook page dated August 2014, including a quote from a convicted PKK leader that authorities claimed conveyed sympathies for the organization. She was also questioned about a tweet dated October 14, 2015, in which she criticized Van police for allegedly firing on civilians. Atmaca denied the social media posts were terrorist propaganda, according to her testimony.
Yılmaz and Atmaca are both held in the Van M-Type Prison, the journalists' lawyer told CPJ.
On November 26, 2015, an Istanbul court ordered Can Dündar, chief editor of the independent daily Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gül, the daily's Ankara bureau chief, to be held in pre-trial detention on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist group, according to reports. The journalists' arrests are connected to reports published in Cumhuriyet in May and June 2015 that alleged Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had transferred weapons to Syria under the cover of humanitarian aid, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ.
The report in May 2015 alleged that weapons were found on two occasions in January 2014, when Turkish gendarmerie stopped trucks in southern Hatay and Adana provinces on the orders of local prosecutors. The Cumhuriyet report was published under the headline: "Here are the weapons that Erdoğan says do not exist." In a follow up story by Gül, published on June 11, 2015, Cumhuriyet published images that it said allegedly showed the MİT transporting weapons to Syria. Turkish authorities deny that the trucks contained weapons, according to reports.
On May 29, 2015, the same day Cumhuriyet published its story, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he had filed a criminal complaint against the daily. "What only matters to them is casting a shadow on Turkey's image. I suppose the person who wrote this as an exclusive report will pay a heavy price for this... I will not leave go of him," Erdoğan said during a live broadcast on the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television.
According to court documents reviewed by CPJ, the journalists were accused on November 26, 2015 of exposing secret documents and espionage for an alleged terrorist organization the government claims is led by U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gülen. According to the documents, authorities said that Dündar and Gül were arrested for "knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization," "terrorist organization membership," and "obtaining and exposing secret documents of the state for means of political and military espionage." Dündar and Gül denied the accusations, the court documents showed.
According to the documents reviewed by CPJ, authorities said videos included in Cumhuriyet's report, which allegedly show the discovery of weapons alongside medical equipment on the trucks, were forged, and said the trucks' loads were a matter of national security.
Nepeskuliyev, a contributor to the independent news website Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) and the Turkmen service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has been in custody since July 7, 2015, according to his news outlet.
The journalist's family filed a police report when Nepeskuliyev stopped responding to phone calls and failed to return home from his reporting trip to the western city of Awaza on the Caspian Sea on July 7, Ruslan Myatiyev, the director of ATN, told CPJ.
Nepeskuliyev had reported on water shortages and the poor social and economic conditions in Turkmenistan and photographed expensive villas said to belong to state officials, according to Myatiyev and a statement by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.
According to Myatiyev and news reports, after the family filed a police report, authorities told them Nepeskuliyev had been arrested. Myatiyev, citing the journalist's family, told CPJ that authorities accused Nepeskuliyev of possessing a banned medication. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years, according to CPJ's review of the Turkmen criminal code.
On August 31, authorities sentenced Nepeskuliyev to three years in prison for drug possession, according to ATN.
A week later, Nepeskuliyev's mother told the RFE/RL Turkmen service that authorities had denied her family access to information about the journalist's status and whereabouts, and barred her from visiting him because of security concerns over a visit to the region by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
Human rights activists and journalists raised Nepeskuliyev's arrest during their address to the Turkmen delegation at a Warsaw conference on human rights and democracy in September 2015, held under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ATN reported. In his response Vepa Khadzhiyev, Turkmenistan's deputy foreign minister, denied that Nepeskuliyev is a journalist.
To coincide with talks between the U.S. State Department and the Turkmen foreign ministry, RFE/RL, ATN, and representatives of international human rights and press freedom organizations sent an open letter on October 14 to Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, asking that he intervene to have the journalist released. The letter, published by Reporters Without Borders, said authorities had barred the journalist's family and lawyer from seeing him in detention, and had not provided them with a copy of his verdict, which has prevented Nepeskuliyev from filing an appeal. "This failure to release information pertaining to his case has been attributed to a travel ban in the region surrounding Turkmenbashi, near the prison where Nepeskuliyev's family believes he has been transferred. Because of the abysmal prison conditions in Turkmenistan and because Nepeskuliyev is being held incommunicado, we are very concerned for his health and safety," the letter said.
In October 2015, CPJ called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the release of Nepeskuliyev during his visit to the country.
An Omani blogger, Alrawahi was detained at a checkpoint while attempting to enter the United Arab Emirates by car from Oman, according to news reports and local and international human rights groups. The next day, Alrawahi called Mohammad al-Fazari, an Omani human rights activist, and said he had not been allowed to enter the United Arab Emirates and that UAE border security had seized his travel documents, according to the human rights group Amnesty International and news reports.
A state security court in the UAE charged Alrawahi under the cybercrimes law with "inciting hate and disrupting public order and social peace" and "ridiculing the State and its leaders" in connection with posts he wrote on his blog, YouTube channel, and Twitter account, according to news reports and international human rights groups. If convicted, he faces at least one year in jail and a fine of up to one million dirhams (around $272,260) for each charge, according to reports citing the official Emirates News Agency.
In the journalist's first hearing on September 14, 2015, he denied the charges and said he had been forced under "mental and physical pressure" to "confess," according to news reports and a report by Amnesty International.
Alrawahi is known for using his blog, "Bo2 Bo2 Was3," and social media sites, including YouTube, to discuss atheism and raise other sensitive topics, including criticism of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said. In July 2014, Alrawahi published a post that criticized Omani authorities for detaining teachers and activists protesting the conviction of one teacher who was accused of participating in an October 2013 strike. The blogger later disappeared after being summoned by intelligence officials, according to human rights groups. A photo appeared on Twitter weeks later that showed him at the psychiatric department of Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, with his legs shackled, according to the London-based Monitor of Human Rights in Oman. He was released on August 11, 2014.
In November 2014, a post on the blogger's Facebook page said he was quitting blogging and would write only novels and poems. Alrawahi later told another blogger that he had lost hope that blogging could "make a difference."
Nabhan Salim, manager of the independent organization Monitor of Human Rights in Oman, told CPJ that Alrawahi had shut down his blog and then returned to writing more than once. Alrawahi's lawyer, Said Al-Zahmi, said the blogger would repeatedly shut down his social media accounts and blogs in order to avoid being accused of disturbing relations between Oman and UAE, according to news reports.
Alrawahi has bipolar disorder and attempted suicide six times while in detention, the rights group said. The judge ordered a psychological review for Alrawahi and adjourned the trial until November 9, 2015, when the medical review was completed, news reports said. At the November hearing, the judge referred Alrawahi to the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City hospital for examination, the Gulf Center for Human Rights reported. The next session of his trial was scheduled for December 7, 2015, according to news reports.
Alrawahi was being held at al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi in late 2015, Amnesty International said.
Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, and Ruzimuradov, a reporter for the paper, remain the longest-imprisoned journalists worldwide, CPJ research shows. Both journalists were jailed on politicized anti-state charges after they were forcibly returned to the country from Ukraine in 1999.
In September 1999, a Tashkent court convicted the two of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper. Both were also convicted of participating in a banned political protest and attempting to overthrow the regime. Bekjanov was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Ruzimuradov was sentenced to 15 years.
The journalists were beaten before their trial began, according to CPJ sources and news reports. After the verdict was announced in November 1999, Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov were jailed in penal colonies for individuals convicted of serious crimes.
In January 2012, shortly before Bekjanov was scheduled to be released, authorities sentenced him to an additional five years in prison, citing the violation of unspecified prison rules, regional press reports said. The independent news website Uznews reported that Bekjanov was being held in a prison in the southwestern Navoi region in late 2014.
In a September 2014 report on political prisoners in Uzbekistan, the international organization Human Rights Watch said Ruzimuradov was being held in Tavaksay prison colony outside Tashkent. Human Rights Watch said that Ruzimuradov was due to be released in May 2014, but that authorities extended his sentence for an undisclosed period because of unspecified violations of prison rules.
According to a petition published at the online platform Avaaz in December 2014, Ruzimuradov's initial prison term was to expire in 2014 but authorities kept him in custody after sentencing him to an additional three years. CPJ was unable to verify the information.
Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov were detained in Ukraine, where they had been publishing their newspaper in exile. They were extradited at the request of Uzbek authorities. In 2014, Human Rights Watch issued a report on Uzbekistan in which it cited the first public testimony by Bekjanov's family, who said the journalists had been kidnapped from Ukraine and brought back to Uzbekistan.
Nina Bekjanova, the editor's wife, told reporters that she found his health had deteriorated when she visited him in prison in March 2013. Bekjanova said her husband needed immediate treatment for a hernia and a relapse of tuberculosis, according to Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek service of the U.S. government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She said the editor had not complained about his health to her during her previous visits, but that during this visit he had said, "There's not much longer left [for me] to suffer."
Bekjanova told Uznews that authorities did not obstruct her October 2014 visit to the prison as they had in the past. She said prison authorities had stopped her husband from performing labor at the prison's brick-making facility due to his age.
On November 24, 2014, eight U.S. senators sent a public letter to President Islam Karimov calling on him to release the journalists on humanitarian grounds.
International press freedom and human rights groups continue to advocate on behalf of the journalists, and publicly asked U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to urge Uzbekistan to free them during his June 2015 visit to the country. According to the transcript, Ban told local journalists that he discussed human rights concerns during his meeting with Karimov and urged him to continue improving Uzbekistan's human rights record.
In October 2015, CPJ called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the release of Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov during his visit to the country.
Despite repeated calls to the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington, CPJ was unable to determine any updates in the journalists' cases in late 2015 or determine Ruzimuradov's health. Bekjanov's daughter, Aygul Bekjan,told CPJ in November that a relative visited her father in jail in August and said he was in good health.
Abdurakhmanov, a reporter for the independent news website Uznews, was imprisoned in June 2008 after traffic police in Nukus, in Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic said they found 114 grams of marijuana and less than five grams of opium in his car when they searched it, Uznews reported at the time. The journalist denied possessing narcotics and said the police had planted them in retaliation for his reporting on corruption, according to news reports.
Abdurakhmanov had reported on corruption in regional law enforcement agencies, including the traffic police, for Uznews. The website closed in December 2014. Abdurakhmanov also contributed to the U.S. government-funded broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Abdurakhmanov's prosecution and trial were marred by irregularities, defense lawyer Rustam Tulyaganov told CPJ at the time. Investigators failed to maintain chain of custody for the seized drugs, and they did not collect fingerprints or other evidence that could have proved the journalist had handled the material, Tulyaganov said.
Police agents interrogated Abdurakhmanov extensively, focusing on his journalism, and also searched his home and confiscated his computer, according to his lawyer and news reports. According to Uznews, authorities offered Abdurakhmanov a deal: give up journalism and human rights activism in exchange for amnesty and release. The journalist refused.
In October 2008, a court in Nukus sentenced Abdurakhmanov to 10 years in prison. Higher courts denied his appeals.
In September 2011, authorities denied Abdurakhmanov's application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, according to CPJ research. Uznews reported in November 2012 that prison authorities obstructed the International Committee of the Red Cross when it tried to speak with Abdurakhmanov in prison. Abdurakhmanov's son told Uznews that prison officials presented Red Cross staff with another detainee who claimed to be the journalist.
At least three times in 2013, authorities transferred Abdurakhmanov from a penal colony in the southern city of Karshi to a prison hospital outside the capital, Tashkent, to receive treatment for a stomach ulcer. In October 2013, after the journalist's family told Uznews about his deteriorating health, authorities placed Abdurakhmanov in solitary confinement for two weeks and prevented his family from seeing him.
Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a complaint in March 2012 with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Abdurakhmanov's imprisonment and calling for his release. The case is pending.
Abdurakhmanov was awarded the German Palm Foundation's press freedom award in 2014. According to news reports, Uzbek authorities barred the journalist's family from attending the ceremony in Schorndorf in November 2014 on his behalf. At the ceremony, the German Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, publicly urged Uzbek authorities to release Abdurakhmanov.
In May 2014, Abdurakhmanov's family publicly asked Uzbek President Islam Karimov to pardon the journalist based on his deteriorating health, Uznews reported. They did not receive a response. On November 24, 2014, eight U.S. senators sent a public letter to Karimov, calling on him to release Abdurakhmanov on humanitarian grounds.
In October 2015, CPJ called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to demand the release of Abdurakhmanov during his visit to the country.
Saiid was serving a 12-and-a-half-year prison term at a high-security prison colony outside Navoi, where he was tortured with beatings and psychological pressure, according to news reports and CPJ sources. In 2013, he was denied adequate medical treatment for tuberculosis that he contracted in jail, reports said.
The journalist was arrested in his hometown, Tashkent, and placed in detention in Samarkand after a woman accused him of extorting US$10,000 from a businessman. Although the woman withdrew her accusation, saying she had been coerced, authorities refused to release the journalist, Saiid's lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov, told CPJ at the time. In March 2009, regional authorities announced that new witnesses had come forward to accuse Saiid of extortion. Authorities also said that several farmers had accused him of using their signatures to create fraudulent court papers.
Saiid was charged with extortion and forgery. CPJ, along with several other international human rights and press freedom groups, determined the charges were fabricated in retaliation for his journalism. Before his arrest, Saiid reported on official abuses against farmers for the independent regional news website Voice of Freedom as well as for a number of local publications.
At Saiid's trial, the farmers told the court they had been pressured by prosecutors to testify against Saiid, Ferghana News reported. Their statements were ignored in what was one of several irregularities reported during the proceedings. Komilov said that authorities failed to notify him of a number of important hearing dates. When a regional court convicted and sentenced Saiid in July 2009, in a closed-door hearing, the journalist's lawyer and family were not present.
In November 2009, the journalist's wife and 6-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident on their way to visit him in prison, regional press reports said. Authorities rejected Saiid's 2011 application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, Uznews reported.
Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a March 2012 complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Saiid's imprisonment and calling for his release. The case is pending.
In a handwritten note in January 2013 that he passed via his brother, during a prison visit, to a local rights activist, Saiid revealed details of his conditions in jail and pleaded for help. Saiid did not explicitly detail how he had suffered, but hinted that Uzbek and international laws against torture had been violated during his imprisonment.
On November 24, 2014, eight U.S. senators sent a public letter to President Islam Karimov, calling on him to release Saiid on humanitarian grounds.
In October 2015, CPJ called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to call for the release of Saiid during his visit to the country. CPJ has not been able to determine where Saiid is being held or the status of his health in 2015.
Thuc, a blogger who wrote under the name Tran Dong Chan (Change We Need), was first arrested on charges of "promoting anti-Socialist, anti-government propaganda," according to news reports. On January 20, 2010, he was sentenced by the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City to 16 years in prison and five years' house arrest for "activities aimed at overthrowing the government" under Article 79 of the penal code.
The court's indictment charged him with disseminating false information through a website and three blogs, according to news reports. He was convicted in part for writing a book called The Vietnam Path, along with two political activists, which the court ruled was part of a plan to create political parties and overthrow the government, according to news reports. Only the Communist Party of Vietnam is allowed to exist in the country.
Thuc maintained his innocence at the one-day trial and claimed he was tortured while in pre-trial detention, without giving further details, according to Amnesty International.
His personal blog, Tran Dong Chan, focused on local issues of inequality, social ills, and risks of a possible socioeconomic crisis. He also wrote about sensitive foreign affairs including a March 2009 article called "Obama, China, and Vietnam," which analyzed the countries' divergent approaches to civil liberties, human rights, and economic development.
On May 11, 2012, an appellate court upheld Thuc's sentence in a closed trial, according to news reports. He was initially detained at southern Dong Nai province's Xuan Loc Z30A prison. Thuc was held in solitary confinement from August 2012 to March 2013, and denied access to books, newspapers, and writing materials, according to Radio Free Asia in 2013, which attributed the report to his father.
In August 2012, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an opinion that Thuc's imprisonment was arbitrary and requested that the government remedy the situation in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He was transferred to Ba Ria-Vung Tau province's Xuyen Moc prison after a riot among prisoners at Xuan Loc in August 2013.
In 2015, Thuc declined offers of early release made by government officials on the condition that he immediately go into exile in the U.S., according to Defend the Defenders, a human rights organization which cited his father as the source of the information. Thuc is allowed regular visits from his family and deliveries of food, medicine, and other basic necessities, according to Amnesty International.
Dieu and Hoa, both religious activists and frequent contributors to the news website Vietnam Redemptorist News, were arrested at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Redemptorist News, which is run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City, reports on the plight of the country's persecuted Catholic minority, land disputes between the government and grassroots communities, and other social issues.
The journalists were first detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Both were also accused of being members of the exile-run Viet Tan party, an organization outlawed by the dominant Communist party.
In a two-day trial that concluded on January 9, 2013, a court in the northern city of Vinh convicted and sentenced each journalist to 13 years in prison and five years' house arrest on charges of participating in "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration," "undermining of national unity," and disseminating "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," news reports said.
An appellate court upheld Hoa's prison sentence on May 23, 2013. A devout Catholic, Hoa has been denied access to religious materials while in prison, according to U.S. Congressional testimony in June 2015 by his international defense lawyer, Allen Weiner. He was being held at northern Ha Nam province's Ba Sao prison camp in late 2015, according to Vietnam Right Now, an independent, transnational website dedicated to Vietnam's human rights situation.
In 2013, Dieu submitted a petition to authorities calling for a new investigation and trial on the grounds that his conviction was based on fabricated information, according to Radio Free Asia. After his petition was rejected, he refused to wear prison clothes emblazoned with the word "criminal," according to his brother and a former fellow inmate who were quoted by Radio Free Asia. Dieu was severely beaten by prison authorities and refused visitation rights in response, according to the same Radio Free Asia report.
Dieu went on hunger strike several times in 2014 to protest prison conditions, including overcrowding and poor sanitation in his cell, according to a news report that quoted one of his former prison mates, Truong Minh Tam. His brother, Dang Xuan Ha, told Radio Free Asia that Dieu was frequently beaten and humiliated by prison authorities and other inmates.
Dieu and fellow inmates staged a 10-day hunger strike in January 2015 to protest ill-treatment in prison, including denial of access to newspapers, books, and a Vietnamese-English dictionary sent to them by supporters, according to a Radio Free Asia report that quoted the mother of one of his fellow inmates. He staged another hunger strike in March 2015 to protest the mistreatment of one of his cellmates, the report said.
Dieu was transferred from Thanh Hoa province's No. 5 prison to Ba Ria Vung Tau province's Xuyen Moc prison in late 2014. He was being held at Xuyen Moc in late 2015, according to Radio Free Asia.
Dieu was said to be frail and sickly after staging the hunger strikes, according to Truong Minh Tam, a former fellow political prisoner who regularly visits him, Radio Free Asia said. Tam told a Canadian House of Commons Subcommittee in May 2015 that Dieu has a condition that affect his joints and digestive system, and that his back is badly bent. CPJ was not able to verify the state of Hoa's health in late 2015.
Vinh and Thuy were arrested by police at their homes in the capital, Hanoi. They were both charged with "abusing democratic freedoms to impinge on the interests of the state," an anti-state offense under Article 258 of the penal code.
According to a police statement on the charges cited in press reports, the two were accused of "posting false information about the state on the Internet," including articles "that had the potential to tarnish the state apparatus' prestige." The articles appeared on the blog Ba Sam, also known as Tan Xa Via He (Sidewalk Café News Agency), which Vinh created in September 2007. The charges also relate to two other blogs, Dan Quyen (Citizens' Rights) and Chep Su Viet (Writing Vietnamese History), which state prosecutors claimed Vinh and Thuy maintained and managed anonymously. Authorities claimed they used Gmail accounts that did not correspond to their real names.
On October 30, 2014, national police said they had gathered enough evidence in 24 blog posts, including entries on Dan Quyen and Chep Su Viet, to pursue the anti-state charges, according to news reports.
Ba Sam often posted links to state-run Vietnamese media, with critical commentary added by the blog's administrators, as well as translated versions of international news on political, economic, and social issues, according to reports. The site published posts from activists and was considered a rallying point by activists for protests against China's perceived encroachment on Vietnamese territories, news reports said. Vinh and Thuy's arrests came just after China stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam in May 2014, setting off a months-long maritime standoff and anti-China riots.
It was unclear if Vinh, a former policeman and son of a Communist Party Central Committee member, was still running the Ba Sam blog at the time of his arrest, according to reports. In September 2012, the blogger announced that he would end his direct involvement with the blog due to increased pressure by the authorities, reports said. A prosecutor's indictment claimed Vinh and Thuy were involved in the daily production of the blog at the time of their arrests.
Due to frequent cyberattacks on Ba Sam, the blog has appeared under different Web addresses. Other administrators of the blog, including its U.S.-based editor, Ngoc Thu, were not mentioned in the charges.
Vinh and Thuy were both denied bail and were being held in pretrial detention at Hanoi's Detention Center in late 2015, according to the independent human rights website Vietnam Right Now. If found guilty under Article 258, they each face up to seven years in prison. No trial date had been set by late 2015.
Vinh's wife, Le Thi Minh Ha, said that when she visited her husband in prison on October 26, 2015, he had a rash that she suspected was symptomatic of liver and blood diseases caused by lack of sunlight, Ba Sam reported. Vinh's lawyer, Truong Hoa Binh, filed a petition two days later to President Truong Tan Sang and other authorities demanding that Vinh be allowed to visit a specialist doctor and receive medicine, and to be given access to reading materials. The requests had not been granted by late 2015. CPJ was unable to verify the state of Thuy's health in late 2015.
Ngoc was arrested after police searched his home in southern Ho Chi Minh City. In an announcement on the city's official website, which did not overtly mention his blog posts, authorities said they would investigate Ngoc's "law-violating" activities, according to The Associated Press. He is a frequent contributor to the independent blog sites Lam Bao Dan (People's Newspaper) and Dan Luan (People's Opinion).
Weeks before his arrest, Ngoc highlighted in blog posts and comments to Radio Free Asia the cases of recently detained fellow bloggers Nguyen Quang Lap and Hong Le Tho on anti-state charges of "abusing democratic freedoms." (Lap and Tho were released but were still under investigation in late 2015, according to reports.) Ngoc had also posted about Ta Phong Tan, a blogger who at the time was serving a 10-year sentence for "disseminating anti-state propaganda" and who had staged a hunger strike to protest her mistreatment in prison.
Ngoc told Radio Free Asia in a mid-December interview: "As we reach the end of 2014, many prisoners of conscience are suffering from harassment and torture ... and despite the fact that the government has ratified the international convention against torture, there has been no improvement." Press reports said Ngoc also complained in a blog post before his arrest that his Gmail and Facebook accounts had been hacked.
Ngoc had not been officially charged in late 2015. He was being held at Ho Chi Minh City's Phan Dang Luu Detention Center, according to the independent human rights website Vietnam Right Now. Under Vietnamese law, administrative detention without trial is allowed for reasons of national security, according to Human Rights Watch.
It was not clear if Ngoc was suffering from any ailments while in detention. His family was reluctant to discuss his case and status, fearing reprisals, Vietnam Right Now told CPJ.