|There were 139 journalists in prison around the world at the end of 2002 who were jailed for practicing their profession. The number is up significantly from the previous year, when 118 journalists were in jail. An analysis of the reasons behind this increase is contained in the introduction.
At the beginning of 2003, CPJ sent letters of inquiry to the heads of state of every country on the list below requesting information about each jailed journalist. Readers are encouraged to add their voices to CPJ’s by writing directly to the heads of state, whose names and addresses can be found at www.cpj.org.
This list represents a snapshot of all the journalists who were incarcerated when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2002. It does not include the many journalists who were imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found in the regional sections of this book.
A word about how this list is compiled: In totalitarian societies where independent journalism is forbidden, CPJ often defends persecuted writers whose governments view them as political dissidents rather than as journalists. This category would embrace the samizdat publishers of the former Soviet Union and the wall-poster essayists of the pre-Tiananmen period in China. We also include political analysts, human rights activists, and others who were prosecuted because of their written or broadcast work.
We consider any journalist who is deprived of his or her liberty by a government to be imprisoned. Journalists remain on this list until we receive positive confirmation that they have been released. In some cases, we have received reports that a journalist was killed in government custody. One example is Nepalese journalist Krishna Sen, who was arrested by government forces in Nepal on May 20, 2002, and has not been heard from since. We keep Sen on this list as a way of holding the Nepalese government accountable for his fate.
Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities, including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are not included on the imprisoned list. Their cases are classified as “missing.” CPJ documented four such cases in 2002. Details are available on CPJ’s Web site.
Djamel Eddine Fahassi, Alger Chaîne III
Fahassi, a reporter for the state-run radio station Alger Chaîne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the now banned weekly of the Islamic Salvation Front, Al-Forqane, was abducted near his home in the al-Harrache suburb of the capital, Algiers, by four well-dressed men carrying walkie-talkies. According to eyewitnesses who later spoke with his wife, the men called out Fahassi’s name and then pushed him into a waiting car. He has not been seen since, and Algerian authorities have denied any knowledge of his arrest.
Prior to Fahassi’s “disappearance,” Algerian authorities had targeted him on at least two occasions because his writing criticized the government. In late 1991, he was arrested after an article in Al-Forqane criticized a raid conducted by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood. On January 1, 1992, the Blida Military Court convicted him of disseminating false information, attacking a state institution, and disseminating information that could harm national unity.
He received a one-year suspended sentence and was released after five months. On February 17, 1992, he was arrested a second time for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information. He was transferred to the Ain Salah Detention Center in southern Algeria, where hundreds of Islamic suspects were detained in the months following the cancellation of the January 1992 elections.
In late January 2002, Algerian ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation did not find those responsible for Fahassi’s abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Aziz Bouabdallah, Al-Alam al-Siyassi
Bouabdallah, a reporter for the daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, was abducted by three armed men from his home in the capital, Algiers. According to Bouabdallah’s family, the men stormed into their home and, after identifying the journalist, grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door and into a waiting car. An article published in the daily El-Watan a few days after his abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody and was expected to be released soon.
In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held at the Châteauneuf detention facility in Algiers, where he had reportedly been tortured. But Bouabdallah’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and authorities have denied any knowledge of his abduction.
In late January 2002, Algerian ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation did not find those responsible. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Police arrested Samad, a well-known free-lance journalist and press freedom activist, for his work with a documentary crew that was preparing a report about Bangladesh for the “Unreported World” series on Britain’s Channel 4. Samad, who is the Bangladesh representative for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Sans Frontières, had worked for the documentary team as an interpreter.
On November 25, police had arrested Zaiba Malik, the reporter for the documentary; Bruno Sorrentino, the film’s director and cameraman; and Priscilla Raj, a free-lance Bangladeshi journalist who also worked for the documentary team as an interpreter. Samad had gone into hiding after his colleagues’ arrests but was found and detained on November 29. All four journalists were accused of sedition.
Police arrested the journalists for their alleged involvement in “clandestine activities as journalists with an apparent and malicious intent of portraying Bangladesh as an Islamic fanatical country,” said a statement issued by the Bangladeshi government, as reported by the Agence France-Presse news agency.
On December 11, authorities released Malik and Sorrentino and deported them to Britain. The two foreign journalists signed a statement saying they would not produce any reports from their footage gathered in Bangladesh and “expressing regret for the unfortunate situation arising since their arrival in Bangladesh.” However, the Bangladeshi journalists remained in jail. Raj was not released until December 23.
On December 4, while being transported back to prison after attending a court hearing, Samad shouted to journalists out of the window of his van, “I have been subjected to inhuman torture,” according to Bangladeshi press reports.
On December 23, the High Court ordered Samad’s release on bail within 24 hours. However, the next day, government authorities ordered that Samad remain in custody for 30 more days under the Special Powers Act, which allows for the preventive detention of anyone suspected of anti-state activities. On January 14, 2003, the High Court ruled that the government’s order to extend Samad’s detention was illegal and that he should be released. Samad was finally freed from Kashimpur Jail, which is just outside of Dhaka, on January 18.
Kabir, a free-lance journalist and human rights activist, was detained in the capital, Dhaka, as part of a police sweep during which about 40 opposition figures were arrested. Authorities initially said that Kabir was being held in connection with a sedition case against journalists working on a documentary about the political situation in Bangladesh for Britain’s Channel 4. The government had accused the Channel 4 team of having the “malicious intent of portraying Bangladesh as an Islamic fanatical country.” Kabir was among those interviewed for the film.
During a December 12, 2002, court hearing, Kabir told investigators that he had been tortured in police custody and denied food for more than 24 hours, according to Bangladeshi press reports. He was transferred to three different jails and was last imprisoned in the southern city of Chittagong, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) from Dhaka, a move that made it difficult for his relatives and lawyers to visit.
On January 4, 2003, the High Court declared Kabir’s detention illegal and ordered his release within 24 hours. On January 5, the government ignored the ruling and ordered Kabir to remain in detention for 90 more days under the Special Powers Act, which allows for the preventive detention of anyone suspected of anti-state activities. He was finally freed on the afternoon of January 7.
This was the second time in a year that Kabir was imprisoned. An outspoken critic of the government, Kabir was arrested in November 2001 and accused by the Home Ministry of being “involved in a heinous bid to tarnish the image of Bangladesh and its government.” The charge stemmed from his reporting on the ruling party’s responsibility for a wave of attacks against Bangladesh’s Hindu minority that followed the October 2001 parliamentary elections. He was first detained under the provisions of the Special Powers Act and was later charged with treason. He was freed on January 20, 2002, following two separate High Court orders for his release.
Mamun, a writer and historian, was among several prominent government critics and opposition members arrested in a series of police raids on December 8 and 9 in the capital, Dhaka. He was held under the provisions of Bangladesh’s Special Powers Act (SPA), which allows for the preventive detention of anyone suspected of anti-state activities, on suspicion of trying to destabilize the government.
Mamun, the author of several books about Bangladesh, is a professor of history at Dhaka University. He also regularly contributes columns to several Bengali-language newspapers and had recently written articles about alleged abuses committed by the army during the government’s recent anti-crime drive, Operation Clean Heart.
On December 12, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Dhaka rejected Mamun’s bail petition and ordered him to be held for 30 days in preventive detention, under the SPA, while his case was being investigated. Mamun was imprisoned at the remote Dinajpur Jail, located about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Dhaka in northern Bangladesh, making it both difficult and expensive for lawyers and family members to visit him.
On January 5, 2003, the High Court declared Mamun’s detention illegal and ordered the government to release him within 24 hours. The court ruled that the government had failed to demonstrate sufficient grounds for Mamun’s detention. However, Dinajpur Jail officials claimed that they did not receive the court order promptly and only released Mamun on January 9.
Police arrested Chowdhury, a senior reporter for the government-controlled news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) and a stringer for Reuters news agency, for allegedly fabricating comments, attributed to the home minister, that al-Qaeda may have been responsible for a series of bombings on December 7, 2002, that killed at least 17 people in the northern town of Mymensingh. Reuters’ coverage of the attacks quoted the statements.
Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury (no relation to the journalist) denied making the statements. Reuters later withdrew five stories regarding the explosions that ran on December 7 and 8, saying it could “no longer vouch for the accuracy of the remarks,” and that it was conducting an internal investigation into its coverage of the attacks. BSS dismissed Enamul Hoque Chowdhury on December 14.
A police statement issued after the journalist’s arrest said that his reporting had “tarnished the country’s image internationally and threatened its relations with powerful and friendly countries.” Police later filed a case against the journalist for complicity in the Mymensingh bomb attacks, which the government claims were part of a conspiracy by the political opposition to destroy the administration’s reputation. He is being held under Bangladesh’s Special Powers Act, which allows for preventive detention of anyone suspected of anti-state activities.
“We permit a free press,” Communications Minister Nazmul Huda told London’s Financial Times. “But we will not allow reporters to besmirch our reputation internationally by making unsubstantiated allegations about Islamic extremism or the presence of an al-Qaeda cell.”
Chowdhury admitted to colleagues that he mistakenly attributed comments about al-Qaeda’s possible role in the blasts to the home minister. However, the journalist has denied any criminal wrongdoing. Legal challenges to his detention were ongoing in January 2003. The High Court ordered a medical board to examine Chowdhury for evidence that he was tortured while in police custody. As this book went to press, Chowdhury was imprisoned at Dhaka Central Jail.
Markevich and Mazheika, both of the independent weekly newspaper Pahonya, were convicted on June 24, 2002, by the Leninsky District Court in the city of Hrodna, in western Belarus, of libeling President Aleksandr Lukashenko. The journalists were sentenced to two-and-a-half and two years, respectively, of corrective labor. The case stemmed from two September 2001 editions of Pahonya that criticized the president ahead of the widely disputed September 9, 2001, presidential elections.
The sentences were later reduced to 18 months for Markevich and 12 months for Mazheika. They began serving their corrective labor terms on September 1, 2002. The two men live in detention centers under police supervision and perform compulsory labor. They were the first journalists convicted under a criminal libel law passed in 1999, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison for libeling the president.
During a 10-day research mission to Belarus in the fall of 2002, CPJ visited both journalists and brought them supplies and also lobbied the government for their releases. In August 2002, Markevich reported that the Hrodna City Executive Council had denied a petition to register his new publication, Holos. Previously, Markevich had submitted four other prospective newspapers for the council’s approval, all of which were denied.
Ivashkevich, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Rabochy, was convicted by a court in the capital, Minsk, of libeling President Aleksandr Lukashenko and sentenced to two years’ hard labor. Under Belarus’ Criminal Code, libeling the president is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The case stemmed from an article in a special August 2001 issue of the newspaper titled “A Thief Belongs in Prison,” which accused Lukashenko’s administration of corruption. Rabochy‘s special issue never reached its readers because prosecutors seized 40,000 copies of it and submitted them as evidence in the case.
A Minsk District Prosecutor’s Office charged Ivashkevich with criminal libel almost a year later, on June 20, 2002.
The journalist’s trial began on September 11, 2002, and he was convicted five days later, on September 16. Ivashkevich appealed the verdict, but on October 15, the Criminal Cases Collegium of the Minsk City Court upheld his sentence. In early December, prosecutors rejected a request by the journalist to serve his corrective labor in Minsk. On December 16, he left the capital for Baranovichy, a city 85 miles (136 kilometers) southwest of Minsk, where he is serving his term.
During a 10-day research mission to Belarus in the fall of 2002, CPJ met with Ivashkevich to discuss his case, his publication’s dire financial situation, and press freedom conditions in Belarus.
U Win Tin, free-lance
U Win Tin, former editor-in-chief of the daily Hanthawati and vice chairman of Burma’s Writers Association, was arrested and sentenced to three years of hard labor on the false charge of arranging a “forced abortion” for a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). One of Burma’s most well-known and influential journalists, U Win Tin helped establish independent publications during the 1988 student democracy movement. He was also a senior leader of the NLD and a close adviser to opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 1992, he was sentenced to an additional 10 years for “writing and publishing pamphlets to incite treason against the State” and “giving seditious talks,” according to a May 2000 report by the Defense Ministry’s Office of Strategic Studies. On March 28, 1996, prison authorities extended U Win Tin’s sentence by another seven years after they convicted him, along with at least 22 others, of producing clandestine publications–including a report describing the horrific conditions at Rangoon’s Insein Prison to Yozo Yokota, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Burma.
U Win Tin was charged under Section 5(e) of the Emergency Provisions Act for having “secretly published anti-government propaganda to create riots in jail,” according to the Defense Ministry report. His cumulative sentence is, therefore, 20 years of hard labor and imprisonment.
Now 72 years old, the veteran journalist is said to be in extremely poor health after years of maltreatment in Burma’s prisons–including a period when he was kept in solitary confinement in one of Insein Prison’s notorious “dog cells,” formerly used as kennels for the facility’s guard dogs. He suffers from spondylitis, a degenerative spine disease, as well as a prostate gland disorder and hemorrhoids. The journalist has had at least two heart attacks, and in 2002, he spent several months at Rangoon General Hospital following a hernia operation.
In July 2002, reports emerged that U Win Tin’s health had deteriorated even further, and many international groups, including CPJ, called for his immediate and unconditional release. In November 2002, authorities again transferred U Win Tin to Rangoon General Hospital, this time for medical treatment in connection with a heart ailment.
Ohn Kyaing, free-lance
On September 7, 1990, Col. Than Tun, Burma’s deputy chief of military intelligence, announced at a press conference that Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan were among six leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) arrested on the previous day, according to international news reports.
On October 19, 1990, the Information Committee of the junta (then known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council and later renamed the State Peace and Development Council) announced at a press conference that Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan “had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a military tribunal for inciting unrest by writing false reports about the unrest, which occurred in Mandalay on 8 August 1990,” according to the BBC’s translation of a state radio broadcast.
The Mandalay “unrest” the committee referred to involved the killing of four pro-democracy demonstrators by the military. Government troops fired on protestors–who were commemorating the democracy rallies of August 8, 1988, during which hundreds were shot dead–killing two monks and two students.
Ohn Kyaing, who also uses the name Aung Wint, is the former editor of the newspaper Botahtaung and one of Burma’s most prominent journalists. He retired from Botahtaung in December 1988 to become more involved in the pro-democracy movement, according to the PEN American Center. In 1990, Ohn Kyaing was elected to Parliament for the NLD, representing a district in Mandalay. (The results of the elections, which the NLD won, were never honored by the military junta.) A leading intellectual, he continued to write. Thein Tan, whose name is sometimes written as Thein Dan, is also a free-lance writer and political activist associated with the NLD.
PEN reported that in mid-1991, Ohn Kyaing received an additional sentence of 10 years in prison under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act for his involvement in drafting a pamphlet for the NLD titled “The Three Paths to Power.” Thein Tan also received an additional 10-year sentence, according to Amnesty International, presumably for the same reason.
In a list of Burmese political prisoners published in April 2001, Amnesty International reported that the sentences of both men were reduced to 10 years on January 1, 1993. However, Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan remained in prison at the end of 2002. Ohn Kyaing was jailed at Taungoo Prison, and Thein Tan was jailed at Thayet Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe, Pe-Tin-Than
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe was arrested and charged with writing and distributing publications that “make people lose respect for the government.” The publications were titled, collectively, Pe-Tin-Than (Echoes). CPJ believes he may have been released but has not been able to confirm his legal status or find records of his sentencing.
Sein Hla Oo, free-lance
Sein Hla Oo, a free-lance journalist and former editor of the newspaper Botahtaung, was arrested along with dissident writer San San Nwe on charges of contacting anti-government groups and spreading information damaging to the state. On October 6, 1994, Sein Hla Oo was sentenced to seven years in prison. San San Nwe and three other dissidents, including a former UNICEF worker, received sentences ranging from seven to 15 years in prison on similar charges.
Officials said the five had “fabricated and sent anti-government reports” to diplomats in foreign embassies, foreign radio stations, and foreign journalists. Sein Hla Oo, elected in 1990 to Parliament representing the National League for Democracy (NLD), had been imprisoned previously for his political activities.
Though San San Nwe was granted an early release in July 2001 along with 10 other political prisoners associated with the NLD, Sein Hla Oo remained in jail. He was held at Myitkyina Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
Though Sein Hla Oo’s sentence should have expired in August 2001, he is now being forced to serve the remainder of an earlier 10-year prison sentence, issued by a military court in Insein Prison in March 1991, according to his wife, Shwe Zin. Authorities had arrested Sein Hla Oo in August 1990 along with several other NLD members but released him under an amnesty order in April 1992. Shwe Zin told the Oslo-based opposition radio station Democratic Voice of Burma in an interview that her husband had signed a document in October 2001 agreeing to abide by Article 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows prisoners’ sentences to be suspended if they pledge not to engage in activities that threaten public order.
Aung Htun, free-lance
Aung Htun, a writer and activist with the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, was arrested in February 1998 for writing a seven-volume book documenting the history of the Burmese student movement. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years’ imprisonment, according to a joint report published in December 2001 by the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the Burma Lawyers Council. Aung Htun was sentenced to three years for allegedly violating the 1962 Printer and Publishers Registration Act, seven years under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, and another seven years under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act. He is jailed at Tharawaddy Prison.
In April 1998, the All Burma Students Democratic Front announced that five others were also prosecuted for contributing to the books, including journalist Tha Ban, a former editor at Kyemon newspaper and a prominent Arakanese activist. Tha Ban, whose name is sometimes written as Thar Ban, was sentenced to seven years in prison. He is being held at Insein Prison.
In August 2002, the human rights group Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal on behalf of Aung Htun and Tha Ban, saying that both journalists required immediate medical attention. Amnesty reported that Aung Htun “has growths on his feet which require investigation, is unable to walk, and suffers from asthma,” and that Tha Ban’s eyesight has “seriously deteriorated.”
Aung Pwint, free-lance
Aung Pwint, a videographer, editor, and poet, and Thaung Tun, an editor, reporter, and poet better known by his pen name Nyein Thit, were arrested separately in early October 1999. CPJ sources said they were arrested for making independent video documentaries that portrayed “real life” in Burma, including footage of forced labor and hardship in rural areas. Aung Pwint worked at a private media company that produced videos for tourism and educational purposes, but he also worked with Thaung Tun on documentary-style projects. Their videotapes circulated through underground networks.
The military government had prohibited Aung Pwint from making videos in 1996 “because they were considered to show too negative a picture of Burmese society and living standards,” according to Human Rights Watch, which awarded Aung Pwint a Hellman-Hammett grant in 2001. A notable poet, he has also written under the name Maung Aung Pwint.
The two men were tried together, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison, according to CPJ sources. Aung Pwint was initially jailed at Insein Prison but was later transferred to Tharawaddy Prison, according to CPJ sources. Thaung Tun was jailed at Moulmein Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
In September 1982, Chen, Lin, and Chen Biling wrote and published a pamphlet titled “Ziyou Bao” (Freedom Report), distributing around 300 copies in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. They were arrested in July 1983, and authorities accused them of making contact with Taiwanese spy organizations and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official government records of the case, the men used “propaganda and incitement to encourage the overthrow of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist system.” In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin Youping was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
Hu Liping, Beijing Ribao
Hu, a staff member of Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was arrested and charged with “counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda” and “trafficking in state secrets,” according to a rare release of information on his case from the Chinese Ministry of Justice in 1998. The Beijing Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on August 15, 1990. Under the terms of his original sentence, Hu should have been released in 2000, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information about his legal status.
Chen Yanbin, Tieliu
Chen and Zhang Yafei, both university students, were arrested and charged with counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda for publishing Tieliu (Iron Currents), an underground publication about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies of the publication were distributed. Chen was sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years without political rights after his release. Zhang was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights after his release. However, Zhang was freed on January 6, 2000, after showing “genuine repentance and a willingness to reform.” In September 2000, the Justice Ministry announced that Chen’s sentence had been reduced by three months for good behavior.
Liu Jingsheng, free-lance
Liu was arrested and charged with “organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group and spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tried secretly in July 1994.
Liu had belonged to labor and pro-democracy groups, including the Liberal Democratic Party of China, the Free Labor Union of China, and the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and had written articles supporting the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations. During the Democracy Wall movement in 1979, Liu co-edited the pro-democracy journal Tansuo (Explorations) with dissident Wei Jingsheng.
Court documents stated that Liu was involved in organizing and leading anti-government and pro-democracy activities. Prosecutors also accused him and other dissidents who were tried on similar charges of writing and printing political leaflets that were distributed in June 1992, during the third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. Liu has had his sentence reduced three times for good behavior, by a total of one year and eight months. In May 2002, on the 10th anniversary of her husband’s arrest, Liu’s wife, Jin Yanming, wrote an account of his imprisonment, trial, and the subsequent harassment of her family by security officials. The document was distributed online.
Kang Yuchun, Freedom Forum
Kang disappeared on May 6, 1992, and was presumed arrested, according to the New York-based advocacy organization Human Rights Watch. In October 1993, in response to an inquiry from the U.N. Working Group on Disappearances, Chinese authorities said Kang was arrested on May 27, 1992. On July 14, 1994, he was one of 16 individuals tried in a Chinese court for alleged involvement with underground pro-democracy groups. Kang was accused, among other charges, of launching Freedom Forum, the magazine of the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and of commissioning people to write articles for the magazine. On December 16, 1994, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for “disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda” and for “organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group.” His sentence has been reduced three times, by a total of three years and eight months, for good behavior.
Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency
Wu, an editor for China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was arrested for allegedly leaking an advance copy of President Jiang Zemin’s 14th Communist Party Congress address to a journalist from the now defunct Hong Kong newspaper Kuai Bao (Express). His wife, Ma, editor of Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao (China Health Education News), was arrested on the same day and accused of acting as Wu’s accomplice. The Beijing Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial, and on August 30, 1993, sentenced Wu to life imprisonment for “illegally supplying state secrets to foreigners.” Ma was sentenced to six years in prison. According to the terms of her original sentence, Ma should have been released in November 1998, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on her legal status.
Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
In 1994, Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of a magazine called Remen Huati (Popular Topics). The men had allegedly purchased fake printing authorizations from an editor of the Journal of European Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to official Chinese news sources. CPJ was unable to determine the date of Fan’s arrest, but on February 7, 1996, the Chang’an District Court in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 15 years in prison for “engaging in speculation and profiteering.” Authorities termed Remen Huati a “reactionary” publication. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.
Hua Di, free-lance
Hua, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested while visiting China and charged with revealing state secrets. The charge is believed to stem from articles that Hua, a scientist at Stanford University, had written about China’s missile defense system.
On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People’s Court overturned Hua’s conviction and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, particularly for a high-profile political case. Nevertheless, in April 2000, the Beijing State Security Bureau rejected a request for Hua to be released on medical parole; he suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.
On November 23, 2000, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court issued a slightly modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison. News of Hua’s sentencing broke in February 2001, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing. In late 2001, Hua was moved to Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai, according to CPJ sources.
Gao Qinrong, Xinhua News Agency
Gao, a reporter for China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was jailed for reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. Xinhua never carried Gao’s article, which was finally published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official People’s Daily that is distributed only among a select group of party leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) and on China Central Television. Gao’s wife, Duan Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media interest and arranged for his prosecution on false charges.
Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a closed, one-day trial. He is being held in a prison in Qixian, Shanxi Province, according to CPJ sources.
In September 2001, Gao wrote to Mary Robinson, then the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and asked her to intercede with the Chinese government on his behalf. Gao has received support from several members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of the National People’s Congress, who issued a motion at its annual parliamentary meeting in March 2001 urging the Central Discipline Committee and Supreme People’s Court to reopen his case. But by the end of 2002, there had been no change in his legal status.
Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
The Tianshui People’s Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison on July 5, 1999. The journalist was charged with “subverting state power,” according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Yue was arrested along with two colleagues–Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin–both of whom were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and have since been released. According to the Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post, Yue, Guo, and Wang were arrested in January 1999 for publishing Zhongguo Gongren Guancha (China Workers’ Monitor), a journal that campaigned for workers’ rights.
With help from Wang, Yue and Guo started the journal after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. All three men were reportedly members of the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers. The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guancha exposed extensive corruption among officials at the Tianshui City Transport Agency. Only two issues were ever published.
Wang Yingzheng, free-lance
Police arrested Wang in the city of Xuzhou, in eastern Jiangsu Province, as he was photocopying an article he had written about political reform. The article was based on an open letter that the 19-year-old Wang had addressed to Chinese president Jiang Zemin. In the letter, Wang wrote–as translated by Agence France-Presse–“Many Chinese are discontented with the government’s inability to squash corruption. This is largely due to a lack of opposition parties and a lack of press freedom.”
About five months earlier, in September 1998, Wang had been imprisoned for two weeks, during which time authorities questioned him about his association with Qin Yongmin, a key leader of the China Democracy Party who received a 12-year prison sentence in December 1998.
On December 10, 1999, Wang was convicted of subversion and sentenced to three years in prison. His trial was closed, but his family was notified of the verdict by letter, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. According to the original terms of his sentence, Wang should have been released in February 2002, but CPJ has been unable to determine his legal status.
Wu Yilong, Zaiye Dang
Mao Qingxiang, Zaiye Dang
Wu, an organizer for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), was detained by police in Guangzhou on April 26, 1999. Mao, Zhu, and Xu, also leading CDP activists, were reportedly detained sometime around June 4, the 10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The four were later charged with subversion for, among other things, establishing a magazine called Zaiye Dang (Opposition Party) and circulating pro-democracy writings online.
On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province conducted what The New York Times described as a “sham trial.” On November 9, 1999, all four journalists were convicted of subversion. Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Mao was sentenced to eight years in prison; Zhu, to seven years; and Xu, to five years.
In December 2002, Mao was transferred to a convalescence hospital after his health had sharply declined as a result of being confined to his cell. Zhu, who has also been confined to his cell and forbidden from reading newspapers, had been placed under tightened restrictions at year’s end after refusing to express regret for his actions, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
Liu Xianli, free-lance
The Beijing Intermediate Court found writer Liu guilty of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Liu’s “crime” was attempting to publish a book on Chinese dissidents, including Xu Wenli, one of China’s most prominent political prisoners and a leading figure in the China Democracy Party. In December 1998, Xu was himself convicted of subversion and sentenced to 13 years in prison. On December 24, 2002, Xu was released on medical parole and deported to the United States.
Jiang Qisheng, free-lance
Police arrested Jiang in the late evening and searched his home, seizing his computer, several documents, and articles he had written for Beijing zhi Chun (Beijing Spring), a New York-based pro-democracy publication. The arrest came after Jiang published a series of essays and open letters related to the 10th anniversary of the government’s violent suppression of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. One essay called for a candlelight vigil on June 4, 1999; another urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the massacre; and a third protested the police’s brutal treatment of Cao Jiahe, an editor of Dongfang (Orient) magazine who was detained on May 10, 1999, and tortured while in police custody. Cao had been detained for allegedly circulat- ing a petition to remember the hundreds killed by government troops during the Tiananmen crackdown.
During Jiang’s two-and-a-half-hour trial, held on November 1, 1999, prosecutors cited an April essay calling for a protest vigil, “Light a Thousand Candles,” as evidence of his anti-state activities. Prosecutors also accused him of circulating an article on political reform, though Jiang said he showed the piece to only three friends. On December 27, 2000, thirteen months after his trial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Jiang to four years in prison.
An Jun, free-lance
An, an anti-corruption campaigner, was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges. The Intermediate People’s Court in Xinyang, Henan Province, announced the verdict on April 19, 2000, citing An’s essays and articles on corruption as evidence of his anti-state activities.
A former manager of an export trading company, An founded the civic group Zhongguo Fubai Xingwei Guancha (China Corruption Monitor) in 1998 and was arrested in July 1999. The group reportedly exposed more than 100 cases of corruption. During his November 1999 trial, An “said he was only trying to help the government end rampant corruption,” according to Agence France-Presse.
In November 2001, An’s family sent a letter to President Jiang Zemin appealing for the journalist’s release for medical reasons. An suffers from heart problems and has not received adequate treatment while in prison, according to Agence France-Presse.
On December 7, 2002, An began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China. At the end of the year, he was in critical condition after having refused food for more than three weeks.
Qi Yanchen, free-lance
Police arrested Qi at his home in Cangzhou, Hebei Province. His wife told reporters that officers confiscated his computer, printer, fax machine, and a number of documents. Qi, an economist, has published many articles in intellectual journals and online publications calling for economic and political reforms. He was also associated with the online magazine Canzhao (Consultations), a publication linked to the banned China Development Union.
On May 30, 2000, Qi was prosecuted for subversion before the Cangzhou People’s Court in a closed, half-day trial. He was sentenced to four years in prison on September 19, 2000. His sentencing papers cited as evidence articles he had written for Hong Kong magazines and overseas Web sites.
Zhang Ji, free-lance
Zhang, a student at Qiqihar University in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, was charged on November 8, 1999, with “disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet,” according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Zhang had allegedly distributed news and information about the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong. He was arrested sometime in October as part of the Chinese government’s crackdown on the sect.
Using the Internet, Zhang reportedly transmitted news of the crackdown to Falun Gong members in the United States and Canada and also received reports from abroad, which he then circulated among practitioners in China. Before Zhang’s arrest, Chinese authorities had increased Internet surveillance as part of their effort to crush Falun Gong.
Huang Qi, Tianwang Web site
Public security officials came to Huang’s office and arrested him for articles that had appeared on the Tianwang Web site, which he published. In January 2001, he was charged with subversion.
In October 1998, Huang and his wife, Zeng Li, launched Tianwang (www.6-4tianwang.com), a missing-persons search service based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The site soon became a forum for users to publicize abuses of power by local officials and to post articles about a variety of topics, including the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the independence movement in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
In December 1999, Huang published an investigative report about labor abuses committed against workers whom the Sichuan provincial government had sent abroad. While several domestic newspapers subsequently investigated and published stories on the case, authorities in Chengdu began threatening Huang and repeatedly interrogated him about his reporting.
Huang has been beaten in prison and has tried to commit suicide, according to an open letter he wrote from prison in February 2001 that was published on the Tianwang site. His family members, including his wife and young son, have not been allowed to visit or communicate with him since his arrest two years ago.
The Chengdu Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province held a secret trial on August 14, 2001. Family members were not allowed to attend, and no verdict or sentencing date was released. Huang’s trial had been postponed several times throughout 2001 in an apparent effort to deflect international attention from China’s human rights practices during the country’s campaign to host the 2008 Olympic Games. (Two of the trial delays–on February 23 and June 27–coincided with important dates in Beijing’s Olympics bid.)
Overseas supporters of Huang regularly post updates on his case to the Tianwang Web site, which is now hosted on a server outside China.
Xu Zerong, free-lance
Xu was arrested in the city of Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 19 months before being tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in January 2002. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “leaking state secrets” and to an additional three years on charges of committing “economic crimes.”
Xu, an associate research professor in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, has written several free-lance articles about China’s foreign policy and co-founded a Hong Kong-based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). Xu is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Chinese officials have said that the “state secrets” charges against Xu stem from his use of historical materials for his academic research. In 1992, Xu photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China’s role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea, according to a letter from the Chinese government to St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. (Xu earned his Ph.D. at St. Antony’s College, and since his arrest, college personnel have actively researched and protested his case.) The Security Committee of the People’s Liberation Army in Guangzhou later determined that these documents should be labeled “top secret.”
The “economic crimes” charges are related to the “illegal publication” of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals since 1993, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing’s relations with Taiwan, according to official government documents.
Some observers believe that the charges against Xu are more likely related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) newsmagazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for Malaysian communist insurgency groups. Xu was arrested only days before the article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue. In the article, Xu accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy for condemning the United States and other countries for interfering in China’s internal affairs by criticizing its human rights record. “China’s support of world revolution is based on the concept of ‘class above sovereignty’…which is equivalent to the idea of ‘human rights above sovereignty,’ which the U.S. promotes today,” Xu wrote.
Xu’s family has filed an appeal, which was pending at press time. They have not been allowed to visit him since his arrest.
Guo Qinghai, free-lance
Guo was arrested after posting numerous essays on overseas online bulletin boards calling for political reforms in China. In almost 40 essays posted under the pen name Qing Song, Guo covered a variety of topics, including political prisoners, environmental problems, and corruption. In one essay, Guo discussed the importance of a free press, saying, “Those who oppose lifting media censorship argue that it will negatively influence social stability. But according to what I have seen … countries that control speech may be able to maintain stability in the short term, but the end result is often violent upheaval, coup d’états, or war.”
Guo, who worked in a bank, also wrote articles for Taiwanese newspapers. He was a friend and classmate of writer Qi Yanchen, who was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges just four days after Guo’s arrest (see above). One of Guo’s last online essays appealed for Qi’s release. On April 3, 2001, a court in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, tried Guo on subversion charges. On April 26, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Liu Weifang, free-lance
Liu was arrested sometime after September 26, 2000, when security officials from the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, came to his house, confiscated his computer, and announced that he was being officially investigated, according to an account that Liu posted online. His most recent essay was dated October 20, 2000.
Liu had recently posted a number of essays criticizing China’s leaders and political system in Internet chat rooms. The essays, which the author signed either with his real name or with the initials “lgwf,” covered topics such as official corruption, development policies in China’s western regions, and environmental issues. At press time, the articles were available online at http://liuweifang.ipfox.com.
“The reasons for my actions are all above-board,” Liu wrote in one essay. “They are not aimed at any one person or any organization; rather, they are directed at any behavior in society that harms humanity. The goal is to speed up humanity’s progress and development.” The official Xinjiang Daily characterized Liu’s work as “a major threat to national security.” According to a June 15, 2001, report in the Xinjiang Daily, the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District’s Intermediate People’s Court had sentenced Liu to three years in prison.
Jiang Weiping, free-lance
Jiang was arrested after publishing a number of articles in the Hong Kong magazine Qianshao (Frontline), a monthly Chinese-language magazine focusing on mainland affairs, revealing corruption scandals in northeastern China.
Jiang wrote the Qianshao articles, which were published between June and September 1999, under various pen names. His coverage exposed several major corruption scandals involving high-level officials. Notably, Jiang reported that Shenyang vice mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos. Jiang also revealed that Liaoning provincial governor Bo Xilai had covered up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian mayor.
Soon after these cases were publicized in Qianshao and other Hong Kong media, central authorities detained Ma. He was accused of taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas and was executed for these crimes in December 2001. After Ma’s arrest, his case was widely reported in the domestic press and used as an example in the government’s ongoing fight against corruption. However, in May 2001, Jiang was indicted for “revealing state secrets.”
The Dalian Intermediate Court held a secret trial in September 2001. On January 25, 2002, the court formally sentenced Jiang to eight years in prison on charges including “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegally providing state secrets overseas.” This judgment amended an earlier decision to sentence Jiang to nine years. During the January sentencing, Jiang proclaimed his innocence and told the court that the verdict “trampled on the law,” according to CPJ sources. He has since appealed the verdict, but the case remained pending at year’s end.
According to CPJ sources, Jiang has a serious stomach disorder and has been denied medical treatment. Jiang’s wife and daughter have not been allowed to see or speak with him in the two years since his arrest. His wife, Li Yanling, has been repeatedly interrogated and threatened since her husband’s arrest. In March 2002, the local public security bureau brought her in for questioning and detained her for several weeks.
An experienced journalist, Jiang had worked until May 2000 as the northeastern China bureau chief for the Hong Kong paper Wen Hui Bao. He contributed free-lance articles to Qianshao. In the 1980s, he worked as a Dalian-based correspondent for Xinhua News Agency.
In November 2001, CPJ honored Jiang with its annual International Press Freedom Award. In February 2002, CPJ sent appeals to Chinese president Jiang Zemin from almost 600 supporters–including CBS news anchor Dan Rather, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and former U.S. ambassador to China Winston Lord–demanding Jiang’s unconditional release. That month, U.S. president George W. Bush highlighted Jiang’s case in meetings with Jiang Zemin during a state visit to China. No progress had been made in the case by the end of 2002.
Lu Xinhua, free-lance
Lu was arrested in Wuhan, Hubei Province, after articles he had written about rural unrest and official corruption appeared on various Internet news sites based overseas. On April 20, 2001, he was charged with “inciting to subvert state power,” a charge frequently used against journalists who write about politically sensitive subjects. Lu’s trial began on September 18. On December 30, 2001, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan Web site
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were detained on March 13 and charged with subversion on April 20. The four were active participants in the Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals who explored topics related to political and social reform and used the Internet to circulate relevant articles.
Yang, the group’s most prominent member, published a Web site, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi’s Garden of Ideas), which featured poems, essays, and reports by various authors on subjects such as the shortcomings of rural elections. Authorities closed the site after Yang’s arrest.
When Xu, a reporter with Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), was detained on March 13, authorities confiscated his computer, other professional equipment, and books, according to an account published online by his girlfriend, Wang Ying. Wang reported that public security officials also ordered Xiaofei Ribao to fire Xu. The newspaper has refused to discuss his case with reporters, according to The Associated Press.
The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court tried all four on September 28, 2001. Prosecutors focused predominately on the group’s writings, including two essays circulated on the Internet called “Be a new citizen, reform China” and “What’s to be done?” According to the indictment papers, these articles demonstrated the group’s intention “to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and the socialist system and subvert the regime of the people’s democratic dictatorship.” No verdict had been announced in the case by the end of 2002.
Liu Haofeng, free-lance
Liu was secretly arrested in Shanghai in mid-March while conducting research on social conditions in rural China for the dissident China Democracy Party (CDP). On May 16, 2001, Liu was sentenced to “re-education through labor,” a form of administrative detention that allows officials to send individuals to labor camps for up to three years without trial or formal charges.
After Liu’s arrest, friends and family were not informed of his whereabouts, and CDP members say they only found out what had happened to him when they received news of his sentence in August 2001.
Sentencing papers issued by the Shanghai Re-education Through Labor Committee cited several alleged offenses, including a policy paper and an essay written by Liu that were published under different pen names on the CDP’s Web site. The essay focused on the current situation of China’s peasants. The committee also accused Liu of trying to form an illegal organization, the “China Democracy Party Joint Headquarters, Second Front.”
The journalist had previously worked as an editor and reporter for various publications, including the magazine Jishu Jingji Yu Guanli (Technology, Economy, and Management), run by the Fujian Province Economic and Trade Committee, and Zhongguo Shichang Jingji Bao (China Market Economy News), run by the Central Party School in the capital, Beijing. Beginning in 1999, he worked for Univillage, a research organization focusing on rural democratization, and managed its Web site. He was working as a free-lance journalist at the time of his arrest.
Wang Jinbo, free-lance
Wang, a free-lance journalist, was arrested in early May 2001 for e-mailing essays to overseas organizations arguing that the government should change its official view that the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square were “counterrevolutionary.” In October 2001, Wang was formally charged with “inciting to subvert state power.” On November 14, the Junan County Court in Shandong Province held a closed trial; only the journalists’ relatives were allowed to attend. On December 13, 2001, Wang was sentenced to four years in prison.
Wang, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, had been detained several times in the past for his political activities. In February 2001, days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited Beijing, he was briefly taken into custody after signing an open letter calling on the IOC to pressure China to release political prisoners. A number of Wang’s essays have been posted on various Internet sites. One, titled “My Account of Police Violations of Civil Rights,” describes his January 2001 detention, during which police interrogated him and held him for 20 hours with no food or heat after he signed an open letter calling for the release of political prisoners.
Wang, editor of Shengtai Yanjiu (Ecology Research) magazine, was arrested after leaving his house to go grocery shopping, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China. Several state security officers also searched his home and confiscated copies of the magazine, his journal, and other personal items.
Soon after his arrest, authorities said Wang was being detained under Article 109 of the Criminal Code, which covers the crime of defection to another country. However, on December 19, 2002, the Hefei Intermediate Court, in Anhui Province, sentenced Wang to one year in prison on subversion charges. Prosecutors cited as evidence articles Wang had written for Shengtai Yanjiu, including one titled “On the 35th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution.”
Wang, 70, has repeatedly angered authorities by publishing articles and editorials that blame the government for China’s ecological problems. In 1997, state security officers ordered him to stop publishing Shengtai Yanjiu, but he refused. Wang’s sentence accounts for time served since February 7, 2002, when his wife was notified of his arrest. He is due to be released on February 6, 2003.
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and charged with “incitement to subvert state power.” According to the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published Tao’s recent writing, his articles focused on political and legal reform. In one essay, titled “Strategies for China’s Social Reforms,” Tao wrote that “the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society should unite to push forward China’s freedom and democratic development or else stand condemned through the ages.”
Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of “re-education through labor” in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and his work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing essays and articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court tried Tao, but no sentence had been announced by press time.
Zhang was arrested and charged with illegal publishing after producing and selling two underground newspapers in Chongqing, in central China. According to an account published on the Web site of the Chongqing Press and Publishing Administration, a provincial government body that governs all local publications, beginning in April 2001, Zhang edited two newspapers, Shishi Zixun (Current Events) and Redian Jiyao (Summary of the Main Points), which included articles and graphics he had downloaded from the Internet.
Two of Zhang’s business associates, Zuo Shangwen and Ou Yan, were also arrested on July 19, 2002, and indicted for their involvement with the publications. Zuo printed the publications in neighboring Sichuan Province while Ou managed the publications’ finances. At the time of their arrests, police confiscated 9,700 copies of Shishi Zixun.
The official account of their arrests stated that the two publications had “flooded” Chongqing’s publishing market. The government declared that “the political rumors, shocking ‘military reports,’ and other articles in these illegal publications misled the public, poisoned the youth, negatively influenced society and sparked public indignation.” Zhang, Zuo, and Ou printed more than 1.5 million copies of the publications and sold them in Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities.
On December 25, 2002, the Yuzhong District Court in Chongqing sentenced Zhang to six years in prison and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,000), the amount that police said he had earned in profits from the publications. Zuo was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), while Ou was sentenced to two years in prison.
Chen, a free-lance writer, was arrested on suspicion of “using the Internet to subvert state power,” according to a September 14 report in the official Hunan Daily. The article did not give the date of Chen’s arrest, although Boxun News, an overseas online news service, reported that he was arrested on August 6.
Chen, who lives in Lianyuan, Hunan Province, has written numerous essays and articles for various overseas Chinese-language Web sites, including the online magazine Huang Hua Gang and Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). According to his biography on the Minzhu Luntan Web site (asiademo.org), Chen’s essays covered topics including China’s unemployment problem, social inequalities, and flaws in the legal system.
The Hunan Daily article accused Chen of “repeatedly browsing reactionary websites … sending in numerous articles of all sorts, fabricating, distorting and exaggerating relevant facts, and vilifying the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system.” The report stated that Chen had published more than 40 articles on overseas “reactionary” Web sites. Chen is still under investigation, and it is not clear whether he has been formally charged. His family has not been allowed to visit him in detention.
Liu disappeared on November 7. The following day, security officials came to her house, which she shares with her 80-year-old grandmother, and confiscated Liu’s computer, several books, and other personal belongings. Officials told her family that Liu was being investigated for “participating in an illegal organization.” Authorities have not offered her family any further explanation as to her whereabouts.
Liu, 22, is a fourth-year student in the psychology department at Beijing Teacher’s University. Using the pseudonym Buxiugang Laoshu (Stainless Steel Mouse), she wrote several online essays criticizing the Chinese government.
In one essay, Liu wrote that, “My ideals are the ideals of an open society… In my view, freedom does not just include external freedom, but freedom within our hearts and minds.” In another essay, Liu called on Chinese citizens to stop reading official news and to read only “reactionary” materials. She also wrote in support of Huang Qi and Yang Zili, Web site publishers who have been arrested and charged with subversion.
Liu had expressed fears of being arrested and said that school authorities had called her in for questioning several times prior to her disappearance, according to online accounts written by her friends and acquaintances.
Liu’s arrest became a rallying point for Chinese Internet users worldwide, and in December her supporters created a Web site (http://184.108.40.206) and launched a global petition demanding her release. By year’s end, the petition had gathered more than 700 signatures from inside and outside China.
Liu’s disappearance came one day before the opening of the 16th Communist Party Congress. During the run-up to the congress, Chinese authorities escalated a crackdown on free expression by arresting government critics, closing Web sites, and tightening already stringent control over the official media.
Bernardo Rogelio Arévalo Padrón, Línea Sur Press
Arévalo Padrón, founder of the Línea Sur Press news agency, remains in prison despite being eligible for parole, and his health has suffered as a result of his prolonged imprisonment.
On October 31, 1997, a provincial court sentenced Arévalo Padrón to six years in prison for “lack of respect” for President Fidel Castro Ruz and Cuban State Council member Carlos Lage. The charges stemmed from a series of interviews Arévalo Padrón gave in late 1997 to Miami-based radio stations in which he alleged that while Cuban farmers starved, helicopters were taking fresh meat from the countryside to President Castro, Lage, and other Communist Party officials in the capital, Havana.
The journalist began his sentence on November 18, 1997, in a maximum- security prison. On April 11, 1998, State Security officers beat Arévalo Padrón and placed him in solitary confinement after accusing him of making anti-government posters. Later, another prisoner was found to have made the posters.
Arévalo Padrón has also suffered bouts of bronchitis and was reportedly treated twice for high blood pressure in the prison infirmary. On January 8, 2000, the journalist was transferred to Labor Camp No. 20, where he served four months.
On April 6, 2000, the journalist was sent to the overcrowded and unsanitary San Marcos Labor Camp, where he worked chopping weeds with a machete in sugarcane fields. Prison authorities constantly watched Arévalo Padrón, censored his incoming and outgoing mail, and threatened to send him back to a maximum-security prison if he did not meet his production quota.
Because of his strenuous work at the labor camps, Arévalo Padrón developed lower back pain and coronary blockage. After ignoring Arévalo Padrón’s pain for weeks, in September 2000 prison authorities allowed him to see a doctor, who determined that Arévalo Padrón’s poor health disqualified him from physical work, and that he should permanently wear an orthopedic brace.
In October 2000, prison authorities informed Arévalo Padrón that his parole had been approved. But he remained in the labor camp, a violation of Cuban law.
Early in 2001, Arévalo Padrón was transferred to the El Diamante Labor Camp, where prison officers continued to harass him. In February 2001, the journalist’s colleagues reported that he had again developed high blood pressure. In early March, Arévalo Padrón complained that officials refused to take him to a hospital outside the labor camp for treatment. On March 21, prison authorities relented after pressure from friends, family, and press freedom organizations. A heart specialist recommended that Arévalo Padrón check his blood pressure daily, take medication, avoid tension, and stop smoking.
In May 2001, prison officers routinely ignored the journalist’s requests to have his blood pressure checked and often withheld his medication. During the same period, a court again denied him parole despite his poor health.
On June 30, 2001, the journalist was transferred to another labor camp. For the prison transfer, he had to walk several miles in the heat carrying his belongings, the journalist said in a letter to colleagues. In the new labor camp, he was assigned to a cell for chronically ill prisoners. He was exempt from physical work but lacked adequate medical attention and food. Despite his legal right to be paroled, his jailers told him that he would serve his entire sentence. In October 2001, judges ignored his request for parole, and the journalist continued to report constant harassment.
In November 2001, the European Union requested that Arévalo Padrón be released and allowed to travel to Spain, but authorities did not respond. The journalist’s request to attend a January 2002 appointment with the U.S. Interests Section Refugee Unit in Havana was also ignored.
In July 2002, Arévalo Padrón was transferred back to the maximum-security Ariza Prison. In December 2002, he suffered from a severe fever and was treated with antibiotics. According to his colleagues, Arévalo Padrón’s wife, Libertad Acosta, suspects he contracted a severe bacterial infection. In addition, he suffers from migraines and high blood pressure, and his family and friends say his mental health has deteriorated. Arévalo Padrón’s six-year sentence ends in October 2003.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 2
Raymond Kabala, Alerte Plus
Kabala, publication director of the independent daily Alerte Plus, based in the capital, Kinshasa, was arrested by plainclothes police officers and detained at the provincial police department. The next day, he was transferred to Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Center (CPRK).
According to local sources, Kabala’s arrest stemmed from a July 11 Alerte Plus article reporting that Minister of Public Order and Security Mwenze Kongolo had allegedly been poisoned. The newspaper learned that the information was false and published a correction the next day.
According to the local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger (JED), Kabala claims that authorities repeatedly questioned him about the article’s sources and tortured him during his detention.
On the afternoon of July 22, officers of the Kinshasa/Matete Appeals Court Prosecutor’s Office arrested Delly Bonsange, the journalist who had written the offending article. He spent the night in police custody, and authorities questioned him about the report the next day. He was later transferred to the CPRK.
On September 6, a Kinshasa court convicted Kabala and Bonsange of “harmful accusations,” “writing falsehoods,” and “falsification of a public document.” Kabala was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined US$200,000. Bonsange was sentenced to six months and fined US$100,000.
According to a JED representative who attended the court proceedings, the “falsification of a public document” charge came because the actual address of Alerte Plus‘ office differs from the one listed in the paper.
On September 26, Bonsange was transferred to Kinshasa’s General Hospital after a doctor found his blood sugar levels unusually high. The journalist told JED that, during the first days of his detention, officials had barred him from taking his diabetes medication and following his usual diet.
According to JED, on November 21, a Kinshasa appeals court ruled that the charge against Bonsange of “writing falsehoods” was unfounded but upheld the charge of “falsification of a public document.” The journalist’s six-month prison sentence was dropped, and he was released on December 3. He was, however, fined US$750.
The court upheld the charges and the fine against Kabala but reduced his prison sentence from 12 to seven months.
Mukombe, a journalist for the private Tshikapa-based Radio Kilimandjaro, was arrested by agents of the Congolese Armed Forces (FAC) Military Intelligence Branch (DEMIAP).
Mukombe hosts a local-language radio program that focuses on development issues in Tshikapa and the surrounding region of the diamond-rich West Kasai Province. According to the local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger (JED), on his December 30 program, Mukombe criticized several local military officials who have allegedly become diamond traders and have allowed their soldiers to steal from the local population. On the program, Mukombe interviewed diamond miners who denounced harassment by these military officials.
Mukombe was accused of “insulting the army.” He was held at the local DEMIAP station until January 2, 2003, when he was transferred to the Tshikapa Central Prison. Eyewitnesses said FAC agents beat Mukombe at the time of his arrest, according to JED.
CPJ was unable to confirm whether authorities intended to prosecute Mukombe. Local sources said it is possible that Mukombe could be tried for the offense in the military court system, which has been known to hand down heavier sentences than civilian courts.
Journalists in the capital, Kinshasa, said that Mukombe had also been arrested on December 23 following the broadcast of a program during which he denounced the poverty endured by the local population while valuable diamonds are mined on a daily basis in the city. Mukombe was released that day after signing an agreement to no longer “set the population against the established authorities,” only to be re-arrested days later. He remained in prison at press time.
Mamdouh Mahran, Al-Nabaa
Mahran, editor of the controversial weekly newspaper Al-Nabaa, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 200 Egyptian pounds (about US$50) on September 16, 2001, for allegedly undermining public security, publishing scandalous photos, insulting religion, and causing civil turmoil.
The charges stemmed from a June 17, 2001, Al-Nabaa cover story alleging that a Coptic Christian monk had sex with several women in a Coptic monastery in southern Egypt and filmed the encounters to blackmail the women. The piece was accompanied by provocative photos. The Al-Nabaa article led to demonstrations and riots among Egypt’s Coptic minority, who viewed the story as insulting to their religion.
Coptic Church officials vehemently denied that sexual acts had occurred in the monastery and pointed out that the monk in question had been defrocked five years earlier, a fact omitted from Al-Nabaa‘s account.
Mahran was to begin his sentence on October 1, 2001, but he allegedly suffered a heart attack the day before. He was taken, under guard, to a private heart trauma center in the capital, Cairo, where he remained hospitalized under guard at the end of 2002.
Zemenfes Haile, Tsigenay
Sometime in early 1999, Haile, founder and manager of the private weekly Tsigenay, was detained by Eritrean authorities and sent to Zara Labor Camp in the country’s lowland desert. Authorities accused Haile of failing to complete the National Service Program, but sources told CPJ that the journalist completed the program in 1994.
Near the end of 2000, Haile was transferred to an unknown location, and friends and relatives have not seen or heard from him since. CPJ sources in Eritrea believe that Haile’s continued detention is part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
Keleta, reporter for the private weekly Tsigenay, was kidnapped by security agents on his way to work sometime in July 2000 and has not been seen since. The reasons for Keleta’s arrest remain unclear, but CPJ sources in Eritrea believe that Keleta’s continued detention is part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Selamyinghes Beyene, MeQaleh
Beyene, reporter for the independent weekly MeQaleh, and Haile, a journalist at the pro-government Haddas Eritrea, were arrested some time in the fall of 2001 and have been missing since. CPJ was unable to confirm the reasons for their arrests, but Eritrean sources believe that the detention of the journalists is part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Temesken Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Dawit Habtemichael, MeQaleh
Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, Setit
Beginning September 18, 2001, Eritrean security forces arrested at least 10 local journalists. Two others fled the country. The arrests came less than a week after authorities abruptly closed all privately owned newspapers, allegedly to safeguard national unity in the face of growing political turmoil in the tiny Horn of Africa nation.
International news reports quoted presidential adviser Yemane Gebremeskel as saying that the journalists could have been arrested for avoiding military service. Sources in the capital, Asmara, however, say that at least two of the detained journalists, free-lance photographer Fsehaye and Mohamed Ali, editor of Tsigenay, are legally exempt from national service. Fsehaye is reportedly exempt because he is an independence war veteran, while Mohamed Ali is apparently well over the maximum age for military service.
CPJ sources in Asmara maintain that the suspension and subsequent arrests of independent journalists were part of a full-scale government effort to suppress political dissent in advance of December 2001 elections, which the government canceled without explanation.
On March 31, 2002, the 10 jailed reporters began a hunger strike to protest their continued detention without charge, according to local and international sources. In a message smuggled from inside the Police Station One detention center in Asmara, the journalists said they would refuse food until they were either released or charged and given a fair trial. Three days later, nine of the hunger strikers were transferred to an undisclosed detention facility. According to CPJ sources, the 10th journalist, Swedish national Isaac, was sent to a hospital, where he is being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder, a result of alleged torture while in police custody. His health condition remained unspecified at the end of 2002.
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to Asmara, a presidential official told a CPJ delegation that only “about eight” news professionals were being held in detention facilities, whose whereabouts he refused to disclose.
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that Seyoum, a writer and general manager at the banned private weekly Setit, was arrested while trying to cross Eritrea’s border with Sudan. The driver of the minivan carrying Seyoum and others was also arrested, after border patrol agents opened fire on his vehicle, chased it, and captured some of its passengers. At least one of the fugitives, an Eritrean journalist who chose to remain anonymous, survived the incident and reached the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, days later.
Seyoum, a hero of Eritrea’s 30-year independence war against Ethiopia, is being held in solitary confinement at the Hadish Maaskar detention facility near the town of Gyrmayka on the border with Sudan, according to CPJ sources in Eritrea.
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that around February 15, Eritrean authorities arrested Said, a journalist for the state-run Eritrean State Television (ETV), Saadia (full name unknown), a female journalist with the Arabic-language service of ETV, and Aljezeeri, a journalist for Eritrean State Radio. All three were still in government custody at the end of 2002.
The reasons for their arrests are unclear, but CPJ sources in Eritrea believe their continued detention is related to the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Kassa, former editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, was sentenced to two years in prison on two counts of violating Ethiopia’s restrictive Press Proclamation No. 34 of 1992 in three articles published in Ethiop in 1997.
The first charge, “disseminating false information that could incite people to political violence,” stemmed from two stories: The first reported that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had fired personnel at the Debre Zeit air force base who previously worked for the former regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam and replaced them with pro-EPRDF workers; the second article alleged that unidentified individuals had failed in an attempt to bomb a popular hotel in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The second charge, “defamation,” resulted from another 1997 article in Ethiop, which alleged that a private investment company specializing in natural-resource development had connections in the EPRDF government. According to a source at Ethiop, Kassa was charged even after the newspaper complied with a government order forcing the publication to print a letter of apology.
At the time of his conviction, Kassa was already in jail. In mid-May, he was imprisoned for missing a court hearing related to the charges. Sources in Addis Ababa said Kassa had mistaken the date of the hearing.
Diallo, founding publisher, owner, and columnist of the independent bimonthly L’Enquêteur, was arrested by gendarmes in the capital, Conakry. The arrest followed the publication of an article in that day’s edition of L’Enquêteur alleging that army inspector general Col. Mamadou Baldé had resigned. Baldé denied the allegation and accused his detractors of “wanting to do him in,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Diallo was charged with defamation, and on December 20, he was transferred from the gendarmerie to Conakry’s Central Prison to await trial. On January 3, 2003, Diallo was provisionally released from prison. On January 7, he was convicted of defamation and sentenced to a year in prison. However, shortly after the sentence was announced, President Lansana Conté pardoned Diallo.
Police arrested Gilani, New Delhi bureau chief for the Jammu-based newspaper Kashmir Times, following a raid on his home earlier that day by various agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, the Special Branch of Police, and the Income Tax Department. Authorities confiscated the journalist’s computer and several documents, including bank statements, according to his wife. Gilani, who is a well-regarded independent journalist, also reports for the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and the Pakistani newspapers The Friday Times and The Nation. The journalist’s detention coincided with the arrest the same day of his father-in-law, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a senior separatist leader in Kashmir.
Authorities accused Gilani of possessing classified documents “prejudicial to the safety and security of the country.” He was charged under India’s Official Secrets Act, a draconian, colonial-era law. However, the document cited by investigators as central to the case had been published in a Pakistani journal and was readily available on the Internet. Though journalists and international organizations, including CPJ, highlighted this information in the days immediately following Gilani’s arrest, military intelligence officials conceded the point only in December.
In a December 12 evaluation of the document in question, intelligence officials admitted that the paper was “easily available” and of “negligible security value.” The government, however, did not withdraw the case against Gilani until January 10, 2003. The Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Delhi ordered Gilani’s release on January 13.
Indonesian troops arrested McCulloch, an academic and free-lance journalist, along with her friend, Joy Lee Sadler, while conducting security operations in Keuleut District in restive Aceh Province. The two were taken to the South Aceh District Police Station.
Soldiers also arrested the women’s Acehnese interpreter, Fitrah bin Amin, but she was soon released without charge.
Spokesman Maj. Taufik Sugiono told The Associated Press (AP) that the women were carrying a computer disk with digital images and documents relating to the rebel Free Aceh Movement, known by its Indonesian acronym, GAM. “We questioned them as they were foreigners carrying rebel documents in a conflict-area,” Sugiono told the AP. “We just wanted to know what are they doing here.” In interviews with journalists, McCulloch and Sadler later claimed that during their detention in South Aceh, they were sexually harassed, beaten, and threatened at knifepoint.
GAM rebels have been fighting for Aceh’s independence from Indonesia since 1976 in a conflict that has killed more than 12,000 people during the last decade alone. McCulloch, a British national who most recently worked as a lecturer at the University of Tasmania in Australia, has written frequently on Aceh, specifically about the military’s alleged profiteering from the resource-rich province. Sadler, a U.S. national, is a nurse who has treated refugees in conflict zones.
On September 17, police transferred McCulloch and Sadler to a detention center in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and announced that the two were formally under investigation. Police threatened to accuse them of espionage but ultimately charged them with carrying out “activities incompatible with tourist visas” under Article 50 of the Immigration Law, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. Though foreign correspondents accused of visa infractions in Indonesia have generally been deported, police expressed their intention to use this case as a stern warning. “Police will make strong efforts to intensively investigate so this can become a lesson for foreigners who violate the law in Aceh and Indonesia,” Aceh police spokesman Taufik Sutiyono told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
McCulloch, who maintains that she was visiting friends in Aceh, told journalists that she believes she was targeted because of her critical writings about alleged abuses committed by Indonesian security forces in Aceh.
Trial proceedings began in Banda Aceh on November 25, and on December 30, McCulloch and Sadler were sentenced to five months and four months in prison, respectively. While announcing his decision, Judge Asril Marwan said that McCulloch received the harsher sentence because her actions “could have threatened national security and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia,” according to London’s Guardian newspaper.
Both women will receive credit for time served, which means that McCulloch’s sentence is due to expire in February 2003. Sadler was freed on January 10, 2003.
Akbar Ganji, Sobh-e-Emrooz, Fath
Ganji, a leading investigative reporter for the reformist daily Sobh-e-Emrooz and a member of the editorial board of the pro-reform daily Fath, was arrested and prosecuted in both Iran’s Press Court and Revolutionary Court.
The case in the Press Court stemmed from Ganji’s investigative articles about the 1998 killings of several dissidents and intellectuals that implicated top intelligence officials and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. In the Revolutionary Court, Ganji was accused of making propaganda against the Islamic regime and threatening national security in comments he made at an April 2000 conference in Berlin on the future of the reform movement in Iran.
The Press Court case remained pending at the end of 2002, but on January 13, 2001, the Revolutionary Court sentenced Ganji to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of internal exile. In May 2001, after Ganji had already served more than a year in prison, an appellate court reduced his punishment to six months.
The Iranian Justice Department then appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate court had committed errors in commuting the original 10-year sentence. The Supreme Court overturned the appellate court’s decision and referred the case to a different appeals court. On July 16, 2001, that court sentenced Ganji to six years in jail. According to the state news agency IRNA, the ruling is “definitive,” meaning that it cannot be appealed.
The legal situation was not clear, however. IRNA quoted an official with the Tehran-based Society for Defending Press Freedom in August 2001 as saying, “No one as yet knows which judge or which officials of the judiciary have made this latest decision.” The case’s outcome was still unclear at the end of 2002.
Emadeddin Baghi, Fath, Neshat
Baghi, a contributor to the banned daily Neshat who was on the editorial board of another outlawed daily, Fath, was detained during a closed-door trial. On July 17, 2001, Tehran’s Press Court sentenced him to five-and-a-half years in prison.
According to the state news agency IRNA, Baghi was charged with publishing articles that “questioned the validity of … Islamic law,” “threatening national security,” and “spreading unsubstantiated news stories” about the role of “agents of the Intelligence Ministry in the serial murder of intellectuals and dissidents in 1998.”
The charges were based on complaints from a number of government agencies, including the Intelligence Ministry, the conservative-controlled Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and former security officials.
The charges also mentioned a 1999 piece Baghi had published in Neshat responding to another article criticizing the death penalty that had itself landed Neshat editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin in jail. The closed-door trial began on May 1, 2000. In late October 2001, an appeals court reduced the sentence to three years. Baghi remains in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
Duvanov, a prominent 49-year-old journalist known for his criticism of Kazakh authorities, was arrested on suspicion of raping a minor. The journalist was officially charged on November 6.
Duvanov denied the rape accusation, saying it was a government effort to discredit him. The charges came just as Duvanov was preparing to leave for the United States, where he was scheduled to give a series of talks at Washington, D.C.- and New York-based think tanks about political conditions in Kazakhstan.
Shortly after his arrest, Duvanov went on a hunger strike to protest his detention. He ended the strike after 13 days, when prison authorities began to force-feed him. His trial, which began on December 24, was ongoing at year’s end.
Duvanov, who writes for opposition-financed Web sites and is the editor-in-chief of a bulletin published by the Almaty-based Kazakhstan Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, is known for his biting criticism of Kazakhstan’s political system and high-level officials, including Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev. Authorities have frequently harassed him in reprisal for his work.
On the evening of August 28, 2002, three unknown assailants beat and stabbed Duvanov in the stairwell of his apartment building, saying of his work, “If you carry on, you’ll be made a total cripple.”
On July 9, 2002, the General Prosecutor’s Office charged him with “infringing the honor and dignity of the president”–a criminal offense punishable by a fine or up to three years in prison–after he accused Nazarbayev of corruption in an article. Authorities later dropped that criminal case against him without any explanation.
Ibtisam Berto Sulaiman al-Dakhil, Al-Nida’
Bessisso and al-Dakhil were sentenced to life in prison for their work with Al-Nida‘, a newspaper that Iraqi authorities launched during Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990. At the end of 2002, they were the last remaining imprisoned journalists in Kuwait, which jailed 17 reporters and editors for their work with Al-Nida‘ following the Gulf War, charging them with collaboration.
The defendants were reportedly tortured during their interrogations. Their trial, which began on May 19, 1991, in a martial-law court, failed to meet international standards of justice. In particular, prosecutors failed to rebut the journalists’ defense that they had been forced to work for the Iraqi newspaper.
On June 16, 1991, the journalists were sentenced to death. Ten days later, following international protests, all martial-law death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The other 15 journalists were freed gradually starting in 1996, most on the occasion of Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah’s annual prisoner amnesties in February.
In 2002, the emir pardoned Bessisso and al-Dakhil. But because Bessisso is not a citizen of any country, no nation is willing to accept him as a refugee, according to his brother, who lives in the United States. Al-Dakhil, a naturalized Kuwaiti citizen from Iraq, lost her citizenship as a result of her conviction and is also awaiting deportation. Both are currently being held in Kuwaiti jails while they try to find countries of residence.
Mohamed Zaki, Sandhaanu
Ahmed Didi, Sandhaanu
Zaki, Luthfee, and Didi, businessmen who founded, edited, and wrote for the Dhivehi-language Internet publication Sandhaanu, were arrested along with their secretary Fathimath Nisreen. Luthfee, Nisreen, and Zaki were arrested in the capital, Malé. On February 5, Sri Lankan authorities arrested Didi in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for alleged travel document violations while he was en route to Bangkok for medical treatment for a heart condition. According to Luthfee, Sri Lankan authorities deported Didi to the Maldives, where he was promptly arrested. Zaki, a native of Mali who lives in Malaysia, was visiting the Maldives from Malaysia at the time of his arrest.
All four were held in solitary confinement for five months until their sentencing on July 7, 2002. After a summary three-day trial, they were convicted of defamation, incitement to violence, and treason. Didi, Luthfee, and Zaki were sentenced to life imprisonment and one year of banishment for defamation, and Nisreen received a 10-year prison sentence, with a one-year banishment for defamation. The four were sent to Maafushi Prison, which is known for its harsh conditions, 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Malé.
Before Sandhaanu was effectively closed in early 2002, the Web site attracted a large audience by local standards, according to Luthfee. Started in August 2001, the independent publication criticized the government for alleged abuse of power and corruption and called for political reform. There is no independent press in the Maldives. Television and radio are state-run, and the country’s three newspapers are under government control.
Although the Maldivian government claims that the four received a fair trial, Luthfee told CPJ that their request for legal representation at the time of the trial was denied.
A Maldives government representative in London sent a statement to the BBC in 2003 claiming that the charges against Didi, Luthfee, Nisreen, and Zaki were “purely criminal” because their publication was not officially registered, and that the four were convicted of inciting people “to violence…against a lawfully elected government.”
Luthfee disagreed and told CPJ that the case against them was politically motivated, and that it was intended as a warning to others who criticize the government. Since the media are fully controlled by the Maldivian government, Luthfee says it is impossible to view opinions or write anything critical about the government in the official press. Therefore, Didi, Luthfee, and Zaki decided to launch their independent publication online from Malaysia, where Zaki emigrated from Mali in 1990. Because they were concerned about government surveillance inside the Maldives, Didi and Luftee sent the text of Sandhaanu to Zaki in Malaysia in PDF files to upload and distribute from there.
On May 19, 2003, Luthfee escaped from custody while receiving medical treatment in Sri Lanka and has since received asylum outside the region. It has been reported that conditions for the three remaining people worsened after Luthfee’s escape, and that Didi and Zaki were again placed in solitary confinement.
In the wake of prison riots in September 2003, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pledged to reform his county’s prison system. In mid-December 2003, Zaki and Didi’s prison sentences were reduced to 15 years, and Nisreen’s sentence was halved to five years. She was released from prison but banished to Feeali Island, south of Malé, on December 13, 2003.
Since March 2003, Didi has been hospitalized because of his deteriorating heart condition, according to Luthfee. Doctors have asked for his early release because he needs bypass surgery.
Zaki was allowed to go home on medical leave for two weeks in May for treatment of kidney stones, back pain, and prostate problems.
Om Sharma, Janadisha
Police raided the offices of three publications closely associated with Nepal’s Maoist movement: the daily Janadisha, the weekly Janadesh, and the monthly Dishabodh. Officers arrested nine staff members, including seven journalists, and also confiscated equipment and written materials. The arrested journalists included Om Sharma, an editor for Janadisha; Khil Bahadur Bhandari, executive editor of Janadesh; Govinda Acharya, an editor of Janadesh; Dipendra Rokaya, an editorial assistant at Janadesh; Deepak Sapkota, a reporter for Janadesh; Ishwarchandra Gyawali, executive editor of Dishabodh; and Manarishi Dhital, an editorial assistant for Dishabodh.
All were arrested about two hours before the government announced a state of emergency and issued a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels.
On November 5, 2002, nearly one year after their arrests, authorities released Rokaya, Sapkota, Gyawali, and Dhital without charge. Acharya was released on December 16, 2002, along with Chandraman Shrestha, the managing editor of Janadesh, who had been arrested separately.
Sharma, a veteran journalist who is known as an outspoken supporter of the radical left, and Bhandari, also a longtime journalist associated with pro-Maoist papers, remained imprisoned in Kathmandu’s Central Jail at the end of 2002.
Dev Kumar Yadav, Janadesh
Yadav, a reporter for the weekly Janadesh and daily Janadisha, was arrested in the southeastern district of Siraha. Authorities arrested him under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 allowing for the arrest of anyone suspected of supporting Maoist rebels. Authorities released him without charge on January 7, 2003, according to the Kathmandu-based Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies.
Chitra Choudhary, Nawa Paricharcha, Yugayan
Choudhary was an advising editor at the weekly Nawa Paricharcha and the former editor-in-chief of Yugayan, both published in Tikapur, a town in the far-western district of Kailali. He was also the principal of the National Lower Secondary School in Patharaiya School. He was arrested at the school on the morning of December 6, 2001, and brought to the Tikapur police station, where Sama Thapa, editor of Yugayan, was also detained. Both journalists were later transferred to the regional police station in Shangadhi, the district headquarters of Kailali.
Authorities arrested them under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for the Maoist rebels. Choudhary, who had written articles supportive of the Maoist rebels, also spent time detained at the army barracks in Dhangadhi, according to a local human rights monitoring group.
Thapa was released without charge on April 4, 2002, “because they could not get any proof of his affiliation with the Maoists,” said one journalist. Choudhary was still detained at the end of 2002 at an undisclosed location, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies, a Kathmandu-based press freedom group.
Komal Nath Baral, Swaviman
Janardan Biyogi, Swaviman
Army soldiers arrested Baral, an editor at Swaviman weekly, in Pokhara, the capital of Kaski District. Swaviman, which is published from Pokhara, was a small newspaper characterized by local journalists as supportive of the Maoist rebel movement. Several days after Baral’s arrest, on December 27, soldiers arrested Biyogi, subeditor of Swaviman.
Authorities arrested the two under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels. Both men were originally held in army custody in Kaski, then transferred to a jail in neighboring Tanahu District, and ultimately imprisoned at Kaski Jail.
Badri Prasad Sharma, Baglung Weekly
Security forces arrested Sharma, editor and publisher of Baglung Weekly, at his home in the midwestern town of Baglung. Authorities arrested him under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels.
Local journalists and human rights activists said that Sharma was viewed as an independent journalist, though the paper often covered news about the Maoist rebels.
“Security persons suspect his newspaper is close to the Maoists because his newspaper covers pro-Maoist news,” one journalist from Baglung told CPJ. A delegation from the Baglung chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists visited local administrative officials and vouched for Sharma’s journalistic credentials. However, he remained imprisoned in Baglung Jail at the end of 2002.
Yadav, a reporter for the popular regional tabloid Blast Times and the Kathmandu-based paper Jana Aastha, was arrested in the southeastern district of Saptari. He was arrested under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels. He was imprisoned at Saptari Jail. Yadav was released on January 17, 2003, according to news reports.
Posh Raj Poudel, Chure Sandesh
Police arrested Poudel, executive editor of the newspaper Chure Sandesh, in the capital, Kathmandu, along with his colleague Suresh Chandra Adhikari, the paper’s editor-in-chief. Police initially detained them at the Hanuman Dhoka Police Detention Center in Kathmandu but later transferred them to southern Chitwan District, along the Indian border. Chure Sandesh was a pro-Maoist newspaper published from Chitwan.
On November 26, 2001, the government declared a state of emergency and issued sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels. Two days later, police raided the offices of Chure Sandesh, as well as the home of the weekly’s publisher, where they seized documents and copies of the paper, according to the Kathmandu-based Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies.
Adhikari was released on November 8, 2002, but Poudel remained imprisoned at Bharatpur Jail in Chitwan at year’s end.
Sapkota, a subeditor for Narayani Khabar Weekly and reporter for the newspaper Adarsha Samaj, was arrested in the southern district of Chitwan. Authorities detained him under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels. Sapkota, who is also a schoolteacher, had previously contributed articles to the pro-Maoist publications Janadesh and Mahima. He was imprisoned at Bharatpur Jail in Chitwan.
Krishna Sen, Janadisha
Tiwari, executive editor of the daily Janadisha, and Sigdel, a reporter for Janadisha, were arrested on May 19, according to sources close to the paper. The next day, police arrested Sen, editor of Janadisha and former editor of the weekly Janadesh; Neupane, a reporter for Janadisha; and Khadka, a reporter for the weekly Jana Ahwan. The journalists, all of whom worked for publications closely associated with the Maoist rebels, were detained under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels.
The journalists’ arrests were widely reported in the local press. However, after news reports emerged in late June 2002 that Sen may have been killed in police custody, a government-appointed commission said it found no evidence that he had ever been detained. Officials have since denied responsibility for Sen’s fate. Because Sen’s body has not been recovered and no credible investigation has been undertaken to determine his status, CPJ holds the government accountable for his fate.
At the end of 2002, Tiwari was imprisoned at Bhadra Bandi Jail, Sigdel and Neupane were imprisoned at Central Jail, and Khadka was imprisoned at the Women’s Jail–all in the capital, Kathmandu.
Security forces arrested Chaudhari, Jajarkot-based reporter for the national newspaper Spacetime Daily. Jajarkot is a remote district in western Nepal. Local journalists say that Chaudhari was targeted for reporting on the alleged torture of area villagers by government security forces. Chaudhari had recently taken photographs of the victims for his newspaper. He was arrested under the provisions of a sweeping anti-terrorism ordinance introduced in November 2001 that criminalized any contact with or support for Maoist rebels. At the end of 2002, he was being held at a police detention center in Jajarkot.
Tiémogo, publisher and editor-in-chief of the satirical weekly Le Canard Déchaîné, was arrested for allegedly defaming Prime Minister Hama Amadou in a series of unflattering opinion pieces. Tiémogo accused the prime minister of attempting to bribe Mahamane Ousmane, the head of Niger’s Parliament, in a bid to retain his position. According to Tiémogo’s stories, Amadou offered 6 million CFA francs (US$9,000), which Ousmane reportedly refused. Tiémogo appeared in court on June 19 and was ordered held without bail, said sources in the capital, Niamey.
On June 28, the journalist was convicted of libel and sentenced to eight months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a 50,000 CFA franc (US$75) fine. In addition, Tiémogo was ordered to pay Amadou 1 million CFA francs (US$1,500) in damages.
According to CPJ sources, after his conviction, Tiémogo sent a letter of apology to the judge conceding that the articles’ allegations were unfounded. Though Tiémogo appealed the conviction, on November 11, the Niamey Appeals Court upheld his sentence.
Munawwar Mohsin, The Frontier Post
Police in Peshawar arrested Mohsin and four colleagues from The Frontier Post after the newspaper published a letter to the editor titled “Why Muslims Hate Jews,” which included derogatory references to the Prophet Mohammed.
Although the newspaper’s senior management claimed that the letter was inserted into the copy by mistake and apologized for failing to stop its publication, district officials responded to complaints from local religious leaders by closing the paper and ordering the immediate arrest of seven staff members on blasphemy charges. In Pakistan, anyone accused of blasphemy is subject to immediate arrest without due process; those found guilty may be sentenced to death.
At the end of 2002, the blasphemy case was still pending, though Mohsin was the only journalist from The Frontier Post who remained in prison. (Two of the journalists charged in the case immediately went into hiding and were never arrested. The other four were eventually released on bail.) Mohsin, who was working as the newspaper’s subeditor, admitted responsibility for publishing the letter, which he says he had not read carefully. He told The New York Times that he “could never think of abusing our Holy Prophet” but confessed that, having only recently completed a drug rehabilitation program, his mind may have been slightly addled. Mohsin is imprisoned in Peshawar Central Jail.
Grigory Pasko, Boyevaya Vakhta
Pasko, an investigative reporter with Boyevaya Vakhta (Battle Watch), a newspaper published by the Pacific Fleet, was convicted of treason on December 25, 2001, and sentenced to four years in prison by the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok. The ruling also stripped Pasko of his military rank and state decorations.
The journalist was taken into custody in the courtroom and then jailed. Pasko’s attorney, Anatoly Pyshkin, filed an appeal with the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court seeking full acquittal.
Pasko was first arrested in November 1997 and charged with passing classified documents to Japanese news outlets. He had been reporting on environmental damage caused by the Russian navy. Pasko spent 20 months in prison while awaiting trial.
In July 1999, he was acquitted of treason but found guilty of abusing his authority as an officer. He was immediately amnestied, but four months later, the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court canceled the Vladivostok court’s verdict and ordered a new trial. Pasko’s second trial began on July 11, 2001, after having been postponed three times since March.
During the trial, Pasko’s defense argued that the proceedings lacked a basis in Russian law. Article 7 of the Federal Law on State Secrets, which stipulates that information about environmental dangers cannot be classified, protects Pasko’s work on sensitive issues, such as unlawful dumping of radioactive waste. The prosecution relied on a secret Ministry of Defense decree (No. 055) even though the Russian Constitution bars the use of secret legislation in criminal cases.
The defense also challenged the veracity of many of the witnesses, several of whom acknowledged that the Federal Security Service (FSB) falsified their statements or tried to persuade them to give false testimony. An FSB investigator was reprimanded for falsifying evidence in the first trial, and the signatures of two people who witnessed a search of the reporter’s apartment were allegedly forged.
Throughout 2001, CPJ issued numerous statements calling attention to Pasko’s ordeal, and in early June, a CPJ delegation traveled to Vladivostok before Pasko’s trial to publicize concerns over the charges.
In early 2002, in a ruling that seemed to bode well for Pasko, the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court annulled a clause of Defense Ministry Decree No. 010, a relic from the Soviet period, which prohibited “nonprofessional” contacts between Russian military personnel and foreign citizens. A CPJ delegation conducted a four-day mission to Vladivostok and Moscow in early March 2002 to meet with Pasko supporters, politicians, and government officials to discuss the case but was prevented from visiting Pasko.
At the same time, the Military Collegium nullified Defense Ministry Decree No. 055 after Pasko’s lawyers had filed a complaint challenging its legality. This decree listed various categories of military information as state secrets. Three months later, however, the Appeals Board of the Supreme Court reinstated the decree.
Pasko was held in a temporary detention facility in Vladivostok until October 2002, when he was transferred to a prison, as required by Russian law. On January 23, 2003, a court in the city of Ussuriisk, in the Russian Far East, granted Pasko parole. He was released immediately and traveled to his home in Vladivostok.
Under Russian law, Pasko, who had served two-thirds of his four-year sentence, was eligible for parole based on good behavior. State prosecutors are contemplating protesting the parole decision, Russian and international news reported.
Pasko and his defense attorneys plan to seek the reversal of the journalist’s guilty verdict. According to Russian news reports, Pasko’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov said a petition has already been filed with the chairman of the Russian Supreme Court and should be heard in February 2003. “We are going to work to achieve the full exoneration of my good name. We’re going to do everything to ensure that this criminal case is recognized as falsification,” said Pasko, following his release, according to The Associated Press.
Kamara, the founding editor of one of Sierra Leone’s leading newspapers, For Di People, was sentenced to six months in prison for defaming a local judge.
Kamara was taken to Pa Demba Road Prison in the capital, Freetown, after the High Court convicted him on 18 counts of criminal libel under sections 26 and 27 of Sierra Leone’s Public Order Act. The journalist was also fined US$2,100 on nine of the 18 counts, sources reported. On the remaining counts, Kamara has the choice of either paying a US$1,350 fine or serving an additional three months in jail. The court also recommended that the government ban his newspaper for six months.
The verdict against Kamara came almost a year after prominent appeals court judge Tolla Thompson, who also heads the Sierra Leone soccer association, accused Kamara of writing libelous articles in For Di People criticizing the judge’s management of the association. Kamara owns a popular local soccer team.
According to staff members at For Di People, Kamara appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, where he will dispute the legality of the charges against him, as well as the High Court’s authority to try the case. At year’s end, the Supreme Court had not yet considered the appeal.
Meanwhile, Kamara’s staff has vowed to defy any ban and to continue publishing the award-winning daily. The paper was still appearing at the end of 2002.
Hemaidi, the Damascus bureau chief for the influential London-based Pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, was detained by Syrian police in connection with a December 20 article he wrote discussing the Syrian government’s alleged preparations for a possible influx of Iraqi refugees in the event of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The Syrian government denied the report, and Al-Hayat published a statement from the authorities to that effect on December 24.
On December 27, the official Syrian news agency, SANA, acknowledged Hemaidi’s detention and said that he is accused of “publishing false information,” which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 1 million Syrian pounds (US$19,500).
Julien Ayi, Nouvel Echo
Ayi, publication director for the independent daily Nouvel Echo, was arrested and jailed at police headquarters in the capital, Lomé, on charges of “defamation of the president” and “disturbing public order.” Alphonse Nevamé Klu, the paper’s editor-in-chief, was likewise charged but went into hiding to avoid arrest.
The charges against the two journalists stemmed from an August 2 Nouvel Echo article claiming that President Gnassingbé Eyadéma had amassed a US$4.5 billion fortune, and that he is one of the world’s 497 wealthiest people, according to a list published in the American financial magazine Forbes. The article also alleged that Faure Gnassingbé, Eyadéma’s son and a National Assembly member, had control over the fortune and that the riches were “ill-gotten,” the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Following the article’s publication, the government informed the journalists that it was lodging a complaint with police against the newspaper. A government statement, meanwhile, verified that Eyadéma had not appeared on Forbes’ list of 497 names. On August 3, the state television channel broadcast the Forbes list, pointing out that no Africans appeared in the document. When contacted by AFP, Interior Minister Sizing Walla said, “The publication of these lies is a way of inciting the population to rebellion.”
Walla also said that when questioned by police before his arrest, Ayi had revealed that Claude Améganvi, a trade unionist and chair of the opposition Workers Party, was the article’s source. Améganvi was arrested by authorities on August 6 and faces the same charges as Ayi. Though Améganvi also edits the trade union newspaper Nyawo, local journalists said his arrest was most likely not related to his journalistic activities.
On September 13, Ayi and Améganvi were convicted and sentenced to four months in prison and a fine of 100,000 CFA francs (US$150) each. Klu was sentenced in absentia to six months in prison and the same fine.
According to the news Web sites Diastode.org and letogolais.com, in early December, an appeals court extended Ayi and Améganvi’s sentences by two months. Nouvel Echo has not appeared since early August.
Sylvestre Djahlin Nicoué, Courrier du Citoyen
Nicoué, director of the private weekly Courrier du Citoyen, was arrested in the capital, Lomé, after he published an editorial in that day’s edition of the newspaper arguing that if the government did not take swift measures to institute democratic reforms in the country, the Togolese people would rebel in 2003. Nicoué was accused of “inciting armed rebellion against the state” and was detained at police headquarters.
Local sources said that representatives of Togolese journalists’ organizations attempted to intervene on Nicoué’s behalf by meeting with President Gnassingbé Eyadéma. Hopes for negotiating the journalist’s release were dashed, however, when the Courrier du Citoyen published a critical article in its January 2, 2003, edition titled “Kill Us All and Reign Over Our Dead Bodies.” The following day, authorities transferred Nicoué to Lomé Prison.
Hamadi Jebali, Al-Fajr
On August 28, 1992, a military court sentenced Jebali, editor of Al-Fajr, the weekly newspaper of the banned Islamic Al-Nahda Party, to 16 years in prison. He was tried along with 279 other individuals accused of belonging to Al-Nahda. Jebali was convicted of “aggression with the intention of changing the nature of the state” and “membership in an illegal organization.”
During his testimony, Jebali denied the charges and presented evidence that he had been tortured while in custody. Jebali has been in jail since January 1991, when he was sentenced to one year in prison after Al-Fajr published an article calling for the abolition of military courts in Tunisia. International human rights groups monitoring the mass trial concluded that the proceedings fell far below international standards of justice.
Yahyaoui, editor of the online publication TUNeZINE, was arrested at the Internet café where he worked in the capital, Tunis, and detained. He was sentenced two weeks later to 28 months in prison.
A Tunis court found Yahyaoui guilty of intentionally publishing false information, a violation of Article 306 of the country’s Penal Code. The charge stemmed from a number of articles posted on TUNeZINE, including a piece criticizing the May 26, 2002, constitutional referendum in which 99.52 percent of voters approved constitutional changes allowing President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to run for a fourth term. Yahyaoui was also found guilty of using stolen communication lines to post his Web site, a violation of Section 84 of the Telecommunications Code.
Since Yahyaoui established TUNeZINE in July 2001 using a pseudonym, the site has frequently published articles and commentary—including the views of leading Tunisian dissidents—that harshly criticize the Tunisian government. Authorities have blocked the Web site to users inside Tunisia, but TUNeZINE has often circumvented these barriers by establishing alternate addresses.
Huseyin Solak, Mucadele
Solak, the Gaziantep bureau chief of the now banned socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested and charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code with membership in Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol), an outlawed underground leftist organization responsible for numerous terrorist operations in Turkey. Solak was convicted on testimony from a witness who said he had seen the journalist distributing copies of Mucadele.
According to the trial transcript, the prosecution witness also testified that Solak had hung unspecified banners in public and had served as a lookout while members of Devrimci Sol threw a Molotov cocktail at a bank in the town of Gaziantep. The prosecution also cited “illegal” documents found after searches of Solak’s home and office. Solak confessed to the charges while in police custody but recanted in court.
On November 24, 1994, Solak was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison. At the end of 2002, he was being held in Sincan F-type Prison.
Hasan Ozgun, Ozgur Gundem
Ozgun, a Diyarbakir correspondent for the now banned pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, was arrested during a December 9, 1993, police raid on the paper’s Diyarbakir bureau. He was charged with being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code.
Trial transcripts show that the prosecution based its case on what it described as Ozgur Gundem’s pro-PKK slant, following a Turkish-government pattern of harassing journalists affiliated with the publication. The prosecution also submitted copies of the banned PKK publications Serkhabun and Berxehun, found in Ozgun’s possession, as well as photographs and biographical sketches of PKK members from the newspaper’s archive. The state also cited Ozgun’s possession of an unlicensed handgun as evidence of his PKK membership.
Ozgun maintained that the PKK publications were used as sources of information for newspaper articles, and that the photos of PKK members were in the archive because of interviews the newspaper had conducted in the past. Ozgun admitted to having purchased the gun on the black market but denied all other charges. At the end of 2002, Ozgun was being held in Aydin Prison.
Serdar Gelir, Mucadele
Gelir, Ankara bureau chief for the now banned weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was detained on April 16, 1994. He was formally arrested and imprisoned 10 days later on the charge of belonging to an illegal organization.
The Ministry of Justice informed CPJ that Gelir was charged and convicted under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code and Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law 3713 and sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Ankara State Security Court for being a member of the armed, illegal leftist organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). Court records, however, indicate that he was sentenced to 12 years and six months. At the end of 2002, Gelir was being held in Sincan F-type Prison.
Utku Deniz Sirkeci, Tavir
Sirkeci, the Ankara bureau chief of the leftist cultural magazine Tavir, was arrested and charged with belonging to the outlawed organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol), under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code.
Court records from Sirkeci’s trial show that the state accused him of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a bank in Ankara, but the documents do not state what evidence was introduced to support the allegation. Prosecutors also cited Sirkeci’s attendance at the funeral of a Devrimci Sol activist to support the charge that he belonged to the organization.
Sirkeci said he had attended the funeral in his capacity as a journalist. He provided detailed testimony of his torture by police, who, he alleged, coerced him to confess. He was convicted and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and is currently jailed in Sincan F-type Prison.
Aysel Bolucek, Mucadele
Bolucek, an Ankara correspondent for the now banned weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was arrested at her home and charged with belonging to an outlawed organization under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code, partly on the basis of a handwritten document that allegedly linked her to the banned leftist group Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). She has been in prison since her arrest.
Court documents from her trial show that the state also cited the October 8, 1994, issue of Mucadele to support its argument that the magazine is a Devrimci Sol publication. The prosecutor claimed that the October 8 edition insulted security forces and state officials and praised Devrimci Sol guerrillas who had been killed in clashes with security forces.
Earlier in 1994, Bolucek had been acquitted of the same charges, so the defense argued that it was illegal for the defendant to be tried twice for the same crime. The defense accepted the prosecution’s claim that Bolucek had written the document but said that the police forced her to write it under torture while she was in custody. The defense also argued that a legal publication could not be used as evidence, and that the individuals who made incriminating statements about Bolucek to the police had done so under torture and had subsequently recanted. On December 23, 1994, Bolucek was convicted and sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail. At the end of 2002, she was being held in Kutahya Prison.
Burhan Gardas, Mucadele
Gardas, the Ankara bureau chief for the now banned weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was prosecuted several times beginning in 1994. Court records state that Gardas was arrested on January 12, 1994, at his office and charged with violating Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. During a search of the premises, police reportedly found four copies of “news bulletins” of the outlawed organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol).
During the trial, the prosecution claimed that police also found banners with left-wing slogans, along with photographs of Devrimci Sol militants who had been killed in clashes with government security forces. The prosecution also claimed that Gardas shouted anti-state slogans during his arrest, and that he was using Mucadele’s office for Devrimci Sol activities.
Gardas denied all the charges. His attorney argued that the illegal publications were part of the magazine’s archive and that Gardas had been tortured in prison, submitting a medical report to prove the allegation. On May 14, 1994, Gardas was released pending his trial’s outcome.
While awaiting the verdict in the 1994 prosecution, Gardas was arrested on March 23, 1995, when police raided the office of the successor to Mucadele, the weekly socialist magazine Kurtulus, for which he was also the Ankara bureau chief. Officials said he had violated Article 168/2 of the Penal Code because of his alleged membership in the banned organization Devrimci Sol. During the raid, police seized three copies of Kurtulus “news bulletins” and six Kurtulus articles discussing illegal rallies.
Court documents from his second trial, held at the Number 2 State Security Court of Ankara, reveal that the prosecution’s evidence against Gardas consisted of his refusal to talk during a police interrogation—allegedly a Devrimci Sol policy—and his possession of publications that the prosecution contended were the mouthpieces of outlawed organizations. In addition, Ali Han, an employee at Kurtulus’ Ankara bureau, testified that Gardas was a Devrimci Sol member. Gardas denied the claim, and his lawyer argued that his client had the constitutional right to remain silent during police interrogations.
On July 4, 1995, the Number 1 State Security Court of Ankara sentenced Gardas to 15 years in prison on the 1994 charge. In 1996, he was convicted and sentenced to an additional 15 years for the second set of charges. At the end of 2002, Gardas was serving his term at Kirsehir Prison.
Ozgur Gudenoglu, Mucadele
Gudenoglu, Konya bureau chief of the now banned socialist weekly magazine Mucadele, was arrested, charged, tried, and convicted under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code for belonging to an illegal organization. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison for alleged membership in the outlawed leftist organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol). Gudenoglu was reportedly jailed in Konya Prison.
Fatma Harman, Atilim
Harman, a reporter for the now banned socialist weekly Atilim, was detained during a June 15, 1995, police raid on the newspaper’s Mersin bureau.
On June 24, 1995, Harman was formally arrested and charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Atilim’s lawyer reported that the prosecution based its case on the argument that the MKLP published Atilim. The prosecution introduced copies of Atilim found in Harman’s possession as evidence of her affiliation with the MLKP and claimed that several unspecified “banners” were found in the Atilim office. The prosecution also alleged that Harman lived in a house belonging to the MLKP. On January 26, 1996, Harman was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and jailed in Adana Prison. She is currently in Nidge Prison.
Erdal Dogan, Alinteri
Dogan, an Ankara reporter for the now banned socialist weekly Alinteri, was arrested and later charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Turkish Revolutionary Communist Union (TIKB).
According to the trial transcript, the prosecution argued that the TIKB published Alinteri. The case against Dogan was based on the following evidence:
The defense argued that the incriminating statement was invalid because it had been extracted under torture. Dogan’s lawyer told CPJ that the photograph from the militant’s memorial was blurry, and Dogan testified in court that he had attended the May Day parade in his capacity as a journalist. He was convicted, sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison, and jailed in Bursa Prison. At the end of 2002, he was being held in Bolu Prison.
Sadik Celik, Kurtulus
Celik, Zonguldak bureau chief for the now banned leftist weekly Kurtulus, was detained and charged with violating Article 168/2 of the Penal Code for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
The prosecution claimed that the DHKP-C published Kurtulus, and that Celik’s position with the magazine proved he was a member of the group. Celik was accused of conducting “seminars” for the DHKP-C at the magazine’s office, propagandizing for the organization, transporting copies of the magazine from Istanbul to Zonguldak by bus, and organizing the magazine’s distribution in Zonguldak. The prosecution also stated that Celik’s name appeared in a document written by a DHKP-C leader. (It is not clear whether the document was introduced as material evidence.)
The prosecution claimed that Celik’s refusal to speak while in police custody proved his guilt. The defense argued that the prosecution could not substantiate any of its claims. Celik acknowledged having distributed the magazine in his capacity as Kurtulus’ bureau chief. He said that he had held meetings in the office to discuss the magazine’s affairs. The defense presented the statements of two Kurtulus reporters to corroborate Celik’s statements. On October 17, 1996, Celik was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
Mustafa Benli, Hedef, Alevi Halk Gercegi
Benli, owner and editor of the leftist publications Hedef and Alevi Halk Gercegi, was arrested on or about May 11, 1998, and later charged with “membership in an illegal organization,” a crime under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. According to court documents, the prosecution charged that Hedef was the mouthpiece of the Turkish Revolutionary Party, and that authorities had found copies of illegal magazines in Benli’s possession. That, along with articles published in Hedef and Alevi Halk Gercegi, was cited as partial proof of Benli’s membership in the organization. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison and is currently in Edirne Prison.
Memik Horuz, Ozgur Gelecek, Isci Koylu
Horuz, editor of the leftist publications Ozgur Gelecek and Isci Koylu, was arrested and later charged with “membership in an illegal organization,” a crime under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. Prosecutors based the case against Horuz on interviews he had allegedly conducted with leftist guerrillas in Topcam, which Ozgur Gelecek later published in 2000 and 2001. The state also based its case on the testimony of an alleged former militant who claimed that the journalist belonged to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. Horuz was convicted on June 12, 2002, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is currently in Sincan F-type Prison.
Kara, publisher of the weekly Datca Haber, was sentenced by a criminal court in the southwestern province of Mugla to three months in prison in April 2001 for violating the Press Law, which requires that newspapers distribute two copies of each edition to a local government district office. However, after the Turkish government amended the law in August 2002, Kara’s penalty was converted in September 2002 to a 30 billion lira (US$18,000) fine, which the journalist was unable to pay.
As a result, a local prosecutor ordered him to serve three months and eight days in prison for not paying the fine. He was jailed on December 25, 2002, and was in Ula Prison at year’s end. Local Turkish journalists believe the original suit was intended to antagonize Kara, whose publication has angered provincial authorities with its critical coverage, and who has been targeted with several lawsuits.
Mukhammad Bekdzhanov, Erk
Bekjanov, editor of Erk, a newspaper published by the banned opposition Erk party, and Ruzimuradov, an employee of the paper, were sentenced to 14 years and 15 years in prison, respectively, at an August 1999 trial in the capital, Tashkent. They were convicted for distributing a banned newspaper containing slanderous criticism of President Islam Karimov, participating in a banned political protest, and attempting to overthrow the regime. In addition, the court found them guilty of illegally leaving the country and damaging their Uzbek passports.
Both men were tortured during their six-month pretrial detentions in the Tashkent City Prison. Their health has deteriorated as a result of conditions in the prison.
According to human rights activists in Tashkent, Bekjanov was transferred on November 27, 1999, to “strict-regime” Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi in central Uzbekistan. He has lost considerable weight and, like many prisoners in Uzbek camps, suffers from malnutrition. Local sources have informed CPJ that Ruzimuradov is being held in “strict-regime” Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali near the town of Karshi.
Madzhid Abduraimov, Yangi Asr
Abduraimov, a correspondent with the national weekly Yangi Asr, was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 13 years in prison. In a January 15, 2001, article in Yangi Asr, Abduraimov charged that Nusrat Radzhabov, head of the Boysunsky District grain production company Zagotzerno, had misappropriated state funds and falsified documents. Abduraimov also accused the businessman of killing a 12-year-old in a car accident and alleged that Radzhabov’s teenage son was part of a group that had beaten and raped a 13-year-old boy.
Radzhabov claims that Abduraimov asked him for money and threatened to publish more accusations unless he was paid. According to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), Radzhabov tried to sue Abduraimov for slander but dropped the suit after a local prosecutor’s investigation confirmed the facts in the article.
Authorities arrested Abduraimov and accused him of receiving a US$6,000 bribe. He and a witness quoted by the IWPR claimed that a man threw the money into the back seat of his car immediately before police stopped his vehicle, searched it, and arrested him. Abduraimov was held in the Termez Regional Police Department jail until his trial began in Termez City Court on July 4, 2001.
According to Abduraimov, the court proceedings were influenced by local officials who objected to his reporting on corruption in the oil business. His request for a change of venue was not granted. He refused to attend the hearings and was sentenced in absentia.
Abduraimov is known for his investigative reporting and critical stance toward local law enforcement bodies and authorities. The journalist and his family have been persecuted for several years with threatening phone calls, and his son was reportedly beaten by police and sentenced to four months in jail for disorderly conduct. Supporters say Abduraimov was most likely framed, and it is not known where he is being held.
Ha Sy Phu, free-lance
Nguyen Xuan Tu, a scientist and political essayist better known by his pen name, Ha Sy Phu, was placed under house arrest and charged with treason. The arrest came after an April 28, 2000, raid on Ha Sy Phu’s home in Dalat, Lam Dong Province, during which police confiscated a computer, a printer, and several diskettes. They returned on May 12 with orders for his arrest signed by Col. Nguyen Van Do, police chief of Lam Dong Province.
Officials suspected that Ha Sy Phu had helped draft a pro-democracy declaration, according to CPJ sources, and his arrest followed the government’s long-standing harassment of the writer. Ha Sy Phu was held under Administrative Detention Directive 31/CP, which allows two years of house arrest without due process, and was required to report daily to the Dalat police for interrogation.
In January 2002, police searched Ha Sy Phu’s home and again confiscated his computer. The raid came during a period of escalating harassment of dissidents in Vietnam. Though the treason charge against Ha Sy Phu was withdrawn in January 2001, authorities have renewed his administrative detention order, and he remained under house arrest at the end of 2002.
Tran Khue, free-lance
On October 22, 2002, the Foreign Ministry announced that writer Tran Khue, also known as Tran Van Khue, had been placed under administrative detention, or house arrest, for two years, and that his term had begun on October 9, 2001. Administrative Detention Directive 31/CP allows two years of house arrest without due process.
In September 2001, Khue had been active in failed efforts to legally register the independent National Association to Fight Corruption. He had also established online publications, called Dialogue 2000 and Dialogue 2001, which included articles by himself and others advocating political reform. In January 2002, the government ordered local officials to confiscate and destroy all printed copies of the publications.
On March 8, 2002, seven police officers entered and searched Khue’s home in Ho Chi Minh City and confiscated his computer equipment and several documents, according to CPJ sources. On March 10, Khue sent a message via cell phone to a friend indicating that he was in danger. Immediately after the message was sent, all means of communication with Khue were cut.
According to CPJ sources, police had searched Khue’s house for materials relating to an open letter that he sent to Chinese president Jiang Zemin during Jiang’s visit to Vietnam in late February 2002. The letter, which was distributed over the Internet, protested recent border accords between the two countries.
On December 29, 2002, about 20 security officials came to Khue’s home and detained him for meeting with Hanoi-based democracy activist Pham Que Duong and his wife. The officers also confiscated his computer and computer disks. The day before, Duong was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City train station as he was returning to Hanoi. A government official stated that the two men had been “caught red-handed while carrying out activities that seriously violate Vietnamese laws.” She said that Khue and Duong will be tried but did not clarify on what charges or when.
Toan was arrested in an Internet café in the capital, Hanoi. He had reported on protests by disgruntled farmers and then transmitted his reports via the Internet to overseas pro-democracy groups. Authorities later charged him with espionage. On December 20, 2002, Toan was sentenced to 12 years in prison, one of the harshest sentences given to a Vietnamese democracy activist in recent years.
Toan, 47, served in the North Vietnamese army in the 1970s. After becoming active in Vietnam’s pro-democracy movement, he began to write articles using the pen name Veteran Tran Minh Tam.
During the National Assembly’s December 2001 and January 2002 meeting, large numbers of peasants gathered in front of the meeting hall to demand compensation for land that the government had wrongfully confiscated from them during recent redevelopment efforts. Toan helped the protesters write their grievances to present to government officials. He also wrote several news reports about the demonstrations and sent the articles to overseas pro-democracy publications.
Toan’s trial took less than one day, and his lawyer was not allowed to meet with him alone until the day before proceedings began. The day after Toan was sentenced, the official Vietnamese press carried reports stating that he had “slandered and denigrated executives of the party and the state by sending electronic letters and by providing information to certain exiled Vietnamese reactionaries in France.” He is currently being held in B14 Prison, in Thanh Tri District, outside Hanoi.
Free-lance journalist Bui Minh Quoc was charged with “possessing anti-government literature,” including his own writings, and put under administrative detention, or house arrest, for two years in Dalat District. Administrative Detention Directive 31/CP allows two years of house arrest without due process. Prior to his arrest, he had conducted extensive research on Vietnam’s territorial concessions to China, according to international news reports.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson told journalists that, “The competent authorities told me that Quoc had violated Vietnamese law and they will provide more specifics on his violations in the coming time.” Quoc, a poet and journalist who was a North Vietnamese Radio correspondent during the Vietnam War, was also under house arrest between 1997 and 1999.
Le Chi Quang, 32, was detained at an Internet café in the capital, Hanoi. He had written and posted several articles online criticizing government policy. According to Vietnamese authorities, officials at a popular domestic Internet service provider notified the Public Security Bureau that Quang had used computers at a specific Internet café in Hanoi to communicate with “reactionaries” living abroad. Security officials then tracked him down at the café.
On September 24, the state prosecutor’s office, known as the Supreme People’s Organ of Control, issued a document outlining specific charges against Quang. The document cites several articles by Quang as evidence of his “anti-government” activities, including an essay titled “Beware of Imperialist China,” which criticized land and sea border agreements between China and Vietnam; essays praising well-known dissidents Nguyen Thanh Giang and Vu Cao Quan; and an article about the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement.
On November 8, following a three-hour trial on national-security charges, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Quang to four years in prison followed by three years of house arrest. Quang was charged under articles 88 and 92 of the Criminal Code, which ban the distribution of information that opposes the government. Quang’s parents were the only observers allowed into the courtroom, and his lawyer was not allowed to present a defense before the court, according to CPJ sources. While the chief judge in the case told foreign reporters that Quang had pleaded guilty, CPJ sources said that he admitted in court to having written the articles mentioned by the prosecution but denied committing any crime.
During Quang’s trial, about 100 family members and supporters gathered outside the courthouse. In December 2002, he was transferred to Sao Do Prison in Phu Ly, south of Hanoi.
Son, a medical doctor, was arrested after he posted an essay online about democracy. Authorities also searched his home and confiscated his computer and several documents, according to the Democracy Club for Vietnam, an organization based in both California and Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital.
Prior to his arrest, Son translated into Vietnamese and posted an essay titled “What is Democracy?” (The article first appeared on the U.S. State Department Web site.) Son had previously written several essays promoting democracy and human rights, all of which appeared on Vietnamese-language online forums.
After Son’s arrest, the government issued a statement claiming that his work was “anti-state and anti-Vietnam Communist Party,” according to international press reports. At the end of 2002, Son was being held in B14 Prison, in Thanh Liet Village, Thanh Tri District, outside Hanoi. By year’s end, authorities had not formally charged Son or announced his trial date.
Security officials searched Binh’s home in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, before arresting him, according to CPJ sources. Police did not disclose the reasons for the writer’s arrest, although CPJ sources believe it may be linked to an essay he had written criticizing border agreements between China and Vietnam.
In late July, Binh was briefly detained after submitting written testimony to a U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on freedom of expression in Vietnam. Authorities then required him to report to the local police station daily. He was also subjected to frequent, day-long interrogation sessions.
Binh, a former journalist, worked for almost 10 years at Tap Chi Cong San (Journal of Communism), an official publication of Vietnam’s Communist Party. In January 2001, he left his position there after applying to form an independent opposition group called the Liberal Democratic Party.
Since then, Binh has written several articles calling for political reform and criticizing current government policy. In August, he wrote an article titled “Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement,” which was distributed online.
In 2002, Vietnamese authorities cracked down on critics of land and sea border agreements signed by China and Vietnam as part of a rapprochement following the 1979 war between the two countries. Several writers have criticized the government for agreeing to border concessions without consulting the Vietnamese people.
By the end of 2002, authorities had not filed formal charges against Binh or announced a trial date.