Detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist.
Return to Special Report
Countries that have jailed journalists
(follow links for more details)
|Algeria 2||China 29||Iran 12||Russia 3|
|Armenia 1||Cuba 24||Iraq
In U.S. detention:1
In Iraqi detention:1
|Azerbaijan 9||Egypt 1||Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory 2||Tunisia 1|
|Bangladesh 3||Eritrea 14||Maldives 1||U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay
In U.S. detention: 1
|Burma 7||Ethiopia 2||Niger 2||Uzbekistan 5|
|Cambodia 1||The Gambia 1||Vietnam 2|
Worldwide Total : 127
as of December 1, 2007
back to top
Djamel Eddine Fahassi, Alger Chaïne III
IMPRISONED: May 6, 1995
Fahassi was last seen on May 6, 1995, near his home in the Al-Harrache suburb of Algiers. On the day of his disappearance, Fahassi had left a neighborhood restaurant where he had been with friends at about 2:30 p.m. Eyewitnesses told his wife, Safia, that four well-dressed men with walkie-talkies accosted the journalist. They said 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.
Fahassi was a reporter for the government-run French-language radio station Alger Chaïne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the weekly La Nation, and the Islamic Salvation Front-affiliated weekly Al-Forqane, which was banned.
Prior to his “disappearance,” Fahassi was targeted by Algerian authorities on at least two occasions in response to his published critiques of the government. In late 1991, he was arrested following the publication of an article in Al-Forqane that likened a raid by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood to a pogrom. He was convicted on January 1, 1992, by the Blida Military Court 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, having served five months in custody.
A few months later, on February 17, 1992, he was arrested for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information and transferred to the Ain Salah Detention Center in southern Algeria. The facility detained hundreds of Islamist suspects in the months following the cancellation of the January 1992 elections. Fahassi was released on March 29 after a vocal campaign in the press, Safia Fahassi said.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Fahassi’s abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Aziz Bouabdallah, Al-Alam al-Siyassi
IMPRISONED: April 12, 1997
Three armed men abducted Bouabdallah, a reporter for the Arabic-language daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, from his home in the Chevalier section of the capital, Algiers, late on April 12, 1997. According to Bouabdallah’s family, the men stormed into their home, and after they confirmed that the young man’s name was Aziz, they grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door and into a waiting car. Bouabdallah was 22 at the time.
An article published in the daily El-Watan a few days after the abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody, according to police sources, and that his release was imminent. The Bouabdallahs said police have not disputed the story.
In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held in Algiers at the Châteauneuf detention facility, where he had reportedly been tortured. Bouabdallah’s whereabouts were unknown in 2007, and authorities have denied any knowledge.
Both family and colleagues expressed bewilderment about the motive behind Bouabdallah’s disappearance. They say that he was not politically active. His mother, Shafia, said that he had been studying law for three years at the Faculty of Law in Ben Aknoun. “He wanted to become a judge,” she said.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Bouabdallah’s abduction and said there was no evidence of state involvement.
back to top
Arman Babadzhanian, Zhamanak Yerevan
IMPRISONED: June 26, 2006
The Yerevan prosecutor general summoned Babadzhanian, editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Yerevan, purportedly for questioning as a witness in a criminal case. Instead, authorities charged him with forging documents to evade military service in 2002 and took him into custody, according to international press reports.
At his trial, Babadzhanian pleaded guilty to draft evasion but said the charge was in retaliation for the paper’s critical reporting. Days before his arrest, Zhamanak Yerevan published an article questioning the independence of the prosecutor general’s office, according to the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
On September 8, 2006, a district court in Yerevan sentenced Babadzhanian to four years in prison on charges of forgery and draft evasion, according to the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. An appeals court later reduced the penalty by six months.
On July 19, an independent Armenian committee that oversees requests for early release of convicts rejected Babadzhanian’s appeal, according to local press reports.
back to top
Sakit Zakhidov, Azadlyg
IMPRISONED: June 23, 2006
On October 4, 2006, a court in Baku convicted Zakhidov on a drug-possession charge and sentenced him to three years in prison. He was placed in the Bailovsk Prison in Baku.
Police arrested Zakhidov, a prominent reporter and satirist for the Baku-based opposition daily Azadlyg, and charged him with possession of heroin with intent to sell. Zakhidov denied the charge and said a police officer placed the drugs, about a third of an ounce, in his pocket during his arrest, according to local and international news reports.
His arrest came three days after Executive Secretary Ali Akhmedov of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party publicly urged authorities to silence Zakhidov. At a June 20, 2006, panel on media freedom, Akhmedov said: “No government official or member of parliament has avoided his slanders. Someone should put an end to it,” the news Web site EurasiaNet reported.
Samir Sadagatoglu, Senet
Rafiq Tagi, Senet
IMPRISONED: November 15, 2006
Editor-in-Chief Sadagatoglu and reporter Tagi of the independent newspaper Senet were convicted of inciting religious hatred. Sadagatoglu was sentenced to four years in prison; Tagi to three. The convictions were linked to a November 2006 article headlined “Europe and Us.” Tagi, the author, suggested that Islamic values were blocking development in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation, according to international media reports. The article referred to Islam as a cause of infighting.
Tagi and Sadagatoglu received death threats from Islamic hard-liners in Azerbaijan and neighboring Iran. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fazel Lankarani, one of Iran’s most senior clerics, issued a fatwa in November 2006 and attended the journalists’ trial in April 2007.
Sadagatoglu and Tagi were among 114 political prisoners pardoned by presidential decree on December 28. Local press freedom advocates expected the two would be released by early 2008.
Faramaz Novruzoglu, Nota Bene
IMPRISONED: January 30, 2007
Reporter Novruzoglu of the weekly independent newspaper Nota Bene was sentenced to two years in prison for criminal defamation, according to local press reports. Novruzoglu was tried without a lawyer in proceedings that took place earlier than announced, Ilham Tumas, founder of Nota Bene, told the news Web site Mediaforum.
Interior Minister Ramil Usubov filed suit after Nota Bene published a series of articles critical of him and other senior government officials in December 2006, according to the independent Turan news agency. The articles focused on friction and corruption in the Interior Ministry.
Local journalists and human rights activists told CPJ that the lawsuits were an attempt to stifle critical coverage of the Interior Ministry in the aftermath of a former ministry official’s trial on murder and kidnapping charges.
The journalist’s wife, Tahira Allahverdiyeva, told the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that Novruzoglu’s health had deteriorated in prison and that he suffered from a chronic intestinal ailment.
Novruzoglu was among 114 political prisoners pardoned by presidential decree on December 28. Local press freedom advocates expected that he would be freed by early 2008.
Eynulla Fatullayev, Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan
IMPRISONED: April 20, 2007
Authorities targeted Fatullayev, editor of the independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gündalik Azarbaycan, in a series of politically motivated criminal prosecutions. The persecution began shortly after Fatullayev published an in-depth report alleging an official cover-up in the 2005 slaying of fellow Azerbaijani editor Elmar Huseynov.
In April, a Yasamal District Court judge found Fatullayev guilty of libeling and insulting Azerbaijanis in an Internet posting that the journalist said was falsely attributed to him. The posting, published on several Web sites, said Azerbaijanis bore some responsibility for the 1992 killings of residents of the restive Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to local press reports. Fatullayev, ordered to serve 30 months, was jailed immediately after the proceedings, according to the independent news agency Turan.
With Fatullayev jailed, authorities evicted Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan from their Baku offices, citing purported fire safety and building code violations. Both later stopped publishing.
More charges against Fatullayev followed. A judge in the Azerbaijani Court of Serious Crimes found Fatullayev guilty of terrorism, incitement to ethnic hatred, and tax evasion on October 30. The journalist was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison, to be served concurrent to the 30-month term.
The terrorist and incitement charges stemmed from a Realny Azerbaijan commentary headlined “The Aliyevs go to war,” which sharply criticized President Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy regarding Iran. The tax evasion charge alleged that Fatullayev had concealed income from the two publications.
Realny Azerbaijan was successor to the opposition weekly Monitor, which closed after the March 2005 assassination of Huseynov. Like its predecessor, Realny Azerbaijan was known for its critical reporting.
Yashar Agazadeh, Muhalifet
Rovshan Kebirli, Muhalifet
IMPRISONED: May 16, 2007
A Yasamal District Court judge found Editor-in-Chief Kebirli and reporter Agazadeh of the Baku-based opposition daily guilty of defaming President Ilham Aliyev’s uncle, Jalal Aliyev, and sentenced each to 30 months in prison, according to local and international press reports. Jalal Aliyev is also a member of Azerbaijan’s parliament.
Jalal Aliyev filed a libel complaint against the journalists after a February article in Muhalifet criticized his business activities and those of his family, according to local and international press reports. The story, which relied partly on a Turkish news report, said the Aliyevs’ import-export business profited from the family’s political connections.
Kebirli and Agazadeh were among 114 political prisoners pardoned by presidential decree on December 28. Local press freedom advocates expected the two would be released by early 2008.
Nazim Guliyev, Ideal
IMPRISONED: November 6, 2007
Guliyev, editor-in-chief of the pro-government daily Ideal, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on criminal defamation and insult charges.
Ramiz Zeynalov, head of the Interior Ministry Traffic Police Department, filed a complaint against Guliyev after Ideal published two articles describing alleged corruption in the department in May and August, according to local press reports. An appeals court freed Guliyev in December after the journalist reached “reconciliation” with Zeynalov, according to news reports.
Genimet Zakhidov, Azadlyg
IMPRISONED: November 10, 2007
A Yasamal District Court judge placed Zakhidov, editor of the opposition daily, in pretrial detention in Baku, a day after the journalist’s arrest. Police arrested Zakhidov after nine hours of interrogation and charged him with “hooliganism” and inflicting “minor bodily harm.” The arrest stemmed from a confrontation in which the journalist appeared to have been set up by authorities.
On November 7, Zakhidov said, a young man and woman assailed him on a street in Baku. Zakhidov told reporters that the woman started screaming as if he had insulted her; a moment later, the man tried to attack him. With the help of passersby, Zakhidov said, he was able to fend them off. But the man and woman later filed complaints with police, and Zakhidov was summoned for questioning three days later.
Zakhidov was targeted in two other instances of official harassment. In September, Minister of Economic Development Geidar Babayev filed a defamation lawsuit over an Azadlyg article alleging misuse of ministry funds. In October, a state traffic police official filed a similar complaint over an article describing alleged corruption. Zakhidov’s brother, prominent reporter and satirist Sakit Zakhidov, was also serving a prison term on a bogus charge of drug possession.
back to top
Atiqullah Khan Masud, Janakantha
IMPRISONED: March 7, 2007
Masud, owner and publisher of the Bengali-language daily Janakantha, was escorted from his office by members of the Rapid Action Battalion during a raid in March. He was detained on several corruption charges, denied bail, and sent to Dhaka Central Jail under the Special Powers Act.
Masud was heavily involved in his newspaper, which was one of the few local publications openly discussing the state of emergency declared in Bangladesh in January. Janakantha had been warned by the government not to be so outspoken, according to local press freedom groups. The government denied that the detention had any connection to the newspaper.
Arifur Rahman, Prothom Alo
IMPRISONED: September 17, 2007
Rahman, a 20-year-old cartoonist, was taken into custody following a religious controversy sparked by a cartoon published in the satirical supplement of the daily Prothom Alo on September 17. Rahman was charged under the provisions of Section 54 of Bangladesh’s Criminal Procedure Code, which gives police broad power to make arrests without a warrant.
The cartoon featured a boy calling his pet “Muhammad Cat” because of the Muslim custom of putting Muhammad before a male given name. The paper apologized and the supplement’s deputy editor was fired when the joke was deemed offensive by Muslim groups, but hundreds gathered on September 21 to demonstrate against the newspaper. The demonstration was staged despite a ban on protests during the country’s state of emergency.
Rahman had been awarded a government prize in August for an anti-corruption cartoon.
Zahirul Haque Titu, Inqilab, The New Nation
IMPRISONED: October 2, 2007
Titu, local correspondent for the dailies Inqilab and The New Nation, was detained on October 2 in his hometown of Pirojpur in southwestern Bangladesh, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Dhaka. The arrest was made under emergency ordinances put in place by the military-backed interim government in January. No reason was given for his apprehension, and there was no immediate move to bring him to trial, according to local press freedom advocates. Titu, a former general secretary of the Pirojpur Press Club, wrote on a variety of topics. Titu and his elder brother, Shafiul Haque Mithu, Pirojpur reporter for the Dainik Janakantha, had been targeted for their reporting in the past by activists with the Bangladesh National Party and their fundamentalist allies in the Jamaat-e-Islami Party. Titu was hospitalized after a December 2006 attack, according to the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists.
back to top
U Win Tin, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 4, 1989
U Win Tin, former editor-in-chief of the daily Hanthawati and chairman of Burma’s Writers Club, was arrested and sentenced to three years hard labor in 1989 on the spurious charge of arranging a “forced abortion” for an opposition politician. While in prison, his sentence was extended twice, building to 20 years. U Win Tin suffered at least two heart attacks in prison and has been shuttled between the notorious Insein Prison and Rangoon Hospital’s prisoner wing.
U Win Tin helped establish various pro-democracy publications during the 1988 uprisings that the ruling military junta violently crushed. As a former joint secretary to the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) political party, U Win Tin was considered a close adviser to NLD party leader and Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 1992, his initial term drawing to an end, U Win Tin saw his sentence extended on charges of “writing and publishing pamphlets to incite treason against the state” and “giving seditious talks” during the 1988 uprisings. In 1996, military authorities extended his term yet again on charges that he secretly published “antigovernment propaganda” from prison, including notes drawn up for a U.N. special rapporteur detailing human rights abuses at Insein.
In 1996, U Win Tin was held for five months in crude solitary confinement in kennels designed for the prison’s guard dogs. Such deprivations contributed to the 77-year-old journalist’s declining health, including a degenerative spine condition, heart disease, inflamed knee joints, dental problems, and a prostate gland disorder, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
A senior Burmese military official offered to release U Win Tin in 2003 in exchange for the journalist signing a document promising to cease political activities, according to a report in Le Monde. U Win Tin refused.
Two years later, U Win Tin was subjected to a cruel manipulation, according to news reports. The Associated Press reported that the journalist was told he would be among the political prisoners released on July 6, 2005. In all, nearly 250 such prisoners were freed at the time.
But after gathering his belongings and attending a briefing on the conditions of release, U Win Tin was instead directed to a nearby office, according to a freed prisoner quoted in a Radio Free Asia dispatch. For unknown reasons, U Win Tin was not freed.
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe, Pe-Tin-Than
IMPRISONED: September 1990
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe was arrested and charged in 1990 with writing and distributing undisclosed publications that the authorities deemed to “make people lose respect for the government.” The publications were collectively titled Pe-Tin-Than, which translates loosely as “Echoes.” CPJ has been unable to confirm his current whereabouts, legal status, or records of his original sentencing 17 years ago.
Aung Htun, freelance
IMPRISONED: February 17, 1998
Aung Htun, a writer and activist, was imprisoned in February 1998 for writing and publishing a seven-volume book that documented the history of the student movement that led the pro-democracy uprisings of 1988. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison, according to information compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
He was sentenced separately to three years for violating the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, the military government’s main legal instrument of official censorship; seven years under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which is used broadly to suppress any dissent against the regime; and another seven years under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act, a draconian holdover from Burma’s colonial era under British rule, according to the AAPPB.
The writer’s health deteriorated during his detention. In 2002, Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal requesting that Aung Htun be granted access to medical treatment for complications related to growths on his feet, which had apparently inhibited his ability to walk, as well as a severe asthma condition. His health has deteriorated further in subsequent years, according to the Burma Media Association, an exiled press freedom advocacy group. Amnesty International issued another appeal in July 2007 for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
Aung Htun’s book was finally released by the All Burma Federation of Student Unions on May 16, 2007.
Ne Min (Win Shwe), freelance
IMPRISONED: February 2004
Ne Min, a lawyer and former stringer for the BBC, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 7, 2004, on charges that he illegally passed information to “antigovernment” organizations operating in border areas, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
It was the second time Burma’s military government had imprisoned the well-known journalist, also known as Win Shwe, on charges related to disseminating information to news sources outside of Burma. In 1989, a military tribunal sentenced Ne Min to 14 years hard labor for “spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country” and the “possession of documents including antigovernment literature, which he planned to send to the BBC,” according to official radio reports. He served nine years at Rangoon’s Insein Prison before being released in 1998. His second arrest was in February 2004.
Exiled Burmese journalists who spoke with CPJ said that Ne Min sent news and information to political groups and exile-run news publications after his release from prison.
Thaung Sein (Thar Cho), freelance
Kyaw Thwin (Moe Tun), Dhamah Yate
IMPRISONED: March 27, 2006
Thaung Sein, a freelance photojournalist, and Kyaw Thwin, a columnist at the Burmese-language magazine Dhamah Yate, were arrested on March 27, 2006, and sentenced the following day to three years in prison for photographing and videotaping while riding on a public bus near the capital city, Pyinmana.
The two journalists were charged under the 1996 Television and Video Act, which bars the distribution of film without official approval. Under the law, every videotape in Burma must receive a certificate, which may be revoked at any time, from the government’s censorship board.
Burmese security officials were under strict orders to stop and detain anyone found taking photographs near the capital. Thaung Sein, also known as Thar Cho, and Kyaw Thwin, more widely known by his pen name Moe Tun, were placed at Yemethin Prison in central Burma, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
Both journalists appealed the decision on the argument that they had not taken film or video footage of restricted areas. On June 21, an appeals court based in the central town of Yemethin upheld the lower court’s verdict without allowing defense witnesses to testify, according to information from their lawyer that was received by the Burma Media Association, an exile-run press freedom advocacy group.
Burma’s secretive military government abruptly moved the national capital in November 2005 to Pyinmana, a newly built administrative center located 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Rangoon. Regional news reports, citing official government documents, said the junta’s decision to move the capital was motivated by fears of supposed military strikes.
Win Saing, freelance
IMPRISONED: August 28, 2007
Win Saing, a photographer, was arrested while documenting activists making offerings to monks during massive pro-democracy demonstrations. The protesters were marching against increased fuel prices that were announced on August 15. Local monks supported the demonstrations against the military government and became increasingly influential in their escalation as they continued into September.
More than 2,000 people were arrested during the severe crackdown that followed. Several journalists were detained and later released, but Win Saing remained in custody. No formal charges were immediately disclosed.
back to top
Hem Choun, Samrek Yutethor
IMPRISONED: June 7, 2006
Hem Choun, a reporter with the Khmer-language newspaper Samrek Yutethor, was arrested by military police while reporting on the forced eviction of land squatters by military police from Sambok Chap village on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.
He was arrested along with three other villagers for their alleged role in leading a violent protest on May 31 against a private security company that had been hired to secure the land. That day, protestors dismantled metal fences erected around the village and burned down the village chief’s empty house.
Choun’s lawyer said that he covered the riot as a reporter and did not participate in the melee. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), a rights advocacy group that has provided legal counsel to the jailed journalist, told CPJ that police arrested Choun without a proper warrant and that they had refused to recognize him as a practicing journalist.
On June 8, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigation Judge Ke Sokhan charged Choun under Article 52 of the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia criminal law, which relates to wrongful damage of property. He was convicted on November 30, 2006, and sentenced to two years in prison.
Choun was being held in crowded conditions at Phnom Penh’s notorious Prey Sar Prison. According to CCHR, Choun developed respiratory complications during his detention, and prison authorities on at least one occasion denied him outside medical treatment.
back to top
Chen Renjie, Ziyou Bao
Lin Youping, Ziyou Bao
IMPRISONED: July 1983
Twenty-four years after their imprisonment in the early days of China’s economic reform, Chen and Lin are the longest-serving journalists in CPJ’s worldwide census. The two men, along with Chen Biling, wrote and published a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report). They distributed 300 copies of the pamphlet in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 1982.
The following July, they were arrested and accused of making contact with Taiwanese spy groups 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 was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
CHARGED: October 16, 1995
In 1994, Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of the magazine 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. Printing authorizations are a prior restraint used to curtail independent publishing in China.
CPJ was unable to determine the date of Fan’s arrest, but on October 16, 1995, he was indicted on charges of profiteering. On January 31, 1996, the Chang’an District Court in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 13 years in prison, with three years’ subsequent deprivation of political rights, for publishing and distributing illegal “reactionary” publications. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.
Fan’s appeal was rejected on April 11, 1996, according to the Chinese government’s response to a query by the San Francisco-based prisoners’ advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation.
Hua Di, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 5, 1998
The imprisonment of Hua, a Stanford University scientist and permanent resident of the United States, raised objections from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his colleagues at Stanford University, and others. But nine years later, he remained in jail.
Hua was arrested while visiting China and accused of revealing state secrets, a charge used frequently against journalists who write about controversial matters. Charges are believed to stem from articles that Hua had written in academic journals 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, and it appeared to be a response to international pressure. But the decision did not mean that he was freed.
Instead, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court issued a modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison in November 2000. News of Hua’s sentencing did not break until three months later, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing.
Requests for medical parole have been rejected. Hua suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.
Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
IMPRISONED: January 1999
Along with his colleagues Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin, Yue started a journal campaigning for workers’ rights after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guancha (China Labor Watch) exposed extensive corruption among officials at the company, according to international media reports. Only two issues were ever published.
On July 5, 1999, the Tianshui People’s Intermediate Court in Gansu province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison on charges of “subverting state authority,” according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. His colleagues Wang and Guo were sentenced to two years in prison and have since been released. All three men reportedly belonged to the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers.
In 2006, the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation reported that Yue’s sentence was reduced to nine years in March 2005. He turned 51 in Lanzhou Prison in December 2007.
Xu Zerong, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 24, 2000
Xu is serving a 13-year prison term on charges of “leaking state secrets” through his academic work on military history and of “economic crimes” related to unauthorized publishing on foreign policy issues. Some observers believe that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by Shenzhen Intermediate Court in December 2001, and his appeal to Guangzhou Higher People’s Court was rejected in 2002.
According to court documents, the “state secrets” charges against Xu stemmed from his use of historical documents for academic research. Xu, also known as David Tsui, was an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China’s role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea. The verdict stated that the Security Committee of the People’s Liberation Army of Guangzhou later determined that the books had not been declassified 40 years after being labeled “top secret.” After his arrest, St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, where Xu earned his doctorate and wrote his dissertation on the Korean War, was active in researching his case and calling for his release.
Xu was also the co-founder of a Hong Kong-based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). The “economic crimes” charges were related to the “illegal publication” of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing’s relations with Taiwan.
He was arrested just days after an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan in which he accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy by condemning other countries for interfering in its internal affairs by criticizing its human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He has been spared from hard labor and has been allowed to read, research, and teach English in prison, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. He has suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
In 2006, Xu’s family members were informed that he had received a nine-month reduction in his sentence, according to Dui Hua. Based on that, he would be scheduled for release in 2012.
Jin Haike, freelance
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan
Zhang Honghai, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 13, 2001
The four members of an informal discussion group called Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group) were detained and accused of “subverting state authority.” Prosecutors cited online articles and essays on political and social reform as proof of their intent to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party leadership.
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were charged with subversion on April 20, 2001. More than two years later, on May 29, 2003, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Xu and Jin to 10 years in prison each, while Yang and Zhang each received sentences of eight years. Each of the sentences was to be followed by two years’ deprivation of political rights.
The four young men were students and recent university graduates who gathered occasionally to discuss politics and reform with four others, including an informant for the Ministry of State Security. The most prominent in the group, Yang, posted his own thoughts and reports by the others on topics such as rural poverty and village elections, along with essays advocating democratic reform, on a popular Web site, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi’s Garden of Ideas). Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer’s Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin’s “Be a New Citizen, Reform China” and Yang’s “Choose Liberalism,” in the 2003 verdict against them. Beijing Higher People’s Court rejected their appeal without hearing defense witnesses. Three of the witnesses who testified against the four men were fellow members of the group who later tried to retract their testimonies.
Yang, Xu, and Jin were imprisoned at Beijing’s No. 2 Prison. Yang’s wife, Lu Kun, who was also initially detained and questioned, was unable to visit him for four years after his imprisonment, she told reporters in 2005. Zhang, who initially suffered from ill health in detention, was jailed at Lishui Prison in Zhejiang province, where he made sweaters, his brother told CPJ.
Tao Haidong, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 9, 2002
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), 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 articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to seven years in prison. His appeal to the XUAR Higher Court later in 2003 was rejected.
Zhang Wei, Shishi Zixun and Redian Jiyao
IMPRISONED: July 19, 2002
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.
Abdulghani Memetemin, East Turkistan Information Center
IMPRISONED: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang, on charges of “leaking state secrets.”
In June 2003, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against Memetemin, including translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for ETIC. The court also accused him of recruiting additional reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial.
Huang Jinqiu, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu province. Huang’s family was not officially notified of his arrest for more than three months. On September 27, 2004, Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of “subversion of state authority,” plus four years’ deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as in Guangdong province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, Huang began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name Qing Shuijun. He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name Huang Jin. Huang’s writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. Huang told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writing, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled “Me and My Public Security Friends,” Huang described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Huang’s appeal was rejected in December 2004.
Huang’s lawyer told CPJ in early 2005 that the journalist had been mistreated in prison and was in poor health. In February 2007, his family told Boxun News that his health conditions and treatment had improved. Huang was serving his sentence in Pukou prison, near Nanjing.
Kong Youping, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written articles online that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government’s “counterrevolutionary” ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong’s essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, “In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing.” Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP), an opposition party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with codefendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years’ deprivation of political rights. Ning received a 12-year sentence.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan far from his family, making visits difficult. In a letter written to his family from prison, Kong said that he had received a sentence reduction to 10 years in his appeal, but that information could not be confirmed.
Yu Huafeng, Nanfang Dushi Bao
IMPRISONED: January 2004
Yu, deputy editor-in-chief and general manager of Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News), was detained along with former editor Li Minying less than a month after the newspaper reported a suspected SARS case in Guangzhou, the first case since the epidemic died out in July 2003. Their imprisonment was followed in March 2004 by the jailing of Nanfang Dushi Bao former editor-in-chief Cheng Yizhong, who was held for five months.
The arrests appeared to be a part of a crackdown on the newspaper, which became popular for its aggressive investigative reporting on social issues and wrongdoing by local officials. The paper broke news that a young graphic designer, Sun Zhigang, was beaten to death in March 2003 while in police custody in Guangzhou. Public outcry over Sun’s death led to the arrest of several local government and police officials, along with a change in national laws on detention.
On March 19, 2004, Dongshan District Court in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, sentenced Yu to 12 years in prison on corruption charges. Li, who also served on the Communist Party Committee of the newspaper’s parent group, Nanfang Daily Group, was sentenced to 11 years on bribery charges. In an appellate trial held in June 2004, Li’s sentence was reduced to six years in prison, while Yu’s sentence was reduced to eight years.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Yu was convicted of embezzling 580,000 yuan (US$70,000) and distributing the money to members of the paper’s editorial committee. The court also accused Yu of paying Li a total of 800,000 yuan (US$97,000) in bribes while Li was editor of Nanfang Dushi Bao. Li was accused of accepting bribes totaling 970,000 yuan (US$117,000).
Both men maintained that the money was acquired legally and was distributed in routine bonus payments to the staff. Chinese journalists familiar with the case have told CPJ that evidence presented in court did not support the corruption charges.
In 2005, Cheng Yizhong was named the recipient of the 2005 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. He was not permitted to attend the award ceremony, but in his acceptance statement he asked to share the honor with Li and Yu: “Your suffering is the shame of China,” he said. Later that year, more than 2,000 journalists in China signed an open letter to the Guangdong High People’s Court appealing for the release of Yu and Li. Observers could remember no precedent to this show of support.
Li was released for good behavior in February 2007 after serving half of his sentence. Yu’s sentence was reduced by one year. Yu’s wife told CPJ that she travels monthly to Beijing to petition for the release of her husband.
Shi Tao, freelance
IMPRISONED: November 24, 2004
Shi, the former editorial director at the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao, was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.
He was formally arrested and charged with “providing state secrets to foreigners” by sending an e-mail on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the Web site Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In the anonymous e-mail sent several months before his arrest, Shi transcribed his notes from local propaganda department instructions to his newspaper, which included directives on coverage of the Falun Gong and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets later certified the contents of the e-mail as classified.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June, Hunan Province High People’s Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo’s participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed Internet writers and dissidents in China raised questions about the role that international Internet companies are playing in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi in absentia with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. During a visit to CPJ’s offices in New York in June 2007, Shi’s mother, Gao Qinsheng, highlighted the 2008 Beijing Olympics as an opportunity for the international community to renew calls for her son’s release. In November, members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee rebuked Yahoo executives for their role in the case and for wrongly testifying in earlier hearings that the company did not know the Chinese government’s intentions when it sought Shi’s account information.
Zheng Yichun, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas online news sites, including the U.S.-based Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. Zheng wrote a series of editorials that directly criticized the Communist Party and its control of the media.
Because of police warnings, Zheng’s family remained silent about his detention in Yingkou, Liaoning province, until state media reported that he had been arrested on suspicion of inciting subversion. Zheng was initially tried by Yingkou Intermediate People’s Court on April 26, 2005. No verdict was announced, and on July 21 he was tried again on the same charges. As in the April 26 trial, proceedings lasted just three hours. Though officially “open” to the public, the courtroom was closed to all observers except close family members and government officials. Zheng’s supporters and a journalist were prevented from entering, according to a local source.
Prosecutors cited dozens of articles written by the journalist, and listed the titles of several essays in which he called for political reform, increased capitalism in China, and an end to the practice of imprisoning writers. On September 20, the court sentenced Zheng to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years’ deprivation of political rights.
Sources familiar with the case believe that Zheng’s harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders’ objections to the Epoch Times series “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” which called the Chinese Communist Party an “evil cult” with a “history of killings” and predicted its demise.
Zheng is diabetic, and his health suffered a decline after his imprisonment. After his first appeal was rejected, he intended to pursue an appeal in a higher court, but his defense lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was himself imprisoned in August 2006. Zheng’s family has been unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
Zhang Lin, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 29, 2005
Zhang, a freelance writer and political essayist who made a living by writing for banned overseas Web sites, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and misrepresenting national authorities in his articles and in a radio interview.
Zhang, who spent years in jail in the 1990s for his pro-democracy activism and for organizing a labor union, was detained at a train station near his home in Bengbu, in central China’s Anhui province. Police apprehended him as he was returning from Beijing, where he had traveled to mourn the death of ousted Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. He was initially accused of “disturbing public order,” but police formally arrested him on charges of inciting subversion after confiscating the computer he was using.
Bengbu Intermediate People’s Court tried him on June 21, 2005, in proceedings that lasted five hours, his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ. The defense argued that the six articles and one interview cited by the prosecution were protected free expression.
Zhang’s wife told reporters that his imprisonment was connected to essays he wrote about protests by unemployed workers and official scandals. On July 28, 2005, the court convicted Zhang and sentenced him to five years in
For 28 days in September 2005, Zhang waged a hunger strike to protest his unjust sentence and the harsh conditions at Bengbu No. 1 Detention Center. Officials there subjected him to long hours of forced labor making Christmas ornaments and refused to allow him to read newspapers or other material, according to his lawyer. During his hunger strike, he was fed through his nose. He was hospitalized briefly before returning to the detention center.
Zhang’s appeals were rejected without a hearing, and he was moved to a prison in Anhui province. Zhang’s wife told CPJ that his health has suffered during his imprisonment. They have a young daughter.
Li Changqing, Fuzhou Ribao
IMPRISONED: February 2005
Li, deputy news director of Fuzhou Ribao (Fuzhou Daily), was arrested in southern China’s Fujian province in connection with an investigation of whistleblower Huang Jingao, a Communist Party official in Fujian province who wrote an open letter to the state-run People’s Daily in 2004 denouncing corruption among local officials.
Huang won public support after describing death threats that he said forced him to wear a bulletproof vest. But in November 2005 he was convicted of accepting bribes and was sentenced to life in prison. Supporters said that the charges against Huang were politically motivated.
Li was initially accused of inciting subversion. He told his lawyer that he was tortured in detention and interrogated repeatedly about his defense of Huang in newspaper and online articles.
The unexplained subversion charge was later dropped and authorities filed a charge of “deliberately fabricating and spreading alarmist information.” The new charge was related to an October 13, 2004, report in the U.S.-based Chinese-language Web site Boxun News reporting an outbreak of dengue fever, a viral mosquito-borne disease, in Fuzhou.
The author, identified by his lawyer as Li, anonymously reported more than 20 cases, according to Boxun News. In seeking to confirm the information, the Web site did its own research and updated the story to reflect 100 cases.
Li was tried in Fuzhou on January 19, 2006. Five days later, Gulou district court convicted Li and sentenced him to three years in prison. His appeal was rejected.
On November 20, the World Association of Newspapers awarded Li its Golden Pen of Freedom Award.
Ching Cheong, The Straits Times
IMPRISONED: April 22, 2005
Ching, a veteran Hong Kong reporter who was the China correspondent for the Singapore daily The Straits Times, was detained in Guangzhou while attempting to meet with a source to obtain transcripts of interviews with the late ousted leader Zhao Ziyang. Ching was held under house arrest in Beijing without access to a lawyer or his family until a formal arrest order was issued in August 2005 on espionage charges.
Official Xinhua News Agency reports in 2005 accused Ching of collecting millions of Hong Kong dollars to spy for Taiwan. Specific charges against him were not made clear until after his trial in a closed hearing in Beijing on August 15, 2006. On August 31, 2006, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court convicted Ching of espionage and sentenced him to five years in prison, plus an additional year’s deprivation of political rights.
The verdict in the case later appeared online and was published by several Hong Kong newspapers. The document accused Ching of accepting around 300,000 Hong Kong dollars (not millions as first reported by Xinhua) in fees to submit classified reports on political affairs, economics, and international relations for a Taiwan-based organization called the Foundation of International and Cross-Strait Studies, which authorities said was a cover for a Taiwan intelligence organization. Prosecutors said that Ching had met two representatives from the organization at a current events conference, and had done research for them, including sending them reporting that he and others had done for The Straits Times.
In his defense, Ching argued that he had no knowledge that the organization was a front for Taiwan intelligence–a charge the foundation itself strongly denied–and that he had provided no state secrets. Ching’s appeal was rejected in November 2006.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
IMPRISONED: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of ”subverting state authority,” and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang was a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang’s case, which was translated into English by the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a “democratic Chinese transitional government.” Yang’s colleagues say that without his prior knowledge, he was elected “secretariat” of the fictional government. Yang later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, who had been convicted of endangering state security. Yang’s defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to the family of a jailed dissident and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. Yang had already spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In June, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Yang’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Guo Qizhen.
Guo Qizhen, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a rolling hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. He was later formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People’s Court tried Guo on charges of “inciting subversion of state authority” on September 12, 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, plus an additional two years’ deprivation of political rights.
In the case presented to the prosecutor on June 16, 2006, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo’s crimes, including one titled “Letting some of the people first get rich while others cannot make a living,” in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an “autocratic” and “despotic” regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution.
Guo is married and has a teenage son. In August 2007, Guo’s wife Zhao Changqing told CPJ she had been barred from seeing her husband since June, when he was bruised from beatings sustained while in custody and had complained of deteriorating health, including high blood pressure and chest pains.
In June, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Guo’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Yang Tongyan.
Zhang Jianhong, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 6, 2006
The founder and editor of the popular news and literary Web site Aiqinhai (Aegean Sea) was taken from his home in Ningbo, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. In October 2006, he was formally arrested on charges of “inciting subversion.” He was sentenced to six years in prison by Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in March 2007, followed by one year’s deprivation of political rights.
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to online articles critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations’ criticism of the government’s human rights record, and in particular, the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as “Olympicgate.”
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served a year and a half of “re-education through labor” in 1989 on counterrevolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position on the local writers association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site Aiqinhai was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Epoch Times.
In September 2007, Zhang was transferred from the Ningbo Detention Center to Qiaosi Prison in Zhejiang province, despite continued appeals for his release on medical grounds. He suffered from a rare nerve disorder. His wife had not been allowed to contact him since June.
That month, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Zhang’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Guo Qizhen and Yang Tongyan.
Sun Lin, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: May 30, 2007
Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested along with his wife, He Fang, on May 30, according to the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News. Sun had previously documented harassment by authorities as a result of his audio, video, and print reports for the banned Chinese-language news site.
Sun was accused in the arrest warrant of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1 said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He in June but the couple were later denied visits by counsel or family members, according to a Boxun report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
Ma Shiping, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 16, 2007
Qi Chonghuai, Fazhi Zaobao
IMPRISONED: June 25, 2007
Police in Tengzhou detained Ma on June 16 on charges of carrying a false press card. Nine days later, police took Qi into custody on the same charge, although he was formally charged with extortion on August 2.
Two days before his detention, Ma posted photographs on the Xinhua News Agency Web site showing a new government office building in Tengzhou, a city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong. The posting, which attracted online comments, highlighted possible waste of local funds at a time when government spending was under scrutiny. Qi later defended the posting of the photos.
A journalist for 13 years, Qi was known for writing articles critical of the local administration. Some of his stories were published by the Falun Gong-affiliated Epoch Times. Ma, a freelance photographer, had local media affiliations but no official a creditation.
Qi’s wife and lawyer told CPJ that the journalist was beaten by police during questioning on August 13. Qi and Ma were awaiting trial in late year.
Zi Beijia, Beijing TV
IMPRISONED: July 18, 2007
Police arrested Zi after he allegedly fabricated a July 8 story about the sale of steamed buns stuffed with cardboard. Ten days after the report aired, Beijing TV apologized for the story and said that it was an invention. The Xinhua News Agency said Zi confessed, although a number of local journalists told CPJ that they believed the report to be factual and Zi to be innocent.
On August 12, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court sentenced Zi to a year in prison for the unusual crime of “infringing on the reputation of a commodity.” Zi’s arrest came amid widespread international reports about food and product safety defects in China. After the arrest, CPJ research found that domestic news reports about consumer safety were noticeably tamer.
Lü Gengsong, freelance
IMPRISONED: August 24, 2007
The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau charged Lü with “inciting subversion of state power,” according to human rights groups and news reports. Officials also searched his home and confiscated his computer hard drive and files.
The detention appeared to be connected to Lü’s recent articles on corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses, which were published on overseas Web sites. The day before his arrest, Lü reported on the trial and two-year sentence of housing rights activist Yang Yunbiao. Lü, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, was the author of the 2000 book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, which was published in Hong Kong.
back to top
Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Argüelles Morán, director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in the central province of Ciego de Ávila, was detained during the first day of a massive March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and independent journalists. In April 2003, he was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The 59-year-old journalist has been held at the Canaleta Prison in his home province since November 2005. He had been transferred from prison to prison several times before, according to CPJ research.
His wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ that her husband developed several ailments throughout his imprisonment and that other conditions worsened. An existing eye problem deteriorated to the point where Argüelles Morán became nearly blind. The journalist’s arthritis grew progressively worse as well, she said.
Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
A journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Indpendientes in the western province of Pinar del Río, Arroyo Carmona was handed a 26-year prison sentence under Article 91 of the penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
In 2005, Arroyo Carmona was sent to the Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Cuba. He staged a two-week hunger strike in September 2005 to protest his imprisonment.
His sister, Blanca Arroyo Carmona, told CPJ that the 54-year-old journalist shared a barracks with numerous hardened prisoners. Arroyo Carmona has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and a case of pulmonary emphysema that has worsened because of inmates’ cigarette smoke and the prison’s lack of ventilation, his sister said.
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Galván Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Havana Press, was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” Galván Gutiérrez was handed a 26-year prison sentence.
In August 2007, the journalist was transferred from the maximum security Agüica Prison in Matanzas to the Guanajay Prison in his home province of Havana. His sister, Teresa Galván Gutiérrez, said conditions were better at the new prison, where Galván Gutiérrez shared a cell with only one other man. Galván Gutiérrez was in generally good health, his sister told CPJ.
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Gálvez Rodríguez, a freelance reporter based in Havana, was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.”
After a year and a half at La Pendiente Prison in the central Villa Clara province, Gálvez Rodríguez was transferred to Havana’s Combinado del Este Prison. His family was allowed one visit per month.
Gálvez Rodríguez, 63, suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, and respiratory problems, stepson Lionel Pérez Pedroso told CPJ. Throughout four years in prison, he was admitted to local hospitals multiple times. In early 2007, the reporter spent several months in the Combinado del Este Prison hospital for problems linked to his hypertension, according to Pérez Pedroso.
José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
García Paneque, director of the independent news agency Libertad in eastern Las Tunas, was tried and convicted in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” He was handed a 24-year prison sentence.
Following a number of prison transfers, García Paneque was sent to Las Mangas Prison in the eastern Granma province in November 2005, said his wife, Yamilé Llánez Labrada. The reporter, who shared a cell with numerous hardened prisoners, was taken to the prison’s infirmary after being assaulted by another inmate in August 2007, according to his wife.
Llánez Labrada told CPJ that her husband’s health had deteriorated significantly since he was first imprisoned. García Paneque, 41, has been diagnosed with internal bleeding and malnutrition, and suffers from chronic pneumonia, according to Llánez Labrada. In June, the reporter was taken to a local hospital, where doctors told him he also had a kidney tumor. Llánez Labrada said her husband has received only infrequent medical attention.
Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
González Alfonso, a Havana-based freelance journalist and correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, was detained during the March 2003 crackdown and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was tried under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
The journalist was jailed initially in Camagüey’s Kilo 8 Prison, where, according to his sister Graciela González-Degard, he was harassed and punished after a December 2003 hunger strike. In January 2005, he was transferred to the Havana Combinado del Este Prison, according to his wife, Alida de Jesús Viso Bello.
González Alfonso was being held in a small, hot, and poorly ventilated cell, Viso Bello told CPJ. The 57-year-old reporter has been diagnosed with hypertension, arthritis, allergies, and several digestive and circulatory ailments. During his time in jail, he has suffered from hepatitis and has had four different surgeries for problems linked to his digestive tract, his wife said.
Léster Luis González Pentón, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
González Pentón, an independent journalist in the central province of Villa Clara, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April 2003, after being tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
According to CPJ research, González Pentón was transferred several times among different prisons before being sent to the Villa Clara Provincial Prison, according to his mother, Mireya de la Caridad Pentón.
A cellmate assaulted González Pentón in 2007, but the journalist was in generally good health, wife Yanet Ocaña told CPJ.
Alejandro González Raga, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
An independent freelance reporter in the central Camagüey province, González Raga was tried and sentenced to 14 years in prison in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code, which punishes those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
In 2004, González Raga was transferred to the Kilo 7 Prison in Central Camagüey, according to his wife, Berta María Bueno Fuentes. In February 2006, González Raga sent an open letter to overseas Web sites pleading for his freedom. In the letter, he said his health was deteriorating under poor prison conditions.
His wife, who said she saw the reporter for two hours every 45 days, said González Raga shared a barracks with more than 100 common prisoners. According to Bueno Fuentes, prison authorities imposed tougher restrictions on Gonzáles Raga than on other inmates. Bueno Fuentes told CPJ that her husband was suffering from a series of mental health ailments, including depression. He has also been diagnosed with hypertension and cardiovascular problems.
Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Hernández Carrillo, a reporter for the independent news agency Patria, was sentenced to 25 years in prison following a summary trial under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.
In 2003 and 2004, the reporter waged hunger strikes to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. He was subsequently transferred among several prisons. In 2005, Hernández Carrillo was placed at the Pre Prison in central Villa Clara, close to his home province of Matanzas. According to press reports, the 26-year-old journalist was permitted family visits only once every two months.
Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
In April 2003, Pulido López, director of the independent news agency El Mayor in Camagüey, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He had been tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
The journalist was first jailed at Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, where he was held for a year in solitary confinement, according to his wife, Rebeca Rodríguez Soto. He was transferred in August 2004 to the Kilo 7 Prison in Camagüey, where he was still being held in 2007.
Berta María Bueno Fuentes, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Alejandro González Raga, told CPJ that Pulido López shared a cell with seven hardened prisoners. He had lost a significant amount of weight and had complained to his wife of depression, Bueno Fuentes said. Pulido López has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, osteoporosis, and loss of eyesight, Rodríguez Soto told the Havana-based human rights group Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos en Cuba.
José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Ramón Castillo worked as the director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. He was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” and was given a prison sentence of 20 years.
Ramón Castillo was being held at the Boniato Prison in Havana, where he shared a barracks with at least 100 inmates, according to his wife, Blanca Rosa Echavarría. In 2006, prison authorities harassed the journalist’s family and progressively reduced the amount of food, medicine, and personal hygiene items the family was allowed to bring him, Echavarría told CPJ.
The journalist has been diagnosed with cirrhosis, diabetes, hypertension, and stomach ulcers, Echavarría said. He recently developed circulation problems in his legs and numerous growths on the face and body. Echavarría said her husband received treatment for diabetes but was seldom given medication for his other ailments.
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Rodríguez Saludes, a photojournalist, worked as director of the Havana-based independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana. In April 2003, he was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for “acting against the independence or territorial integrity of the state” and was handed a 27-year prison sentence.
The journalist was being held at the Toledo Prison in Havana, where his wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, said he shares a cell with several other inmates. Rodríguez Saludes was in good health, although he was diagnosed with gastrointestinal ailments and hypertension, said Marrero Joa.
Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Barzaga Lugo, a reporter for the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana, was tried and convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy. He was given a 15-year prison sentence.
The reporter has been held at the maximum security Agüica Prison since 2005, his sister, Elquis Barzaga Lugo, told CPJ. Barzaga Lugo was allowed family visits every month and a half. His sister said authorities allowed the family to give him medicine but not always food during the visits. Barzaga Lugo, 36, shared a cell with 16 inmates.
Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Fernández Saínz, Havana correspondent for the news agency Patria, was tried and convicted under Law 88, which punishes anyone who commits acts “aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was handed a 15-year prison sentence.
Fernández Saínz, 58, was transferred among several Cuban prisons before being sent to Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province, approximately 186 miles (300 kilometers) from his home in Havana. According to his wife, Julia Núñez Pacheco, the reporter shared a large cell with at least 27 common prisoners. Fernández Saínz was permitted family visits every two months, Núñez Pacheco told CPJ.
The reporter waged a number of hunger strikes to protest his imprisonment, CPJ research shows. He suffered from chronic hypertension, emphysema, osteoporosis, and a kidney cyst. Núñez Pacheco said her husband had received scant medical attention, with his family providing most of his medications during their visits. Núñez Pacheco has written several letters to Cuban authorities requesting that her husband be transferred to a prison closer to home, but she has received no response.
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
An independent journalist in the western Havana province, Fuentes was tried under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” He was handed a 26-year prison sentence in April 2003.
Fuentes, 58, was jailed at the Kilo 5½ Prison in western Pinar del Río, his wife Loyda Valdés González, told CPJ. He shared a cramped barracks-style cell with at least 80 other prisoners, said Valdés González. The journalist lost a significant amount of weight since his imprisonment and suffered from chronic back problems, according to his wife.
Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas and Independientes de Camagüey
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Hernández González, director of the news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, was sentenced in April 2003 to 25 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code, which punishes those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
In 2003 and 2004, the journalist waged several hunger strikes to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. According to CPJ research, he was transferred several times to prisons across the island. In September 2006, Hernández González was sent to the maximum security Kilo 7 Prison in his home province of Camagüey, said his wife, Yaraí Reyes Marín.
Hernández González has been diagnosed with intestinal ailments that have made it difficult to eat and have caused a significant loss of weight. In 2007, Hernández González suffered a bout of pneumonia; prison doctors also told him he tested positive for tuberculosis but had not developed the disease. The journalist was treated during the year at the Dr. Carlos J. Finlay Central Military Hospital in Havana, Reyes Marín told CPJ.
Reyes Marín requested medical parole for her husband in July 2006, according to news reports, but Cuban authorities did not respond.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Herrera Acosta worked as a Guantánamo-based reporter for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental. In April 2003, he was handed a prison sentence of 20 years under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.
Herrera Acosta has consistently protested his imprisonment and the conditions in which he has been held, CPJ research shows. He has used hunger strikes, self-inflicted wounds, and anti-Castro slogans as part of his protest. Prison authorities have, in turn, retaliated by mistreating the journalist and subjecting him to arbitrary prison transfers, according to press reports. Herrera Acosta has lost weight and has suffered from a variety of ailments since he was imprisoned, his wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, told CPJ.
José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Izquierdo Hernández, a reporter in the western Havana province for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was sentenced to 16 years in prison following an April 2003 trial on charges of acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” under Article 91 of the penal code.
Izquierdo Hernández was jailed at the Guanajay Prison in his home province, where news reports said he had received inadequate medical treatment. The reporter has been diagnosed with a series of digestive ailments, as well as emphysema and asthma, according to CPJ research. In 2007, prison doctors also diagnosed a hernia and circulatory problems, the Miami-based Web site Payolibre reported. Izquierdo Hernández has been hospitalized several times during his imprisonment, including twice in 2007, according to press reports.
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Maseda Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state,” and Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In December 2005, Maseda Gutiérrez was transferred to the maximum-security Agüica Prison in the western Matanzas province. According to his wife, Laura Pollán Toledo, the journalist was held in a barracks with at least 70 hardened prisoners. Maseda Gutiérrez suffered from high blood pressure, his wife said.
Pollán Toledo told CPJ she sought amnesty for her husband in 2004, but the Cuban government did not respond.
Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Pacheco Ávila, a reporter for the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Pacheco Ávila was being held at the Morón Prison in his home province, where he shared a small cell with 10 other prisoners, said his wife, Oleyvis García Echemendía. The journalist, 37, developed inflammation and joint problems in both knees and underwent surgery in May, García Echemendía told CPJ. Pachecho Ávila has also been diagnosed with high blood pressure, severe headaches, acute gastritis, and kidney problems, his wife said. He was receiving irregular medical treatment.
Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Prieto Llorente, a freelance reporter in the western Isla de la Juventud, was tried in April 2003 under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
His sister, Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente, said the reporter was being held in solitary confinement at El Guayabo Prison in his home province. The cell, which measured 5 by 9 feet, was poorly ventilated, said the sister. Prison authorities allowed monthly family visits.
Prieto Llorente, 44, has been diagnosed with emphysema and high blood pressure. Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente told CPJ that her brother had been taken to a local hospital in June for a medical checkup and had a severe allergic reaction to penicillin. In September, he had an acute ear infection that was not treated, his
The reporter has suffered from depression as well, according to his sister. In 2006, she said, other inmates beat him when he protested on the anniversary of his imprisonment, and prison authorities punished him with solitary confinement after he expressed support for political change in the wake of President Fidel Castro’s illness.
Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
A reporter for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in the central province of Villa Clara, Ruiz Hernández was sentenced to 18 years in prison in April 2003. He was tried under Article 91 of the penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
In November 2005, Ruiz Hernández was sent to the Nieves Morejón Prison in central Sancti Spíritus. He had been transferred twice before, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ. At Nieves Morejón, the reporter shared a small cell with 12 hardened prisoners, who harassed and attacked him, Rojo Arias said.
Ruiz Hernández, 60, has been diagnosed with high blood pressure and other circulatory problems. Doctors told the reporter in 2007 that one of his retinas had become detached, but they did not immediately provide treatment, according to Rojo Arias.
Guillermo Espinosa Rodríguez, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: October 26, 2006
A reporter for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental, Espinosa Rodríguez was tried on November 6, 2006, on the vaguely worded charge of “social dangerousness” contained in Article 72 of the penal code. After a 45-minute trial, the journalist was sentenced to two years of home confinement.
According to his cousin Diosmel Rodríguez, the reporter is permitted to leave his home only to go to work. As part of his sentence, Espinosa Rodríguez was forbidden from leaving his home province of Santiago de Cuba and from practicing journalism.
Espinosa Rodríguez was charged in connection with his coverage of a local dengue fever outbreak, which the official Cuban press ignored, according to CPJ research. Espinosa Rodríguez said the journalist would be forced to serve his term in prison if he did not comply with the terms of his sentence.
Oscar Sánchez Madan, freelance
IMPRISONED: April 13, 2007
Sánchez Madan, a freelance reporter in the western Matanzas province, was handed a four-year prison sentence following a one-day trial on the vaguely worded charge of “social dangerousness” contained in Article 72 of the penal code.
The journalist had covered a local corruption scandal, along with social problems in Matanzas. Authorities had detained him twice before and warned him to stop working as an independent journalist, Matanzas-based journalist Hugo Araña told CPJ.
Sánchez Madan was being held at the maximum security Combinado del Sur Prison, outside the provincial capital of Matanzas, said Juan Francisco Sigler Amaya, a family friend and local human rights activist. The journalist shared a 19-by-10-foot cell with at least 17 other prisoners, Sigler Amaya told CPJ.
Sigler Amaya said prison authorities encouraged inmates to threaten and intimidate the reporter. Authorities denied Sánchez Madan access to a priest and to religious literature, and they routinely confiscated his mail, Sigler Amaya said.
back to top
Abdel Karim Suleiman (Karim Amer), freelance
IMPRISONED: November 7, 2006
The general prosecutor’s office in the northern city of Alexandria ordered the arrest of blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman, known online as Karim Amer, on November 7, 2006, because of his online criticisms.
On February 22, a criminal court in the northern city of Alexandria convicted Suleiman, then 22, of insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He received a four-year jail term, marking the first time an Egyptian blogger stood trial and was sentenced for his work.
Suleiman had been a student at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the preeminent higher learning institution in Sunni Islam. He was expelled in 2006 because he frequently criticized the state-run religious university, which he accused of promoting extremist ideas, and Mubarak, whom he referred to as a dictator.
back to top
Zemenfes Haile, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: January 1999
Haile, founder and manager of the private weekly Tsigenay, was arrested for allegedly failing to complete his national service. CPJ sources said he was released from prison in 2002 but was assigned to extended military service. The sources said Haile’s continued deprivation of liberty was part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: July 2000
Keleta, a reporter for the private weekly Tsigenay, was seized by security agents on his way to work sometime in July 2000 and has not been seen since. CPJ sources said his continued detention was connected to the government’s overall crackdown on the press.
Said Abdelkader, Admas
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Temesken Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh
Dawit Habtemichael, Meqaleh
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Seyoum Tsehaye, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 2001
Eritrean security forces jailed 10 local journalists without trial in the days following September 18, 2001. The arrests came less than a week after authorities abruptly closed the country’s fledgling private press, purportedly to safeguard national unity in the face of growing political turmoil. Unconfirmed reports circulated in 2006 saying that three journalists had died in prison. CPJ was unable to confirm those reports, but credible sources did confirm the death of one prominent imprisoned journalist, Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, in early 2007.
Authorities accused the journalists of avoiding the country’s compulsory military service, threatening national security, and failing to observe licensing requirements. CPJ research indicates that the crackdown was part of a government drive to crush political dissent ahead of elections scheduled for December 2001, which were subsequently cancelled. The private press had covered a split between reformers and conservatives within the ruling elite, providing a forum for debate on the increasingly authoritarian regime of President Isaias Afewerki. An open letter in the leading independent weekly Setit published on September 9, 2001, for example, told the government that “people can tolerate hunger and other problems for a long time, but they can’t tolerate the absence of good administration and justice.”
In a 2006 CPJ interview, presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel denied that the journalists were imprisoned because of what they wrote, saying only that they “were involved in acts against the national interest of the state.” He said “the substance of the case is clear to everybody” but declined to detail any supporting evidence.
The journalists were initially held incommunicado at a police station in the capital, where they began a hunger strike on March 31, 2002. In a message smuggled from their jail, the journalists said they would refuse food until they were released or charged and given due process. Instead, they were transferred to secret locations, and no official information has been available since. The government has refused to divulge their whereabouts, their health, or even whether they are still alive.
“This is an Eritrean issue; leave it to us,” Information Minister Ali Abdu told CPJ in June 2007 when he was asked to confirm reports of the death in prison of Yohannes, the award-winning co-owner of Setit. Several sources in the Eritrean diaspora disclosed to CPJ in February that Yohannes, 47, died on January 11, 2007, after a long illness in an undisclosed prison outside Asmara. One source said the journalist may have died much earlier in a prison in Embatkala, 21 miles (35 kilometers) northeast of Asmara. Yohannes received a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2002.
The government’s monopoly on domestic media, the fear of reprisal among prisoners’ families, and restrictions on the movements of all foreigners have made it extremely difficult to verify unofficial information.
An unbylined report, circulated on several Web sites in August 2006 and deemed by CPJ sources to be generally credible, claimed that journalists and opposition leaders arrested in the crackdown were moved in 2003 to a secretly built desert prison. CPJ sources, however, could not verify the report’s claim that at least three journalists had died in custody. The report named the three as “Mr. Yusuf,” believed by CPJ sources to refer to Yusuf Mohamed Ali of Tsigenay; “Mr. Medhane Tewelde,” believed to refer to Medhanie Haile of Keste Debena; and “Mr. Said,” believed to refer to Said Abdelkader of Admas. Eritrean officials did not respond to a November 2007 letter hand-delivered to the embassy in Washington and inquiring about the three journalists. Information Minister Ali Abdu told CPJ the same month that he had no information.
The case of Setit co-owner Isaac, an Eritrean with Swedish citizenship, has drawn national attention in Sweden, where diplomats, journalists, and grassroots activists have campaigned for his release. Isaac was released for a medical checkup on November 19, 2005, and allowed to phone his family and a friend in Sweden. Despite hopes that he would be freed, Isaac was returned to jail two days later with no explanation, according to CPJ sources. In March 2007, Sweden’s National Press Club awarded Isaac its Freedom of Expression and Press Prize, according to news reports.
Selamyinghes Beyene, Meqaleh
IMPRISONED: Fall 2001
Beyene, a reporter for the independent weekly Meqaleh, was arrested in fall 2001. CPJ sources believed that his detention was part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001. He was conscripted into the military in 2002 and assigned extended service, according to CPJ sources.
Saleh Aljezeeri, Eritrean State Radio
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eritrean State Television
IMPRISONED: February 15, 2002
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that on or around February 15, Eritrean authorities arrested Said, a journalist for the state-run Eritrean State Television (ETV); Aljezeeri, a journalist for Eritrean State Radio; and Saadia Ahmed, a journalist with the Arabic-language service of ETV. Ahmed was released in early 2005, according to CPJ sources.
The reasons for the arrests were unclear, but CPJ sources said they believed the detentions were related to the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
back to top
Saleh Idris Gama, Eri-TV
Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi, Eri-TV
IMPRISONED: December 2006
Kenyan authorities arrested Eritrean state television journalists Gama and Tesfazghi at the Somali border in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s military intervention in Somalia in late 2006. The detentions were disclosed in April through official statements and an anti-Eritrean propaganda videotape posted on the Ethiopian government Web site Waltainfo.
The video suggested the journalists were involved in military activities in Somalia. While Eritrean journalists are often conscripted into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity.
Tesfazghi, a producer, and Gama, a cameraman, were held for three weeks by Kenyan authorities and handed over to the Ethiopian-backed Somali transitional government in January 2007, according to the Eritrean Foreign Ministry. In April, the Ethiopian government acknowledged that it had detained 41 people who were “captured” in Somalia on suspicion of ”terrorism,” according to news reports. The government said detainees would be tried “before the competent military court” but did not identify them by name. Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahid Belay told CPJ that authorities would not provide information about the journalists. Their whereabouts, legal status, and health were unknown in late year.
THE GAMBIA: 1
back to top
“Chief” Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
IMPRISONED: July 7, 2006
Manneh, a journalist for the state-controlled Daily Observer, was arrested after he tried to republish a BBC report critical of President Yahya Jammeh. Manneh’s colleagues witnessed his arrest by two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency at the premises of the Daily Observer. Gambian security agencies and police have refused to provide information on his whereabouts, health, and legal status.
Local journalists said Manneh was seen in July at the Royal Victorian Teaching Hospital in Banjul and again in September in the far eastern Fatoto Prison. The Media Foundation for West Africa filed legal action in the Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States in 2007, seeking a court order compelling the government to release Manneh. The court, based in Abuja, Nigeria, held hearings in July, September, and November, but Gambian officials failed to attend and gave no explanation. Additional hearings were scheduled for 2008.
back to top
Mohammad Hassan Fallahiyazadeh, Al-Alam
IMPRISONED: November 1, 2006
Authorities arrested Fallahiyazadeh, 32, on November 1, 2006, and transferred him to Tehran’s Evin prison, according to the Iran-based human rights group Human Rights Activists in Iran. His detention stems from his reporting about the government’s harsh treatment of Iranian-Arab protestors in the Khuzestan provincial capital, Ahwaz, the group said.
A Revolutionary Court handed him a three-year prison sentence in late April for propaganda against the Islamic regime and for communicating with opposition groups abroad, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran and Amnesty International. Fallahiyazadeh, who belongs to Iran’s Arab minority, was denied access to a lawyer, the human rights group said.
Fallahiyazadeh was a reporter for the state-run Arabic language satellite channel Al-Alam and for several Arab media outlets, such as Lebanon’s Future TV, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Activists in Iran. He once worked as managing editor of the now-defunct student publication Aqlam al-Talaba at the Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz.
Adnan Hassanpour, Aso
IMPRISONED: January 25, 2007
Security agents seized Hassanpour, a journalist and former editor for the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, in Kurdistan province, according to news reports. A Revolutionary Court convicted him in July of endangering national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, one of his attorneys, Sirvan Hosmandi, told CPJ. Hassanpour was sentenced to death.
Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency confirming that Hassanpour was “sentenced to execution on the charge of moharebeh,” The Associated Press reported. Moharebeh, or fighting with God, has been used by the Iranian authorities against people who allegedly take up arms to violently overthrow the regime. Hosmandi told CPJ that the journalist was being held in Kurdistan province’s capital, Sanandaj.
Saleh Nikbakht, another attorney representing the journalist, told the Iran Student News Agency that Iran’s National Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on October 22. He said Hassanpour was convicted of spying, providing information about military bases, assisting suspected criminals in crossing Iran’s borders, and having contacts with an official at the U.S. State Department.
Hosmandi told CPJ that the charges against Hassanpour were not proved in court and were supported with merely a report from security officials. The courts have not publicly disclosed the basis for their rulings. Hassanpour’s sister, Lily, told CPJ that the accusations made against her brother were false and that she believed his critical writings were behind the charges.
Aso was banned in August 2005 following its coverage of violent protests in Kurdistan province that summer.
Ahmad Ghassaban, Sahar
IMPRISONED: May 3, 2007
Majid Tavakoli, Khat-e Sefer
IMPRISONED: May 9, 2007
Ehsan Mansouri, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 22, 2007
Tehran authorities arrested these three Amirkabir University of Technology students following distribution of newsletters carrying articles deemed insulting to Islam, according to news reports. The students said they had no involvement in the publications. They said a hard-line conservative student group fraudulently used the names and logos of legitimate student publications as a dirty trick, news reports said.
In October, a Tehran Revolutionary Court found all three students guilty of propaganda against the regime and insulting the supreme leader, according to AUTNews, the Web site of the Islamic Student Association at Amirkabir University. Defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AUTNews that the court sentenced Ghassaban, managing editor of the student newspaper Sahar, to 30 months in prison; Tavakoli, managing editor of the student paper Khat-e Sefer, to three years; and Mansouri, a cartoonist accused of drawing insulting caricatures, to two years.
All three appealed the verdict. Dadkhah said they still faced charges in criminal court of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and Islamic principles, AUTNews reported. The students were subjected to torture during interrogations, according to news reports quoting
The students–all members of the reformist Islamic Student Association–said the fraudulent publications were designed to disrupt the group’s annual campus election. They claimed that student members of the Basij–a militia affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an elite unit under the supreme leader’s control–were behind the bogus newsletters, according to AUTNews. Immediately following distribution of the newsletters, the Basij attacked the publications and their activist leaders, according to online sources.
Saeed Metinpour, Yarpagh
IMPRISONED: May 25, 2007
The Committee to Defend Azerbaijan’s Political Prisoners (ASMEK) reported that authorities seized Metinpour, 32, an editor for the Azeri-language weekly Yarpagh, and his wife, Atiyeh Taheri, in the northwestern city of Zanjan. They jailed Metinpour, transported his wife home, and searched the couple’s property. The officers confiscated Metinpour’s personal computer, books, and other personal belongings. They cut the telephone lines and warned Taheri not to tell anyone about the incident.
The charges against Metinpour remained undisclosed. Defense attorney Mahmoud Faghihi was denied access to his client beginning in October.
Metinpour, who contributed to the daily Mardom-e No and other local papers, frequently criticized Iran’s social and political system and the regime’s harsh treatment of Azerbaijani activists. In his last piece before his arrest, he described Iranian police carrying out missions for the Security and Intelligence Ministry. Local journalists who spoke with CPJ said they believed his articles were behind his imprisonment.
Authorities transferred Metinpour among several jails, including Tehran’s Evin prison, ASMEK reported. Taheri was able to speak with him a few times by phone for short periods, ASMEK reported. The journalist’s mother was allowed to visit him once.
Metinpour was previously arrested on February 21 along with other Azerbaijani journalists during a protest in Zanjan on International Mother Language Day. They had been demonstrating against government restrictions that prohibited them from writing and publishing Azeri-language material. Metinpour was released on bail after 10 days in solitary confinement,
Jelil Ghanilou, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 27, 2007
Security officials seized Ghanilou, 30, from his home in Zanjan, the capital of northwestern Zanjan province, on June 27, his brother, Tavakol Ghanilou, told CPJ. They held Ghanilou for nearly four months at the Ministry of Intelligence and Security jail in Zanjan before transferring him on October 21 to another prison, Tavakol Ghanilou said.
Ghanilou had not been tried when CPJ conducted its December 1 census, and the charges against him had not been disclosed. Tavakol Ghanilou told CPJ that he believed Ghanilou’s articles about the civil and cultural rights of Iran’s ethnic Azerbaijani minority were behind his current detention.
Authorities had arrested Ghanilou earlier in the year as well. On February 21, he was seized while attending a protest in Zanjan organized by Azeri journalists and cultural activists for International Mother Language Day. They were demonstrating against government restrictions prohibiting them from writing and publishing material in their native language. He was released on bail after spending 26 days in solitary confinement. Tavakol Ghanilou told Advar News, which is affiliated with the Office for Fostering Unity, a pro-reform student organization, that Ghanilou was subjected to physical and psychological torture during that detention. That case remained pending in late year, Tavakol Ghanilou told CPJ.
Ghanilou worked as a freelancer for several local newspapers, including the daily Mardom-e No, the weekly Farday-e Roushan, the now-defunct weekly Omid-e Zanjan, and the monthly magazine Payk-e Azerbaijan, according to Alireza Javanbakht, spokesman for the Committee to Defend Azerbaijan’s Political Prisoners.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e Mardom
IMPRISONED: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand, 45, at his Tehran accounting offices, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin prison in Tehran.
Authorities accused Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e Mardom, with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state among other things, according to his organization’s Web site. They had been pressuring him to close the organization and disavow its mission, the group reported. He had not been officially charged with any crime or brought before a judge, according to CPJ sources. His lawyer had not been allowed to see him or review his file, the sources said.
Payam-e Mardom was suspended on June 27, 2004, after 13 issues, according to news reports. The term of the ban ended on July 1, 2007, the day Kaboudvand was jailed. Kaboudvand had published articles about torture in Iranian jails and advocated a federal system of government for the Islamic republic.
Ejlal Ghavami, Payam-e Mardom
IMPRISONED: July 9, 2007
Authorities arrested Ghavami, an editor at the weekly Payam-e Mardom, in Kurdistan’s provincial capital, Sanandaj, on July 9, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
A Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced Ghavami to three years in prison for covering banned protests held before the governor’s office in Kurdistan province in 2005, according to Reuters, which cited the Iranian Students News Agency. The journalist’s lawyer, Nemat Ahmadi, told the Iranian Students News Agency that an appeals court upheld the verdict, the news Web site Rooz reported.
Ahmadi said the court convicted Ghavami of “activities against state security by participating in illegal gatherings, propaganda against the state and in support of opposition groups and for insulting official authorities,” Rooz reported. He said his client attended the protest solely as a reporter.
Payam-e Mardom was suspended on June 27, 2004, after 13 issues, according to news reports. The term of the ban ended on July 1, 2007.
Ako Kurdnasab, Karafto
IMPRISONED: July 21, 2007
Security officials arrested Kurdnasab, 23, a journalist for the weekly Karafto, on July 21 at the newspaper’s offices in the Kurdistan provincial capital, Sanandaj, journalists at the weekly told CPJ. On September 21, a Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj convicted him of spying against the regime and sentenced him to three years in prison, his lawyer, Kourosh Fattahi, told CPJ. In November, a Kurdistan appeals court changed the charge to propaganda against the regime and reduced his sentence to six months.
Fattahi told CPJ that there was no specific evidence to support either of the charges. In Kurdnasab’s interrogation file, he was accused of reporting on protests and strikes, but authorities did not provide a basis for the accusations, his lawyer said.
Authorities held and interrogated Kurdnasab for nearly two months without granting him access to a lawyer before referring him to court on September 10, according to online news reports.
Maryam Hosseinkhah, Change for Equality, Zanestan
IMPRISONED: November 18, 2007
A Revolutionary Court summoned and arrested online journalist Hosseinkhah in Tehran on November 18, according to the Iran-based Web site Change for Equality. The judge charged her with disturbing public opinion, engaging in propaganda against the regime, and spreading false news, Change for Equality reported. Bail was set at one billion rials (US$107,000). Authorities transferred her to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison because she was unable to pay the amount, Change for Equality reported.
Hosseinkhah’s lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, told Change for Equality that her client was jailed because she wrote articles on women’s rights for online sites and newspapers.
Hosseinkhah worked as an editor for the Women’s Cultural Center-affiliated Web site Zanestan and the Change for Equality Web site. Change for Equality seeks to amass one million signatures urging reform of Iranian laws discriminating against women. In November 2007, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance ordered the closure of Zanestan, according to Change for Equality.
Reza Valizadeh, Baznegar
IMPRISONED: November 27, 2007
Security officers arrested Valizadeh, a blogger and editor of the Web site Baznegar, in Tehran, according to news reports. He was detained after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office complained about an online article describing the presidential security team’s purchase of four bomb-detecting dogs from Germany, according to news reports. Other media had covered the story as well, including The Guardian of London.
Valizadeh was being held at Tehran’s Evin prison. Charges were not immediately disclosed, according to news reports.
back to top
Bilal Hussein, The Associated Press
IMPRISONED: April 12, 2006
Hussein, an Iraqi photographer for The Associated Press, was taken into custody by U.S. forces in Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, for “imperative reasons of security” on April 12, 2006, and held without charge or the disclosure of evidence of a crime.
The U.S. military alleged that Hussein had ties to insurgents. “He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive attacks, and other attacks on coalition forces,” according to a May 7, 2006, e-mail from Maj. Gen. John Gardner to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.
The military claimed Hussein’s photographs showed he had prior knowledge of insurgent attacks, allowing him to arrive at scenes of violence before they occurred. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said the news organization reviewed 900 images taken by Hussein and found no evidence that he arrived before attacks took place.
According to the AP, the most specific allegation cited by U.S. officials–that Hussein was involved in the Iraqi insurgent kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi–was discredited after the AP investigated the claim. The two abducted journalists had not implicated Hussein in the kidnapping; they had instead praised him for his assistance when they were released. The military’s only evidence supporting its claim appeared to be images of the released journalists that were found in Hussein’s camera, the AP said. Hussein’s attorney, Paul Gardephe, said the military later acknowledged that it did not possess evidence supporting the allegation, the AP reported.
In December 2007, the U.S. military referred the case to the Iraqi justice system for possible prosecution. The military cited alleged links between Hussein and Iraqi insurgents but continued to disclose no evidence to support the accusation.
Hussein shared a 2005 Pulitzer Prize with other AP photographers for their work in Iraq.
Faisal Abbas Elias (Faisal Ghazaleh), Kurdsat
IMPRISONED: November 18, 2007
Kurdish security forces raided the home of Elias, a cameraman for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan-affiliated satellite channel Kurdsat, in the Nineveh provincial town of Bashika, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a local press freedom group.
Colleagues of Elias, also known as Faisal Ghazaleh, told the observatory that he was arrested and transferred to the security directorate in Dohuk, the capital city of Dohuk province, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Officials at Kurdsat and at the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate told CPJ that authorities provided no details about the arrest other than stating that the cameraman was being held for “security” reasons.
ISRAEL and OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: 2
back to top
Walid Khalid Hassan Ali, Palestine
IMPRISONED: May 18, 2007
Israeli forces detained West Bank Bureau Chief Ali of the Hamas-affiliated daily Palestine at his home near the West Bank city of Salfeit on May 18, the journalist’s wife told CPJ.
Ali’s attorney, Tamar Pelleg, told CPJ that on June 12, an Israeli military judge approved the six-month administrative detention order issued by an Israeli military commander against the reporter. Pelleg appealed the decision, but it was upheld by a military appellate judge on July 16. In November, Pelleg said, a judge extended the detention for another six months.
According to court documents obtained by CPJ, the appellate judge ruled that “in light of the appellant’s recent propensity for military activity, I came to the conclusion that the security of the area and the public obligate the detention.”
Despite that assertion, Pelleg said she believed Ali’s work at Palestine played a role in the detention. Israeli authorities did not detail the factual basis for the detention, and the evidence remained secret.
Ali has been transferred among several prisons and kept in solitary confinement since early September, his wife told CPJ. Mustafa al-Sawaf, the paper’s editor, said he believed Ali was arrested because of his work for the paper.
Pelleg told CPJ that Ali was accused of being a prominent leader in Hamas, although her client had not been charged with any offense and the evidence used to hold him remained secret. She added that Ali did not deny knowing Hamas members but said that his ties to them were purely social. Ali previously served more than four years in administrative detention without charge. He was released in August 2006.
Atta Farhat, Al-Watan, Golan Times, and Syrian TV
IMPRISONED: July 30, 2007
A special unit of the Israeli police force raided the home of Syrian journalist Farhat, 35, in the northern Golan Heights village of Baqaata in the early morning of July 30, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, a local nongovernmental organization, and its partner, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, said in a joint statement. Police searched the property, seized the reporter’s personal computer and cell phone, and arrested him, according to the groups.
Pursuant to a court order, Farhat was held in Al-Jamala Prison, about nine miles (14 kilometers) southeast of Haifa. He appeared before an Israeli judge several times but was not charged, the organizations reported. They said his requests for “temporary release” pending further court proceedings were denied.
The groups said in their joint statement that Israeli authorities had not disclosed the reasons for Farhat’s detention, but that he may be accused of “collaborating with an enemy state.” The center said it suspects the allegation is directly related to his journalistic activities for Syrian media. Farhat is editor-in-chief of the daily news Web site Golan Times and a correspondent for the Syrian daily Al-Watan and state-run Syrian TV. Farhat published articles in the Syrian press describing the living conditions of Syrians under Israeli rule in the contested territory.
back to top
Abdullah Saeed (Fahala), Minivan Daily
IMPRISONED: March 26, 2006
Saeed, known as Fahala, was among several journalists employed by the opposition Minivan News Group who were targeted with legal action in 2006. Saeed, a reporter for the newspaper Minivan Daily, was initially sentenced to a two-month term for refusing to take a urine test after he was first detained in October 2005. In April 2006, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges that he intended to sell drugs. His colleagues believe the charges were fabricated and that he was targeted to silence coverage that was critical of the government.
In the trial against Saeed, his lawyer argued that police planted drugs in the journalist’s clothing after calling him to the station for unspecified reasons. The lawyer said that police found no drugs during an initial search of the journalist’s pockets–while the lawyer was present–only to discover 1.1 grams of heroin after isolating Saeed and removing his clothes from view.
Minivan Daily, affiliated with the Maldivian Democracy Party, was established in July 2005 as the first daily newspaper not aligned with the government of Maldivian President Maumoon Gayoom, who has ruled since 1978. Minivan means “independence” in Dhivehi. Saeed was being held at high-security Maafushi Prison.
back to top
Moussa Kaka, Radio France Internationale and Radio Saraounya
IMPRISONED: September 20, 2007
Kaka, a veteran radio journalist distinguished for his exclusive coverage of several armed rebellions of nomadic Tuaregs in northern Niger since the 1990s, was arrested on charges of “complicity in a conspiracy endangering the authority of the state,” over alleged links with an armed Tuareg uprising since February.
Calling Kaka a “bandit” (the government’s term for the rebels) under the guise of a journalist, government spokesman Ben Omar Mohamed told CPJ in September that the charges were not linked to journalism.
The charges, based on recordings of telephone conversations between the journalist and rebel leader Agali Alambo, included allegations that Kaka had negotiated payment with Alambo for footage and photos, according to defense lawyer Moussa Coulibaly and local journalists. Kaka had done exclusive interviews with rebel leaders and taken photos that were reprinted in several newspapers in the capital, Niamey, in July.
In November, a Niamey court dismissed the recordings on the grounds that they were illegally obtained, but Kaka remained behind bars pending a government appeal, according to Coulibaly and local journalists.
Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, Aïr Info
IMPRISONED: October 9, 2007
Diallo, director of the bimonthly Aïr Info in the northern town of Agadez, was arrested by plainclothes police at the airport in Niamey as he prepared to board a flight to Paris for a professional seminar.
Diallo was held without charge in Niamey and transferred two days later to a police station in Agadez, where authorities had imposed a three-month state of alert in August that gave security forces blanket powers of arrest and detention, according to local journalists. In November, a court in Agadez charged Diallo with criminal conspiracy over his alleged involvement in an antigovernment demonstration in Agadez in August, according to local journalists and Diallo’s lawyer, Moussa Coulibaly. Diallo is also an activist with the civil society organization Alternative Espaces Citoyens.
Local journalists believed the arrest stemmed from a September 26 Aïr Info report that listed 20 people arrested in the Agadez region on suspicion of rebel links, according to Agence France-Presse.
CPJ research indicates that Diallo’s imprisonment was part of a pattern of government harassment designed to stifle critical coverage in his newspaper, the only publication in the rebel hotbed of Agadez. In July, authorities suspended the paper for three months and stripped its annual government subsidy of 1.4 million CFA francs (US$3,000) over articles allegedly “undermining the morale of troops,” according to local journalists and news reports.
back to top
Alex Adonis, DXMF Radio
IMPRISONED: February 19, 2007
Radio commentator Adonis was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on January 31 on a criminal libel complaint lodged by a congressman in Davao del Norte province, according to local media and press freedom groups.
The complaint, originally filed in October 2001 by Davao First District Representative Prospero Nograles, related to an alleged tryst involving the congressman. Nograles said the report was untrue.
News reports said Adonis was unable to afford legal representation or attend court proceedings because of the distance from his home. The verdict was announced in his absence, and the period in which Adonis could lodge an appeal lapsed. Adonis, 43, has a wife and two daughters.
back to top
Boris Stomakhin, Radikalnaya Politika
IMPRISONED: March 22, 2006
Stomakhin, editor of the monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), was jailed on March 22, 2006, on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and making public appeals for extremist activity. The Butyrsky District Court in Moscow sentenced him to five years in prison in November 2006. He and his family said authorities were punishing him for his harsh criticism of Kremlin policy in Chechnya.
In his ruling, Judge Lyubov Ishmuratova said Stomakhin’s articles “approved Chechen terrorists’ criminal actions aimed at annihilation of Russian people as an ethnicity.” The ruling quoted Stomakhin as writing: “Let tens of new Chechen snipers take their positions in the mountain ridges and the city ruins and let hundreds, thousands of aggressors fall under righteous bullets! No mercy! Death to the Russian occupiers! … The Chechens have the full moral right to bomb everything they want in Russia.”
Stomakhin, who had pleaded not guilty, said he was “tried for his views and not for any real crime. … In the articles, I expressed my opinion, with which people were free to agree or disagree,” the news agency RIA-Novosti reported. He said an opinion was not a “call to action.”
Police arrested Stomakhin in March 2006, a day after he fell from the window of his fourth-floor Moscow apartment while trying to elude police, according to local press reports. Stomakhin suffered leg and back injuries.
In May 2007 the Moscow City Court reviewed Stomakhin’s appeal for early release but left the verdict unchanged, the independent news agency Kavkazky Uzel reported. On June 25, 2007, Stomakhin was transferred from a Moscow prison to a prison in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. Officials did not tell Stomakhin, his family, or defense counsel what prompted the transfer or how long it would last, local press reports said.
Anatoly Sardayev, Mordoviya Segodnya
IMPRISONED: June 29, 2007
On June 29, 2007, the Lenin District Court in Saransk found Sardayev, editor of the independent weekly Mordoviya Segodnya, guilty of embezzling money and misusing funds as head of the Mordoviya postal service in 2004. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and fined 105,000 rubles (US$4,100). Sardayev was taken into custody immediately after the court hearing.
Sardayev’s colleagues believe he was targeted because of Mordoviya Segodnya‘s continuing criticism of local governor Nikolai Merkushkin. The Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) detailed conflict between Sardayev and Merkushkin dating to 2004.
Sardayev, a member of the Mordoviya parliament at the time, irritated local authorities that year by making repeated inquires into the legal basis for tax breaks given to Mordoviya energy companies. The same year, the Lenin District Prosecutor’s Office in Saransk opened a criminal case against Sardayev on what they said was his abuse of authority, forgery, appropriation, and squandering of funds. About six months later, Saransk prosecutors imprisoned Sardayev for a week for allegedly failing to appear in court. The detention came just as Sardayev was working on a Mordoviya Segodnya edition that detailed a list of businesses owned by Merkushkin and his family, according to local press reports.
In the 2007 case, Mordoviya postal employees testified that Sardayev had used postal service money to build a public tennis court and to restore an old post office building in Saransk, CJES correspondent Igor Telin reported.
Nikolai Andrushchenko, Novy Peterburg
IMPRISONED: November 23, 2007
Police in St. Petersburg arrested Andrushchenko, co-founder and editor of the weekly Novy Peterburg, on suspicion of defamation. The next day, a local court placed him in pretrial detention on charges of defamation and obstruction of justice. The combined charges carried up to six years in prison.
Authorities claimed the charges stemmed from Andrushchenko’s 2006 coverage of a murder investigation in St. Petersburg. However, colleagues said they believe Andrushchenko’s imprisonment was the result of Novy Peterburg‘s critical coverage of local authorities and its pro-opposition articles.
Local authorities had repeatedly harassed the 64-year-old Andrushchenko, the paper’s co-founder, Alevtina Ageyeva, told CPJ. Andrushchenko was beaten by unknown assailants on his way home on November 9. Copies of the November 15 edition of Novy Peterburg, which carried an article about a dissenters’ march and a critical story about St. Petersburg’s police chief, were bought out wholesale; the company in charge of distributing the paper refused to supply newsstands with more.
A week later, the newspaper’s printing house refused to print the next edition, which carried a front-page article by opposition leader Garry Kasparov. On November 23, St. Petersburg police officers raided the Novy Peterburg newsroom and copied computer files, saying that Andrushchenko was suspected of defaming officials. The same day, officers of the St. Petersburg’s Directorate for Combating Organized Crime raided Andrushchenko’s house and placed him under arrest, according to local press reports.
back to top
Agnès Nkusi-Uwimana, Umurabyo
IMPRISONED: January 12, 2007
Nkusi-Uwimana, director of the bimonthly journal Umurabyo, was arrested on charges of divisionism, sectarianism, and libel in connection with the publication of an anonymous letter critical of the government.
In April, a court in the capital, Kigali, sentenced Nkusi-Uwimana to a year in prison and ordered her to pay damages of 400,000 Rwandan francs (US$760) after she pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduction in sentence, according to local journalists.
The unsigned letter compared ethnic killings during President Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated administration to those of the previous Hutu regime.
back to top
Slim Boukhdhir, freelance, Al-Quds al-Arabi
IMPRISONED: November 26, 2007
Police in Sfax detained Boukhdhir, a well-known blogger and contributor to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi. He was charged with “aggression against a public employee” and “violation of public morality standards,” according to the journalist’s lawyer.
Boukhdhir was also charged under a 1993 national identity card law with “refusal to show his identification card to a public security agent.” On December 4, a court in the suburban city of Sakiet Ezzeit sentenced Boukhdhir to one year in prison.
Boukhdhir has staged several hunger strikes in recent years to protest government harassment and authorities’ refusal to grant him a passport. He was assaulted as he left an Internet café in Tunis in May, shortly after writing an online story critical of the first lady’s brother. Human rights groups condemned the arrest as politically motivated.
U.S. NAVAL BASE, GUANTANAMO BAY: 1
back to top
Sami Muhyideen al-Haj, Al-Jazeera
IMPRISONED: December 15, 2001
Al-Haj, a Sudanese national and assistant cameraman for Al-Jazeera, was detained by Pakistani forces after he and an Al-Jazeera reporter attempted to re-enter southern Afghanistan at the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan. About a month later, he was handed over to U.S. forces and eventually sent to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in June 2002.
According to declassified U.S. military documents, al-Haj was accused of being a financial courier for Chechen rebels and assisting al-Qaeda and extremist figures. But al-Haj has not been convicted or charged with a crime, and the military has not publicly disclosed any evidence against him.
Al-Haj’s London-based lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, maintained that his client’s continued detention was political. He said U.S. interrogators have not focused on al-Haj’s alleged activities but instead on obtaining intelligence on Al-Jazeera and its staff. U.S. military interrogators allegedly told al-Haj that he would be released if he agreed to inform U.S. intelligence authorities about the satellite news network’s activities, Stafford Smith said. Al-Haj refused.
During an Administrative Review Board hearing in September 2007, U.S. military authorities cited the cameraman’s Al-Jazeera training as evidence of terrorist involvement, according to Stafford Smith. The lawyer, who is barred from attending such proceedings, based his comments on a review of the hearing transcript. The military hearings determine whether a prisoner should continue to be held.
back to top
Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
IMPRISONED: March 15, 1999
A court in the capital, Tashkent, sentenced Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, to 14 years in prison and Ruzimuradov, an employee of the paper, to 15 years. They were convicted of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper that criticized President Islam Karimov, participating in a banned political protest, and attempting to overthrow the regime.
Both men were tortured during their pretrial detention in Tashkent City Prison, which left them with serious injuries, Tashkent-based human rights activists told CPJ. On November 15, 1999, Bekjanov was transferred to “strict regime” Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi. Ruzimuradov was transferred to “strict regime” Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali near the southern city of Karshi.
The wives and children of both men fled to the United States in 1999 after their arrests, Erk Party Secretary-General Aranazar Arifov told CPJ.
In 2003, reporters with the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting and The Associated Press interviewed Bekjanov in the Tashkent Prison Hospital while he was being treated for tuberculosis contracted in prison. In the interview, Bekjanov described torture and beatings that resulted in a broken leg and hearing loss in his right ear, IWPR reported.
In 2007, Bekjanov was jailed in the southwestern city of Kasan, according to the independent news Web site Uznews. His wife, Nina Bekjanova, who was allowed to visit him in October 2006, said he told her that he was still subjected to beatings and torture that, among other things, caused him to lose most of his teeth, Uznews reported.
Exiled journalists, human rights workers, and other CPJ sources said they did not know of Ruzimuradov’s whereabouts or his health.
Gayrat Mehliboyev, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 24, 2002
Police arrested Mehliboyev at a bazaar in Tashkent for allegedly participating in a rally in support of the banned Islamist opposition party Hizb ut-Tahrir. Following the arrest, police searched his bed in a local hostel and claimed they found banned religious literature that prosecutors later characterized as extremist in nature, according to international press reports.
Prior to his February 2003 trial, Mehliboyev was held in pretrial detention for more than six months. As evidence for his alleged participation in a religious extremist group, prosecutors presented political commentary Mehliboyev had written for the April 11, 2001, edition of the state-run weekly newspaper Hurriyat. Arguing that religion was the true path to achieving social justice, the article questioned whether Western democracy should be implemented in Uzbekistan. Prosecutors claimed the article contained ideas from Hizb ut-Tahrir.
At the proceedings, Mehliboyev openly stated several times he was beaten in custody but the court ignored his comments, a Tashkent-based representative of Human Rights Watch told CPJ.
On February 18, 2003, the Shaikhantaur District Court in Tashkent sentenced Mehliboyev to seven years in prison, convicting him of anticonstitutional activities, participating in extremist religious organizations, and inciting religious hatred, according to local and international press reports. The sentence was later reduced on appeal to six and a half years in prison.
Ortikali Namazov, Pop Tongi and Kishlok Khayoti
IMPRISONED: August 11, 2004
Namangan regional authorities in eastern Uzbekistan charged Namazov, editor of the state newspaper Pop Tongi and correspondent for the state newspaper Kishlok Khayoti, with embezzlement after he wrote a series of articles about alleged abuses in local tax inspections and collective-farm management.
His trial began on August 4, 2004, and lasted two weeks. On August 11, 2004, before the verdict was reached, authorities took him into custody. Five days later, the Turakurgan District Criminal Court in Namangan region convicted Namazov and sentenced him to five and a half years in prison. Namazov complained the judge was biased and did not allow him to defend himself.
Prior to her own imprisonment in 2005, local human rights activist Mutabar Tadjibaeva monitored Namazov’s trial. She told CPJ that local authorities harassed Namazov’s family during the trial, cutting his home telephone line, and firing his daughter from her job as a school doctor. Namazov was serving his sentence at a prison in eastern Namangan.
Dzhamshid Karimov, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 12, 2006
Karimov, nephew of President Islam Karimov, disappeared in his native city of Jizzakh only to be discovered in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand, where he had been involuntarily placed by Uzbek authorities. Government officials did not release any information about court proceedings that led to the committal, and they did not permit independent experts to examine Karimov, according to press reports.
Karimov had worked for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting and later contributed to a number of independent newspapers and online publications, including the Almaty-based news Web site Liter. According to CPJ research, Karimov criticized both local and federal authorities in his coverage of Uzbek social and economic problems.
Prior to his arrest, local authorities closely monitored his activities. After his mother petitioned authorities to remove all listening devices from her house, law enforcement agents set up surveillance equipment in a neighboring building in August 2006, the Moscow-based news Web site Ferghana reported. The same month, Karimov’s passport was seized by authorities in Jizzakh after he applied for an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
back to top
Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, To Quoc
IMPRISONED: April 21, 2007
Writer and journalist Thuy was detained at her home in Hanoi, where she had been under house arrest since November 2006, according to news reports. She was charged with violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, which prohibits dissemination of information that authorities deem harmful to the state, the reports said.
Thuy had posted several pro-democracy essays online, according to people familiar with her writings. She was also accused of being a member of the pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, illegally organizing a trade union, and supporting a dissident human rights group, according to news reports. Thuy was a 2007 recipient of a Hellman-Hammett Grant administered by Human Rights Watch.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, Viet Nam Dan Chu
IMPRISONED: November 17, 2007
Thanh Van, a French citizen and journalist for Vietnamese exile media, was arrested along with a group of four political activists associated with the pro-democracy Viet Tan party.
Thanh Van is an editorial member of the overseas-based Vietnamese monthly Viet Nam Dan Chu and contributes to the radio program “Chan Troi Moi,” which is regularly broadcast to Vietnam from Japan and the United States. She and the others were arrested by security officials during a meeting with local democracy activists at a private residence in Ho Chi Minh City, according to a source associated with the Viet Tan party. The government did not immediately disclose charges.
Thanh Van was released on December 12 with three of the activists. No formal charges were brought.