Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008
Click on country to see summaries.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: 2
THE GAMBIA: 1
IRAQ in U.S. custody: 1
IRAQ in Iraqi Kurdistan custody: 1
ISRAEL and the OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: 4
IVORY COAST: 1
SRI LANKA: 3
Summaries of individual cases
AFGHANISTAN : 1
Parwez Kambakhsh, Jahan-e-Naw
IMPRISONED: October 27, 2007
Security officials detained journalism student Kambakhsh, 23, in northern Balkh province, saying he had distributed anti-Islamic literature in the provincial capital of Mazar-i-Sharif, where he lived with his brother, journalist Yaqub Ibrahimi.
The Balkh University student, who also wrote for local daily Jahan-e-Naw, denied any connection with the article–which he was variously accused of writing, editing, and downloading, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association–and which was described in news reports as raising questions about women’s rights under Islam. Kambakhsh later said he believed the charge was trumped up by fellow students, and that security officials tortured him into signing a confession of apostasy in the early days of his detention, according to news reports. Ibrahimi, Kambakhsh’s brother, told CPJ that he was subjected to an intimidation campaign for articles he had written for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting; he said he feared Kambakhsh’s arrest was related to that campaign.
Prominent clerics urged the death penalty for Kambakhsh, which a local three-judge panel handed down in closed session on
Lawyer Mohammad Afzal Nooristani, director of the Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan , agreed to represent the journalist; he later received threatening phone calls due to his involvement in the case. In October, a classmate of Kambakhsh called as a prosecution witness told the court that National Directorate of Security officials visited him a few days after Kambakhsh’s arrest. He testified that they threatened to take his family into custody if he did not make a statement against Kambakhsh.
The appellate court upheld the blasphemy sentence that month, but it reduced the death sentence to a 20-year prison term.
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ARMENIA : 1
Arman Babadzhanian, Zhamanak Yerevan
IMPRISONED: June 26, 2006
The Armenian prosecutor general summoned Babadzhanian, editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Zhamanak Yerevan, purportedly to question him as a witness in a criminal case. Instead, authorities charged Babadzhanian 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 Armenia ‘s capital, 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.
A government committee that oversees requests for early release has twice rejected Babadzhanian’s appeals, according to local press reports.
Sakit Zakhidov, Azadlyg
IMPRISONED: June 23, 2006
Police arrested the prominent reporter and satirist for the Baku-based pro-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 Ali Akhmedov, executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, publicly urged authorities to silence Zakhidov. At a
Authorities at Prison No. 14 in Baku did not provide Zakhidov, who had a heart condition, with adequate medical care, according to the journalist’s wife, Rena Zakhidov, and the Baku-based press freedom group Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). An inmate reportedly attacked Zakhidov with scissors in September 2007. He was not moved from the facility despite that incident and ongoing harassment from prison officials and other inmates.
Zakhidov continued to write while in prison. On October 15, Azadlyg published his poem “Ilhamla Ireli” (Forward With Ilham), which had been smuggled from jail. The poem satirized that day’s presidential election, in which President Ilham Aliyev ran against six virtual unknowns. Three days after the poem appeared in Azadlyg, prison authorities prematurely moved Zakhidov from a medical facility back to jail, shaved his head, and beat him severely, IRFS said in a press conference with Zakhidov’s wife, Rena, who had visited the writer in jail on the eve of his 49th birthday on October 19.
Novruzali Mamedov, Talyshi Sado
IMPRISONED: February 3, 2007
Mamedov, editor of the now-defunct newspaper Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), was initially detained in Baku on charges of “resisting law enforcement” when police officers allegedly asked him to provide identification. The Yasamal District Court in Baku gave Mamedov 15 days in prison that same day. A day before he was due to be released, on February 17, the Ministry of National Security (MNB) charged him with treason under Article 274 of Azerbaijan’s criminal code and imprisoned him at the MNB pretrial detention center in Baku. For the first 15 days of his detention, authorities held Mamedov incommunicado, with neither lawyers nor family members allowed to visit, according to local CPJ sources. Talyshi Sado stopped publishing after Mamedov’s arrest.
Talyshi Sado was the monthly newspaper of Azerbaijan ‘s ethnic Talysh minority, a group of about 100,000 people who live mainly in the southern part of the country, along the border with Iran . Published in the Talysh language, the paper had a circulation of around 1,000 and ran news and features on the history and culture of the Talysh minority, as well as poetry and prose from Talysh authors, according to Hilal Mamedov, chairman of the Committee to Protect the Rights of Novruzali Mamedov. (Hilal Mamedov is not related to the journalist.)
Novruzali Mamedov also headed the Institute of Linguistics of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and presided over a Talysh cultural center, which also closed after his imprisonment, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
On June 24, Judge Shakir Alekserov of the Court for Grave Crimes in Baku, declared Mamedov guilty of high treason and gave him 10 years in prison. The proceedings, which began in March, were closed to the public on grounds that sensitive matters were to be discussed and the safety of prosecution witnesses allegedly needed to be ensured, said Hilal Mamedov, who testified at the trial. He told CPJ that the MNB had accused the editor of publishing Talyshi Sado with Iran ‘s financial backing. The editor was accused of encouraging ethnic differences by promoting the Talysh minority’s own culture, language, music, and self-determination.
In October, defense lawyer Ramiz Mamedov filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan, the local news Web site Day reported.
Eynulla Fatullayev, Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan
IMPRISONED: April 20, 2007
Authorities targeted Fatullayev, editor of the now-shuttered independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gündalik Azarbaycan, with a series of politically motivated criminal cases. The persecution began shortly after Fatullayev published an in-depth report alleging an official cover-up in the investigation of the 2005 slaying of fellow Azerbaijani editor Elmar Huseynov.
In April, a Yasamal District Court judge found Fatullayev guilty of defaming 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 for this set of charges. With the sentences consolidated, he was ordered to serve a cumulative sentence of eight and a half years behind bars.
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 a 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.
The Supreme Court denied Fatullayev’s appeal in June, ending domestic legal avenues. Fatullayev appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, which began reviewing the case in September 2008, his lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, told CPJ.
Genimet Zakhidov, Azadlyg
IMPRISONED: November 10, 2007
A judge at the Yasamal District Court of Baku placed Zakhidov, editor of the pro-opposition daily Azadlyg, 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 staged street brawl.
Zakhidov is the brother of prominent reporter and satirist Sakit Zakhidov, who is also serving a jail term on a fabricated charge, CPJ research showed.
Genimet Zakhidov was targeted in two other instances of official harassment. In September 2007, Minister of Economic Development Geidar Babayev filed a defamation lawsuit over an Azadlyg article alleging misuse of ministry funds; the Yasamal District Court in Baku ordered Azadlyg to print a rebuttal. In October 2007, a state traffic police official filed a similar complaint over an article describing alleged corruption.
On March 7, 2008, a Baku district court sentenced Zakhidov to four years in jail, despite contradictory testimony from prosecution witnesses and the absence of any documentation of the bodily harm Zakhidov supposedly inflicted, the journalist’s lawyer, Elchin Sadygov, told CPJ. Eyewitnesses for the defense were barred from testifying, he said. Zakhidov was given the maximum penalty allowed by law.
Ali Hasanov, Ideal
IMPRISONED: November 14, 2008
The Nasimi District Court in Baku convicted Ali Hasanov, editor-in-chief of the pro-governmental daily Ideal, on defamation charges and sentenced him to six months in prison, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety reported. Hasanov was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read, the group’s director, Emin Huseynov, told CPJ.
The case stemmed from unbylined stories published in Ideal in August that detailed an alleged prostitution ring. A woman filed a complaint against Hasanov and deputy editor Nazim Guliyev the following month alleging that the story had defamed her. Guliyev was convicted in October but went into hiding
BANGLADESH : 1
Atiqullah Khan Masud, Janakantha
IMPRISONED: March 7, 2007
Officials from Bangladesh ‘s Rapid Action Battalion, an army crime and terrorist unit, escorted Masud, who is the owner and publisher of the Bengali-language daily Janakantha, from his office during a raid in March 2007. Police accused him of illegally receiving foreign donations to publish the newspaper, according to BulBul Manjurul Ahsan, the president of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists. Masud was denied bail and sent to Dhaka Central Jail under the Special Powers Act.
Multiple corruption allegations related to Masud’s other business interests were subsequently added to the charge sheet as part of an anticorruption campaign waged by the interim government. News reports said Masud was facing up to 15 separate charges.
The apparent connection between Masud’s initial arrest and Janakantha was cause for concern in the media community. Masud had been heavily involved in the newspaper, one of the few local publications openly discussing the state of emergency declared in January 2007. Janakantha, which had been warned by the government not to be so outspoken, was crippled by Masud’s arrest, according to local press freedom groups. The government denied that the detention was related to Masud’s newspaper work.
In March 2008, a judge in charge of a special court in Dhaka responsible for high-profile cases brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission jailed Masud for at least seven years, according to news reports. That sentence related to allegations that Masud had conspired to skim funds from a fraudulent building project. The Janakantha funding charge was still outstanding in late 2008.
Several journalists from prominent dailies issued a statement demanding Masud’s release on medical grounds in September 2008. A hospital was treating him in late year for several ailments, including heart disease, according to a report on the Web site of the New Age newspaper.
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 would “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 or legal status.
Aung Htun, freelance
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 to 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 a three-year term for violating the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, the military government’s main legal instrument of official censorship; a seven-year term under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which is used broadly to suppress any dissent against the regime; and another seven-year term 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 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 released by the All Burma Federation of Student Unions on
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
It was the second time that Burma ‘s military government had imprisoned the well-known journalist, also known as Win Shwe, on charges related to disseminating information to news sources outside of Burma In 1989, a military tribunal sentenced Ne Min to 14 years hard labor for “spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country” and “possession of documents including antigovernment literature, which he planned to send to the BBC,” according to official radio reports. He served nine years at Rangoon’s Insein Prison before being released in 1998.
Exiled Burmese journalists who spoke with CPJ said that Ne Min provided news to political groups and exile-run news publications before his second arrest in February 2004.
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 grounds that they had not taken footage of restricted areas. On
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 ofRangoon. 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, 2007. Local monks supported the demonstrations against the military government and became increasingly influential as the unrest 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 prison with no formal charges disclosed, according to exile-run press freedom organization the Burma Media Association.
Nay Phone Latt, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 29, 2008
Nay Phone Latt, a businessman also known as Nay Myo Kyaw, wrote a blog and owned three Internet cafés in Rangoon. He went missing on the morning of January 29, according to exile news groups.
The New Delhi-based Mizzima news agency reported that police had detained him at an Internet café and that he was being held at the Ministry of Home Affairs. Nay Phone Latt, whose Web site gave a perspective on Burma’s youth, according to news reports, was formerly a youth member of the opposition group National League for Democracy, said Reuters.
A court charged Nay Phone Latt in July with causing public offense and violating video and electronic laws when he posted caricatures of ruling generals on his blog, according to Reuters. (The blog was not accessible in late year.) He was being held in Insein Prison, according to a joint report by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the U.S. Campaign for Burma .
During closed judicial proceedings held at the Insein compound on November 10, Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom advocacy group, and news reports.
Thet Zin, Myanmar Nation
Sein Win Maung (Ko Soe), Myanmar Nation
IMPRISONED: February 15, 2008
Police arrested Thet Zin, the editor of weekly Myanmar Nation, and its manager, Sein Win Maung, during a raid on the newspaper’s offices on February 15, according to local and international news reports. Police also seized the journalists’ cell phones, footage of monk-led antigovernment demonstrations that took place in Burma in September 2007, and a report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Burma , according to Aung Din, director of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma . The report detailed killings associated with the military government’s crackdown on the 2007 demonstrators.
Thet Zin’s wife, Khin Swe Myint, met with him after his arrest, according to Aung Din. Thet Zin did not tell his wife what charges he was facing but said the prison term could amount to 10 years, Aung Din told CPJ. He suffered from heart and lung ailments; family members were allowed to deliver him medication.
The New Delhi-based Mizzima news agency cited family members as saying the two were first detained in the Thingangyun Township police station before being charged with illegal printing and publishing on February 25.
On November 28, a closed court at the Insein Prison compound sentenced each to seven years in prison.
Police ordered Myanmar Nation‘s staff to stop publishing temporarily, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom advocacy group with representatives in Bangkok. The news Web site Irrawaddy said the newspaper was allowed to resume publishing in March; by October, exile groups said, the journal had shut down for lack of leadership.
Thet Zin was previously arrested in 1988 for his participation in pro-democracy student demonstrations during which the government killed as many as 3,000 protesters.
Maung Thura (Zarganar), freelance
IMPRISONED: June 4, 2008
Police arrested Maung Thura, a well-known comedian who uses the stage name Zarganar, or “Tweezers,” on June 4 at his home in Rangoon, according to news reports. The police also seized electronic equipment at the time of the arrest, according to Agence France-Presse.
Maung Thura mobilized hundreds of entertainers to help survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Rangoon and much of the Irrawaddy Delta in May. His footage of relief work in hard-hit areas was circulated on DVD and on the Internet. Photographs and DVD footage of the aftermath of the disaster were among the items police confiscated at the time of his arrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the U.S. Campaign for Burma In the week he was detained, Maung Thura gave several interviews to overseas-based news outlets, including the BBC, criticizing the military junta’s response to the disaster. The day after his arrest, state-controlled media published warnings against sending video footage of relief work to foreign news agencies.
During closed proceedings in August at Insein Prison in Rangoon, the comedian was indicted on at least seven charges, according to international news reports.
On November 21, the court sentenced him to 45 years in prison on three separate counts of violating the Electronic Act. Six days later, the court added 14 years to his term after convicting him on charges of communicating with exiled dissidents and causing public alarm in interviews with foreign media, defense lawyer Khin Htay Kywe told The Associated Press.
Maung Thura had been detained on several occasions in the past, including in September 2007 for helping Buddhist monks during antigovernment protests. He maintained a blog, Zarganar-windoor, which his supporters continued to update after his arrest, according to the exile-run press freedom advocacy group Burma Media Association.
Eine Khine Oo, Ecovision Journal
IMPRISONED: June 10, 2008
During a demonstration outside the U.N. Development Program office in Tamwe Township, police detained Eine Khine Oo for taking photographs of protesters that she intended to distribute to overseas media, according to exile media groups. The demonstration was staged by cyclone victims seeking aid, according to international news reports. She was arrested with Kyaw Kyaw Thant, a freelance journalist who was also documenting the demonstration, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners in Burma.
Eine Khine Oo, 23, was covering the demonstration for the weekly Ecovision Journal, where she had worked for only two months, according to the Mizzima news agency. On June 25, she was charged under the penal code with denouncing the government, according to international news reports.
In a closed-door trial on November 14, a Burmese court ruled that Eine Khine Oo’s coverage had “disturbed tranquility” and sentenced her to two years in prison, according to news reports.
Kyaw Kyaw Thant, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 10, 2008
Police arrested the freelance journalist and former editor of the local Weekly Journal while he was photographing a demonstration by cyclone survivors outside the U.N. Development Program office in Tamwe Township, according to the U.S. Campaign for Burma and the Burma Media Association. He was detained along with photographer Eine Khine Oo, who was also documenting the demonstration.
Prosecutors accused Kyaw Kyaw Thant of being a leading participant in the demonstration, the groups told CPJ. On November 14, a court sentenced him to seven years in prison on antistate charges.
Zaw Thet Htwe, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 13, 2008
Police arrested Rangoon-based freelance journalist Zaw Thet Htwe on June 13 in the town ofMinbu, where he was visiting his mother, Agence France-Presse reported. The sportswriter was working with comedian-blogger Maung Thura in delivering aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis and videotaping the relief effort.
The journalist, who formerly edited the popular sports newspaper First Eleven, was indicted in a closed tribunal on August 7 and was tried along with Maung Thura and two activists, AFP reported. The group faced multiple charges, including violating the Video Act and Electronic Act, and disrupting public order and unlawful association, news reports said. The Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners in Burma said Zaw Thet Htwe had helped videotape Maung Thura’s relief efforts and that police did not inform his family what charges he faced. Police also confiscated a computer and cell phone during a raid on hisRangoon home, according to the group.
In November 21, he was sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison on charges of violating the Electronic Act.
Zaw Thet Htwe was previously arrested in 2003 and given the death sentence for plotting to overthrow the government, news reports said. The sentence was later commuted. AFP reported that the 2003 arrest was related to a story he published about a misappropriated football grant.
The Mizzima news agency said in August that the journalist’s wife, Khaing Cho Zaw Win Tin, had been allowed to see her husband at Insein Prison on August 5.
Aung Kyaw San, Myanmar Tribune
IMPRISONED: June 15, 2008
Aung Kyaw San, editor-in-chief of the Myanmar Tribune, was arrested on June 15 in Rangoon along with 15 others as they returned from relief activities in the Irrawaddy Delta region, which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB) and the Mizzima news agency.
Photographs Aung Kyaw San had taken of cyclone victims appeared on some Web sites, according to the Burma Media Association, a press freedom group run by exiled journalists. Authorities closed his Burmese-language weekly after his arrest and did not allow his family visitation rights, according to AAPPB.
No formal charges were filed against Aung Kyaw San by late year. He was jailed in 1990 and held for more than three years for activities with the country’s pro-democracy movement, AAPPB said.
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BURUNDI : 1
Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, Net Press
IMPRISONED: September 11, 2008
Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, director of the online agency Net Press, was arrested on September 11 and charged with defamation.
Philippe Nzobonariba, a top administration official, filed a defamation suit after an August 10 article criticized the amount of money spent on a presidential trip to Beijing for the Olympics. Kavumbagu appealed the charges, but no court date had been set in late year. He was being held in Mpimba Central Prison in the capital, Bujumbura.
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CAMEROON : 2
Michel Mombio, L’Ouest Républicain
IMPRISONED: September 4, 2008
Security agents from Cameroon ‘s State Secretariat for Defense arrested Mombio, editor of the bimonthly L’Ouest Républicain, at his office in the western town of Bafoussam in connection with a story critical of Scientific Research Minister Madeleine Tchuinté. The arrest was based on a complaint about an August 26 column headlined “The Crimes of Madeleine Tchuinté.”
Mombio was transferred to the capital, Yaoundé, and detained for 11 days for questioning. On September 15, a court charged the journalist with attempted fraud, blackmail, and insult, and sent him to prison pending trial. He was denied bail.
Lewis Medjo, La Détente Libre
IMPRISONED: September 22, 2008
Police in the commercial city of Douala arrested Medjo, editor of the weekly tabloid La Détente Libre, in connection with a column alleging a falling-out between President Paul Biya and Alexis Dipanda Mouelle, president of the Supreme Court. Mouelle filed a complaint.
Medjo was also questioned about making copies of the passport of a former official under investigation for corruption, according to local journalists. He was charged with publishing “false news” after four days in police custody. He was denied bail pending trial and was being held at Douala’s central prison.
CHINA : 28
Lin Youping, Ziyou Bao
IMPRISONED: July 1983
Lin is the longest-serving journalist in CPJ’s worldwide census. Along with Chen Renjie and Chen Biling, he wrote and published a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report) in the early days of China ‘s economic reform. They distributed 300 copies of the pamphlet in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 1982.
Police arrested them the following July and accused them 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 Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
No information has been available on the status of Lin or Chen Renjie for several years. Twenty-five years later, in June 2008, the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation reported that Chen Renjie was released shortly after his sentence was commuted in January 1998, but found no equivalent information on Lin in prison records in Fujian. “Only continued inquiry will reveal his fate for certain,” the group reported.
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 “economic crimes” related to unauthorized publishing on foreign policy issues. Some observers believed that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by
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 ZhongshanUniversity in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s aboutChina ‘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 before an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan, in which he accused the Communist Party of hypocrisy when it condemned countries that criticized China’s human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He 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. He was given a further 10-month reduction in April, and is scheduled for release in 2011, the group reported.
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 Communist Party leadership.
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were charged with subversion on
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 the popular Web site Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi’s Garden of Ideas). Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer’s Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin’s “Be a New Citizen, Reform China” and Yang’s “Choose Liberalism,” in the 2003 verdict against them. The Beijing 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.
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 his work, Tao’s 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 U.S.-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
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, the 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, the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of “subversion of state authority,” plus four years’ deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as inGuangdong 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. He was given a 22-month sentence reduction in July 2007, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation.
Huang’s lawyer told CPJ in early 2005 that the journalist had been mistreated in prison and was in poor health. In 2008, his family told CPJ that both his health and treatment had improved. He suffered from arthritis, according to a family member. 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 vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. On
Ning received a 12-year sentence.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. Kong received a sentence reduction to 10 years in his appeal, according to theIndependent Chinese PEN Center.
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.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo’s participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed dissidents raised questions about the role that international Internet companies played 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 of that year, 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.
Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft later joined with human rights organizations, academics, and investors to form the Global Network Initiative, which in October adopted a set of principles to protect online privacy and free expression.
Zheng Yichun, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas news Web sites, including the U.S.-based Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. 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 the Yingkou Intermediate People’s Court on
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 was unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
In summer 2008, prison authorities at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning informed Zheng’s family that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage, and had received urgent treatment in prison. No lawyer agreed to represent Zheng to help him apply for medical parole, according to Zheng Xiaochun, Zheng’s brother, who spoke with CPJ by telephone. He praised the prison guards’ swift action in providing treatment for his brother. He said Zheng Yichun was recovering slowly.
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 ‘sAnhui 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.
The Bengbu Intermediate People’s Court tried him on
Zhang’s wife told reporters that his imprisonment was connected to essays he wrote about protests by unemployed workers and official scandals. On
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 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 Nanjiao Prison inHefei City, Anhui province. Zhang’s wife told CPJ that his health has suffered during his imprisonment. The couple exchange letters that are sometimes delayed for up to two months, she said. They have two children.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
IMPRISONED: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend inNanjing, eastern China . He was tried on charges of “subverting state authority,” and on
Yang was a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China , including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang’s case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a “democratic Chinese transitional government.” 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.
In April, PEN American Center announced that Yang was a recipient of the 2008 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. A relative told CPJ in October 2008 that they had not received a letter from him in two months.
Guo Qizhen, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. Guo was formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People’s Court tried Guo on charges of “inciting subversion of state authority” on
In the case presented to the prosecutor on June 16, 2006, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo’s crimes, including one titled “Letting some of the people first get rich while others cannot make a living,” in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an “autocratic” and “despotic” regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution. In March 2007, an appeals court upheld Guo’s conviction.
Three months later, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Guo’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Yang Tongyan.
Guo is married and has a teenage son. Guo’s wife, Zhao Changqing, told CPJ in April 2008 that she had been unable to visit her husband due to the high cost of traveling to the prison. She confirmed that he had suffered beatings that led to a permanent leg injury. Guo also complained of high blood pressure and chest pains.
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 the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in March 2007, followed by one year’s deprivation of political rights.
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to online articles critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations’ criticism of the government’s human rights record, and in particular, the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as “Olympicgate.”
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served a year and a half of “re-education through labor” in 1989 on counterrevolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position in the local writers association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site Aiqinhai was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Epoch Times.
In September 2007, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Zhang’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Guo Qizhen and Yang Tongyan.
Zhang’s health deteriorated significantly during his time in jail; he was in the prison hospital in the provincial capital of Hangzhou for a year, according to his wife. He suffered from a debilitating disease affecting the nervous system and was unable to perform basic tasks without help. Zhang lacked adequate medical care in the prison system, according to his wife, Dong Min, who spoke with CPJ by telephone in October 2008. Appeals for parole on medical grounds were not granted. His scheduled release date is September 2012.
Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong), freelance
IMPRISONED: September 14, 2006
Yang Maodong, commonly known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was a prolific writer, activist, and legal analyst for the Beijing-based Shengzhe law firm. Police detained him in September 2006 after he reported and gave advice on a number of sensitive political cases challenging the local government in his home province of Guangdong.
He was detained for three months in 2005 for “sending news overseas” and disturbing public order after he reported on attempts by villagers in Taishi village, Guangdong, to oust a village chief. He was eventually released without prosecution. Yang remained vocal on behalf of rights defenders, giving repeated interviews to foreign journalists. A police beating he sustained in February 2006 prompted a well-known human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, to stage a high-profile hunger strike. Police in Beijing detained Yang for two days that February after he protested several government actions, including the closure of the popular Yunnan bulletin board, where he had posted information about the Taishi village case.
His September 2006 arrest was for “illegal business activity,” international news reports said. After a 15-month pretrial detention, a court convicted him for illegally publishing a magazine in 2001, according to U.S.-based advocacy groups. One of a series of magazines Yang published since the 1990s, Political Earthquake in Shenyang, exposed one of the largest official graft cases in China’s history in Shenyang, Liaoning province, according to the Dui Hua Foundation. CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Jiang Weiping spent five years in prison for reporting on the same case for a magazine in Hong Kong. Yang’s magazine had been published without authorization; police interrogated Yang’s assistant and confiscated funds in 2001, but the case attracted no further punitive measures until Yang became involved in activism.
Yang’s defense team from the Mo Shaoping law firm in Beijing argued that a five-year limit for prosecuting illegal publishing had expired by the time of Yang’s trial, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, which published the defense statement in 2008. But Yang was sentenced to five years in prison.
Yang has gone on hunger strike several times to protest ill treatment by authorities in Meizhou Prison in Guangdong. He was brutally force-fed on at least one of these occasions and remained in poor health, according to the advocacy group Human Rights in China (HRIC). The group said his treatment in the detention center before his trial was so aggressive that he attempted suicide. Police subjected him to round-the-clock interrogation for 13 days, HRIC said, and administered electric shocks. The group said his family had been persecuted since his imprisonment. His wife was laid off and his two children were held back in school in retribution for Yang’s work, HRIC said.
Sun Lin, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: May 30, 2007
Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested along with his wife, He Fang, on
Sun was accused in the arrest warrant of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1, 2007, said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He in June, but the couple were later denied visits from legal counsel and family members, according to a Boxun News report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
A four-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons and assembling a disorderly crowd was delivered on June 30, 2008, in a hearing closed to Sun’s lawyers and family, according to The Associated Press.
Witness testimony about Sun’s possession of weapons was contradictory, according to news reports. The disorderly crowd charge was based on an incident in 2004, three years prior to his arrest. Police accused Sun of disturbing the peace while aiding people evicted from their homes, but Sun claimed he broke no laws.
Sun’s wife, He, was also given a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison on similar charges, according to Sun’s defense lawyer Mo Shaoping. She was released and allowed to return home soon after the hearing. The couple have a 12-year-old daughter.
Prison authorities transferred Sun to Jiangsu province’s Pukou Prison in September 2008, according to a report published by Boxun News. The report said Nanjing authorities refused to return the confiscated equipment. Since seeking a sentence reduction would involve admitting guilt, Sun has resolved to serve the time in full, despite being badly treated by prison guards, according to the report.
Ma Shiping, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 16, 2007
Qi Chonghuai, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 25, 2007
Qi and Ma criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published
Police in Tengzhou detained Ma on June 16 on charges of carrying a false press card. Qi, a journalist of 13 years, was arrested in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, and charged with fraud and extortion, Li said. Qi was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on
Qi was accused of taking money from local officials while reporting several stories, a charge he denied. The people from whom Qi was accused of extorting money were local officials threatened by his reporting, Li said. Qi told his lawyer and his wife, Jiao, that police beat him during questioning on
Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family’s home, which limits visits, Jiao Xia told CPJ in October 2008. She had been able to visit him in September and reported no evident complaints.
Ma, a freelance photographer, had local media affiliations. Unconfirmed online reports said that he was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. Ma’s lawyer did not return phone calls.
Lü Gengsong, freelance
IMPRISONED: August 24, 2007
The Public Security Bureau in Hangzhou, the capital of eastern Zhejiang province, charged Lü with “inciting subversion of state power,” according to human rights groups and news reports. Officials also searched his home and confiscated his computer hard drive and files soon after his detention in August 2007. Police did not provide his wife, Wang, with notification of his formal arrest for more than a month.
The detention was connected to Lü’s articles on corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses, which were published on overseas Web sites. Police told his wife his writings had “attacked the Communist Party,” she told CPJ. 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.
Following a closed-door, one-day trial on
Hu Jia, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 27, 2007
Police charged Hu, a prominent human rights activist and essayist, with “incitement to subvert state power” based on six online commentaries and two interviews with foreign media in which he criticized the Communist Party. On
Hu had advocated for AIDS patients, defended the rights of farmers, and promoted environmental protection. His writings, which appeared on his blog, criticized the Communist Party’s human rights record, called for democratic reform, and condemned government corruption. They included an open letter to the international community about China ‘s failure to fulfill pledges to improve human rights before the 2008 Olympics. He frequently provided information to other activists and foreign media to highlight rights abuses in China .
Hu’s wife, human rights activist Zeng Jinyan, and infant daughter have been confined to their home under police surveillance, according to news reports.
Zeng applied in April 2008 for medical parole for her husband, who suffered from chronic liver disease, but the request was turned down, according to updates posted on her blog. On visits to Hu, she learned that prison guards had confiscated letters the couple had tried to exchange. He was not allowed to make phone calls to his home.
On August 8, the day of the Olympics opening ceremony and one day after a visit to Hu in his Tianjin prison, Zeng was taken to the city of Dalian, Liaoning province, and only allowed to return to her Beijing home after 16 days. She said she had no contact with the outside world during this period but did not provide further information about the incident in the account she posted on her blog. Human rights groups and news agencies speculated that authorities were trying to prevent foreign journalists from seeking her out for comment during the Games.
Hu raised human rights issues in jail, prompting security officials in September to threaten to curtail Zeng’s visitation rights. In October, he was transferred to the Beijing Municipal Prison, according to Zeng’s blog.
The European Parliament awarded Hu a prestigious human rights accolade, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, on October 23. The Chinese ambassador to the European Union warned that the prize would “bring serious damage to China-EU relations,” according to The Associated Press.
Dhondup Wangchen, Filming for Tibet
IMPRISONED: March 26, 2008
Police in Tongde, Qinghai province, arrested Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker, shortly after he sent footage filmed in Tibet to colleagues, according to the production company, Filming for Tibet . A 25-minute film titled “Jigdrel” (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes. Wangchen‘s assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was also arrested in March but later released, Filming for Tibet said.
Filming for Tibet was founded in Switzerland , specifically to produce the documentary. It was founded by Gyaljong Tsetrin, a relative of Wangchen, who left Tibet in 2002 but maintained contact with people there. Tsetrin told CPJ that he had spoken to Wangchen on March 25, but that he had lost contact after that. He learned of the detention only later, after speaking by telephone with relatives.
Tsetrin said he unexpectedly received a call from Wangchen on July 13. Wangchen told him that he had been held in Ershilipu Detention Center in Qinghai’s provincial capital, Xining, before being transferred to informal detention in a hotel in the same city. He did not call again, according to Tsetrin, and his whereabouts were unknown until August, when guards at theErshilipu Detention Center confirmed to a family member that he was once again being held there.
Dechen Pemba, a British Tibetan who helped publicize the Filming for Tibet project, provided CPJ with a report about the detentions and biographical information about the filmmakers. The report cited Wangchen’s brother-in-law, who was not named. Authorities refused the brother-in-law access to the Ershilipu Detention Center, but they confirmed that Wangchen was being held there, according to the report. Kate Saunders, the U.K.-based spokeswoman for International Campaign for Tibet , told CPJ that her group had confirmed the detention as well.
Tsetrin told CPJ that Wangchen’s assistant, Gyatso, was also arrested on March 23. Gyatso was released on October 15 and returned to his monastery, where he described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to an October 19 statement by Filming in Tibet .
The arrests were first publicized when the documentary was launched in August. Reuters reported that “Leaving Fear Behind” was released before a small group of foreign reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6. A second screening was interrupted by the hotel management, Reuters said.
Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his biography. He had recently relocated with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and four children to Dharamsala, India, before returning to Tibet to begin filming, according to a report published in October by the South China Morning Post. Lhamo told CPJ by telephone that she did not know where her husband was being held and had not received official notification of his detention.
Filming for the documentary was completed shortly before peaceful protests against Chinese rule of Tibet deteriorated into riots in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas of China in March. The filmmakers had gone to Tibet to ask ordinary people about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the Olympics.
Chen Daojun, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 9, 2008
Police arrested Chen on May 9, in Sichuan province, shortly after he had been involved in a “strolling” non-violent protest against a proposed petrochemical plant in Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, according to English and Chinese-language news reports.
On November 21, Chen was found guilty of inciting subversion against the state, according to international news reports. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors introduced three articles by Chen on political issues to demonstrate a purportedly antigovernment stance, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In one piece, an article for the Hong Kong-based political magazine Zheng Ming, Chen portrayed antigovernment protests in Tibet in a positive light. That article, first published in April, was reposted on overseas Web sites. Chen also published an online article objecting to Chengdu project, but it was not among the articles cited by the prosecution.
Zeng Hongling, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 9, 2008
Police arrested Zeng, an Internet writer, on June 9 and provided her family with official notice that she was detained on a charge of illegally providing information overseas, according to the Chinese Web site 6-4tianwang and the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Zeng’s home in Mianyang, northwest Sichuan, was damaged by the May 12 earthquake, according to Zhang Yu of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. She wrote three articles about her experiences in connection with the disaster, which included criticism of Mianyang authorities, and e-mailed them to overseas Chinese-language Web sites in May. They were circulated to several sites, including the U.S.-based China Information Center which published them under the pen name Shan Shan, according to a statement posted on the site.
One of the essays discussed a popular point of online criticism: that a Mianyang official, Tan Li, appeared to be smiling broadly while touring scenes of destruction after the quake. It was not clear why Zeng’s essays were singled out among many discussing similarly sensitive topics in the quake’s aftermath.
Zeng is a retired university professor, according to 6-4tianwang, whose founder, Huang Qi, was also arrested the day after the site reported Zeng’s detention.
The Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in July that the case had been passed to the prosecutor’s office in Mianyang and was pending trial. CPJ was unable to confirm a report, given orally to a family friend by an officer at the Mianyang police station, that she had been given an extrajudicial sentence of one and a half years’ re-education through labor. Zeng’s husband did not return phone calls.
Huang Qi, 6-4tianwang
IMPRISONED: June 10, 2008
The Web site 6-4tianwang reported that its founder, Huang Qi, had been forced into a car along with two friends on June 10. On June 18, news reports said police had detained him and charged him with illegally holding state secrets.
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, Huang’s site reported on the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the quake, killing hundreds of children, and on earthquake relief. His arrest came shortly after the Web site reported the detention of academic Zeng Hongling, who posted critical articles about earthquake relief on overseas Web sites.
Huang was denied access to a lawyer until September 23. One of his defense lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told reporters that Huang had been questioned about earthquake-related reports and photos on the Web site immediately after his arrest, but that the state secrets charge stemmed from documents saved on his computer.
Mo told reporters that his client was deprived of sleep during a 24-hour interrogation session after his June arrest. He was being held in Chengdu Detention Center. Mo told CPJ in October that Huang was waiting for the prosecution to review evidence submitted by police.
Huang’s mother, Pu Wenqing, and wife, Zeng Li, appealed for medical parole for Huang, who suffers from ailments that began during a previous detention, according to news reports. Huang spent five years in prison, from 2000 to 2005, on charges of inciting subversion in articles posted on his Web site in 2000.
Du Daobin, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 21, 2008
Police re-arrested Du Daobin on July 21 during an apparent crackdown on dissidents prior to the Beijing Olympics in August. His defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ that public security officials arrested the dissident, who is a well-known Internet writer, at his workplace in Yingcheng in the province of Hubei.
Du had been serving a four-year probationary term, handed down by a court on June 11, 2004, for inciting subversion of state power in articles published on Chinese and overseas Web sites. The probationary terms included reporting monthly to authorities and seeking permission to travel. Alleging that he had violated the conditions, police revoked Du’s probation and jailed him, according to news reports.
Mo told CPJ in October that the defense team sought to challenge the police decision, but Chinese law does not allow such appeals. Du was being held in Hanxi Prison in Wuhan, the provincial capital.
Rangjung, Seda TV
IMPRISONED: September 11, 2008
Public security officials in a Tibetan region of China ‘s western Sichuan province arrested Rangjung, a television journalist and writer, according to an Indian-based Tibetan rights group and Radio Free Asia (RFA). Rangjung is known by one name.
Officials of Seda county–known as Serthar in Tibetan–detained Rangjung in his home, according to Tashi Choephel Jamatsang, a researcher for the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in India . The group learned of the arrest from Rangjung’s relatives in Sichuan and Tibet , Tashi Choephel told CPJ by e-mail. In a report citing unnamed local sources as well as an exiled Tibetan, RFA said police confiscated his laptop at the time of his detention.
Chinese officials did not acknowledge the detention, and the journalist’s whereabouts were unclear in late year, according to Tashi Choephel and RFA. RFA reported that police told Rangjung’s family he was being held at the Kardze prefectural detention center, but CPJ could not independently confirm his location.
Rangjung, a Tibetan-language news presenter for the local station in Seda county, is also a writer and singer, according to the reports. Tashi Choephel told CPJ that Rangjung had posted numerous articles and poems on his Tibetan-language blog that were potentially sensitive. “He is bold enough to have covered topics that others are not ready to express openly under such a repressive environment,” he told CPJ by e-mail.
Rangjung participated in protests against Chinese rule that swept Tibetan regions after rioting broke out in Lhasa in March, according to RFA and reports posted on pro-Tibetan Web sites.
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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 sentenced to 20 years in prison. Arrested in the government’s sweeping crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents, he was tried summarily in April 2003. He was convicted of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which punishes anyone who commits acts “aiming at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.”
Argüelles Morán, a cartographer, began working as an independent journalist in 1993, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. He often wrote stories that were critical of the Cuban regime. Argüelles Morán has continued writing stories from jail that have been published on overseas news Web sites.
The 60-year-old independent journalist was being held at the Canaleta Prison in his home province in 2008. In September, he went on a weeklong hunger strike with fellow imprisoned journalist Adolfo Fernández Saínz to protest prison authorities’ confiscation of religious materials, his wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ. She said her husband developed bone and respiratory ailments in prison, and that cataracts had worsened to the point that he was at near blindness.
Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Union de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI)
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Arroyo Carmona, a journalist for the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes, was arrested in the March 2003 crackdown. At the time, he also directed an independent library. Arroyo Carmona was sentenced in April 2003 to 26 years in prison under Article 91 of the penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
According to the Miami-based Web site CubaNet, Arroyo Carmona was transferred in August 2008 from the Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Cuba, where he had been held since October 2005, to Kilo 5 ½ in his home province of Pinar del Río. Laura Pollán Toledo, wife of imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, told CPJ that Arroyo Carmona had been attacked by other prisoners in late 2008.
Arroyo Carmona has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and pulmonary emphysema since his imprisonment.
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Galván Gutiérrez was tried in April 2003 under Article 91 of the penal code for acting against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” He was handed a 26-year prison sentence during a one-day closed-door trial. Galván Gutiérrez, a mechanical engineer, had worked as a journalist for the independent news agency Havana Press since 2002.
The reporter was held at the maximum security Agüica Prison until 2007, when he was transferred to Guanajay Prison in his home province of Havana, in western Cuba . According to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre, Galván Gutiérrez suffers from a number of ailments.
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Gálvez Rodríguez, a Havana-based freelance reporter, was arrested in the 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press. He was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, and given a 14-year prison sentence in April 2003. A month later, the People’s Supreme Tribunal, Cuba ‘s highest court, upheld his conviction.
Gálvez Rodríguez, 64, worked for 24 years in the official media. In 2001, he resigned to work as a freelance reporter.
Gálvez Rodríguez continued to write from prison, his cousin, Josefa Silloy Rodríguez, told CPJ. In 2008, he was being held at Havana’s Combinado del Este Prison, where his family was allowed one visit per month, Silloy Rodríguez said. According to CPJ research, the reporter suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, and respiratory problems.
José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
García Paneque, 43, was the director of the independent news agency Libertad in the eastern province of Las Tunas. He was convicted under Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” and sentenced to 24 years in prison in April 2003.
García Paneque joined Libertad in 1998. He had been fired a year earlier from Ernesto Guevara Hospital in eastern Las Tunas, where he worked as a plastic surgeon, because of his participation in dissident activities, the dissident group Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy reported.
In 2005, García Paneque was sent to Las Mangas Prison in the eastern Granma province, following a number of prior prison transfers. At Las Mangas, where he was still being held in 2008, García Paneque was allowed one family visit every 45 days, his wife, Yamilé Llánez Labrada, told CPJ. According to Llánez Labrada, her husband had been diagnosed with a kidney tumor, internal bleeding, malnutrition, and chronic pneumonia. Llánez Labrada said that her husband’s health had significantly worsened in 2008, but he continued to be denied medical treatment.
Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
González Alfonso was detained the first day of the 2003 crackdown after his home was raided and searched. In April of that year, the Havana Provincial Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for Acts against the Independence or the Territorial Integrity of the State. The People’s Supreme Tribunal, Cuba ‘s highest court, upheld his conviction the following June.
A poet and scriptwriter for state-owned Televisión Cubana, González Alfonso joined the independent press in 1995. He founded an association of journalists and the award-winning newsmagazine De Cuba, which is now defunct. In March 2003, he worked as a freelance reporter for foreign media outlets and as the Havana correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, his sister, Graciela González-Degard, told CPJ.
In 2008, González Alfonso was being held at Havana’s Combinado del Este Prison, where, according to his sister, he shared a cell with 36 hardened criminals. González-Degard told CPJ that her brother’s cell had flooded on several occasions, exacerbating already unsanitary prison conditions.
González Alfonso suffers from hypertension, arthritis, allergies, chronic bronchitis, and several digestive and circulatory ailments. The reporter, who was allowed family visits every six weeks, was denied medical attention on several occasions this year, his sister told CPJ.
González Pentón, 31, the youngest journalist imprisoned in Cuba today, was arrested on
González Pentón had been transferred several times before being sent to La Pendiente Prison in the northern city of Santa Clara, where he was being held in 2008, according to the Miami-based news Web site CubaNet. Prison guards at La Pendiente frequently harassed and threatened the reporter, news reports in CubaNet said.
Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Hernández Carrillo was arrested in March 2003. The reporter, who worked for the independent news agency Patria in the city of Colón, in western Matanzas province, was sentenced the following month to 25 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.
Hernández Carrillo had previously been given a two-year prison sentence, in 1992, for allegedly “distributing enemy propaganda and disrespecting Fidel Castro.” Ten years after that, he became Patria’s correspondent in Colón.
Hernández Carrillo, 37, was being held at the Guamajal Prison in Santa Clara province, his mother, Asunción Carrillo, told CPJ. While the journalist suffered from hypertension and gastritis, he was in generally good health, his mother said.
However, Asunción Carrillo said other inmates had threatened her son. She told CPJ that Hernández Carrillo had complained about unsanitary conditions, rotten food, and muddy water. The journalist was allowed visits once every two months, his mother said.
Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Pulido López, director of the independent news agency El Mayor in Camagüey, was jailed in March 2003. A month later, he was tried under Article 91 of the penal code, accused of acting “against the independence or territorial integrity of the state.” He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Pulido López joined the independent press movement in 2001. Soon after, he became El Mayor’s director.
The 48-year-old was being held at the Kilo 7 Prison in his home province. He was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, gastritis, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, his wife, Rebecca Rodríguez Souto, told CPJ. She said Pulido López also suffered severe headaches and had become depressed since learning that his mother was diagnosed with cancer in June. Prison authorities allowed family visits every month, and conjugal visits every 45 days.
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 18, 2003
Rodríguez Saludes started working as a photojournalist in 1995. He was the director of the Havana-based independent news agency Nueva Prensa when he was arrested in March 2003. Summarily tried in April, under Article 91 of Cuba’s penal code, Rodríguez Saludes was given a 27-year prison term for “acting against the independence or territorial integrity of the state.”
The photojournalist, 43, was being held at the Toledo Prison in Havana. His wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, said his health was stable, although he was diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems and hypertension.
CPJ found that Rodríguez Saludes’ family had been harassed since he was imprisoned. In March, his 19-year-old son, Osmany, told CPJ that he couldn’t get a job due to his father’s conviction.
Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
During the second day of the massive crackdown on the independent press and dissidents, Barzaga Lugo was arrested and accused of violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy. He was summarily tried behind closed doors and given a 15-year prison sentence.
In August, Barzaga Lugo was transferred from the maximum security Agüica Prison in the western Matanzas province to the 1580 Prison in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, where the journalist’s family lives, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported.
Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Fernández Saínz was arrested following a raid at his Havana home. In April 2003, he was tried and convicted under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, and handed a 15-year prison sentence. The People’s Supreme Tribunal, Cuba ‘s highest court, upheld his conviction in June 2003.
Fernández Saínz worked as the Havana correspondent for the independent news agency Patria when he was detained in March 2003. He began writing for local independent news agencies and foreign media outlets in the early 1990s, after resigning his job as a government interpreter due to disillusionment with the regime.
Fernández Saínz, 60, was being held at Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Ávila province. He was allowed one visit every two months, and his wife had to travel 250 miles (400 kilometers) from their home in Havana to see him, daughter Joana Fernández Núñez told CPJ.
Fernández Saínz suffered from chronic hypertension, emphysema, osteoporosis, and a kidney cyst, CPJ research shows. In September, he staged a four-day hunger strike with fellow imprisoned journalist Pedro Argüelles Morán after prison authorities confiscated religious magazines, letters and family photos, his daughter told CPJ.
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Fuentes, a freelance journalist who worked in the city of Artemisa, in western Havana province, was arrested in March 2003. His home was searched and raided. The reporter was then summarily tried in April, and sentenced to 26 years in prison for violating Article 91 of the Cuban penal code that imposes harsh penalties for acting against “the independence or territorial integrity of the state.”
Fuentes, who holds a degree in economics, was fired from his government job in 1991 after being accused of disloyalty to the Communist Party, according to his wife, Loyda Valdés González. After he was fired, Fuentes became a human rights activist in Artemisa and began reporting for the local independent press.
Fuentes, 59, was transferred in August from the Kilo 5 ½ Prison in western Pinar del Río to Guanajay Prison, a maximum security facility in his home province, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported.
Normando Hernández González,
Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
In April 2003, Hernández González was sentenced 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.” He was the director of the news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey.
According to CPJ research, Hernández González was transferred numerous times since his March 2003 arrest. In September 2006, the journalist was sent to the maximum security Kilo 7 Prison in his home province of Camagüey, where he was still being held in 2008. Prison authorities encouraged inmates to harass Hernández González, his wife Yaraí Reyes Marín told the Miami-based news site PayoLibre.
Hernández González was diagnosed with intestinal ailments and lost a significant amount of weight, Reyes Marín told CPJ. The reporter also suffered from pneumonia, and prison doctors told him in 2007 that he had tested positive for tuberculosis, Reyes Marín said. In May 2008, Hernández González was sent to the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital in Havana but was discharged a few days later, foreign-based Cuban media reported. Reyes Marín said she requested medical parole for her husband in July 2006, but Cuban authorities did not respond.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Herrera Acosta worked as the Guantánamo correspondent for the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental when he was arrested. In April 2003, he was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy.
Herrera Acosta was being held at the eastern Holguín Provincial Prison, where authorities mistreated him, according to CPJ sources. On July 18, the reporter went on a two-week hunger strike to demand better prison conditions, Melba Santana Ariz, wife of fellow political prisoner Alfredo Domingo Batista, told CPJ. Two days into the hunger strike, Herrera Acosta sewed his mouth shut in further protest. The journalist suffered from high fever, hypoglycemia, and low blood pressure, as well as an infection from the stitches, Santana Ariz said.
According to his wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, Herrera Acosta lost a significant amount of weight during his imprisonment. Independent journalists and human rights advocates told CPJ that psychological stress was a source of great concern.
José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Izquierdo Hernández reported on everyday life in the western Havana province for the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, according to the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre. In April 2003, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” under Article 91 of the penal code. Following an appeal in June 2003, the People’s Supreme Tribunal upheld his conviction.
Izquierdo Hernández was jailed at the Guanajay Prison in his home province. He was diagnosed with a series of digestive ailments and circulatory problems, as well as emphysema and asthma, and had been hospitalized several times during his imprisonment, CPJ research shows. Laura Pollán Toledo, wife of fellow imprisoned journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, said Izquierdo Hernández is also suffering from depression.
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Maseda Gutiérrez, a founding member of the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was sentenced to 20 years in prison 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. Cuba ‘s highest court, the People’s Supreme Tribunal, dismissed his appeal in June of that year.
An engineer with a graduate degree in nuclear physics, Maseda Gutiérrez was expelled from his government job in retaliation for his political views. According to his wife, Laura Pollán Toledo, he began working as an independent journalist in 1995. CPJ research shows that Maseda Gutiérrez wrote about social, economic, environmental, and historical issues that were ignored by the official Cuban press.
Maseda Gutiérrez was being held at the maximum security Agüica Prison in westernMatanzas province, Pollán Toledo told CPJ. The 65-year-old reporter, the oldest of the imprisoned Cuban journalists, suffered from high blood pressure and a skin condition, his wife said.
Maseda Gutiérrez continued to write from prison. His book Enterrados Vivos (Buried Alive) was smuggled out of prison, a page at a time, and published in the United States . Pollán Toledo said that in October, prison authorities confiscated a series of articles and several pages from a new book. The reporter’s phone privileges were revoked numerous times this year after he called independent reporters and human rights activists to report on prison conditions, Pollán Toledo said. In 2008, Maseda Gutiérrez was awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award.
Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Pacheco Ávila was jailed on
Pacheco Ávila, a reporter for the local independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, was being held at Morón Prison in his home province. His wife, Oleyvis García Echemendía, told CPJ in October that he had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, severe headaches, acute gastritis, and kidney problems.
Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Prieto Llorente began working as a reporter in western Isla de la Juventud province in 1997, first for the independent news agency Havana Press and then as a freelance journalist, according to the Miami-based news Web site Bitácora Cubana. He was tried summarily on
Prieto Llorente was being held at El Guayabo Prison in his home province, where he was allowed one family visit per month, his sister,
The reporter was diagnosed with diverse allergies, emphysema, back problems, and high blood pressure, CPJ research shows. According to his sister, Prieto Llorente also suffered from depression.
Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
IMPRISONED: March 19, 2003
Ruiz Hernández began working as an independent reporter in the province of Villa Clara in 1998, first for Agencia Centro Norte and later for Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, the Miami-based Web site PayoLibre reported. After his arrest in March 2003, Ruiz Hernández was sentenced to serve 18 years in prison under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”
The 61-year-old reporter was serving his sentence at Nieves Morejón Prison in the centralprovince of Sancti Spíritus, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure and other circulatory problems according to Rojo Arias, who said he was receiving proper medical care. Ruiz Hernández, who shared a small cell with 11 other inmates, was allowed family visits every 45 days.
Oscar Sánchez Madan, freelance
IMPRISONED: April 13, 2007
Sánchez Madan began working as an independent journalist in 2005. He covered a local corruption scandal and social problems in the western Matanzas province, and as a result was detained twice in early 2007. Authorities had warned him to stop reporting for the independent press, Matanzas-based journalist Hugo Araña told CPJ.
After an April 2007 arrest and a one-day trial, Sánchez Madan was convicted of “social dangerousness,” a charge contained in Article 72 of the penal code, and given the maximum sentence of four years in prison.
The 46-year-old reporter was being held at the maximum security Combinado del Sur Prison, outside the provincial capital of Matanzas. Araña told CPJ in October that Sánchez Madan was in good health.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 2
Nsimba Ponte, L’Interprète
IMPRISONED: March 7, 2008
Davin Tondo, L’Interprète
IMPRISONED: March 29, 2008
Plainclothes agents of the Congolese National Intelligence Agency, known by its French acronym as ANR, seized Ponte in the capital, Kinshasa, in connection with political stories in his biweekly paper that were critical of President Joseph Kabila.
Intelligence agents arrested Ponte’s assistant, Tondo, on March 29 and detained both men incommunicado and without charge for nearly three months. Ponte and Tondo were taken to court on June 6 and charged with spreading false rumors, threatening state security, and offending the head of state, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger. In a letter to Congolese Justice and Human Rights Minister Symphorien Mutombo Bakafua Nsenda in June, CPJ appealed for the release of both newsmen.
The letter followed reports of Ponte’s poor health and a government prosecutor’s admission that the months-long pretrial detentions were illegal. A verdict in the trial was pending in late year. The two were being held at Kinshasa’s Penal and Re-education 72 Center.
Freddy Aponte Aponte, Luz y Vida
IMPRISONED: October 29, 2008
Aponte, a reporter for local radio station Luz y Vida in the southwestern city of Loja, was convicted of slander and sentenced to six months in prison, according to César Ricaurte, executive director of the local press group Fundamedios. The conviction, handed down by a Loja court in early year, was upheld on appeal in September.
The case stems from a June 2007 segment of Aponte’s talk show “Primer Plano.” The former Loja mayor, José Bolívar Castillo Vivanco, filed defamation charges against the journalist, alleging Aponte called him a thief during the show, according to Fundamedios. Aponte denied the charge, local press reports said.
EGYPT : 1
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
On February 22, 2007, a criminal court in Alexandria convicted Suleiman on charges 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.
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ERITREA : 13
Zemenfes Haile, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: January 1999
The founder and manager of the now-defunct private weekly Tsigenay, Haile was arrested on charges of failing to complete his national service. CPJ sources said he was released from prison in 2002 but was assigned to extended military service. Haile was last seen by friends and relatives in the Zara labor camp in Eritrea ‘s lowland desert in 2000. Since then, sources believe he was moved to another location. Haile’s continued deprivation of liberty was part of the government’s crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
IMPRISONED: July 2000
Eyewitnesses said Keleta was seized by security agents while on his way to work in July 2000. He has not been heard from since. Sources told CPJ at the time that the reporter was being held in connection with the government’s overall crackdown on the press.
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 at least 10 local journalists without trial in the days following
Authorities accused the journalists of avoiding the country’s compulsory military service, threatening national security, and failing to observe licensing requirements. CPJ research indicates that the crackdown was part of a government drive to crush political dissent ahead of elections scheduled for December 2001, which were subsequently canceled. The private press had reported on divisions within the ruling party, the Eritrean People’s Defense Force, and had criticized the increasingly authoritarian nature of President Isaias Afwerki’s regime.
The journalists were initially held incommunicado at a police station in Asmara, where they began a hunger strike on
In at least three cases, it was not clear whether the journalists were still alive. Unconfirmed reports circulated online in 2006 saying that Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile and Said Abdelkader had died in prison.
Among the group of 10 journalists, one death has been widely confirmed. Several CPJ sources said publisher and editor Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, 47, died in a prison outside Asmara on
The government has ignored or brushed off inquiries about the imprisonments. In a 2006 interview with CPJ, 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 that “the substance of the case is clear to everybody” but declined to detail any supporting evidence.
The case of Setit co-owner Isaac, an Eritrean with Swedish citizenship, has drawn considerable attention in Sweden , where diplomats, journalists, and grassroots activists have campaigned for his release. Isaac was briefly released for a medical checkup on
Saleh Aljezeeri, Eritrean State Radio
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eri-TV
IMPRISONED: February 15, 2002
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that Eritrean authorities had arrested three state reporters in February 2002 as part of the government’s mass crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
A reporter with the network’s Arabic-language service, Saadia Ahmed, was eventually released in early 2005, according to CPJ sources. Eri-TV reporter Said and Eritrean State Radio reporter Aljezeeri remained imprisoned in an undisclosed location.
ETHIOPIA : 2
Saleh Idris Gama, Eri-TV
Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi, Eri-TV
IMPRISONED: December 2006
Ethiopian authorities have refused to provide any information about the whereabouts, legal status, or health of Gama and Tesfazghi, Eritrean state television journalists who were arrested by Kenyan border authorities in late 2006 following the Ethiopian military invasion of southern Somalia .
Tesfazghi, a producer, and Gama, a cameraman, were held for three weeks by Kenyan authorities and then handed over to the Ethiopian-backed Somali transitional government in January 2007, according to the Eritrean Foreign Ministry. In April 2007, 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 some detainees would be tried “before the competent military court” but did not identify them by name.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahid Belay declined to comment on the case. Bereket Simon, a senior adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, told CPJ in August that court proceedings were pending, but he declined to provide details.
The detentions were disclosed in April 2007 through official statements and an anti-Eritrean propaganda videotape posted on the pro-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.
THE GAMBIA : 1
“Chief” Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
IMPRISONED: July 7, 2006
Manneh, a journalist for the state-controlled Daily Observer, was arrested after he tried to publish a BBC report critical of President Yahya Jammeh. Manneh’s colleagues witnessed his arrest by two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency on the premises of the Daily Observer. Gambian security agencies and police refused to provide information on his whereabouts, health, and legal status.
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. Gambian authorities failed to attend the hearings. In November 2007, the court ordered the immediate release of Manneh and financial compensation for his family, but the Gambian government disregarded the ruling.
No sightings of Manneh were reported during the year, although some local journalists believed he was being held outside of the capital, Banjul.
In a CPJ report issued in October, former Daily Observer reporter Ousman Darboe recounted Manneh’s arrest and described his own months-long effort to locate his colleague. Darboe later testified before the
Mohammad Hossein Fallahiyazadeh, Al-Alam
IMPRISONED: November 1, 2006
Authorities arrested Fallahiyazadeh, 33, on
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.
Hosmandi told CPJ that the charges against Hassanpour were not proved in court and were supported with merely a report from security officials. Hassanpour’s sister, Lily, told CPJ that she believed his critical writings were behind the charges.
A court of appeals overturned the death sentence in September 2008 and ordered a new trial on charges of “working for outlawed parties” and espionage, according to the BBC and a CPJ source. Aso was banned in August 2005 following its coverage of violent protests in Kurdistan province that summer.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e Mardom
IMPRISONED: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand 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. Kaboudvand had published articles about torture in Iranian jails and had advocated a federal system of government for the Islamic republic. Payam-e Mardom was suspended on Jun
On June 22, Tehran’s
Massoud Kurdpour, freelance
IMPRISONED: August 9, 2008
Security forces arrested Kurdpour, a freelance journalist and human rights activist, at his home in Bokan, a Kurdish city in northwest Iran , his brother, Jaafar, told CPJ.
He was charged with “propaganda against the regime” because of interviews he did with foreign media, including the BBC, Radio France Internationale, and the U.S.-government funded outlets Radio Farda and Voice of America (VOA). Defense attorney Abbas Jamali said Kurdpour was sentenced in October to one year in prison. Authorities did not single out specific interviews or topics, but Kurdpour often addressed the regime’s treatment of minorities.
In Kurdpour’s last interview, which aired July 12 on the Kurdish service of VOA, he discussed a strike commemorating the 1989 assassination of a Kurdish leader by Iranian agents. Kurdpour had been a staff writer for the now banned weekly Didga (Views).
Mojtaba Lotfi, freelance
IMPRISONED: October 8, 2008
A clergyman and a blogger, Lotfi was arrested by security forces on a warrant issued by the
Jomhouri Eslami (Islamic Republic), a newspaper close to top regime officials, reported October 9 that “some of his charges stem from his relationship and cooperation with foreign anti-revolutionary satellite networks, publishing, printing, propagation, and transmission of notes and illegal bulletins including insults and slander under the guise of information, and with the aim to propagate falsehoods and to create public anxiety.”
A court in Qom convicted Lotfi of several charges, including the spread of antistate information, and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to news accounts published November 30. The court also imposed a five-year period of exile from Qom.
Lotfi, who had worked with the now suspended newspapers Khordad and Fath, had been arrested in May 2004 in Qom, and sentenced to 46 months in prison, but he was released due to health problems.
Ibrahim Jassam, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 2, 2008
At the time of the arrest, a U.S. military spokesman told CPJ that Jassam was deemed “a threat to the security of Iraq and coalition forces,” adding that the case would be reviewed within seven days. On October 14, a spokesman told CPJ that the review showed that Jassam still “posed a threat” and that he would remain in detention.
On November 30, the Iraqi Central Criminal Court ruled that there was no evidence to hold Jassam and ordered the U.S. military to release him from Camp Cropper prison near Baghdad, Reuters reported.
Jassam was still detained on December 1, U.S. Army Maj. Eric Larson told CPJ. Despite the ruling of the Iraqi court, he said, U.S. military authorities could still detain Jassam if they deemed him a security threat. Larson said a military review would be initiated and could take up to 60 days.
Over the last five years, dozens of journalists–mostly Iraqis–have been detained by U.S.troops without charge, according to CPJ research. In at least 12 cases in Iraq , journalists were held for prolonged periods. No charges were substantiated in any of the cases.
IRAQ (in Iraqi Kurdistan custody): 1
Adel Hussein, freelance
IMPRISONED: November 24, 2008
A court in Arbil convicted Adel Hussein, a physician and freelance contributor to the independent weekly Hawlati, of violating “public custom” in connection with an April 2007 article about health issues related to sex, Tariq Fatih, Hawlati‘s publisher, told CPJ. The court sentenced Hussein to a six-month jail term and fined him 125,000 dinars (US$106). He was taken to Mahata Prison in Arbil the same day, Fatih said.
The conviction appeared to be in violation of a regional press law that took effect in October 2008, which does not recognize violations of “publish custom” as a criminal offense. The new law also does not provide for prison terms for so-called press offenses.
The sentence was apparently based on a now-outdated penal code provision, said Luqman Malazadah, Hussein’s lawyer. Malazadah told CPJ that he had appealed the conviction.
ISRAEL and the OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: 4
Ibrahim Hamad, Ramattan
IMPRISONED: July 15, 2008
Hamad, a soundman with the Gaza-based Ramattan news agency, was arrested during a
According to Rami Hussein, Hamad’s cousin and a fellow Ramattan journalist, Israeli authorities were holding Hamad in “administrative detention,” which allowed authorities to jail him for up to six months without charge. The Israeli embassy in Washington had no comment about the detention when contacted by CPJ. Hussein said the journalist had been transferred to the Israeli-run Ofer Prison in the West Bank.
IMPRISONED: October 11, 2008
Hamas security agents arrested Ismail in an early morning raid of his home in Deir Al-Balah, in the Gaza Strip, the journalist’s father, Ahmed, told CPJ.
Four agents searched Ismail’s room at around 2 a.m., seizing his computer, cell phone, and another family cell phone, the father said. Ismail was a freelance reporter for a number of news outlets, according to numerous news accounts.
Agents specifically cited his work for the Fatah-affiliated Palestine Press, the father said. He was being held in Al-Saraya Prison in Gaza.
Akram al-Luh, freelance
Yousif Fayadh, freelance
IMPRISONED: October 12, 2008
Hamas security agents arrested al-Luh and Fayadh in early morning raids in Deir Al-Balah, in the Gaza Strip, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews.
Al-Luh’s father, Khalid, told CPJ that security agents searched the family home at 1:30 a.m. Agents arrested al-Luh and seized his computer, two cell phones, and a camera, the father said. Al-Luh was a freelance reporter for Fatah-affiliated newspapers and news agencies, including Al-Hayat al-Jadida and Palestine Press. In July, Hamas banned distribution of Al-Hayat al-Jadida in Gaza.
Fayadh, who also wrote for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, was also arrested around 1:30 a.m. at his family home, his brother, Ashraf, told CPJ. Agents confiscated the journalist’s computer and storage discs, his brother said.
Ashraf Fayadh said he believed the journalists had not been formally charged. He said his brother told him during a prison visit that he was arrested because of his reporting for Al-Hayat al-Jadida. Khalid al-Luh said that his son was accused of “writing articles against the government” and disturbing security.
Both families said the journalists were being held in Al-Saraya Prison in Gaza.
Saleh Masharqah, the editor of Al-Hayat al-Jadida, said he believed the two were arrested because of their journalism and political background, “They were well-known as journalists in the area. They were covering wide range of issues, from daily news to economy to politics,” he said.
IVORY COAST : 1
Jean-Paul Ney, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 27, 2007
Police in the capital, Abidjan, arrested French freelance photojournalist Jean-Paul Ney near the studios of the national broadcaster, Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne. Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Ivorian State Prosecutor Raymond Tchimou as saying that Ney was picked up with “various electronic devices” and in the company of an individual carrying a firearm.
The arrest came nearly 10 days after authorities launched investigations into an alleged coup attempt by exiled former rebel Ibrahim Coulibaly, according to news reports. Shortly after Ney’s arrest, video footage surfaced online showing the journalist in the company of Coulibaly and his entourage. Coulibaly confirmed to AFP that Ney had taken footage in which Coulibaly and his entourage discussed preparations for an unspecified Christmas Day operation in Abidjan.
Prior to his arrest, Ney had told the French photo agency Gamma that he planned to report on political opposition in Ivory Coast , agency editor Jean-Paul Gautier told CPJ.
No trial date was set while Ney remained in the Maison d’Arrêt et de Correction d’Abidjan. According to unconfirmed reports, Ney was in poor health and was hospitalized twice for malaria and typhoid fever.
MALDIVES : 1
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 Dhivehi-language 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 said they believed 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. Gayoom ruled unchallenged from 1978 to October 2008, when he was unseated in the country’s first democratic presidential election by former political prisoner Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed.
Saeed was being held at high-security Maafushi Prison. Nazim Sattar, editor of the English-language Web site Minivan News, which is affiliated with the newspaper but has a separate editorial staff, told CPJ in October that the High Court hearings in the case were delayed for reasons that were not clear. Minivan means “independence” in Dhivehi.
PERU : 2
Magaly Medina, ATV and Magaly
Ney Guerrero Orellana, ATV
IMPRISONED: October 16, 2008
Medina, host of the nightly gossip show “Magaly TeVe” on national television station ATV and owner of the weekly magazine Magaly, and Guerrero, her producer, were found guilty of defamation by Lima’s 27th Criminal Court on October 16.
The court sentenced Medina to five months in prison and Guerrero to three months, and ordered both journalists to pay the plaintiff 80,000 sols (US$26,000) in damages, according to local news reports. Medina and Guerrero were taken into custody immediately after the sentencing.
The case stemmed from a series of photographs and videos of Peruvian soccer star Paolo Guerrero at a Lima nightclub, which were aired on “Magaly TeVe” and printed in Magaly in November 2007. According to news reports, Medina alleged that the photos showed the player had been out drinking early on the morning of a match between the Peruvian and Brazilian national soccer teams. An investigation by the Peruvian Soccer Federation found that the photographs had been taken days before.
In February, Paolo Guerrero filed a criminal defamation lawsuit, claiming the journalist had insulted his honor and ruined his reputation, the national daily El Comercio reported.
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PHILIPPINES : 1
Alex Adonis, DXMF Radio
IMPRISONED: February 19, 2007
Radio commentator Adonis was sentenced on January 31, 2008, to four and a half years in prison on a criminal defamation 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.
Adonis was granted parole in February 2008, according to news reports. But the woman with whom Nograles was alleged to be involved filed an independent libel charge against the commentator. Guards at the Davao Penal Colony where the journalist was being held refused to release him, although news reports said he had posted bail in the second case. Local journalists protested and his lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court on grounds of unlawful detention. But Adonis remained in prison at the time of CPJ’s December 1 census.
RUSSIA : 2
IMPRISONED: March 22, 2006
Stomakhin, editor of the small-circulation monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics), was imprisoned on
In her ruling, Judge Lyubov Ishmuratova said Stomakhin’s articles “approved Chechen terrorists’ criminal actions aimed at the annihilation of the Russian people as an ethnicity.” The ruling quoted 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 broke both his legs and suffered a back injury.
In May 2007, the Moscow City Court reviewed Stomakhin’s appeal for early release but left the verdict unchanged, the independent news agency Kavkazky Uzel reported. On
In February 2008, the
Anatoly Sardayev, Mordoviya Segodnya
IMPRISONED: June 29, 2007
Sardayev’s colleagues said they believed he was targeted because of Mordoviya Segodnya‘s criticism of the governor, Nikolai Merkushkin. The Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES) detailed the conflict between Sardayev and Merkushkin, which began in 2004.
Sardayev, a member of the Mordoviya parliament at the time, irritated local authorities that year by making repeated inquiries into the legality of tax breaks the regional government had given to Mordoviya’s energy companies. The Lenin District Prosecutor’s Office of Saransk opened a criminal investigation into what prosecutors said was his abuse of authority, forgery, and misappropriation of funds. About six months later, Saransk prosecutors imprisoned Sardayev for a week for allegedly failing to appear in court. The detention coincided with a Mordoviya Segodnya special edition that detailed businesses owned by Merkushkin and his family, according to local news 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.
SENEGAL : 1
El Malick Seck, 24 Heures Chrono
IMPRISONED: August 28, 2008
Seck, editor of the private daily 24 Heures Chrono, was arrested the day his newspaper published a front-page editorial alleging that President Abdoulaye Wade and his son Karim, a special adviser, were implicated in a money-laundering case.
Neither Wade nor his son responded to the story, which was based on purported allegations made by an Ivorian politician in 2006, according to local journalists. No official allegation or charge had been made against Wade or his son.
Seck was held for questioning for five days and charged with five counts of penal code offenses including “offense to the head of state,” “publishing false news,” and “acts breaking peace and causing grave political disturbances.”
On September 12, a judge sentenced Seck to three years in prison and banned the paper from circulation for a period of three months. Seck was denied bail pending an appeal and was being held at Dakar’s civil prison.
Gopalan Nair, Singapore Dissident
IMPRISONED: September 20, 2008
Police detained Nair for six days in May 2008 after he wrote on his blog, Singapore Dissident, that a High Court judge had been “prostituting herself” in her handling of a defamation case filed by the ruling Lee family against an opposition newspaper. Nair was charged with insulting a public servant.
Nair was born in Singapore but obtained U.S. citizenship in 2005 and resided in California. He had traveled to Singapore to observe a three-day hearing to assess damages in the Lee defamation suit.
Nair, a lawyer and political activist, remained in Singapore for his own trial. On September 18, a court sentenced him to three months in jail, news reports said.
Vettivel Jasikaran, OutreachSL, North Eastern Monthly
Vadivel Valamathy, MTV
IMPRISONED: March 6, 2008
Terrorist Investigation Division forces detained Vettivel Jasikaran, manager of the news site OutreachSL, and his companion, Vadivel Valamathy, both ethnic Tamils. J.S. Tissainayagam, editor of OutreachSL, was arrested the next day.
The Terrorist Investigation Division held the couple without charge for several months under emergency regulations, according to local and international human rights groups. In a court in Colombo on June 30, when the detention was extended for three months, Jasikaran said he had been tortured, according to Amnesty International. The group also said Valamathy had been denied medical treatment following recent stomach surgery.
In August, Tissainayagam was indicted on terrorism charges for “inciting communal disharmony” in articles published in 2006 in North Eastern Monthly, a now-dormant Tamil-viewpoint magazine that he had edited. Jasikaran’s printing business had published the magazine.
Jasikaran and Valamathy were charged with aiding and abetting Tissainayagam, according to M.A. Sumanthiran, the editor’s lawyer. The cases against Jasikaran and Valamathy were pending in late year.
The Tamil nationalist Web site TamilNet described Valamathy as a management trainee with the independently owned Sri Lankan TV network MTV.
J.S. Tissainayagam, OutreachSL, North Eastern Monthly, Sunday Times
IMPRISONED: March 7, 2008
Terrorist Investigation Division forces arrested well-known Tamil columnist and editor J.S. Tissainayagam when he tried to visit detained colleagues Vettivel Jasikaran and Vadivel Valamathy.
On August 25, the Colombo High Court indicted Tissainayagam on terrorism charges for articles he published in 2006, according to his lawyer, M.A. Sumanthiran. Sumanthiran told CPJ that his client faced two charges relating to articles published in North Eastern Monthly, a Tamil-viewpoint magazine that Tissainayagam once edited.
The court said the articles, which detailed displacement of residents and other humanitarian issues in eastern Sri Lanka , incited communal disharmony in violation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. A further charge related to fundraising for the magazine, Sumanthiran told CPJ. The magazine, which folded in early 2007, was published by Jasikaran’s printing business.
In a statement posted on its official Web site, the Peace Secretariat said the journalist and “his business associates” had produced publications “designed to embarrass the Sri Lankan government through false accusations.”
Tissainayagam told his lawyer he had written a confession after being forced to watch several brutal interrogations, including one involving Jasikaran. The editor was denied bail, and his trial was pending in late year.
Prior to his arrest, Tissainayagam had written several opinion pieces for the Sunday Times, many of which were highly critical of the Sri Lankan government’s handling of security issues. One of the final columns before his arrest was titled, “Child soldiers: What the govt. report did not report.”
UZBEKISTAN : 6
Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
IMPRISONED: March 15, 1999
Ukrainian police arrested Bekjanov, editor of the banned opposition newspaper Erk, and his colleague Ruzimuradov in March 1999 and extradited them to Uzbekistan . On March 15, 1999, a Tashkent court charged and convicted both journalists of publishing and distributing the banned Erk, which criticized President Islam Karimov; participating in a banned political protest; and attempting to overthrow the constitutional regime of Uzbekistan. The court sentenced Bekjanov to 14 years in prison, Ruzimuradov to 15 years.
Police tortured both journalists during their pretrial detention in Tashkent City Prison, which left them with serious injuries, local human rights activists told CPJ at the time. On
According to Erk Party Secretary-General Aranazar Arifov, the families of the two journalists fled Uzbekistan for the United States in 1999.
In interviews with the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and The Associated Press in 2003, Bekjanov described torture and beatings that resulted in a broken leg and hearing loss in his right ear. He was receiving medical treatment in the Tashkent prison hospital for tuberculosis he contracted in prison when IWPR and AP staffers met with him, IWPR reported at the time.
In 2007, the independent news Web site Uznews reported that Bekjanov was serving his sentence in the southwestern city of Kasan. The journalist’s wife, Nina Bekjanova, was allowed to visit him in October 2006. After the prison visit, Bekjanova said that her husband was still subjected to beatings that, among other things, had led to the loss of most of his teeth, Uznews reported.
Exiled journalists, human rights workers, and other CPJ sources said they no longer knew of Ruzimuradov’s whereabouts or his health. In May 2008, CPJ sent a letter to Karimov, urging him to release the imprisoned journalist.
Gayrat Mehliboyev, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 24, 2002
Tashkent police charged Mehliboyev, a freelancer who contributed to the state-run weekly Hurriyat, with participating in a rally in support of the banned Islamist opposition party Hizb ut-Tahrir. According to international news reports, soon after the freelancer was arrested, police searched his room at a local hostel and claimed they found banned religious literature that prosecutors later characterized as extremist in nature.
Mehliboyev spent six months in pretrial detention before his February 2003 trial. Prosecutors presented political commentary he had written for an April 2001 edition of Hurriyat as evidence of his alleged participation in a religious extremist group. In the piece, Mehliboyev questioned whether Western-style democracy should be used as a model in Uzbekistan and argued that religion was the true path to achieving social justice in the country. Prosecutors claimed the article contained ideas from Hizb-ut-Tahrir.
A Tashkent-based representative of Human Rights Watch told CPJ that Mehliboyev said several times during his trial that he had been beaten while in custody, but the court appeared to ignore his comments.
In September 2006, the Tashkent regional court gave the journalist another six-year prison term, independent news Web site Uznews reported in February 2008. According to Uznews, prison authorities claimed the journalist had advocated Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s ideas to other inmates and that a religious leaflet was found in his cell. Mehliboyev denied the accusations and said that the guards had actually found his private writings, in which he described the conditions of his imprisonment.
In February 2008, the Tashkent-based human rights group Ezgulik sent a letter to the prosecutor general’s office, asking for a review of Mehliboyev’s case. According to Ezgulik, Mehliboyev was serving his term in a penal colony in the central city of Zarafshan, where he had been abused. CPJ advocated for Mehliboyev’s release in a May 2008 letter to President Islam Karimov.
Ortikali Namazov, Pop Tongi and Kishlok Khayoti
IMPRISONED: August 11, 2004
After he wrote a series of articles about alleged abuses in local tax inspections and collective-farm management, authorities in the eastern city of Namagan charged Namazov–editor of the state newspaper Pop Tongi and correspondent for the state newspaper Kishlok Khayoti—with embezzlement of funds.
The two-week-long trial began on
Local human rights activist Mutabar Tadjibaeva had monitored Namazov’s trial. In an interview with CPJ at the time, Tadjibaeva said that local authorities had harassed Namazov’s family during the trial, cutting their home phone line and orchestrating the dismissal of the journalist’s daughter from her job as a school doctor.
According to CPJ research, Namazov is serving his sentence at a prison in easternNamangan.
Dzhamshid Karimov, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 12, 2006
The nephew of President Islam Karimov, Dzhamshid Karimov disappeared from his hometown of Jizzakh in September 2006. A few days later, his friends discovered the journalist in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand, where he had been forcibly committed by Uzbek authorities.
Government officials refused to release any information on the court proceedings that led to his involuntary confinement, and independent experts were not allowed to examine Karimov, according to news reports. A 2007 Human Rights Watch report said Karimov’s health had deteriorated, and his eyesight had worsened considerably. Karimov was kept in isolation and was not allowed visitors.
Karimov contributed reports to the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting and later worked for a number of independent newspapers and online publications, the Almaty-based news Web site Liter among them. Karimov criticized both local and federal authorities in his coverage of Uzbek social and economic problems.
Local authorities had closely monitored Karimov’s journalism, and police had followed him prior to his confinement. In August 2006, authorities seized Karimov’s passport when he applied for an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in neighboring Kyrgyzstan . CPJ and other rights groups repeatedly called on President Karimov to release the journalist.
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Uznews
IMPRISONED: October 10, 2008
Authorities in the western city of Nukus arrested Abdurakhmanov on June 7, after traffic police claimed they found 4 ounces (114 grams) of marijuana and less than a quarter ounce (about 5 grams) of opium in his trunk, the independent news Web site Uznews reported. Authorities charged the journalist with drug possession intended for personal use.
From the day of his arrest, Abdurakhmanov protested the charges, saying police had planted the drugs as a means to silence his critical reporting. In one of his last pieces for Uznews, the journalist covered corruption in the traffic police force. In August, investigators acknowledged that the journalist’s blood tests found no traces of drugs. They then increased the charge to drug possession with the intent to sell, according to Uznews. A district court in Nukus started hearing the case in September.
During Abdurakhmanov’s trial, defense lawyer Rustam Tulyaganov said, authorities failed to establish a proper chain of custody for the seized drugs. No evidence was offered showing that Abdurakhmanov’s fingerprints were on the seized bag. Tulyaganov said prosecutors presented a video in court, purporting to show the seizure of the drugs. But Tulyaganov said the video lacked essential context; for example, a police dog said to have barked at the odor of drugs was not seen at all on the video.
On October 10, Judge Kadyrbai Dzhamolov sentenced Abdurakhmanov to 10 years in prison. Abdurakhmanov covered economic, human rights, and social issues for Uznews, and in the past contributed reporting to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
During a pretrial investigation, authorities questioned Abdurakhmanov primarily about his journalistic sources and the news outlets to which he contributed, said the journalist’s brother, Bakhrom, a lawyer who helped with the defense.
Nguyen Van Hai, Dieu Cay
IMPRISONED: April 19, 2008
Hai was arrested on April 19 and held without charge for five months, according to news reports. A closed court convicted him of tax evasion on September 10.
Hai, who also goes by the name Nguyen Hoang Hai, was an outspoken commentator on his political blog Dieu Cay (The Peasant’s Pipe). He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for failing to pay 10 years of taxes on part of a building that he rented to an optical shop. International news reports quoted his lawyer as saying the taxes should have been paid by the tenant, according to the rental agreement.
Several of Hai’s blog entries had touched on politically sensitive issues. He had reported on national protests against China , which disputes Vietnam ‘s claim to sovereignty over the nearby Spratly and Paracel Islands. Protests over the issue were launched in January. Hai also called for demonstrations against the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which was scheduled to pass through Ho Chi Minh City on April 29, according to the Web site of Viet Tan, an exiled pro-democracy organization.
Hai was not allowed family visits during his five-month detention, Viet Tan reported.
Nguyen Viet Chien, Thanh Nien
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2008
Police arrested Chien along with journalist Nguyen Van Hai, a writer for Tuoi Tre newspaper. The arrests came six weeks after a deputy minister was acquitted of corruption charges in a 2006 case they had covered, according to news reports.
Security officials cited inaccuracies in the reports published in the outspoken Vietnamese-language newspapers, according to the news accounts. Nguyen Van Hai (no relation to Hai of Dieu Cay) and Nguyen Viet Chien aggressively covered the 2006 “PMU-18” scandal, in which transport officials were accused of betting public money on football matches. The transport minister resigned over the scandal and some officials still faced charges in late year.
The two newspapers, Tuoi Tre (Youth) and Thanh Nien (Young People), published critical editorials protesting the arrests but received official warnings to stop, according to news reports.
In August, the Vietnamese government revoked the press credentials of at least four journalists for reporting “agitating information” following the two arrests, according to a translation of a report on the Vietnamese Nhan Dan Web site that was provided by BBC Monitoring.
Chien and Hai were formally charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” on September 30. The Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Chien to two years in prison on October 15. Hai, who did not contest the charge, was given a noncustodial two-year re-education sentence the same day. A police officer was also given a one-year jail term for “deliberately revealing state secrets” to the two journalists, news reports said. While questioning Chien, a prosecutor said interviewing the police was illegal under press laws because “journalists are not allowed to receive information from unauthorized sources,” according to the Asia Sentinel.