232 journalists jailed worldwide
Click on a country name to see summaries of individual cases.
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Aidyn Dzhaniyev, Khural
Imprisoned: September 7, 2011
Regional authorities in Lenkoran, southeastern Azerbaijan, arrested Dzhaniyev on allegations of insulting a local woman and transferred him to a Baku detention facility. Later, while Dzhaniyev was in pretrial detention, authorities also accused him of breaking windows at a Lenkoran mosque, news reports said. Dzhaniyev, a reporter with the independent daily Khural, denied the accusations.
On November 21, 2011, a regional court convicted Dzhaniyev of hooliganism and sentenced him to three years in jail, local press reports said. His appeal was denied. An independent investigation by local journalists, cited by the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan, concluded that the charges came in reprisal for Dzhaniyev’s reporting on allegations that Lenkoran religious leaders were involved in drug trafficking.
CPJ has documented a pattern in which Azerbaijani authorities have filed retaliatory charges against critical journalists covering sensitive issues. CPJ has found those charges to be unsubstantiated.
Avaz Zeynally, Khural
Imprisoned: October 28, 2011
Authorities in Baku arrested Zeynally, editor of the independent daily Khural, on bribery and extortion charges stemming from a complaint filed by Gyuler Akhmedova, a member of Azerbaijani parliament. Akhmedova alleged that the editor had tried to extort 10,000 manat (US$12,700) from her in August 2011, regional and international press reports said. The day after his arrest, a district court in Baku sanctioned Zeynally’s pretrial imprisonment for three months, the independent Caucasus news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Authorities also confiscated all of Khural‘s reporting equipment, citing the newsroom’s inability to pay damages in a 2010 defamation lawsuit filed by presidential administration officials. Khural now publishes online only.
Zeynally denied all charges and described a much different encounter with Akhmedova, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. In September 2011, Zeynally reported in Khural that Akhmedova had offered him money in exchange for his paper’s loyalty to authorities. He reported that he had refused the offer. In September 2012, Akhmedova resigned from parliament after a video surfaced on the Internet that purported to show her demanding a bribe from a potential candidate in exchange for a seat in parliament.
Emin Huseynov, director of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that weeks before Zeynally’s arrest, his paper had criticized President Ilham Aliyev’s repressive policies toward independent journalists and opposition activists. Zeynally had published two commentaries in Khural that were especially critical of the administration. In the first, he disparaged comments made by Aliyev in an Al-Jazeera interview that painted a glowing picture of the country’s development. In the second, Zeynally accused the government of retaliatory prosecution against Khural, Huseynov told CPJ.
Authorities have extended Zeynally’s pretrial detention several times. A trial began in May 2012 but was pending in late year. If convicted, Zeynally faces up to 12 years in jail.
Anar Bayramli, Sahar TV and Fars
Imprisoned: February 22, 2012
Baku police visited Bayramli’s home, summoned him for interrogation, and detained him after declaring they had found 0.387 grams of heroin in his jacket, news reports said. Bayramli, a Baku-based correspondent for the Iranian Sahar TV and Fars news agency, denied the accusations and said police planted the drugs. In June 2012, the Binagadinsky District Court convicted Bayramli of drug possession and sentenced him to two years in prison, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
The arrest came at a time of heightened tension between the Azerbaijani and Iranian governments. Tehran had accused Azerbaijan of helping Israel assassinate an Iranian nuclear scientist; Baku had claimed Iran was plotting attacks in Azerbaijan.
Local rights activists told CPJ they believed that police planted the drugs in retaliation for Bayramli’s journalism. In his broadcasts, Bayramli often reported on Azerbaijan’s human rights record and criticized Azerbaijani foreign policy, including its supposed cooperation with Israel. Prior to his arrest, police told Bayramli several times to visit their headquarters for what they termed “a conversation,” during which they urged him to stop working for Iranian media, Emin Huseynov of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety told CPJ.
In an interview interpreted by Huseynov, the journalist’s lawyer said Bayramli took off his jacket at the district police headquarters and left it in the lobby before entering the office of the local police chief. As the journalist was about to leave the building after the meeting, police agents suddenly asked him to reveal the contents of his jacket and found heroin.
Bayramli denied the drug charges in court and said he was being persecuted for his journalism. “If Azerbaijan had an independent court, it would certainly release me,” he told the court. “But since courts in our country are an appendage of the state, I don’t expect a fair verdict.” CPJ has documented a recent pattern of cases in which Azerbaijani authorities have filed questionable drug charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.
Vugar Gonagov, Khayal TV
Zaur Guliyev, Khayal TV
Imprisoned: March 13, 2012
Authorities arrested Gonagov, director of the regional TV channel Khayal, and Guliyev, Khayal’s chief editor, on charges of inciting mass disorder, local press reports said. Guliyev was also accused of abuse of office, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The charges stemmed from March riots in the northeastern city of Quba, which began when a video posted on YouTube showed a regional governor making insulting comments to local residents. Following the riots, the governor was ousted.
Authorities accused Guliyev and Gonagov of uploading the video and causing “mass unrest.” Both men denied the charges. They were placed in a Baku detention facility without access to defense lawyers; local media reports said they were tortured in custody. Authorities extended the journalists’ pretrial detention several times, arguing that investigators needed more time to bring a case to trial, news reports said. Guliyev faced up to 10 years in jail and Gonagov up to three years.
Faramaz Novruzoglu (Faramaz Allahverdiyev), freelance
Imprisoned: April 18, 2012
A Nizami District Court in Baku sentenced Novruzoglu, also known as Faramaz Allahverdiyev, to four and a half years in prison on charges of illegal border crossing and inciting mass disorder, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Novruzoglu denied the accusations and said they had been fabricated in retaliation for his investigative stories on government corruption published in the independent newspaper Milletim and on social networking websites.
Novruzoglu was accused of calling for mass disobedience on a Facebook page under the name of Elchin Ilgaroglu, news reports said. Authorities also accused him of illegally crossing the border into Turkey in November 2010, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. During his trial, Novruzoglu said investigators found no evidence connecting him to the Facebook page, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He also presented the court with his passport, which showed other travel during the time that he was accused of having crossed the border into Turkey, reports said.
Emin Huseynov, director of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that investigators failed to present any credible evidence against the journalist and that the state-appointed defense attorney did not effectively defend him in court. According to Huseynov and Kavkazsky Uzel, Novruzoglu and his colleagues said they believed that he was targeted in retaliation for critical articles he wrote on high-level corruption in the export of Azerbaijani crude oil and the import of Russian timber.
Nijat Aliyev, Azadxeber
Imprisoned: May 20, 2012
Baku police arrested Aliyev, editor-in-chief of the independent news website Azadxeber, near a subway station in downtown Baku, and charged him with illegal drug possession. A local court ordered that Aliyev be held in pretrial detention.
Colleagues disputed the charges and said they were in retaliation for his journalism. Aliyev’s deputy, Parvin Zeynalov, told local journalists that the outlet’s critical reporting on the government’s religion policies could have prompted the editor’s arrest.
Aliyev’s lawyer, Anar Gasimli, told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, or IRFS, that investigators tortured the journalist in custody and pressured him to admit he had drugs in his possession. According to IRFS, Gasimli said police also threatened to plant narcotics in the editor’s apartment and file “more serious” charges against him. No trial date had been set by late year.
CPJ has documented a recent pattern of cases in which Azerbaijani authorities have filed questionable drug charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.
Hilal Mamedov, Talyshi Sado
Imprisoned: June 21, 2012
Baku police detained Mamedov, editor of minority newspaper Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), after allegedly finding about five grams of heroin in his pocket, according to the Azeri-language service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. On the day of his arrest, Mamedov went to visit his relative in a hospital and did not return home as promised, his family members told journalists.
Following his arrest, Baku police raided the journalist’s home and said they found another 30 grams of heroin, news reports said. The next day, a district court in Baku ordered Mamedov to be imprisoned for three months before trial on drug possession charges, the reports said. Mamedov’s family claimed police had planted the drugs, and colleagues said they believed the editor had been targeted in retaliation for his reporting, the reports said.
Talyshi Sado covers issues affecting the Talysh ethnic minority group in Azerbaijan. Mamedov’s own articles have been published in Talyshi Sado and on regional and Russia-based news websites, according to Emin Huseynov, director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. Huseynov also told CPJ that Mamedov had investigated the 2009 death in prison of Novruzali Mamedov, Talyshi Sado‘s former chief editor.
CPJ has documented a recent pattern of cases in which Azerbaijani authorities have filed questionable drug charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.
In July, authorities brought another set of politically motivated charges against Mamedov, lodging separate counts of treason and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, news reports said. Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that Mamedov had undermined the country’s security in his articles for Talyshi Sado, in his interviews with the Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV, and in unnamed books that he had allegedly translated and distributed. The statement also denounced domestic and international protests against Mamedov’s imprisonment and said the journalist had used his office to spy for Iran.
Mamedov awaited trial in late year. If convicted, he faces a life term in prison, Reuters reported.
Araz Guliyev, Xeber 44
Imprisoned: September 8, 2012
Guliyev, chief editor of news website Xeber 44, which focuses on religious topics, was arrested on hooliganism charges while reporting on a protest in the southeastern city of Masally, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The rally was staged by local residents protesting against partially clad dancers who performed at a government-sponsored folklore festival in Masally.
According to news reports, the protesters called on the festival organizers to respect religious traditions of the local residents, but police detained the protesters and charged them with hooliganism. Two days later, a regional court ordered Guliyev jailed for two months pending trial.
Guliyev’s brother, Azer, told Kavkazsky Uzel that the journalist did not participate in the protest but covered it for his website. Guliyev’s imprisonment could also be related to his reporting on local residents’ protests against an official ban on headscarves and veils in public schools, his brother told Kavkazsky Uzel.
Abduljalil Alsingace, freelance
Imprisoned: March 17, 2011
Alsingace, a journalistic blogger and human rights defender, was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent after pro-reform protests swept the country in February 2011.
In June 2011, a military court sentenced Alsingace to life imprisonment for “plotting to topple the monarchy.” In all, 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty on similar charges and handed lengthy sentences. (Ali Abdel Imam, another journalistic blogger, was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was in hiding in late year.)
The High Court of Appeal upheld Alsingace’s conviction and life sentence in September 2012. It similarly upheld the harsh rulings against his co-defendants. The defendants planned to appeal to the Court of Cassation, which is nation’s highest court.
On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy.
Alsingace had been first arrested on anti-state conspiracy charges in August 2010 as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents, but was released briefly in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement.
Lohé Issa Konaté, L’Ouragan
Imprisoned: October 29, 2012
Konaté, editor of the private weekly L’Ouragan, was taken into custody after a judge in the capital, Ouagadougou, sentenced him to one year in prison on criminal charges of defaming state prosecutor Placide Nikiéma, news reports said.
Nikiéma filed a complaint in response to August articles alleging the prosecutor’s office mishandled a counterfeiting case and an inheritance dispute. Nikiéma denied the allegations, news reports said.
Konaté was also fined 1.5 million CFA francs (US$2,900) and ordered to pay damages of 4 million CFA francs (US$7,800) to the plaintiff. The judge also banned L’Ouragan from circulation for six months. Defense lawyer Halidou Ouédraogo said an appeal would be filed, news reports said, but Konaté was imprisoned after the sentencing.
The judge convicted Roland Ouédraogo, a contributor to L’Ouragan, in connection with the coverage and issued a warrant for his arrest, according to local journalists. The judge imposed the same sentence against Ouédraogo, who was still at large in late year. Konaté was held at Maison d’Arrêt et de Correction de Ouagadougou.
Hassan Ruvakuki, Radio Bonesha and Radio France Internationale
Imprisoned: November 28, 2011
Agents from the Burundian National Intelligence Service arrested Ruvakuki, a reporter for the private broadcaster Radio Bonesha and correspondent for the French government-funded Radio France Internationale, as he covered a press conference in the capital, Bujumbura, according to local journalists. He was held without access to a lawyer for two days before Télésphore Bigiriman, a spokesman for the country’s intelligence agency, confirmed his arrest in an interview with Agence France-Presse, according to news reports.
Local journalists said Ruvakuki was arrested in connection with a November 2011 trip he took to a rebel-held area along Burundi’s border with Tanzania, during which he recorded a statement from Pierre Claver Kabirigi, a former police officer who claimed to be the leader of a new rebel group, according to local journalists. The arrest came amid a government clampdown on coverage of the group. Radio Publique Africaine, another independent station, had also aired a recent interview with Kabirigi. The government-controlled media regulatory agency issued a directive forbidding coverage that could “undermine the security of the population.”
In June 2012, a court in the eastern town of Cankuzo found Ruvakuki guilty of “participating in terrorist attacks” under the penal code and sentenced him to life imprisonment, Patrick Nduwimana, interim director of Radio Bonesha, told CPJ. The defense raised numerous questions about the fairness of the legal proceedings, challenging the impartiality of the judges hearing the case, and saying they had blocked defense access to prosecution files. An appeal was pending in late year.
Mam Sonando, Beehive Radio
Imprisoned: July 15, 2012
More than 20 police officers arrested Sonando, owner, director, and political commentator of the independent broadcaster Beehive Radio, at his home in Phnom Penh. The journalist was charged with orchestrating an insurrection in Kratie province, where villagers had clashed with security forces over a land dispute with a private Russian company in May, news reports said.
On October 1, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Sonando of inciting a rebellion and sentenced him to 20 years. Another alleged plotter, Bun Ratha, was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison, while three others were handed sentences ranging from 10 months to three years. Sonando, who holds both Cambodian and French citizenship, maintained his innocence during the trial and appealed the verdict, according to news reports.
Local and international rights groups said they believed Sonando’s imprisonment was motivated by his station’s critical coverage of the government. On June 25, Sonando reported on a local dissident group’s presentation to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The group accused the Cambodian government of crimes against humanity. In a nationally broadcast speech the next day, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sonando should be arrested for plotting to “overthrow the government” and establishing “a state within a state.” A day later, a warrant was issued for the journalist’s arrest.
This was the third time Sonando had been imprisoned for his reporting. He was jailed in 2003 and 2005 on anti-state charges related to his news coverage.
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 online articles 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) website.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the opposition China Democracy Party (CDP). In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. Later that year, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years’ deprivation of political rights. His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. The group reported that his eyesight was deteriorating. Ning, who received a 12-year sentence, was released ahead of schedule on December 15, 2010, according to Radio Free Asia.
Shi Tao, freelance
Imprisoned: November 24, 2004
Shi, former editorial director of the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Trade News), was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, in November 2004.
He was formally charged with “providing state secrets to foreigners” in connection with an email sent on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the website Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In the email, sent anonymously in April 2004, Shi transmitted notes from the local propaganda department’s recent instructions to his newspaper. The directive prescribed coverage of the outlawed Falun Gong and the anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. The National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets retroactively certified the contents of the email as classified, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June of that year, the Hunan Province High People’s Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing. He is being held at Yinchuan Prison in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the email. Yahoo’s participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed dissidents raised questions about the role that international Internet companies play in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. In November 2007, members of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs rebuked Yahoo executives for their role in the case and for wrongly testifying in earlier hearings that the company did not know the Chinese government’s intentions when it sought Shi’s account information.
Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft later joined with human rights organizations, academics, and investors to form the Global Network Initiative, which adopted a set of principles to protect online privacy and free expression in October 2008. Human Rights Watch awarded Shi a Hellman/Hammett grant for persecuted writers in October 2009.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
Imprisoned: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his penname Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of “subverting state authority,” and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang was a well-known writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based websites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party and advocated for the release of jailed Internet writers.
According to the verdict in Yang’s case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a “democratic Chinese transitional government.” His colleagues said that he had been elected to the leadership of the fictional government without his prior knowledge. He later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, a Chinese dissident who had been convicted of endangering state security and jailed. Yang’s defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to Wang’s family and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. He had already spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In June 2008, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Yang’s lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang. In 2008, the PEN American Center announced that Yang had received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.
Relatives who visited Yang in prison in August 2012 said he was receiving poor treatment for a number of medical conditions including tuberculosis, arthritis, and diabetes, according to international news reports.
Qi Chonghuai, freelance
Imprisoned: June 25, 2007
Police in Tengzhou arrested Qi, a journalist of 13 years, in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, and charged him with fraud and extortion. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008. The arrest occurred about a week after police detained Qi’s colleague, Ma Shiping, a freelance photographer, on charges of carrying a false press card.
Qi and Ma had criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the website of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi’s lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, the two had posted photographs on Xinhua news agency’s anti-corruption Web forum that showed a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou.
Qi was accused of taking money from local officials while reporting several stories, a charge he denied. The people from whom he was accused of extorting money were local officials threatened by his reporting, Li said. Qi told his lawyer and his wife, Jiao Xia, that police beat him during questioning on August 13, 2007, and again during a break in his trial.
Qi was scheduled for release in 2011. In May, local authorities told him that the court had received new evidence against him. On June 9, less than three weeks before the end of his term, a Shandong provincial court sentenced him to another eight years in jail, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia.
Ma was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released in 2009, according to Jiao.
Human Rights in China, citing an online article by defense lawyer Li Xiaoyuan, said the court tried Qi on a new count of stealing advertising revenue from China Security Produce News, a former employer.The journalist’s supporters speculated that the new charge came in reprisal for Qi’s statements to his jailers that he would continue reporting after his release, according to The New York Times.
Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family’s home, which limited visits. Jiao told international journalists in 2012 that her husband had offered her a divorce, but that she declined.
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 his colleagues, according to the production company Filming for Tibet. A 25-minute film titled “Jigdrel” (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes.
Officials in Xining, Qinghai province, charged the filmmaker with inciting separatism and replaced the Tibetan’s own lawyer with a government appointee in July 2009, according to international reports. On December 28, 2009, the Xining Intermediate People’s Court in Qinghai sentenced Wangchen to six years’ imprisonment on subversion charges, according to a statement issued by his family.
Filming for Tibet was founded in Switzerland by Gyaljong Tsetrin, a relative of Wangchen who left Tibet in 2002 but maintained contact with people there. Tsetrin told CPJ that he had spoken to Wangchen on March 25, 2008, but lost contact after that. He learned of the detention only later, after speaking by telephone with relatives.
Filming for the documentary was completed shortly before peaceful protests against Chinese rule of Tibet deteriorated into riots in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas of China in March 2008. The filmmakers had gone to Tibet to ask ordinary people about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.
The arrest was first publicized when the documentary was screened before a small group of international reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6, 2008. A second screening was interrupted by hotel management, according to Reuters.
Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his published biography. He had recently relocated with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and four children to Dharamsala, India, before returning to Tibet to begin filming, according to a report published in October 2008 by the South China Morning Post. Lhamo Tso told Radio Netherlands Worldwide in 2011 that her husband was working extremely long hours in prison and had contracted hepatitis B.
In March 2008, Wangchen’s assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was arrested, then released on October 15, 2008, Filming for Tibet said. Gyatso described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to Filming for Tibet. The Dharamsala-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported that Gyatso was re-arrested in March 2009 and released the next month. The film company reported in October 2012 that Gyatso had been missing since September 20 and that it feared he had been detained again.
CPJ honored Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award in 2012.
Liu Xiaobo, freelance
Imprisoned: December 8, 2008
Liu, a longtime advocate for political reform and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was imprisoned for “inciting subversion” through his writing. Liu was an author of Charter 08, a document promoting universal values, human rights, and democratic reform in China, and was among its 300 original signatories. He was detained in Beijing shortly before the charter was officially released, according to international news reports.
Liu was formally charged with subversion in June 2009, and he was tried in the Beijing Number 1 Intermediate Court in December of that year. Diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Sweden were denied access to the trial, the BBC reported. On December 25, 2009, the court convicted Liu of “inciting subversion” and sentenced him to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights.
The verdict cited several articles Liu had posted on overseas websites, including the BBC’s Chinese-language site and the U.S.-based websites Epoch Times and Observe China, all of which had criticized Communist Party rule. Six articles were named-including pieces headlined, “So the Chinese people only deserve ‘one-party participatory democracy?'” and “Changing the regime by changing society”-as evidence that Liu had incited subversion. Liu’s income was generated by his writing, his wife told the court.
The court verdict cited Liu’s authorship and distribution of Charter 08 as further evidence of subversion. The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court upheld the verdict in February 2010.
In October 2010, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Liu its 2010 Peace Prize “for his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” His wife, Liu Xia, has been kept under house arrest in her Beijing apartment since shortly after her husband’s detention, according to international news reports. Authorities said she could request permission to visit Liu every two or three months, the BBC reported.
Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Chomei
Imprisoned: February 26, 2009
Public security officials arrested Tsang, an online writer, in Gannan, a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south of Gansu province, according to Tibetan rights groups. Tsang ran the Tibetan cultural issues website Chomei, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Kate Saunders, U.K. communications director for the International Campaign for Tibet, told CPJ by telephone from New Delhi that she learned of his arrest from two sources.
The detention appeared to be part of a wave of arrests of writers and intellectuals in advance of the 50th anniversary of the March 1959 uprising preceding the Dalai Lama’s departure from Tibet. The 2008 anniversary had provoked ethnic rioting in Tibetan areas, and international reporters were barred from the region.
In November 2009, a Gannan court sentenced Tsang to 15 years in prison for disclosing state secrets, according to The Associated Press.
Kunga Tsayang (Gang-Nyi), freelance
Imprisoned: March 17, 2009
The Public Security Bureau arrested Tsayang during a late-night raid, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which said it had received the information from several sources.
An environmental activist and photographer who also wrote online articles under the penname Gang-Nyi (Sun of Snowland), Tsayang maintained his own website, Zindris (Jottings), and contributed to others. He wrote several essays on politics in Tibet, including “Who is the real instigator of protests?” according to the New York-based advocacy group Students for a Free Tibet.
Tsayang was convicted of revealing state secrets and sentenced in November 2010 to five years in prison, according to the center. Sentencing was imposed during a closed-court proceeding in the Tibetan area of Gannan, Gansu province.
A number of Tibetans, including journalists, were arrested around the March 10 anniversary of the failed uprising in 1959 that prompted the Dalai Lama’s departure from Tibet. Security measures were heightened in the region in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in March 2008.
Tan Zuoren, freelance
Imprisoned: March 28, 2009
Tan, an environmentalist and activist, had been investigating the deaths of schoolchildren killed in the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province when he was detained in Chengdu. Tan, believing that shoddy school construction contributed to the high death toll, had intended to publish the results of his investigation ahead of the first anniversary of the earthquake, according to international news reports.
Tan’s supporters believe he was detained because of his investigation, although the formal charges did not cite his earthquake reporting. Instead, he was charged with “inciting subversion” for writings posted on overseas websites that criticized the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
In particular, authorities cited “1989: A Witness to the Final Beauty,” a firsthand account of the Tiananmen crackdown published on overseas websites in 2007, according to court documents. Several witnesses, including the prominent artist Ai Weiwei, were detained and blocked from testifying on Tan’s behalf at his August 2009 trial.
On February 9, 2010, Tan was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, according to international news reports. On June 9, 2010, the Sichuan Provincial High People’s Court rejected his appeal. Tan’s wife, Wang Qinghua, told reporters in Hong Kong and overseas that he had contracted gout and was not receiving sufficient medical attention. Visitors were subject to strict examination before being allowed to see him, the German public news organization Deutsche Welle reported in 2012, citing Wang.
Memetjan Abdulla, freelance
Imprisoned: July 2009
Abdulla, editor of the state-run China National Radio’s Uighur service, was detained in July 2009 for allegedly instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region through postings on the Uighur-language website Salkin, which he managed in his spare time, according to international news reports. A court in the regional capital, Urumqi, sentenced him to life imprisonment on April 1, 2010, the reports said. The exact charges against Abdulla were not disclosed.
The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on the sentence in December 2010, citing an unnamed witness at the trial. Abdulla was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots, and translating articles on the Salkin website, RFA reported. The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress confirmed the sentence with sources in the region, according to The New York Times.
Tursunjan Hezim, Orkhun
Imprisoned: July 2009
Details of Hezim’s arrest following the 2009 ethnic unrest in northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region first emerged in March 2011. Police in Xinjiang detained international journalists and severely restricted Internet access for several months after rioting broke out on July 5, 2009, in Urumqi, the regional capital, between groups of Han Chinese and the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority.
The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, citing an anonymous source, reported that a court in the region’s far western district of Aksu had sentenced Hezim, along with other journalists and dissidents, in July 2010. Several other Uighur website managers received heavy prison terms for posting articles and discussions about the previous year’s violence, according to CPJ research.
Hezim edited the well-known Uighur website Orkhun. U.S.-based Uighur scholar Erkin Sidick told CPJ that the editor’s whereabouts had been unknown from the time of the rioting until news of the conviction surfaced in 2011. Hezim was sentenced to seven years in prison on unknown charges in a trial closed to observers, according to Sidick, who had learned the news by telephone from sources in his native Aksu. Chinese authorities frequently restrict information on sensitive trials, particularly those involving ethnic minorities, according to CPJ research.
Gulmire Imin, freelance
Imprisoned: July 14, 2009
Imin was one of several administrators of Uighur-language Web forums who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In August 2010, Imin was sentenced to life in prison on charges of separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration, a witness to her trial told the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Imin held a local government post in Urumqi. She also contributed poetry and short stories to the cultural website Salkin, and had been invited to moderate the site in late spring 2009, her husband, Behtiyar Omer, told CPJ. Omer confirmed the date of his wife’s initial detention in a broadcast statement given at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in 2011.
Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of major demonstrations on July 5, 2009, and of using the Uighur-language website to distribute information about the event, RFA reported. Imin had been critical of the government in her online writings, readers of the website told RFA. The website was shut down after the July riots and its contents were deleted.
Imin was also accused of leaking state secrets by phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. Her husband told CPJ that he had called her on July 5 only to be sure she was safe.
The riots, which began as a protest of the death of Uighur migrant workers in Guangdong province, turned violent and resulted in the deaths of 200 people, according to the official Chinese government count. Chinese authorities shut down the Internet in Xinjiang for months after the riots as hundreds of protesters were arrested, according to international human rights organizations and local and international media reports.
Nijat Azat, Shabnam
Imprisoned: July or August 2009
Authorities imprisoned Nureli, who goes by one name, and Azat in an apparent crackdown on managers of Uighur-language websites. Azat was sentenced to 10 years and Nureli to three years on charges of endangering state security, according to international news reports. The Uyghur American Association reported that the pair were tried and sentenced in July 2010.
Their sites, which have been shut down by the government, had run news articles and discussion groups concerning Uighur issues. The New York Times cited friends and family members of the men who said they were prosecuted because they had failed to respond quickly enough when they were ordered to delete content that discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang. Their whereabouts were unknown in late 2012.
Dilixiati Paerhati, Diyarim
Imprisoned: August 7, 2009
Paerhati, who edited the popular Uighur-language website Diyarim, was one of several online forum administrators arrested after ethnic violence in Urumqi in July 2009. Paerhati was sentenced to a five-year prison term in July 2010 on charges of “endangering state security,”F according to international news reports.
Paerhati was detained and interrogated about riots in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on July 24, 2009, but was released without charge after eight days. Agents seized him from his apartment on August 7, 2009, although the government issued no formal notice of arrest, his U.K.-based brother, Dilimulati, told Amnesty International. News reports citing his brother said Paerhati was prosecuted for failing to comply with an official order to delete anti-government comments on the website.
Gheyrat Niyaz (Hailaite Niyazi), Uighurbiz
Imprisoned: October 1, 2009
Security officials arrested website manager Niyaz, sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, according to international news reports. He was convicted under sweeping charges of “endangering state security” and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to international media reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence in the July 2009 ethnic unrest that broke out in China’s far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Niyaz, who once worked for the state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, also managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. A statement posted on the website quoted Niyaz’s wife as saying that while he did give interviews to international media, he had no malicious intentions.
Authorities blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region. Uighurbiz founder Ilham Tohti was questioned about the contents of the site and detained for more than six weeks, according to international news reports.
Tashi Rabten, freelance
Imprisoned: April 6, 2010
Public security officials detained Rabten for publishing a banned magazine and a collection of articles, according to Phayul, a pro-Tibetan independence news website based in New Delhi.
Rabten, a student at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, Gansu province, edited the magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) in the aftermath of ethnic rioting in Tibet in March 2008. The magazine was banned by local authorities, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The journalist later self-published a collection of articles titled Written in Blood, saying in the introduction that “after an especially intense year of the usual soul-destroying events, something had to be said,” the campaign reported.
The book and the magazine discussed democracy and recent anti-China protests; the book was banned after he had distributed 400 copies, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA). Rabten had already been detained once before, in 2009, according to international Tibetan rights groups and RFA.
A court in Aba prefecture, a predominantly Tibetan area of Sichuan province, sentenced him to four years in prison in a closed-door trial on June 2, 2011, according to RFA and the International Campaign for Tibet. RFA cited a family member saying he had been charged with separatism, although CPJ could not independently confirm the charge.
Dokru Tsultrim (Zhuori Cicheng), freelance
Imprisoned: May 24, 2010
Tsultrim, a monk at Ngaba Gomang Monastery in western Sichuan province, was detained in April 2009 in connection with alleged anti-government writings and articles in support of the Dalai Lama, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and the International Campaign for Tibet. Released after a month in custody, he was detained again in May 2010, according to the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Post International. No formal charges or trial proceedings were disclosed.
At the time of his 2010 arrest, security officials raided his room at the monastery, confiscated documents, and demanded his laptop, a relative told The Tibet Post International. He and a friend had planned to publish the writings of Tibetan youths detailing an April 2010 earthquake in Qinghai province, the relative said.
Tsultrim, originally from Qinghai province, which is on the Tibetan plateau, also managed a private Tibetan journal, Khawai Tsesok (Life of Snow), which ceased publication after his 2009 arrest, the center said.
“Zhuori Cicheng” is the Chinese transliteration of his name, according to Tashi Choephel Jamatsang at the center, who provided CPJ with details by email.
Kalsang Jinpa (Garmi) freelance
Imprisoned: June 19, 2010
Jangtse Donkho (Nyen, Rongke), freelance
Imprisoned: June 21, 2010
Imprisoned: June 26, 2010
The three men, contributors to the banned Tibetan-language magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain), were detained in Aba, a Tibetan area in southwestern Sichuan province, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
Donkho, an author and editor who wrote under the penname Nyen, meaning “Wild One,” was detained on June 21, 2010, RFA reported. The name on his official ID is Rongke, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. Many Tibetans use only one name.
Buddha, a practicing physician, was detained on June 26, 2010, at the hospital where he worked in the town of Aba. Kalsang Jinpa, who wrote under the penname Garmi, meaning “Blacksmith,” was detained on June 19, 2010, RFA reported, citing local sources.
On October 21, 2010, they were tried together in the Aba Intermediate Court on charges of inciting separatism that were based on articles they had written in the aftermath of the March 2008 ethnic rioting. RFA, citing an unnamed source in Tibet, reported that the court later sentenced Donkho and Buddha to four years’ imprisonment each and Kalsang Jinpa to three years. In January 2011, the broadcaster reported that the three had been put in Mian Yang jail near the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, where they were subjected to hard labor.
Shar Dungriwas a collection of essays published in July 2008 and distributed in western China before authorities banned the publication, according to the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet, which translated the journal. The writers assailed Chinese human rights abuses against Tibetans, lamented a history of repression, and questioned official media accounts of the March 2008 unrest.
Buddha’s essay, “Hindsight and Reflection,” was presented as part of the prosecution, RFA reported. According to a translation of the essay by the International Campaign for Tibet, Buddha wrote: “If development means even the slightest difference between today’s standards and the living conditions of half a century ago, why the disparity between the pace of construction and progress in Tibet and in mainland China?”
The editor of Shar Dungri, Tashi Rabten, was also jailed in 2010.
Liu Xianbin, freelance
Imprisoned: June 28, 2010
A court in western Sichuan province sentenced Liu to 10 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion through articles published on overseas websites between April 2009 and February 2010, according to international news reports. One was titled “Constitutional Democracy for China: Escaping Eastern Autocracy,” according to the BBC.
The sentence was unusually harsh; inciting subversion normally carries a maximum five-year penalty, international news reports said. Liu also signed Liu Xiaobo’s pro-democracy Charter 08 petition. (Liu Xiaobo, who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, is serving an 11-year term on the same charge.)
Police detained Liu Xianbin on June 28, 2010, according to the Washington-based prisoner rights group Laogai Foundation. He was sentenced in 2011 during a crackdown on bloggers and activists who sought to organize demonstrations inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, according to CPJ research.
Liu spent more than two years in prison for involvement in the 1989 anti-government protests in Tiananmen Square. He later served 10 years of a 13-year prison sentence handed down in 1999 after he founded a branch of the China Democracy Party, according to The New York Times.
Gao Yingpu, freelance
Imprisoned: July 2010
Gao, a former journalist who had contributed to the Guangdong-based Asia Pacific Economic Times newspaper and other publications, was sentenced in a secret trial in 2010 to a three-year prison term for endangering state security in a blog entry criticizing disgraced Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, according to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders. A family member confirmed the conviction for CPJ.
In a report published by the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun News, an unidentified former classmate of Gao said the journalist’s wife had signed a written promise not to publicize the case. As a result, Gao had no legal representation or ability to appeal, and his family and friends were told he was working in Iraq, according to Boxun. News of his situation emerged when an online appeal was published online in China on March 23, according to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America. The reports did not specify where Gao was being held.
Gao had criticized Bo Xilai’s notorious 2009 anti-corruption or “smash black” campaign, which targeted organized crime, in a personal blog hosted by the instant messaging company Tencent QQ, according to Boxun. Bo was fired in 2012 amid a corruption and murder scandal.At least 4,781 people were imprisoned in 10 months during Bo’s crackdown on gangs, including many who were wrongfully convicted, according to The New York Times.
Lü Jiaping, freelance
Imprisoned: September 4, 2010
Jin Andi, freelance
Imprisoned: September 19, 2010
Beijing police detained Lü, a military scholar in his 70s, his wife, Yu Junyi, and a colleague, Jin , for inciting subversion in 13 online articles they wrote and distributed together, according to international news reports and human rights groups.
A court sentenced Lü to 10 years in prison and Jin to eight years in prison on May 13, 2011, according to the Hong Kong-based advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Yu, 71, was given a suspended three-year sentence and kept under residential surveillance, according to the group. Their families were not informed of the trial, and Yu broke the news when the surveillance was lifted in February 2012, according to the English-language Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America.
An appeals court upheld the sentences on the basis that the three defendants “wrote essays of an inciting nature” and “distributed them through the mail, emails, and by posting them on individuals’ web pages. [They] subsequently were posted and viewed by others on websites such as Boxun News and New Century News,” according to a 2012 translation of the appeal verdict published online by William Farris, a Beijing-based lawyer. The 13 offending articles, which were principally written by Lü, were listed in the appeal judgment along with dates, places of publication, and number of times they were re-posted. One 70-word paragraph was re-produced as proof of incitement to subvert the state. The paragraph said in part that the Chinese Communist Party’s status as a “governing power and leadership utility has long-since been smashed and subverted by the powers that hold the Party at gunpoint.”
Court documents said Lü and Jin were being held in the Beijing Number 1 Detention Center. Lü suffered a heart attack in jail, as well as other health problems, leaving him barely able to walk, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Li Tie, freelance
Imprisoned: September 15, 2010
Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, detained 52-year-old freelancer Li, according to international news reports. The Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court tried him behind closed doors on April 18, 2011, but did not announce the verdict until January 18, 2012, when he was handed a 10-year prison term and three additional years’ political deprivation, according to news reports citing Li’s lawyer. Only Li’s mother and daughter were allowed to attend the trial, news reports said.
The court cited 13 of Li’s online articles to support the charge of subversion of state power, a more serious count than inciting subversion, which is a common criminal charge used against jailed journalists in China, according to CPJ research. Evidence in the trial cited articles including one headlined “Human beings’ heaven is human dignity,” in which Li urged respect for ordinary citizens and called for democracy and political reform, according to international news reports. Prosecutors argued that the articles proved Li had “anti-government thoughts” that would ultimately lead to “anti-government actions,” according to Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Jian Guanghong, a lawyer hired by his family, was detained before the trial, and a government-appointed lawyer represented Li instead, according to the group. Prosecutors also cited Li’s membership in the small opposition group the China Social Democracy Party, the group reported.
Jolep Dawa, Durab Kyi Nga
Imprisoned: October 1, 2010
A court in Aba in southwestern Sichuan province sentenced Dawa, a Tibetan writer and editor, to three years in prison in October 2011, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia and the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Dawa, who is also a teacher, edited Durab Kyi Nga, a monthly Tibetan-language magazine, according to the broadcaster and the rights group. He had been held in detention without trial since October 2010, the organizations said. The exact date of the sentencing was not reported, and the charges against the writer were not disclosed.
Chen Wei, freelance
Imprisoned: February 20, 2011
Police in Suining, Sichuan, detained Chen among the dozens of lawyers, writers, and activists jailed nationwide following anonymous online calls for a nonviolent “Jasmine Revolution” in China, according to international news reports. The Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that Chen was formally charged on March 28, 2011, with inciting subversion of state power.
Chen’s lawyer, Zheng Jianwei, made repeated attempts to visit him but was not allowed access until September 8, 2011, according to the rights group and the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia. RFA reported that police had selected four pro-democracy articles Chen had written for overseas websites as the basis for criminal prosecution. In December 2011, a court in Suining sentenced Chen to nine years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion,” a term viewed as unusually harsh.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported that at least two other activists remained in criminal detention for transmitting information online related to the “Jasmine Revolution.” Chen’s case, however, was the only one linked in public reports to independent journalistic writing.
Chen, a student protester during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, had been imprisoned twice before for democracy activism, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Sichuan police blocked Chen’s wife from visiting him in January 2012, according to Radio Free Asia.
Choepa Lugyal (Meycheh), freelance
Imprisoned: October 19, 2011
Security officials detained Lugyal, a publishing house employee who wrote online under the name Meycheh, at his home in Gansu province, according to the Beijing-based Tibetan commentator Woeser and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which is based in India. Lugyal had written several print and online articles, including pieces for the Tibetan magazine Shar Dungri, according to the center. Authorities disclosed neither the charges against him nor his whereabouts.
Chinese authorities banned Shar Dungri, which was published in the aftermath of 2008 ethnic unrest between Tibetans and Han Chinese, and jailed several contributors, including Buddha, Jangtse Donkho, and Kalsang Jinpa. Editor Tashi Rabten was sentenced in July 2011 to four years in prison on charges described by family members as separatism-related.
Chen Xi, freelance
Imprisoned: November 29, 2011
A court in Guiyang, Guizhou province, sentenced Chen to 10 years in prison followed by three years’ deprivation of political rights on December 26, 2011, on charges of inciting subversion against state power based on online writings. The sentencing took place just four days after writer Chen Wei was sentenced to nine years on the same charge in Sichuan province.
Chen Xi was originally detained in November 2011 for campaigning for independent local People’s Congress candidates, according to the U.K.’s Guardian and other news reports. However, during his trial, the prosecution cited 36 articles Chen had written and published online to support the charges against him, according to international news reports. The reports did not specify which websites published the articles. “[He] was calling for democracy and human rights. This wish was his whole crime,” Chen’s wife, Zhang Qunxuan, told the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
Chen had been imprisoned twice in the past for political activism, including his activities during the 1989 student movement. He also was a signatory of imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08, according to the reports.
Dawa Dorje, freelance
Imprisoned: February 3, 2012
Police detained writer and government researcher Dorje at the airport in Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, where he had traveled for a conference on preserving Tibetan culture, according to exiled Tibetan groups and international news reports.
Dorje, who worked for the Nierong county government in western Sichuan province, kept a blog that is no longer accessible and was known for writing poems, books, and essays on the Tibetan language, including the article “Nationality and Language,” according to Dechen Pemba, editor of the High Peaks Pure Earth website, which translates articles from Tibetan writers. Dorje also wrote about democracy and human rights, according to the news reports.
Dorje was one of several high-profile cultural figures, including singers, performers, and writers, detained in early 2012 in an apparent crackdown on advocates of Tibetan-language culture. Chinese authorities have not confirmed his whereabouts or the basis for his detention.
Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, Hada
Imprisoned: February 15, 2012
Police in western Sichuan province detained Kyab, a Tibetan teacher, writer, and editor, in his Serthar county home, according to international news reports. The reason for the arrest was not clear, and police would not produce documentation when his wife asked to see a warrant, the reports said. The detention took place amid a round-up of prominent Tibetan cultural figures in 2012, including singers, authors, and performers, according to international news reports.
Kyab was a well-known author and essayist, according to Invisible Tibet, a blog published by the Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser. He also edited the Tibetan-language magazine Hada,Radio Free Asia and the BBC Chinese service reported. CPJ could not independently confirm his whereabouts or the charges he faced.
“He wrote a lot of articles and books about the environment, Tibetan culture, everything. He wrote about the news,” Switzerland-based Tibetan activist Jamyang Tsering told CPJ by telephone. “He was arrested because of what he wrote.”
Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, Centro de Información Hablemos Press
Imprisoned: September 16, 2012
State security agents arrested Martínez Arias near José Martí International Airport in Havana where he was reporting on two tons of medicine and medical equipment that had been damaged, according to CPJ sources and news reports. Martínez Arias, a reporter with the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press, was taken to a police station in Havana where he was interrogated and beaten, Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, the organization’s director, told CPJ.
According to Guerra Pérez, Martínez Arias was accused of contempt under Cuba’s archaic desacato or disrespect laws for shouting anti-Castro slogans after he was harassed by authorities. Article 144.1 of the Cuban criminal code establishes that those who threaten, defame, insult, or offend the dignity of a public official can be jailed for up to three years.
On September 27, Martínez Arias was transferred to the Valle Grande Prison in the town of La Lisa, Havana province, Guerra Pérez told CPJ. The journalist began a hunger strike in November, according to Hablemos Press. Two people recently released from jail told Hablemos Press that Martínez Arias had been placed in solitary confinement.
At the time of his arrest Martínez Arias was looking into reasons why a shipment of medicine and medical equipment reportedly donated by the World Health Organization had been left to go bad, according to Guerra Pérez and news reports.
Martínez Arias, who has worked for the news agency since 2009, has reported on sensitive issues such as an outbreak of cholera in Granma province, according to CPJ sources and news reports. Prominent human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, president of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation in Havana, told CPJ that Martínez Arias was arrested for his journalistic work.
Martínez Arias has often been harassed by authorities for his reporting, Guerra Pérez said. In 2011, CPJ documented a string of arrests of journalists from Centro de Información Hablemos Press, which prevented them from reporting on the Communist Party Congress.
Pierre Sosthène Kambidi, Christian Radio Télévision Chrétienne
Imprisoned: August 28, 2012
Agents of the Congolese national intelligence agency arrested Kambidi, editor-in-chief of Christian Radio Télévision Chrétienne, or RTC, in the central town of Kananga, according to local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger. Kambidi was being held without charge in late year, according to news reports.
Kambidi and another RTC journalist had received death threats in connection with a news program that aired August 16, RTC Director Charles Boniface Bayakwabo told Journaliste En Danger. During the program, a local opposition politician suggested that President Joseph Kabila’s regime was nearing an end. The politician was reacting to the station’s rebroadcast of an interview conducted by UN-backed Radio Okapi with John Tshibangu, an army officer turned rebel, according to news reports. In the interview, Tshibangu announced the creation of an armed rebel movement.
Kambidi was transferred to the capital, Kinshasa, on August 30, Bayakwabo said.
Dadou Ekiom, Télé 50
Guy Ngiaba, Kimpangi
Imprisoned: November 27, 2012
The public prosecutor in the city of Bandundu, northeast of the capital Kinshasa, placed Ekiom and Ngiaba under arrest on criminal defamation charges based on a complaint filed by Boniface Ntwa, speaker of the provincial assembly, according to the the local press freedom group Observatoire de la Liberte de la Presse En Afrique .
The charges were based on November 2 commentary that Ekiom and Ngiaba aired as presenters and producers of the talk show “Référendum” on the local broadcaster Nzondo Télévision, the station’s news director, Natanaël Kadima, told CPJ. The journalists had commented on alleged attempts by some members of the provincial assembly to oust the speaker, Kadima said.
Ekiom is local correspondent for the Kinshasa-based private broadcasters Télé 50, and Ngiaba works for the weekly Kimpangi, also based in the capital, according to OLPA.
Both journalists were held in pre-trial detention at Bandudu’s central prison known as Cinquantennaire.
Said Abdelkader, Admas
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Temesgen Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh
Dawit Habtemichael, Meqaleh
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Seyoum Tsehaye, Setit
Imprisoned: September 2001
More than 10 years after imprisoning several editors of Eritrea’s once-vibrant independent press and banning their publications to silence growing criticism of President Isaias Afewerki, Eritrean authorities had yet to account for the whereabouts, health, or legal status of the journalists, some of whom may have died in secret detention.
The journalists were arrested without charge after the government suddenly announced on September 18, 2001, that it was closing the country’s independent newspapers. The papers had reported on divisions within the ruling Party for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and advocated for full implementation of the country’s constitution. A dozen top officials and PFDJ reformers, whose pro-democracy statements had been covered by the independent newspapers, were also arrested.
Authorities initially held the journalists at a police station in the capital, Asmara, where they began a hunger strike on March 31, 2002, and smuggled a message out of jail demanding due process. The government responded by transferring them to secret locations without ever bringing them before a court or publicly registering charges.
Over the years, Eritrean officials have offered vague and inconsistent explanations for the arrests-from anti-state conspiracies involving foreign intelligence to accusations of skirting military service to violating press regulations. Officials at times have even denied that the journalists existed. Meanwhile, shreds of often unverifiable, second- or third-hand information smuggled out of the country by people fleeing into exile have suggested the deaths of as many as five journalists in custody. Several CPJ sources said the journalists were confined at the Eiraeiro prison camp or at a military prison, Adi Abeito, based in Asmara.
In February 2007, CPJ established that one detainee, Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, a co-founder of the newspaper Setit and a 2002 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, had died in custody at the age of 47.
CPJ is seeking corroboration of reports that several other detainees may have died in custody. In August 2012, the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, citing a former prison guard, said Dawit Habtemichael and Mattewos Habteab had died at Eiraeiro in recent years. In 2010, the Ethiopian government-sponsored Radio Wegahta also cited a former Eritrean prison guard as saying that Habteab had died at Eiraeiro.
An unbylined report on the Ethiopian pro-government website Aigaforum in August 2006 quoted 14 purported Eiraeiro guards as citing the deaths of prisoners whose names closely resembled Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile, and Said Abdelkader. The details could not be independently confirmed, although CPJ sources considered it to be generally credible. In 2009, the London-based Eritrean opposition news site Assena posted purportedly leaked death certificates of Fesshaye, Yusuf, Medhanie, and Said.
CPJ lists the journalists on the 2012 prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for their fates. Relatives of the journalists also told CPJ that they maintain hope their loved ones are still alive.
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Imprisoned: September 23, 2001
The imprisonment of Dawit, co-founder of the banned newspaper Setit, has drawn international attention. Dawit, who has dual Eritrean and Swedish citizenship, has been held incommunicado and without charge since 2001, except for brief contact with his family in 2005.
A government crackdown on the independent press in 2001 led to the imprisonment without charge of numerous prominent journalists. Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki’s administration has refused to account for the whereabouts, legal status, or health of the jailed journalists. When asked about Dawit’s crime in a May 2009 interview with Swedish freelance journalist Donald Boström, Afewerki declared, “I don’t know,” but said the journalist had made “a big mistake,” without offering details. In August 2010, Yemane Gebreab, a senior presidential adviser, said in an interview with Swedish daily Aftonbladet that Dawit was being held for “very serious crimes regarding Eritrea’s national security and survival as an independent state.”
In July 2011, Dawit’s brother, Esayas, and three jurists-Jesús Alcalá, Prisca Orsonneau, and Percy Bratt-filed a writ of habeas corpus with Eritrea’s Supreme Court. The writ called for information on Dawit’s whereabouts and a review of his detention. In March 2012, the Supreme Court of Eritrea confirmed that it had received the petition.
In September 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing “fears for the life” of Dawit, calling for his release and urging the European Council to consider targeted sanctions against Eritrean officials.
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eri-TV
Imprisoned: February 15, 2002
Hamid, a reporter for the Arabic-language service of the government-controlled broadcaster Eri-TV was arrested without charge in connection with the government’s crackdown on the independent press, which began in September 2001, according to CPJ sources.
In a July 2002 fact-finding mission to Asmara, the capital, a CPJ delegation learned from local sources that Hamid was among three state media reporters arrested. Two of the journalists, Saadia Ahmed and Saleh Aljezeeri, were later released, but Hamid was being held in an undisclosed location, CPJ was told.
The government has refused to respond to numerous inquiries from CPJ and other international organizations seeking information about Said’s whereabouts, health, and legal status.
While the government’s motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation, retaliation, and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Ismail Abdelkader, Radio Bana
Ghirmai Abraham, Radio Bana
Issak Abraham, Radio Bana
Mohammed Dafla, Radio Bana
Araya Defoch, Radio Bana
Simon Elias, Radio Bana
Yirgalem Fesseha, Radio Bana
Biniam Ghirmay, Radio Bana
Mulubruhan Habtegebriel, Radio Bana
Bereket Misguina, Radio Bana
Mohammed Said Mohammed, Radio Bana
Meles Nguse, Radio Bana
Imprisoned: February 19, 2009
Security forces raided government-controlled Radio Bana in February 2009 and arrested its entire staff, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks in November 2010.
The cable, sent by then-U.S. Ambassador Ronald McMullen and dated February 23, 2009, attributed the information to the deputy head of mission of the British Embassy in Asmara in connection with the detention of a British national who volunteered at the station. According to the cable, the volunteer reported being taken by security forces with the Radio Bana staff to an unknown location six miles (10 kilometers) north of the capital and later being separated from them. The volunteer was not interrogated and was released the next day. According to the cable, some of the station’s staff members were released as well.
CPJ sources said that at least 12 journalists working for Radio Bana had been held incommunicado since the raid. The reasons for the detentions were unclear, but CPJ sources said the journalists were either accused of providing technical assistance to two opposition radio stations broadcasting into the country from Ethiopia, or of participating in a meeting in which detained journalist Meles Nguse spoke against the government. The staff’s close collaboration with two British nationals on the production of educational programs may have also led to their arrests, according to the same sources.
Several of the detainees had worked for other state media outlets before beginning stints at Radio Bana, a station sponsored by the Education Ministry. Ghirmai was the producer of an arts program with government-controlled state radio Dimtsi Hafash, and Issak had produced a Sunday entertainment show on the same station. Issak and Mulubruhan, a reporter with state daily Haddas Erta, had also co-authored a book of comedy. Bereket (also a film director and scriptwriter), Meles (also a poet), and Yirgalem(a poet as well) were columnists for Haddas Erta. CPJ had identified one of the detainees as Esmail Abd-el-Kader in a previous survey. Further research indicated his name is more commonly spelled Ismail Abdelkader.
Authorities have not responded to numerous inquiries from CPJ and other international groups seeking information about the detainees’ whereabouts, health, and legal status.
Habtemariam Negassi, Eri-TV
Imprisoned: January or February 2009
Authorities arrested Habtemariam , a veteran cameraman and head of the English desk at the government-controlled broadcaster Eri-TV, according to CPJ sources. No reason was given for the arrest and no formal charges were publicly disclosed.
Authorities have not responded to numerous inquiries from CPJ seeking information about Habtemariam’s whereabouts, health, and legal status. While the government’s motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation, retaliation, and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Sitaneyesus Tsigeyohannes, Eritrean Profile
Imprisoned: August 2009
Two men believed to be government agents took Sitaneyesus into custody at the offices of the government-controlled English-language weekly Eritrean Profile, two CPJ sources said.
The agents said Sitaneyesus, a staff reporter for the paper, was being brought in for questioning, but the journalist had not been seen since, according to the CPJ sources. Sitaneyesus was also active in the Pentecostal Church, which is banned in Eritrea.
Nebiel Edris, Dimtsi Hafash
Eyob Kessete, Dimtsi Hafash
Mohamed Osman, Dimtsi Hafash
Ahmed Usman, Dimtsi Hafash
Imprisoned: February and March 2011
Several journalists working for the government-controlled radio station were arrested in early 2011, according to CPJ sources. Authorities did not disclose the basis of the arrests, although CPJ sources said at least one of the journalists, Eyob, was arrested on allegations that he had helped others flee the country.
The four reporters worked for different arms of Dimtsi Hafash: Nebiel for the Arabic-language service; Ahmed for the Tigrayan-language service, Mohamed for the Bilen-language service, and Eyob for the Amharic-language service.
Tesfalident Mebrahtu, a prominent sports journalist with Dimtsi Hafash and Eri-TV, was arrested at the same time on allegations that he was attempting to flee the country. CPJ sources said he had recently been freed and allowed to resume work.
While the government’s motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation, retaliation, and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Saleh Idris Gama, Eri-TV
Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi, Eri-TV
Imprisoned: December 2006
Tesfalidet, a producer for Eritrea’s state broadcaster Eri-TV, and Saleh, a cameraman, were arrested in late 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia’s invasion of southern Somalia.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry first disclosed the detention of the journalists in April 2007, and presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects, according to CPJ research. Though Eritrea often conscripted journalists into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. The ministry pledged to subject some of the suspects to military trials but did not identify them by name. In a September 2011 press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa, then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.
But Tesfalidet and Saleh had not been tried by late 2012, and authorities disclosed no information about legal proceedings against them, according to local journalists. Authorities have also not disclosed any information about the detainees’ well-being and whereabouts.
Reeyot Alemu, freelance
Imprisoned: June 21, 2011
Ethiopian security forces arrested Reeyot, a prominent, critical columnist for the leading independent weekly Feteh, at an Addis Ababa high school where she taught English, according to news reports. Authorities raided her home and seized documents and other materials before taking her into custody at the Maekelawi Federal Detention Center.
Ethiopian government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Reeyot was among several people accused of planning terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines in the country with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, according to news reports. Authorities filed terrorism charges against Reeyot in September 2011, according to local journalists.
A court sentenced Reeyot in January 2012 to 14 years in prison for planning a terrorist act; possessing property for a terrorist act; and promoting a terrorist act, according to local journalists. The conviction was based on emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups; reports and photos she had sent to the U.S.-based opposition news site Ethiopian Review; unspecified money transfers from her bank account; and photos of anti-government graffiti taken in Addis Ababa, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ. An appeals court overturned the planning and possession charges in August 2012, but upheld her conviction on the charge of promoting terrorism. The court reduced her sentence to four years, news reports said.
CPJ believes the prosecution was brought in reprisal for Reeyot’s critical coverage. She wrote columns for several independent publications including Feteh, Awramba Times, and Change magazine, in which she criticized the policies of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In the last column published before her arrest, she compared then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, according to local journalists.
Reeyot was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa in late year. In August 2012, a collection of Reeyot’s political analysis and writings was compiled in a book entitled “EPRDF’s Red Pen,” and in September 2012, the International Women’s Media Foundation awarded Reeyot its Courage in Journalism Award.
Woubshet Taye, Awramba Times
Imprisoned: June 19, 2011
Police arrested Woubshet, deputy editor of the now-defunct independent nespaper, after raiding his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, and confiscating documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of the newspaper, according to local journalists. The outlet’s top editor, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Dawit Kebede, fled the country in November 2011 in fear of being arrested, and the newspaper switched to online publication only.
Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Woubshet was among several people accused of planning terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, according to news reports. In January 2012, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced Woubshet to 14 years in prison, news reports said.
CPJ believes the charges were brought in reprisal for Awramba Times‘ critical coverage of the government. Prior to his arrest, Woubshet had written a column criticizing what he saw as the ruling party’s tactics of weakening and dividing the media and the opposition, Dawit told CPJ. Woubshet had been targeted in the past as well. He was detained for a week in November 2005 during the government’s crackdown on news coverage of the unrest that followed disputed elections.
Woubshet was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa in late year.
Eskinder Nega, freelance
Imprisoned: September 9, 2011
Ethiopian security forces arrested Eskinder, a prominent journalistic blogger and former publisher and editor of three now-shuttered newspapers, on vague accusations of involvement in a terrorism plot.
Shortly after the arrest, state television portrayed the journalist as a spy for “foreign forces” and accused him of having links with the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7, which the Ethiopian government has formally designated as a terrorist entity. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, government spokesman Shimelis Kemal accused the detainee of plotting “a series of terrorist acts that would likely wreak havoc.”
In July 2012, a federal court judge in Addis Ababa sentenced Eskinder to an 18-year prison sentence based on a video of a public meeting in which Eskinder discussed the implications of the Arab Spring in Ethiopia, according to local journalists and news reports. The judge accused Eskinder of using “the guise of freedom” to “attempt to incite violence and overthrow the constitutional order.” Five exiled journalists were convicted in absentia based on their coverage of Ginbot 7.
CPJ believes the charges are part of a long pattern of government persecution in reprisal for Eskinder’s critical coverage. In 2011, a deputy police commissioner threatened the journalist with unspecified reprisals for online columns that drew comparisons between the Egyptian uprising and Ethiopia’s 2005 pro-democracy protests, according to news reports. His coverage of the Ethiopian government’s brutal repression of the 2005 protests landed him in jail for 17 months on anti-state charges at the time. After his release in 2007, authorities banned his newspapers and denied him licenses to start new ones.
Eskinder’s sentencing drew international condemnation, including from the U.S. State Department, members of the U.S. Congress and the European Union.In May 2012, PEN American Center awarded Eskinder its 2012 Freedom to Write Award.
Eskinder was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa in late year. His defense planned an appeal.
Yusuf Getachew, Ye Muslimoch Guday
Imprisoned: July 20, 2012
Police officers raided the Addis Ababa home of Yusuf, editor of the Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), and placed the journalist at the Maekelawi Federal Detention Center, according to local journalists. Police also confiscated four of Yusuf’s mobile phones, his wife’s digital camera, books, and 6,000 birr (US$334), the journalists said.
In October 2012, a court in Addis Ababa formally charged Yusuf under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Law with plotting acts of “terrorism, intending to advance a political, religious or ideological cause,” according to local reports. Yusuf told the court he had been beaten while in custody, local journalists told CPJ.
Local journalists said Yusuf’s publication provided extensive coverage of protests by members of the Muslim community. Ethiopian Muslims had begun staging protests on Fridays throughout the year to oppose government policies they said interfered with their religious practices, according to news reports. The protests were a highly sensitive issue for the government, which feared a hard-line Islamist influence within the predominantly Christian country. Local journalists said they believed Muslim journalists and newspapers were being harassed as part of an attempt to quell media coverage of the protests.
Other Ye Muslimoch Guday journalists went into hiding, and the publication ceased operations shortly after Yusuf’s arrest, local journalists told CPJ. The editor was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa in late year, those sources said.
“Chief” Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
Imprisoned: July 7, 2006
Two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency arrested “Chief” Ebrima Manneh at the office of his newspaper, the pro-government Daily Observer, according to witnesses. The reason for the arrest was unclear, although some colleagues believe it was linked to his attempt to republish a BBC article critical of President Yahya Jammeh.
Despite dozens of inquiries from international organizations, the government has not provided a credible account of what happened to Manneh after he was taken into custody. In 2008, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States ruled that Gambia had unlawfully seized Manneh and ordered his immediate release.
Yet only sketchy and conflicting details have emerged about Manneh’s whereabouts, health, and legal status. Witnesses reported seeing Manneh in government custody in December 2006 and in July 2007, according to CPJ research. Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police official in 2009 as saying that Manneh had been spotted at Mile 2 Prison in 2008. But the official also speculated that Manneh was no longer alive, AFP reported. In a nationally televised meeting with local media representatives in March 2011, President Jammeh described Manneh as having died while denying any government involvement in the journalist’s fate. “Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh,” he said.
But Justice Minister Edward Gomez provided contradictory information just months later. In an October 2011 interview with the local newspaper Daily News, Gomez said that Manneh was alive. “Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, and we will talk about this case later,” Gomez told AFP in a subsequent interview.
Sudhir Dhawale, Vidrohi
Imprisoned: January 2, 2011
Dhawale, a Mumbai-based activist and journalist, wrote about human rights violations against Dalits in the Marathi-language Vidrohi, a monthly he founded and edited.
Police arrested Dhawale in the Wardha district of Maharashtra state, where he had traveled to attend a Dalit meeting, and charged him with sedition and involvement with a terrorist group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, according to local and international news reports. They said a Maoist insurgent in custody had accused him of involvement in the banned organization’s war against the state in central tribal areas of India, according to The Wall Street Journal. Police also searched Dhawale’s home the following day and seized books and a computer, the news reports said.
Dhawale’s supporters said he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the civil violence between Maoists and the state. In a documentary on the case, Darshana Dhawale, the journalist’s wife, said police had accused her husband of supporting the Maoists in his writings. The makers of the film-titled “Sudhir Dhawale: Dissent = Sedition?”-also interviewed Anand Teltumbde of the Mumbai-based Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, who said Dhawale’s publication covered the Maoists but did not support them.
On January 20, 2011, police accused him of hanging Maoist posters in an unrelated case in Gondia district in December 2010. Authorities filed a new charge of waging war against the state, which carries a potential death penalty under the Indian penal code. His wife has said Dhawale was in Mumbai, not Gondia, that December, according to local news reports.
Dhawale, who was being held in Maharashtra state prison, was refused bail in March 2012. His court proceedings were pending in late year, according to an activist, Lenin Raghuvanshi, who was tracking the case.
Lingaram Kodopi, freelance
Imprisoned: September 10, 2011
Police said they arrested Kodopi, 25, in a public market in Dantewada district as he was accepting a bribe from a representative of a steel company wanting to operate in a Maoist insurgent-controlled area, local news reports said. The journalist denied the accusation and said the police had targeted him because he had refused to work for them under a program to recruit tribal youths to defeat the insurgents, the New Delhi-based newsmagazine Tehelka reported.
Police accused Kodopi of being a “Maoist associate.” He was charged with anti-state activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, and the Indian penal code, Tehelka reported. He had not been brought to trial by late year, and the total penalties he faced were not clear.
Local human rights activists and journalists said authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi from publicizing the role of police in recent violence in the state. In April 2011, the journalist had documented the destruction of houses during an anti-Maoist police operation in three Dantewada district villages and “recorded on video precise narrations of police atrocities,” Tehelka reported. Himanshu Kumar, a local human rights activist, told the Indian Express that Kodopi had evidence of government involvement in the burning of three villages.
Kodopi told journalists he had fled police harassment in 2010 to study journalism and work as a freelancer in New Delhi, the Indian Express reported. While he was there, Dantewada police accused him of being a senior Maoist commander and masterminding an attack against a politician in Chhattisgarh. Kodopi denied the accusations at a press conference in Delhi, the Indian Express said, and he was not taken into custody at the time.
Police in Dantewada would not explain whether Kodopi was believed to be a low-level Maoist “associate,” as alleged in the 2011 case, or a senior commander, as they said in 2010. “We are still ascertaining his role,” District Police Superintendent Ankit Garg told Tehelka.
Kodopi had not received bail by October 2012, according to Kumar, who met with CPJ in New York. The journalist was subjected to torture while in prison, according to Kumar and the Association for India’s Development and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative.
Naveen Soorinje, Kasturi TV
Imprisoned: November 7, 2012
Soorinje, 28, a TV journalist who documented a large-scale attack on young women and reported the episode to police in Karnataka state, was arrested by authorities in Mangalore on more than a dozen charges, including rioting and assault, according to local and international news reports. CPJ considers the arrest to be retaliatory.
Soorinje, among other journalists, had been tipped off that a large group of men were chasing, beating, and groping teenaged women at a local birthday party in July, the reports said. The assailants, described as Hindu hard-liners, were apparently angered that the women were associating with men at the party, according to reports.
On arrival, Soorinje reported the attack to police and filmed it for the Kannada-language news channel Kasturi TV, according to the New Delhi-based newsmagazine Tehelka. The 43 other individuals who were charged were identified on the basis of Soorinje’s footage, Tehelka reported.
Soorinje has denied taking part in the attack. His news report accused police of responding slowly to his repeated calls reporting the assault, and of “chatting” with the assailants once they did arrive, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said in a statement. Human rights activists have broadly accused police in Karnataka of allowing attacks against women as a supposed form of “moral policing,” the BBC reported. Karnataka is led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
A Mangalore court denied Soorinje’s request for bail on November 27, according to G. Vishnu, a Tehelka journalist reporting on the case.
Adnan Hassanpour, Aso
Imprisoned: January 25, 2007
Security agents seized Hassanpour, editor of the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, Kurdistan province, according to news reports. In July 2007, a Revolutionary Court convicted Hassanpour on anti-state charges and sentenced him to death. After a series of appeals and reversals, he was sentenced in May 2010 to 15 years in prison, defense lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told the Reporters and Human Rights Activists News Agency.
The government’s case against Hassanpour amounted to a series of assertions by security agents, defense attorney Sirvan Hosmandi told CPJ in 2008. Hassanpour’s sister, Lily, told CPJ that she believed his critical writings were behind the charges. Hassanpour, 32, was being held at Sanandaj Central Prison in Kurdistan Province. He has not been allowed furlough, news reports said.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e-Mardom
Imprisoned: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Authorities charged Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e-Mardom, with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization’s website. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 11 years in prison in 2008.
Kaboudvand’s health continued to deteriorate in 2012. Based on their visits and consultation with a prison physician, family members believed Kaboudvand has suffered significant heart problems while in custody, his wife, Farinaz Baghban Hassani told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. He has repeatedly been denied requests for medical leave and family visits, news reports said. He has also suffered from severe dizziness, disruption of speech and vision, and disorders in his limb movements.
Kaboudvand, 49, has waged several hunger strikes, the latest in June 2012, to protest authorities’ refusal to grant him a furlough to see his son who was diagnosed with leukemia, according to news reports. Despite his repeated attempts, prison authorities, refused all of his furlough requests.
Mojtaba Lotfi, freelance
Imprisoned: October 8, 2008
A clergyman and blogger, Lotfi was arrested by security forces on a warrant issued by the Clergy Court in Qom. Authorities accused him of publishing the views of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the now-deceased cleric who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions.
Authorities did not specify articles or publications in which the views were supposedly cited. In November 2009, Lotfi was convicted of several charges, including spreading anti-state information, and sentenced him to four years in prison followed by a period of exile, according to online reports.
In July 2010, the Human Rights House of Iran reported that Lotfi had been transferred to the remote village of Ashtian for 10 years of enforced internal exile. Lotfi, an Iran-Iraq War veteran who was exposed to chemical agents, suffers from a respiratory illness that has worsened during his confinement, the reformist news website Norooz News reported.
Hossein Derakhshan, freelance
Imprisoned: November 2008
On December 30, 2008, a judiciary spokesman confirmed at a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained since November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to local and international news reports. The exact date of Derakhshan’s arrest is unknown, but word of his detention was first reported on November 17, 2008, by Jahan News, a website close to the Iranian intelligence service. The site claimed Derakhshan had confessed to “spying for Israel” during the preliminary interrogation.
Known as the “Blogfather” for his pioneering online work, Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. A former writer for reformist newspapers, he also contributed opinion pieces to The Guardian of London and The New York Times. The journalist, who lived in Canada during most of the decade prior to his detention, returned to Tehran a few weeks before his detention, The Washington Post reported. In November 2009, the BBC Persian service reported that Derakhshan’s family had sought information about his whereabouts and the charges he faced, and expressed concern about having very limited contact with him.
In September 2010, the government announced that Derakhshan had been sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison, along with a five-year ban on “membership in political parties and activities in the media,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and other sources. Derakhshan has spent much of his imprisonment in solitary confinement at Evin Prison, according to multiple sources. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, citing a source close to the journalist’s family, said Derakhshan had been beaten and coerced into making false confessions about having ties to U.S. and Israeli intelligence services. In 2011 and 2012, Derakhshan was allowed short-term furloughs.
Ahmad Zaid-Abadi, freelance
Imprisoned: June 2009
Zaid-Abadi, who wrote a weekly column for Rooz Online, a Farsi- and English-language reformist news website, was arrested in Tehran, according to news reports. Zaid-Abadi had also been a supporter of the defeated 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and had served as director of the politically active Organization of University Alumni of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
On November 23, 2009, Zaid-Abadi was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of internal exile in Khorasan province, and a “lifetime deprivation of any political activity” including “interviews, speeches, and analysis of events, whether in written or oral form,” according to the Persian service of the German public news organization Deutsche Welle. An appeals court upheld the sentence on January 2, according to Advar News.
In February 2010, Zaid-Abadi and fellow journalist Massoud Bastani were transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison. Zaid-Abadi’s wife, Mahdieh Mohammadi, said prison conditions were crowded and unsanitary, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported. She said she feared malnutrition and the spread of disease.
In August 2011 and July 2012, Zaid-Abadi was granted short furloughs after posting large bail sums, according to reformist news websites. He was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2011 and the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom Award in 2010.
Kayvan Samimi, Nameh
Imprisoned: June 14, 2009
Samimi, manager of the now-defunct monthly Nameh, was serving a six-year prison sentence along with a 15-year ban on “political, social, and cultural activities,” the Aftab News website reported.
Initially held in Evin Prison, Samimi was subjected to mistreatment. In February 2010, he was transferred to solitary confinement after objecting to poor prison conditions, according to Free Iranian Journalists, a website devoted to documenting cases of jailed reporters and editors. In November 2010, Samimi was transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, which houses violent criminals, according to news reports. Samimi suffers from liver problems, which have worsened in custody. He was hospitalized in March 2012 for treatment.
In September 2012, authorities at Rajaee Shahr Prison placed Samimi and fellow journalist Massoud Bastani in solitary confinement for several days after a photograph of the two detainees was published on the reformist news website Kaleme, the outlet reported. Since his arrest, Samimi has been allowed furlough only once. He has gone on hunger strike several times to protest prison conditions and prisoner treatment.
Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, freelance
Imprisoned: June 19, 2009
Amouee, a contributor to reformist newspapers such as Mihan, Hamshahri, Jame’e, Khordad, Norooz, and Shargh, and the author of an eponymous blog, was arrested with his wife, journalist Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, according to news reports. In January 2010, Amouee was sentenced to 34 lashes, along with seven years and four months in prison. In March of the same year, an appeals court reduced the prison sentence to five years, according to Rooz Online.
Amouee was being held in Evin Prison, according to news reports, with part of his term served in solitary confinement. In July 2010, Amouee and 14 other prisoners staged a 16-day hunger strike to protest mistreatment at Evin Prison. Prison officials punished them by denying family visits for a month, Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported.
In June 2012, authorities transferred Amouee to Rajaee Shahr Prison, where violent criminals are held. Later that same month he was transferred to solitary confinement for several days, according to the BBC Persian service.
His wife, Bani-Yaghoub, editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women’s Club, a news website focusing on women’s rights, was released on bail in August 2009 but was later sentenced to one year in prison on anti-state charges. She began serving her term at Evin Prison in September 2012, according to news reports.
Issa Saharkhiz, freelance
Imprisoned: July 3, 2009
Saharkhiz, a columnist for the reformist news websites Rooz Online and Norooz and a founding member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was arrested while traveling in northern Iran, the association said in a statement. His lawyer said his client was charged with “participation in riots,” “encouraging others to participate in riots,” and “insulting the supreme leader,” according to Rooz Online.
Saharkhiz was sentenced in September 2010 to three years in prison, a five-year ban on political and journalistic activities, and a one-year ban on foreign travel, the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported in September 2010. In an interview with Radio Zamaneh, Mehdi Saharkhiz said his father would not appeal the court’s decision. “He said that all sentencing is made under [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s direct supervision and the judiciary has nothing to do with it. Therefore, neither the lower court nor the appeals court is official in any way, and they are only for show.”
Saharkhiz has had a long career in journalism. He worked for 15 years for IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, and ran its New York office for part of that time. He returned to Iran in 1997 to work in Mohammad Khatami’s Ministry of Islamic Guidance, in charge of domestic publications. Journalist Ahmad Bourghani and Saharkhiz came to be known as the architects of a period of relative freedom for the press in Iran. But as the regime took a more conservative bent, Saharkhiz was forced to leave the ministry and was eventually banned from government service. He founded a reformist newspaper, Akhbar-e-Eghtesad, and a monthly magazine, Aftab, both of which were eventually banned. He wrote articles directly critical of Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
During his imprisonment, which began at Evin Prison, Saharkhiz was subjected to constant pressure, including being kept in a prison yard overnight in freezing temperatures without shoes or socks, according to Rooz Online.
Over the course of his prison term, Saharkhiz has suffered from poor health including blood pressure, spine, and neck problems. He was hospitalized for treatment of a heart condition in February 2012; authorities moved him back to Evin Prison in August against the wishes of his doctor, news reports said. Saharkhiz began refusing food and medication in September 2012 to protest his transfer back to prison, according to reformist news websites. After 22 days on hunger strike, Saharkhiz suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized in state custody, his son told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Massoud Bastani, Farhikhtegan and Jomhoriyat
Imprisoned: July 5, 2009
Bastani, a journalist with Farhikhtegan, a reformist newspaper, and Jomhoriyat, a news website affiliated with the defeated 2009 presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was arrested when he went to a Tehran court seeking information about his wife, journalist Mahsa Amrabadi, who had been detained, according to local news reports.
Bastani was among more than 100 opposition figures and journalists who faced a mass, televised judicial proceeding in August 2009 on vague anti-state accusations, according to news reports. On October 20, 2009, the news website Norooz reported that a court had sentenced Bastani to six years in prison for “propagating against the regime and congregating and mutinying to create anarchy.”
Bastani was being held at Rajaee Shahr Prison, a facility reserved for hardened criminals, according to the reformist daily Etemad. In July 2010, Bastani’s family told reporters that he had suffered an infection in his jaw that had gone untreated in prison, the Human Rights House of Iran reported. Authorities restricted Bastani’s family visits to once every two weeks.
In September 2012, authorities at Rajaee Shahr Prison placed Bastani and fellow journalist Kayvan Samimi in solitary confinement for several days after a photograph of the two detainees was published on the reformist news website Kaleme, the outlet reported.
His wife, Amrabadi, was later sentenced to one year in prison on anti-state charges. She began serving her term in Evin Prison in May 2012, news reports said.
Saeed Matin-Pour, freelance
Imprisoned: July 12, 2009
Matin-Pour, a journalist who wrote for his own blog and for the newspapers Yar Pag and Mouj Bidari in western Azerbaijan province, was first arrested in May 2007. Released on bail, he was re-arrested in July 2009 amid the government’s massive crackdown on dissidents and the press.
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted Matin-Pour on charges of having “relations with foreigners” and “propagating against the regime,” according to local news reports. He was sentenced to an eight-year prison term.
Matin-Pour’s wife, Atieh Taheri, told the Human Rights Activists News Agency that the journalist’s health had deteriorated in Evin Prison and that officials had denied him proper medical care, according to news reports. Matin-Pour spent much of his imprisonment in solitary confinement amid abusive treatment, leading to heart and respiratory problems, reformist news websites reported.
In September 2012, Taheri told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Matin-Pour had been kept in solitary confinement for months, interrogated, and tortured. Matin-Pour has not been allowed furlough.
Mohammad Davari, Saham News
Imprisoned: September 5, 2009
Davari, editor-in-chief of Saham News, a website affiliated with the defeated 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was charged with several anti-state counts, including “propagating against the regime,” and “disrupting national security.” The charges stemmed from Davari’s reporting on widespread complaints of abuse and rape of inmates at Kahrizak Detention Center. The detention center was closed in July 2009 after Saham News and others documented the pervasive abuse.
In May 2010, Davari was sentenced to five years in prison, according to the website of Reporters and Human Rights Activists of Iran. His family said he was being held at Tehran’s Evin Prison.
In mid-2011, Davari was sentenced to an additional year in prison, allegedly for his participation in teacher protests in 2006, reformist news websites reported. In September 2012, Davari was stripped naked and searched as he re-entered Evin Prison after a short visit to a hospital for a medical exam, according to reformist news websites. The journalist developed an acute psychological illness in prison and suffered from chest pains and a heart condition, his brother Bijan Davari told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in March. Davari has been denied furlough, his brother told the campaign.
In recognition of his exemplary journalism, CPJ honored Davari with its International Press Freedom Award in November 2010.
Mehdi Mahmoudian, freelance
Imprisoned: September 16, 2009
Mahmoudian, a political journalist and blogger, was serving a five-year prison term on charges of “mutiny against the regime” for his role in documenting complaints of rape and abuse of detainees at the Kahrizak Detention Center, reformist news websites reported.
The detention center was closed in July 2009 after Mahmoudian and others documented the pervasive abuse. Mahmoudian also worked with journalist Emadeddin Baghi at the Center for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights.
Held at Rajaee Shahr Prison, Mahmoudian was in poor health and suffering from kidney ailments, according to the German public news organization Deutsche Welle. Mahmoudian’s mother, Fatemeh Alvandi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in April 2011 that her son developed epilepsy while in prison and was in dire physical and psychological condition. Mahmoudian was hospitalized in October 2011 but returned to prison the next month, according to reformist news websites.
In January 2012, Mahmoudian was severely beaten by prison guards and interrogators inside the prison ward for writing letters to authorities reporting prison abuse, according to the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz. Mahmoudian passed out as a result of the beatings and was transferred to the Evin Prison infirmary, where he underwent treatment. In March 2012, Mahmoudian was returned to Rajaee Shahr Prison, according to reformist news websites.
Seyed Hossein Ronaghi Maleki (Babak Khorramdin), freelance
Imprisoned: December 13, 2009
Ronaghi Maleki, writing under the name Babak Khorramdin, discussed politics on a series of critical blogs that were eventually blocked by the government. He was also a founder of the anti-censorship group Iran Proxy, which was launched in 2003.
In October 2010, a Revolutionary Court sentenced Ronaghi Maleki to 15 years in prison on anti-state conspiracy charges, the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported. The first year of his term was served largely in solitary confinement, defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Ronaghi Maleki’s family said the journalist was in poor health and developed severe kidney problems, according to the campaign. In May 2011, Ronaghi Maleki was transferred to a hospital in hand and ankle cuffs, where he underwent kidney surgery, the campaign reported. He was hospitalized in custody again in October 2011, when he underwent additional kidney surgery, the Human Rights House of Iran reported.
In February 2012, a Revolutionary Court refused to grant a medical furlough that would have allowed Ronaghi Maleki to seek independent kidney treatment, reformist news websites said. After Ronaghi Maleki posted a US$1 million bond in July, the court agreed to release him so he could undergo surgery, according to reformist news websites. He was placed back in Evin Prison in September, although follow-up treatment had yet to be completed, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, Bahar Ahvaz
Imprisoned: March 3, 2010
Abedini, who wrote about labor issues for the provincial weekly, was arrested in Ahvaz and transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the website of Reporters and Human Rights Activists.
An Ahvaz court sentenced Abedini to 11 years in prison on anti-state charges that included having “contact with enemy states,” the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported in April 2011. Abedini was not represented by a lawyer at trial. When Abedini appealed, a Khuzestan provincial appellate court would not allow a defense lawyer to present arguments, the reformist website Kalame reported. The appeals court upheld the verdict.
In September 2010, Human Rights House in Iran reported that Abedini had been beaten at Ahvaz Prison. He was transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison later that same month, the group reported. On May 4, 2011, a Revolutionary Court judge sentenced Abedini to an additional year in prison on the charge of “propagating against the regime,” Human Rights House reported. The basis for the additional charge was not disclosed.
Abedini suffered severe abdominal pain, the reformist news website Kaleme reported in August 2012. Authorities denied his request for an independent medical examination, the reformist news website added.
Siamak Ghaderi, freelance
Imprisoned: July 27, 2010
Ghaderi was arrested in connection with entries he posted on his blog, IRNA-ye maa, or Our IRNA, a reference to the Islamic Republic’s official news agency. In the entries, he wrote about street protests and other developments after the contested 2009 presidential election, according to the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz.
In January 2011, Ghaderi was sentenced to four years in prison and 60 lashes on charges of “propagating against the regime,” “creating public anxiety,” and “spreading falsehoods,” according to the BBC’s Farsi service.
Ghaderi was an editor and reporter for IRNA for 18 years until he was dismissed for writing about the 2009 election on his blog, Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz said. Pro-government news websites, among them Rasekhoon and Haghighat News, called him a “seditionist” who was arrested for “immoral” acts. Ghaderi’s blog was repeatedly blocked by authorities before he was detained, Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz reported.
Among the entries that authorities found objectionable was a piece in which Ghaderi interviewed several Iranian homosexuals. The article was an apparent reaction to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s public assertion that “there are no homosexuals in Iran.” The lashes in his sentence were for “cooperating with homosexuals,” the BBC reported. The reformist news website Kaleme reported in July 2011 that Ghaderi was being held at Evin Prison.
In August 2012, Ghaderi told his wife that he and 13 political prisoners had been lashed, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Ghaderi has not been allowed furlough since his arrest.
Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (Siamak Mehr), freelance
Imprisoned: September 12, 2010
Pourshajari, a journalistic blogger who wrote under the penname Siamak Mehr, was arrested at his home in Karaj, outside Tehran, according to news and human rights websites. In his blog Gozaresh be Khaak-e-Iran (Reports to the Soil of Iran), Pourshajari was critical of Iran’s theological state.
In an open letter dated December 2010, published by the Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran, Pourshajari described his arrest and subsequent detention. He said intelligence agents confiscated a computer hard drive, satellite receiver, and numerous documents. Pourshajari was taken to Rajaee Shahr Prison, where interrogators tortured him and subjected him to a mock execution, he wrote. Pourshajari said he was not allowed visitors, phone calls, or access to a lawyer.
In December 2010, Pourshajari was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “propagating against the regime” and “insulting the supreme leader,” Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran reported. In October 2011, Pourshajari was transferred to Ghezel Hessar Prison, where hardened criminals are confined, the group said.
In April 2012, the Karaj Revolutionary Court sentenced Pourshajari to an additional year in prison on blasphemy charges, bringing his total sentence to four years in prison. Pourshajari has refused to file appeals, citing the lack of due process rights in the judicial system.
Arash Honarvar Shojaei, freelance
Imprisoned: October 28, 2010
Nearly a year after Shojaei was first jailed, a special clerical court sentenced the blogger and cleric to four years in prison and 50 lashes on October 2, 2011, on multiple charges of “acting against national security,” “espionage,” and “cooperation with foreign embassies,” the reformist news outlet Radio Zamaneh reported.
Shojaei was author of the book, Madar-e-Shari’at, about the dissident cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, according to Radio Zamaneh. Shariatmadari had opposed the principle of velayat-e-faqih, which seeks to convey unlimited power to the supreme leader.
Shojaei was being held at Evin Prison, where he endured torture and several months of solitary confinement, according to Human Rights House of Iran and Radio Zamaneh. The journalist suffered from a heart condition, a hearing impairment, epilepsy, brain atrophy, spinal disc problems, and diabetes, all developed while in prison, reformist news websites said.
He was granted a medical furlough in November 2011 but was summoned back to Evin Prison in January 2012 before treatment had been completed, news reports said. Shojaei waged multiple hunger strikes to protest his treatment. In September, he was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack and seizure, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Fereydoun Seydi Rad, freelance
Imprisoned: March 2, 2011
Seydi Rad, a journalistic blogger, was being held in Evin Prison after being convicted of “propagating against the regime” on his blog, Arak Green Revolution. Seydi Rad wrote about the pro-democracy movement, student protests, and labor strikes in the city of Arak.
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran also convicted Seydi Rad on anti-state charges related to taking part in a 2010 protest and attending the 2009 funeral of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the prominent cleric who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions. The court imposed a total sentence of three years when it handed down the verdict in August 2011.
Seydi Rad’s 2011 arrest was not disclosed for several months, according to news accounts. His sister, Faranak Seydi, told the reformist news website Jonbesh-e-Rah-e-Sabz that family members had maintained silence because they feared reprisals. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a leading organization of journalists who document human rights abuses, said Seydi Rad faced 43 days of interrogation and solitary confinement after being arrested.
Alireza Rajaee, freelance
Imprisoned: April 23, 2011
Rajaee, a leader of Iran’s Journalists Association and editor for several reformist publications, was being held at Evin Prison, according to reformist news outlets. He was summoned to serve a previously suspended three-year term that dated to a 2001 case in which he was convicted of “acting against national security.”
While in prison, Rajaee signed a number of letters calling for free elections and protesting detention conditions, which led to new charges of “propagating against the regime,” news reports said. In February 2012, he was sentenced to an additional four years in prison.
Rajaee served as a politics editor and editorial board member for several reformist publications, including Jame’eh, Iran-e-Farda, Payam-e-Hajar, and Iran Political.
Mehrdad Sarjoui, Iran News
Imprisoned: July 2011
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Sarjoui, who covered international news for the English-language daily Iran News and other publications, to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with enemy states,” according to the reformist news site Kaleme. He was being held at Evin Prison in late year.
Sarjoui had previously worked in the international relations department of the government’s Strategic Research Center, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Staff members for the research agency had access to politically sensitive material, which placed them under intense scrutiny by government security agents.
Alireza Behshti Shirazi, Kalameh Sabz
Imprisoned: July 10, 2011
Authorities summoned Shirazi, editor-in-chief of the now-defunct reformist daily Kalameh Sabz, to serve a five-year prison sentence at Evin Prison, according to reformist news websites.
Shirazi was first arrested in December 2009 and transferred to solitary confinement at Evin and later sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “acting against national security,” according to reformist news websites. He was released on bail in October 2010, news reports said.
Kalemeh Sabz was one of the initial post-election Green Movement publications, which criticized the regime’s policies, according to news reports. In December 2009, security forces raided the newspaper’s offices and arrested all of its staff members, CPJ research shows.
Ahmadreza Ahmadpour, freelance
Imprisoned: July 18, 2011
Ahmadpour, a journalist, blogger, and researcher at Qom Seminary, was serving a three-year term at Yazd Prison on anti-state charges stemming from a letter he wrote to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to reformist news websites. In the letter, written in 2010 while he was serving an earlier prison term, Ahmadpour protested abuses of his rights. The Qom Special Clerics Court also imposed 10 years of exile, defrocking, and deprivation of any clerical position, according to the same reports.
His earlier arrest came in December 2009. He was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “acting against national security” and “violating the dignity of the clergy” in his writings, according to reformist news websites. Ahmadpour was a student of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the now-deceased cleric who had criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions.
A disabled Iran-Iraq War veteran, Ahmadpour suffers from respiratory problems due to exposure to chemical warfare. His respiratory condition has worsened and he now suffers cardiac problems due to harsh prison conditions and lack of medical care, according to reformist news websites.
Saeed Jalalifar, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: July 31, 2011
Jalalifar, who had reported on child labor and political prisoner issues for the committee, was first arrested in December 2009 on charges of “propaganda against the regime.” He was free on bail for more than a year before being summoned back to Evin Prison in July 2011, the BBC Persian service reported.
The opposition website Pars Daily News reported that Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Jalalifar to three years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to act against national security.”
Numerous journalists working for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters have been detained for varying periods of time since 2009 in connection with their work in exposing human rights violations and government malfeasance. In June 2012, Jalalifar and four other political detainees waged a hunger strike to protest abusive treatment by prison guards, according to the reformist news website Kaleme.
Morteza Moradpour, Yazligh
Imprisoned: August 26, 2011
Moradpour, who wrote for Yazligh, a children’s magazine, was serving a three-year prison term on charges of “propagating against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” “mutiny,” and “illegal congregation,” according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
Moradpour was first arrested in 2009 along with several family members during a protest over Azeri-language rights in Tabriz in northwestern Azerbaijan province, according to the committee. Two issues of Yazligh were used as evidence in the trial against him, the news website Bizim Tabriz reported. In November 2009, Moradpour was sentenced to three years in prison, Azeri news websites reported. He was released on the equivalent of US$50,000 bail in late 2010, according to Baybak, a local Azeri news website. (The practice of releasing convicted inmates on bail or furlough is common in Iranian jurisprudence.)
Based on the original conviction, Moradpour was re-arrested on August 26, 2011, after taking part in protests related to the environmental degradation of Lake Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran, reformist news websites reported. He was being held in Tabriz Central Prison as of late year.
Omid Behroozi, Majzooban-e-Noor
Reza Entessari, Majzooban-e-Noor
Amir Eslami, Majzooban-e-Noor
Afshin Karampour, Majzooban-e-Noor
Hamid Moradi, Majzooban-e-Noor
Farshid Yadollahi, Majzooban-e-Noor
Imprisoned: September 5, 2011
Authorities arrested at least 30 members of the religious minority Gonabadi Dervishes following a confrontation with plainclothes agents in the town of Kavar in Fars province, a spokesman for the group told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Among the detainees were a number of journalists for Majzooban-e-Noor, a website that reported news about the group, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the reformist news website Rooz Online.
Six of the website staffers were among those who remained in prison when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1, 2012. Majzooban-e-Noor said agents had targeted the journalists in an effort to silence news coverage about the group. In September 2012, the Human Rights House of Iran reported that the journalists were being held at Evin Prison, but no formal charges had been disclosed.
Saeed Madani, freelance
Imprisoned: January 7, 2012
Security forces arrested Madani, a former editorial board member of the long-defunct Iran-e-Farda magazine and former editor-in-chief of the quarterly Refah-e-Ejtemaee (Journal of Social Welfare), and confiscated a computer hard drive from his home, news reports said.
The journalist, 74, was placed in solitary confinement after his arrest, Madani’s wife told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in March 2012. His wife also said their family had not been told of his condition in prison or any charges against him. The reformist news website Kaleme reported that Madani had been subjected to violent and abusive interrogations.
Saeed Razavi Faghih, freelance
Imprisoned: January 17, 2012
Authorities arrested Faghih at Tehran airport as he arrived from Paris, where he maintained a home, according to news reports. Faghih, who wrote for reformist publications Sobh-e-Emrooz, Bahar, Doran-e-Emrooz, and Vaghaye Etefaghieh, and the English-language news website Rooz Online, was being held in Evin Prison, news reports said.
The journalist was first arrested while visiting Iran in 2009 but was released on bail after 16 days, according to news reports. He was later tried in absentia on charges of “propagating against the regime” and sentenced to four years in prison. In March 2012, the journalist suffered from a heart attack and was hospitalized for treatment, according to news reports.
Kasra Nouri, Majzooban-e-Noor
Imprisoned: March 14, 2012
Nouri, a reporter for the news website Majzooban-e-Noor, was charged with “propagating against the regime” and having unlawful contact with U.S. government-funded Radio Farda, according to his employer. His family knew nothing about his whereabouts or condition until a month after his arrest, when they discovered he was being held at the Shiraz Intelligence Office’s Detention Center, his mother Shokoofeh Yadollahi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. After repeated attempts, she said, they were allowed to visit him.
Nouri awaited trial in late year on the initial counts. In a separate proceeding, the Shiraz Criminal Court convicted Nouri “creating public anxiety” and “publishing falsehoods,” in connection with his work, according to Majzooban-e-Noor. The court sentenced him to one year in prison on those counts.
Majzooban-e-Noor covers news about the Gonabadi Dervishes religious community. Nouri had reported that security and intelligence forces had incited local residents to attack the Dervishes during a September 2011 confrontation, causing one death and injuries to several others, according to Majzooban-e-Noor. Many Dervishes, including several other journalists with Majzooban-e-Noor, were imprisoned immediately after the 2011 crackdown.
Nouri has developed respiratory problems during his imprisonment, according to reformist news websites.
Reza Ansari Rad, freelance
Imprisoned: May 3, 2012
Rad, former editor-in-chief of the reformist news website Aftab and a freelance contributor to reformist newspapers such as Bahar and Nowruz, was summoned to serve a one-year term in Evin Prison, according to Iran’s Committee of Human Rights Reporters.
A Tehran Revolutionary Court had imposed the sentence in September 2011 on charges of “propagating against the regime,” news reports said. Rad, who wrote primarily about politics and art, was in poor physical condition and suffered epileptic seizures while in custody, news reports said.
Mahsa Amrabadi, freelance
Imprisoned: May 9, 2012
Amrabadi, a reporter for several reformist publications including Etemad-e-Melli, was summoned to Evin Prison women’s ward to serve a one-year prison sentence, according to reformist news websites.
Amrabadi was first arrested in June 2009 and released two months later on bail of US$200,000, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. In October 2010, Amrabadi was sentenced to one-year in prison and a four-year suspended term on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” according to reformist news websites. In February 2012, an appeals court upheld her sentence. She was arrested again briefly in February 2011 and released on bail, according to news reports.
Her husband, Massoud Bastani, who is also a journalist, is serving a six-year prison term at Rajaee Shahr Prison, CPJ research shows. Since Bastani and Amrabadi are held in different prisons, they cannot visit each other.
Fariborz Raisdana, freelance
Imprisoned: May 21, 2012
Security forces summoned Raisdana, an economics analyst and contributor to Kar-o-Kargar and Ava-ye Kar, to Evin Prison to start serving a one-year prison term. The publications focus on labor issues.
Raisdana was first arrested in December 2010 after he gave an interview to the BBC Persian service criticizing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic subsidy cuts, news reports said. Released on bail, he was sentenced in May 2011 to a year in prison on charges of “propagating against the regime,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Rahman Bouzari, Shargh
Imprisoned: June 2012
Authorities summoned Bouzari, an editor for the reformist daily Shargh and contributor to several reformist news websites, to serve a two-year prison term, according to reformist news websites.
Bouzari was initially arrested in late May 2011, according to reformist news websites. Security forces raided his Tehran home and confiscated his laptop and other personal belongings, news reports said. Released on bail, he was later sentenced to two years in prison and 74 lashes by a Tehran Revolutionary Court on charges of “propagating against the regime,” the reports said.
Said Moghaneli, Yashmagh, Yarpagh and Dilmaj
Imprisoned: June 26, 2012
Moghaneli, editor-in-chief of the banned Azeri-language publications Yashmagh and Yarpagh and the banned monthly literary publication Dilmaj, was serving a six-month term in Tabriz Prison, according to reformist news websites.
Moghaneli, a frequent contributor to other Azeri-language magazines and newspapers, was convicted on charges of “propagating against the regime” in his journalistic work and in interviews with foreign media. Moghaneli told his family that was being held in a ward for drug- addicted detainees, news reports said.
Nassour Naghipour, Human Rights Activists News Agency
Imprisoned: July 9, 2012
Naghipour, a reporter and web editor for the Human Rights Activists News Agency, was serving a seven-year term at Evin Prison on anti-state charges related to his work in documenting violations of human rights, according to news reports.
Naghipour, 30, also established and managed a website that collected Farsi articles in different areas of humanities, philosophy, politics, and literature, according to reformist news websites.
Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, Sarmayeh
Imprisoned: September 2, 2012
Bani-Yaghoub, a former editor of the banned reformist daily Sarmayeh and editor-in-chief of the Iranian Women’s Club, a news website focusing on women’s rights, began serving a one-year prison term in September 2012 in Evin Prison’s women’s ward, according to news reports. She had been sentenced in 2010 on charges of “propagating against the regime,” and “insulting the president,” for articles she wrote during the June 2009 contested presidential elections. Her sentence also included a 30-year ban on practicing journalism.
Bani-Yaghoub was first arrested in June 2009 with her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, a journalist who had contributed to several reformist newspapers. Bani-Yaghoub was released on bail in August 2009, but Amouee remained in prison and was sentenced to a five-year term on anti-state charges.
In 2009, Bani-Yaghoub was awarded the Courage in Journalism Prize by the International Women’s Media Foundation and in 2010 was a recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award from Reporters Without Borders.
Shiva Nazar Ahari, Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Imprisoned: September 8, 2012
Nazar Ahari, a blogger and founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a leading organization of journalists documenting human rights abuses, was summoned by authorities to begin serving her prison sentence in the women’s ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison, the committee reported.
In 2010, Ahari was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of moharebeh, or “waging war against God,” “propagating against the regime,” and “acting against national security” for reporting on political gatherings, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. In January 2011, an appeals court reduced her sentence to four years in prison and 74 lashes, news reports said.
Ahari was first arrested in June 2009 and spent several months in Evin Prison, including time in solitary confinement, news reports said. She was a 2011 recipient of the Theodor Haecker Prize for “courageous Internet reporting on human rights violations.”
Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, Zan
Imprisoned: September 22, 2012
Rafsanjani, former editor of the banned reformist daily Zan and daughter of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was summoned to serve a six-month prison term at Evin Prison, according to the reformist news website Saham News.
In January 2012, Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, which has tried hundreds of cases of detainees arrested in the June 2009 presidential election aftermath, also sentenced Rafsanjani to a five-year ban on political, cultural, and press activities on charges of “propagating against the regime,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Rafsanjani’s charges stem from an interview she gave to the reformist news website Rooz Online in which she said “the country is managed by thugs and plainclothes forces who are bought with money, positions, and clout,” the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency reported.
Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Iranian News Agency
Imprisoned: September 24, 2012
Javanfekr, director of the official Iranian news agency IRNA, was summoned to serve a six-month prison sentence in Evin Prison, according to news reports. Javanfekr, also head of IRNA’s print affiliate, Iran, as well as press adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had been sentenced in November 2011 to two six-month prison terms and a three-year ban on press activities, news reports said. An appeals court tossed out one of his six-month sentences in August 2012, IRNA reported.
Javanfekr had been convicted of publishing content “contrary to Islamic standards” and “publishing obscene content.” He had written in an official publication that the practice of women wearing the chador-a head-to-toe cover-was not an authentic Iranian one, but had instead been adopted from other Muslim countries, news reports said. The comment not only angered Iranian clerics, it came amid an ongoing feud between supporters of the president and those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Mehdi Khazali, freelance
Imprisoned: October 30, 2012
Khazali, a critical blogger, was sentenced in February 2012 to 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile, and 90 lashes after being convicted of “insulting the supreme leader,” according to human rights groups. Authorities summoned Khazali to Evin Prison in October to begin serving the sentence, reformist news websites said.
He was initially arrested in January 2012. His wife told the reformist news website Jonbesh-e Rah-e Sabz that he was beaten during the arrest and suffered a fractured arm, broken teeth, and a knee injury. He was held in solitary confinement in Evin for three weeks until he was transferred to the prison’s general population, news reports said. In late February, Khazali suffered a heart attack while waging a hunger strike and was taken to a Tehran hospital for treatment, according to news reports. He was issued a furlough in March.
Khazali, the son of a high-ranking cleric, had criticized the regime on his blog, which has since been hacked, CPJ research shows.
Alireza Roshan, Shargh
Imprisoned: November 18, 2012
Roshan, a reporter for the reformist daily Shargh, was summoned to Evin Prison to serve a one-year prison term, according to the reformist news website Kaleme.
Roshan was initially arrested in September 2011 following violent confrontations between plainclothes security forces and Gonabadi Dervishes in Fars Province, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Roshan spent more than a month in solitary confinement in Evin Prison before he was released on bail, according to reformist news websites.
In October, a Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Roshan to one year in prison and a four-year suspended prison term for his cooperation with the Majzooban-e Noor news website on charges of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security,” reformist news websites said.
Karzan Karim, freelance
Imprisoned: November 5, 2011
Karim, a contributor to several Kurdish-language publications, was serving a two-year term on charges of harming national security, according to news reports and human rights groups. The charges stem from a series of articles he wrote in October and November 2011 for the Swedish-based website Kurdistanpost, according to news reports. The pieces detailed alleged corruption among Kurdistan security agents working at Arbil International Airport; Karim had worked as a security officer in the airport’s VIP lounge. Kurdistanpost is known for its critical, investigative coverage of the Kurdistan regional government.
In November 2011, days after he published the articles, Asaish security forces seized Karim from his car, according to Human Rights Watch. Karim’s relatives knew nothing of his whereabouts or well-being until February 2012, when the journalist was allowed to call them from prison, the group reported. He was first held in solitary confinement in Asaish Erbil, a high security prison, until his transfer to Asaishi Dishi, a general security prison. Karim was denied access to a lawyer and faced no formal charges for several months, news reports said.
In a September 2012 letter to Human Rights Watch, the Kurdistan regional government’s Department of Foreign Affairs said Karim was “being investigated for publishing sensitive information,” and “was arrested for publishing a series of articles online about the Kurdistan Security Agency and Arbil International Airport.” A criminal court in Arbil sentenced Karim in October 2012, according to news reports. The proceedings were closed to the public.
Amer Abu Arafa, Shihab News Agency
Imprisoned: August 21, 2011
An Israeli military court ordered that Abu Arafa, a correspondent for the Gaza-based Shihab News Agency, be held in administrative detention. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold an individual for six months without charge or trial and may extend the detention an unlimited number of times. Abu Arafa’s detention was extended most recently in October 2012. His family told Shihab that authorities had accused the journalist of being a “security threat,” although no formal charges had been filed by late 2012.
The news agency, based in the Gaza Strip, pursues an editorial line that is critical of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, CPJ research shows. Abu Arafa covered news in Hebron and the surrounding area for the agency, Shihab told CPJ. Shortly before his arrest, in August 2011, Abu Arafa wrote a story about the arrests of 120 Hamas members by Israeli authorities in Hebron, Shihab told CPJ.
Abu Arafa had been arrested before, in May 2010, by Palestinian security forces, CPJ research shows. His father told Shihab that his son was taken from their home by Palestinian intelligence agents for reasons linked to his work. Two months later, a Palestinian court sentenced Abu Arafa to three months in prison and a fine of 500 Jordanian dinars (US$700) after finding him guilty of “resisting the policies of the authorities” in connection with his reporting, Shihab told CPJ at the time.
Sharif Alrjoub, Al-Aqsa Radio
Imprisoned: June 3, 2012
Israeli security forces arrested Alrjoub, Hebron correspondent for Jerusalem-based Al-Aqsa Radio, during an early-morning raid at his home, according to news reports. Alrjoub covered Israeli detentions of Palestinians and demonstrations against the expansion of Israeli settlements for the independent Palestinian station.
Alrjoub was being held in the Ofer administrative detention center. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times. No charges had been brought against him as of late year.
Israeli security forces had previously arrested Aljroub in 2007, holding him for seven months, according to news reports.
Mohammed Atallah al-Tamimi, Tamimi Press Agency
Imprisoned: October 10, 2012
Israeli soldiers arrested al-Tamimi, a Palestinian reporter and editor for his family-run Tamimi Press Agency, during an early-morning raid at his home in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, according to news reports. The Tamimi Press Agency covers demonstrations against Israeli expansion of settlements in the West Bank, CPJ research shows.
Al-Tamimi, 24, was being held in the Ofer detention center, his agency told CPJ. In late year, the Ofer military court sentenced al-Tamimi to three months in prison and a fine of 3,000 shekels (US$784) on charges of “participating in illegal protests,” according to the agency. Tamimi Press told CPJ that al-Tamimi had regularly covered the weekly protests.
Alessandro Sallusti, Il Giornale
Imprisoned: November 26, 2012
Sallusti, editor-in-chief of the Milan-based daily, was in home confinement after being convicted of criminal defamation in connection with a 2007 article published in another newspaper, which he was editing at the time, according to news reports.
The defamation charge stems from an article, written under the pseudonym “Dreyfus” and published in February 2007 in the right-wing daily Libero. The author suggested that a juvenile court magistrate should be subjected to the death penalty for allowing a 13-year-old girl the right to an abortion. The magistrate filed a defamation complaint and a Milan court ruled in June 2011 that Sallusti, as editor of Libero at the time, bore responsibility for publication of the article. The Milan court’s guilty verdict was upheld by the Fifth Chamber of the Cassation Court in September 2012. Sallusti was sentenced to a 14-month term.
The article was criticized at the time of publication as being excessive and containing factual errors, but the conviction sent shock waves throughout Italian journalism. The left-wing La Repubblica, a paper that would normally disagree with Libero, published an opinion piece stating that jailing journalists for libel “is disproportionate” and represents “a sinister intimidation” to the press.
Renato Farina, a member of parliament and the deputy editor of Libero at the time of the story’s publication, said in September 2012 that he had written the piece and took responsibility for it, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported.
On December 1, 2012, police in Rome said they re-arrested Sallusti after he violated the terms of his house detention, Reuters reported. Sallusti said he intentionally violated the terms of his home confinement to call attention to the verdict and its dangerous implications for press freedom, Reuters said. Returned to house arrest, Sallusti faced new charges of evading custody, according to the news agency.
Italy is one of the few countries in the European Union where defamation remains a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment. Facing domestic and international calls to decriminalize defamation, the Italian parliament debated possible changes to the 1930s-era law in fall 2012 only to leave the statute intact.
Azimjon Askarov, freelance
Imprisoned: June 15, 2010
Askarov, a contributor to independent news websites including Voice of Freedom and director of the local human rights group Vozdukh (Air), was sentenced to life in prison in September 2010 after being convicted on charges that included incitement to ethnic hatred and complicity in the murder of a police officer. The charges were filed amid violence that swept across southern Krygyzstan in June 2010, pitting ethnic Kyrgyz residents against ethnic Uzbeks. Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek who had exposed law enforcement abuses for many years, was actively documenting human rights violations in his hometown of Bazar-Korgon in the midst of the unrest.
A number of human rights groups have concluded that the criminal charges against Askarov were fabricated. A June 2012 CPJ special report-based on interviews with Askarov, his lawyers, and defense witnesses, as well as review of court documents-found that authorities retaliated against Askarov for his years of reporting on corrupt and abusive practices among regional police and prosecutors.
Authorities accused Askarov of inciting a crowd to kill a Kyrgyz police officer, a case built on the testimony of other officers who claimed the journalist had made provocative remarks. Yet no witness testified to having observed the murder of the officer, or having seen Askarov participate in any act of violence.
The trial was held amid an atmosphere of intense intimidation of the defense-Askarov and his lawyer were both assaulted during the proceedings-and a general climate of fear among the Uzbek population. People who could have provided exculpatory testimony were ignored by authorities and too frightened to testify. Askarov’s wife and neighbors, for example, said the journalist was elsewhere at the time of the officer’s murder.
Authorities also accused Askarov of urging another crowd to take a local mayor hostage, although no hostage-taking ever took place. And authorities claimed to have found 10 bullets in a search of Askarov’s home. The defense disputed the legitimacy of the evidence, noting that investigators failed to produce any witnesses to the search, a step required under Kyrgyz law.
Askarov told CPJ that authorities had long threatened to retaliate against him. Throughout his career, Askarov had exposed fabricated criminal cases, arbitrary detentions, and the rape and abusive treatment of detainees in his native Jalal-Abad region. Askarov’s exposés had overturned convictions and cost several officials their jobs.
Investigations conducted by the New York-based Human Rights Watch and a commission sanctioned by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe each found a pattern of prejudicial law enforcement in the region following the unrest, with ethnic Uzbeks disproportionately targeted for arrest and imprisonment. “Ethnic Uzbeks constituted the large majority of victims of the June violence, sustaining most of the casualties and destroyed homes, but most detainees and defendants-almost 85 percent-were also ethnic Uzbek,” Human Rights Watch found. Although 19 people died and more than 400 buildings were torched in Askarov’s hometown during the June 10-15 unrest, no other individuals were successfully prosecuted there, according to local human rights defenders.
Askarov endured prolonged brutality while in police custody prior to his trial, he told CPJ. A physician hired by the defense team examined Askarov in jail in December 2011 and concluded that he suffered “severe and lasting” effects from the brutality. Askarov told CPJ that he was beaten with a gun, baton, and a water-filled plastic bottle, once so badly that he fell unconscious.
Askarov’s imprisonment has been challenged by the Kyrgyz government’s own human rights ombudsman, as well as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez. In November 2012, CPJ honored Askarov with its International Press Freedom Award.
Mohamed al-Dawas, freelance
Imprisoned: September 5, 2011
Authorities arrested al-Dawas, a critical journalist who wrote for the blog Al-Fnidaq Online, in the northern city of Fnidaq, according to news reports. On September 22, a court in Tetouan sentenced the blogger to a 19-month prison sentence on drug trafficking charges, defense lawyer Abdel al-Sadiq al-Bushtawy told CPJ.
Al-Bushtawy said his client denied the drug trafficking allegations, which the defense considered retaliation for al-Dawas’ critical writing. Al-Fnidaq Online features the work of several journalists who write about local government corruption. A report by the French news outlet France 24 quoted several local journalists as saying they, too, believed the arrest to be retaliation for al-Dawas’ critical writing.
Al-Bushtawy told CPJ that the defense team was not given an adequate opportunity to present its case. In protest, the defense team withdrew from what it deemed unfair proceedings, and the court tried al-Dawas without counsel. In late year, an appeals court upheld his sentence, his lawyer said.
In October 2012, al-Dawas was transferred to Okasha Prison in the northern province of Taounate, al-Bushtawy said.
Mohamed Sokrate, freelance
Imprisoned: May 29, 2012
Sokrate, a prominent blogger, was arrested by security forces while leaving an Internet café in Marrakech. In June, a local court sentenced him to two years in prison on charges of drug possession and trafficking, according to news reports.
Sokarte is known for his criticism of the monarchy and political Islam, which is widely believed to be the reason for his imprisonment, news reports said. Moroccan authorities have a record of filing trumped-up charges of drug possession to imprison critical journalists, CPJ research shows. Authorities briefly arrested Sokrate’s father and brother as a way of pressuring the blogger to sign a false confession, according to regional press freedom groups.
Sokrate was also a member of the February 20 youth group, which had organized pro-reform protests in Morocco in 2011.
Agnès Uwimana, Umurabyo
Saidati Mukakibibi, Umurabyo
Imprisoned: July 8, 2010
A court in Kigali sentenced Uwimana, founder and chief editor of the independent vernacular bi-monthly Umurabyo, to 17 years in prison and deputy editor Mukakibibi to seven years on charges of incitement to violence, promoting ethnic division, genocide denial, and insulting the head of state in connection with several opinion pieces published in mid-2010, according to news reports. The publication closed after their arrests.
In February 2012, the Supreme Court reduced Uwimana’s sentence to four years and Mukakibibi’s term to three years, according to news reports. The court overturned convictions on the genocide and ethnic division charges, but upheld Uwimana’s conviction on defaming President Paul Kagame and inciting violence, according to local journalists. The court upheld Mukakibibi’s conviction on inciting violence.
The two journalists, single mothers and sole breadwinners for their families, submitted a letter requesting a presidential pardon in April 2012. Although Kagame had said publicly that the original sentences were harsh, the pardon request was rejected for unstated reasons, defense lawyers told CPJ.
Although the publication was at times considered sensational, local journalists told CPJ that Umurabyo raised important questions about a number of sensitive topics, including the July 2010 murder of journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage, the fallout between Kagame and two now-exiled military leaders, growing divisions within the Rwandan army, and the need for justice for ethnic Hutus killed in the 1994 genocide.
The two journalists were imprisoned at the Central Prison in the capital, Kigali, in late year.
Stanley Gatera, Umusingi
Imprisoned: August 1, 2012
Police said they arrested the editor of the private weekly Umusingi, Gatera, in connection with a June lifestyle column that suggested men might regret marrying Tutsi women solely for their beauty. In October 2012, the Gasabo Intermediate Court formally charged him with sectarianism and divisionism, according to local journalists.
Gatera, who represented himself in court, apologized for the article but was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison, local journalists said. Gatera was being held at the Central Prison in the capital, Kigali.
Hamza Kashgari, freelance
Imprisoned: February 12, 2012
Kashgari, 23, a poet and a columnist for the Jeddah-based daily Al-Bilad, came under fire after posting comments on his Twitter account that described a fanciful conversation in which he addressed the Prophet Muhammad as an equal. Facing death threats, he fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia only to be arrested and extradited back home. He faced charges of “disrespecting God” and “insulting the Prophet,” which could bring the death penalty upon conviction.
Although he deleted the postings within hours and issued a public apology, a Facebook page calling for his execution attracted more than 30,000 members. More than 25,000 people signed a petition seeking his release. Kashgari was being held in a Riyadh prison pending trial in late year.
Habib Ali al-Maatiq, Al-Fajr Cultural Network
Imprisoned: February 22, 2012
Hussein Malik al-Salam, Al-Fajr Cultural Network
Imprisoned: February 23, 2012
Security forces arrested al-Maatiq and al-Salam, managers of the news website Al-Fajr Cultural Network, in the city of Jubail in connection with the site’s coverage of pro-reform protests in Eastern Province, news outlets reported. The two were being held without charge in a prison in Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, news reports said.
Al-Fajr Cultural Network covered pro-reform protests in the predominantly Shia region, which has faced discrimination and repression at the hands of the government, local journalists told CPJ. The website, which was taken down after the journalists were arrested, has also published sermons by Shia sheiks who support the protests.
The kingdom has obstructed coverage of Eastern Province protests, which call for political reforms and greater rights for the country’s Shia minority, CPJ research shows. No international or local journalists have been allowed to enter the province, and in the absence of independent reporting, coverage of the unrest is carried out by websites such as Al-Fajr Cultural Network.
Jalal Mohamed al-Jamal, Al-Awamia
Imprisoned: February 25, 2012
Security forces arrested al-Jamal, manager of the news website Al-Awamia, in the city of Al-Qatif and took him to an undisclosed location, local journalists told CPJ. A local journalist said al-Jamal had been broadly accused of anti-state activity, but the charges had not been made public as of late year.
Al-Awamia, which became inaccessible after al-Jamal’s arrest, covered pro-reform demonstrations in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province and was known for its criticism of the government, according to news reports.
The kingdom has obstructed coverage of Eastern Province protests, which call for political reforms and greater rights for the country’s Shia minority, CPJ research shows. No international or local journalists have been allowed to enter the province.
Ibrahim Mohamed Adan, BBC
Imprisoned: November 21, 2012
A military court ordered the arrest of BBC correspondent Ibrahim for what it called false reporting, according to local journalists and news reports. In a November report for the BBC Somali-language service, Ibrahim had interviewed an individual who claimed his cousin, a soldier, had been executed on the orders of the military court.
On November 26, the military transferred Ibrahim to civilian authorities, who placed him at Central Prison in the capital, Mogadishu, local journalists told CPJ. On December 1, police released Ibrahim without charge after consultation with the BBC, local journalists told CPJ.
CPJ’s census is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2012. CPJ lists Ibrahim because was still being jailed at that time.
Tal al-Mallohi, freelance
Imprisoned: December 27, 2009
Al-Mallohi, a journalistic blogger, was detained in December 2009 after she was summoned for questioning by security officials, according to local rights groups. In February 2011, she was sentenced by a state security court to five years in prison on a fabricated charge of disclosing state secrets.
The private newspaper Al-Watan said in October 2010 that al-Mallohi, 21, was suspected of spying for the United States. But lawyers allowed into the closed court session said the judge “did not give evidence or details as to why she was convicted,” the BBC reported. The U.S. State Department condemned the trial, saying in a statement that the allegations of espionage were baseless.
Al-Mallohi’s blog was devoted to Palestinian rights and was critical of Israeli policies. It also discussed the frustrations of Arab citizens with their governments and what she perceived to be the stagnation of the Arab world. Al-Mallohi’s case gained widespread attention in the Arab blogosphere, on social media websites, and with human rights activists worldwide.
Tariq Saeed Balsha, freelance
Imprisoned: August 19, 2011
Balsha, a freelance cameraman, was arrested in the coastal city of Latakia three days after he covered an episode in which government troops opened fire at Al-Raml Palestinian refugee camp, according to local press freedom groups.
Balsha’s footage of demonstrations and authorities’ efforts to quash the unrest have been posted to a number of websites, including the Shaam News Network, a citizen news organization that has published tens of thousands of videos documenting the popular uprising in Syria. Shaam’s footage has been used by international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC.
In November 2011, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression reported that Balsha was being held at Latakia Central Prison. In 2012, Balsha was transferred to the Homs Central Prison, according to a friend who is campaigning for his release.Authorities had not disclosed information on Balsha’s whereabouts, legal status, or well-being as of late 2012.
Bilal Ahmed Bilal, Palestine Today
Imprisoned: September 13, 2011
Intelligence agents arrested Bilal, a reporter for the Palestinian television station Palestine Today and a contributor to several Arabic-language news outlets, at his home in Damascus and took him to an army recruitment center in the town of Daraya, according to local news reports citing his family.
Immediately prior to his arrest, Bilal was preparing travel documents to go to Lebanon on assignment for Palestine Today, news reports said. His employer has not publicly commented on his detention.
In April 2012, a former prisoner informed Bilal’s family and friends that he had seen the journalist in Sednaya Prison, west of Damascus, a CPJ source said. Authorities had not disclosed any information about his status, whereabouts, or the charges against him as of late 2012.
Mazen Darwish, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Hussein Ghrer, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Hani al-Zitani, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Mansour al-Omari, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
Imprisoned: February 16, 2012
Authorities raided the offices of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus and arrested several journalists and press freedom activists. Among those still being held in late 2012 were the center’s president, Darwish, the prominent blogger Ghrer, and three other journalists working for the center, al-Zitani, al-Omari, and Hamada. Authorities had not disclosed any charges against the detainees as of late year.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression was instrumental in documenting the deaths and detentions of journalists after the popular uprising began in March 2011. The group also disseminated reports about the government’s suppression of news and commentary, providing important context as the regime sought to impose an international media blackout. The organization’s website has been inaccessible since April.
Security agents were holding Darwish and Ghrer in solitary confinement, according to news reports. Human rights groups said the two had been tortured and denied basic legal rights, including access to lawyer. In July, Ghrer waged a hunger strike to protest the ongoing detention, according to human rights groups.
In August 2012, human rights groups reported that Darwish’s case would be transferred to the Field Court, a military tribunal that holds proceedings in secret and without the presence of a defense lawyer. As of late year, it was unknown if the transfer took place.
Ghrer had been arrested previously, in October 2011, on charges of “weakening national sentiments,” “forming an association without a permit” and “inciting demonstrations.” His blog featured stories about other detained bloggers in Syria, the country’s popular uprising, and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories, among other topics. Ghrer suffers from coronary disease and high blood pressure, requiring daily medications.
Authorities had not disclosed information on the other detainees’ whereabouts, legal status, or well-being as of late 2012.
Jihad Jamal, freelance
Imprisoned: March 7, 2012
Jamal, a contributor to local news websites, was detained at a Damascus café along with several human rights activists, according to local news websites. Jamal also aggregated news stories for dissemination to international outlets.
In May, Jamal’s case was transferred to a military court, according to news reports. He waged a hunger strike that month to protest his detention, reports said. Authorities had disclosed no other information about Jamal’s legal status, whereabouts, or well-being as of late 2012.
Jamal had been arrested several times previously, including once in October 2011 when he was detained along with Sean McAllister, a British reporter working for Channel 4. Local news websites said his repeated arrests stemmed from his reporting on human rights abuses and the popular uprising.
Ali Mahmoud Othman, freelance
Imprisoned: March 28, 2012
Othman, who ran a makeshift media center in the besieged Baba Amr district of Homs, was initially held by a military intelligence unit in Aleppo and then transferred to Damascus, Paul Conroy, a photographer for The Sunday Times, said in an interview with the UK’s Channel 4.
Conroy, who was injured in the government attack on the Baba Amr media center that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, said Othman was instrumental in getting journalists in and out of the embattled district. He said Othman, originally a vegetable vendor, was one of the first Syrians to use video to document the unrest in Homs. Citizen journalists such as Othman have filled the information void as the Syrian regime has barred international journalists from entering the country to cover the civil war, CPJ research shows. As of late year, authorities had not disclosed information on Othman’s condition or legal status.
International reporters and diplomats, including U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, have expressed concern that Othman has been tortured while in custody, according to news reports. Othman appeared on Syrian state television in May for what the station described as an interview. The questioning was aimed at asserting a theory of an international media conspiracy against the regime.
Austin Tice, freelance
Imprisoned: August 2012
Tice, a freelance photojournalist who contributed to The Washington Post, McClatchy, Al-Jazeera English and several other news outlets, went missing in mid-August, according to news reports.
In an August 28 interview with Czech television, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Syria, who also represents U.S. interests there, said that embassy sources reported Tice was “alive and that he was detained by government forces in the outskirts of Damascus, where the rebels were fighting government troops.” Syrian authorities have refused to confirm if they were holding Tice, according to news reports.
The first sign of Tice’s condition appeared in a YouTube video posted on September 26. In the 47-second clip, a group of turbaned men shout “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and push Tice to his knees. Several analysts and news reports suggested that the scenes in the video were fictitious, and that the segment had been shot to promote a view that Islamic extremist groups were behind the unrest in Syria.
Malik Abu al-Khair, freelance
Imprisoned: August 19, 2012
Security forces arrested Abu al-Khair, a writer for the online newsmagazine Al-Thara, while on his way to Lebanon, according to news reports. Al-Thara covers women and children’s issues. Al-Khair also writes on his own blog, Hadeeth al-Rooh (Conversations of the Soul), frequently criticizing the regime.
In October, he was transferred from the city of Suweida to Damascus to face trial, according to local opposition activists and local press freedom groups. Authorities had not publicly disclosed the charges against Abu al-Khair by late year.
Fares Maamou, freelance
Imprisoned: October 1, 2012
Maamou, a contributor to the Damascus-based Shaam News Network, was arrested in Homs, according to accounts from local activists and press freedom groups. Maamou had been covering events in the Homs neighborhoods of Deir Baalba and Al-Rabee al-Arabi for the network, contributing reporting and footage.
Shaam has posted tens of thousands of videos documenting the unrest in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. The network’s footage has been used by international news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and the BBC. As of late year, authorities had not disclosed any information on Maamou’s whereabouts, well-being, or legal status.
Akram Raslan, Al-Fedaa
Imprisoned: October 2, 2012
Raslan, a cartoonist who worked for the Hama-based newspaper Al-Fedaa and contributed to several other news websites, was arrested by intelligence officials at his workplace in Hama, according to news reports. Raslan’s cartoons criticizing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had been published on his own blog and a number of news websites, including that of Al-Jazeera.
As of late year, authorities had not disclosed any information on Raslan’s whereabouts, well-being, or legal status.
Shada al-Madad, freelance
Imprisoned: November 1, 2012
Al-Madad, a freelance journalist for several local news outlets, was arrested after being summoned to a government security office in Damascus, according to local news reports. Al-Madad had resigned from the pro-government news website Damas Post, where she had worked as a reporter, the news reports said.
The journalist more recently contributed to the anti-government news websites All4Syria and Souria Al-Ghad, news reports said. She also used her Facebook page to report on developments in the conflict, posting an extensive interview with a member of the Free Syrian Army and describing what had motivated him to join the rebels.
Authorities had not disclosed any information about the status, whereabouts, or the charges against al-Madad as of late 2012.
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Voice of Taksin
Imprisoned: April 30, 2011
Somyot was arrested at a Thai border checkpoint at Aranyaprathet province while attempting to cross into neighboring Cambodia. He was held without bail in a Bangkok detention center for 84 days, the maximum period allowable under Thai criminal law, before formal lѐse majesté charges were filed against him on July 26 of that year.
Somyot faced a possible prison term of 30 years on two separate charges under the country’s lѐse majesté law, which prohibits material deemed offensive to the royal family. Convictions under the law carry a maximum of 15-year jail terms. Lѐse majesté charges have been abused for political purposes by both sides of the country’s protracted political conflict.
The charges stemmed from two articles deemed critical of Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej that were published in the now-defunct Voice of Taksin, a highly partisan newsmagazine affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) political pressure group. The magazine had been accused in the past of publishing articles that incited UDD followers to violence.
Somyot, a labor activist and political protest leader, was founder and editor of the controversial publication. He refused to reveal the identity of the individual who wrote the contested articles in February and March 2010, both of which were published under the pseudonym “Jit Polachan,” according to local media reports.
Somyot’s trial ended in May 2012, but as of late year a verdict had not been announced. A Bangkok-based criminal court set a December 2012 hearing date. The court denied 10 different bail requests submitted by Somyot’s lawyers since his initial arrest in April 2011.
In late year, Somyot was being held at Bangkok’s Remand Prison. He was suffering from health complications, including hypertension and gout, according to the International Federation for Human Rights, an international human rights organization.
Hatice Duman, Atılım
Imprisoned: April 12, 2003
Duman, former owner and news editor of the socialist weekly Atılım (Leap), was serving a life term at Gebze M Type Prison in Kocaeli on charges of being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP, producing propaganda, and “attempting to change the constitutional order by force.”
As evidence, authorities cited Duman’s attendance at MLKP demonstrations and the testimony of confidential witnesses. Duman’s defense lawyer, Keleş Öztürk, told CPJ that his client was targeted because Atılım had opposed administration policies. In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld Duman’s life sentence.
Mustafa Gök, Ekmek ve Adalet
Imprisoned: February 19, 2004
Gök, Ankara correspondent for the leftist magazine Ekmek ve Adalet (Bread and Justice), was serving a life term at Sincan F Type Prison in Istanbul on charges of “attempting to change the constitutional order by force.” He faced an additional prison term of five to 10 years on a pending charge of being a member of the outlawed Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi, or DHKP-C.
Gök’s defense lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karataş, told CPJ that the evidence against the journalist consisted of his news coverage and attendance at political demonstrations. He said Gök had been targeted for his reporting on politics and human rights, along with his beliefs as a socialist. Karataş said his client suffers from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which has led to a loss of sight and balance.
Fusün Erdoğan, Özgür Radyo
Imprisoned: September 8, 2006
Erdoğan, former general manager for the leftist Özgür Radyo (The Free Radio), was being held at Kocaeli T Type Prison on charges of helping lead the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. She faced a potential life prison term. Authorities alleged she used radio station assets to support the MLKP.
Zulfü Erdoğan, the journalist’s lawyer and sister, told CPJ that the main evidence against her client was a 40-page document that supposedly included the names and personal information of MLKP members. The lawyer questioned the authenticity of the document, saying it was not seized from her client’s home or office and that no evidence connected it to her client. She also noted that court proceedings had yet to result in a verdict after six years, an extraordinarily long period of time that was also the subject of a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights. Zulfü Erdoğan said the case against Erdoğan had been fabricated because the journalist and her news outlet had opposed the administration. She said Erdoğan suffered from a thyroid disease and needed medical attention.
Bayram Namaz, Atılım
Imprisoned: September 8, 2006
Namaz, a columnist for the weekly socialist newspaper Atılım (Leap), faced charges of possession of dangerous materials, possession of unregistered weapons, forgery of official documents, and attempting to eliminate the constitutional order. The journalist was being held at Edirne F Type Prison.
Atılım is affiliated with the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, or ESP, which is a lawful organization. Gülizar Tuncer, Namaz’s lawyer, told CPJ that the state considered the paper and party to be fronts for the illegal Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. In an indictment, authorities said Namaz was arrested with others at a house in Aydın’s Nazilli district in western Turkey, where the fourth general congress of the MLKP was held. Namaz said he was picked up by police at another location and brought there.
Authorities alleged that Namaz possessed a fake ID and that IDs belonging to him were found in an MLKP house in Kayseri Province. As evidence against him, authorities also cited a 2005 article about an MLKP conference that was published in a Kurdish-language journal. Tuncer said her client was not the author of the article.
Tuncer said Namaz had been working under constant police surveillance for years, making it impossible for him to lead a secret life as a member of an illegal organization.
Faysal Tunç, Dicle News Agency and Özgür Gündem
Imprisoned: April 5, 2007
Tunç, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency and the daily Özgür Gündem (The Free Agenda), was serving a sentence of six years and three months on charges of producing propaganda and being a member of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. He was transferred in 2011 to the Rize Kalkandere L Type Prison in Rize, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
After disposition of the case, Tunç’s lawyers were themselves imprisoned as part of an investigation into the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK,an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK.
In March 2012, Tunç sent a letter to the independent news portal Bianet in which he alleged that authorities had set him up for a false arrest. In April 2007, he said, he offered a woman he believed to be a member of the Democratic Society Party, a legal entity that was the forerunner of today’s Peace and Democracy Party, some assistance in finding lodging. Tunç said he did not know the woman and now believed she had acted as an agent of the police. Within days, he said, he was detained on charges of aiding a member of a terrorist group.
Mustafa Balbay, Cumhuriyet
Imprisoned: March 5, 2009
Balbay, a columnist and former Ankara representative for the leftist-ultranationalist daily Cumhuriyet, was detained as part of the government’s investigation into the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup.
Balbay was initially detained on July 1, 2008, brought to Istanbul, and questioned about his news coverage and his relations with the military and other Ergenekon suspects. Police searched his house and the Ankara office of Cumhuriyet and confiscated computers and documents, but released him four days later. Balbay was detained a second time in March 2009 and placed at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul pending trial. He was moved to solitary confinement in February 2011. His lawyers filed complaints with the European Court of Human Rights alleging violations of due process. Despite being imprisoned, Balbay was elected a parliamentary deputy on the Republican People’s Party ticket in Izmir province in the June 2011 election.
The charges against Balbay included being a member of an armed terrorist organization; attempting to overthrow the government; provoking an armed uprising; unlawfully obtaining, using, and destroying documents concerning government security; and disseminating classified information. The charges could bring life imprisonment, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The evidence against Balbay included documents seized from his property and office, the news stories he produced, wiretapped telephone conversations, and secretly recorded meetings with senior military and government officials. Balbay denied the government’s accusations and, in columns written from prison and in court hearings, repeatedly said that the seized notes and recorded conversations related to his journalism.
In its indictment, the government said Balbay had kept detailed records of his meetings with military and political figures. Authorities alleged that Balbay had erased the notes from his computer but technicians were able to retrieve them from the hard drive. The notes-some of which dated back to the period before the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won power-showed military officials discussing how they could alter Turkish politics. For example, in notes dated April 6, 2003, a general identified as Yaşar asked the columnist: “Tell me, Mr. Balbay, can a coup be staged today with this media structure? It can’t. You cannot do something today without the media backing you. You are the only one entreating secularism. The other papers are publishing photographs of women with covered heads every day, almost trying to make it sympathetic.”
In public comments, Balbay said he had been keeping the notes for journalistic purposes, including for use in a potential book. He said the government’s indictment quoted excerpts out of context and in a way that made him appear guilty. In the indictment, Balbay was quoted as saying that he had erased the files after concluding their use would not be right.
Participants in the conversations included İlhan Selçuk, the now-deceased chief editor of Cumhuriyet and an Ergenekon suspect before his death in June 2010; generals Şener Eruygur, Aytaç Yalman, and Şenkal Atasagun; and former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The indictment identified Selçuk as a leader of Ergenekon and accused Balbay of acting as secretary in organizing meetings and keeping notes under cover of journalism. Military officials considered Cumhuriyet a favorite because they shared the paper’s positions on secularism and the Kurdish issue.
The government also said it found classified documents in Balbay’s possession, including military reports on neighboring countries and assessments on political Islam in Turkey. Balbay said news sources had provided him with the documents and that he was using them for journalistic purposes.
Two taped conversations at the gendarmerie headquarters-dated December 23, 2003, and January 5, 2004-were also cited as evidence. The government alleged that, among other topics, Balbay and other participants had discussed whether political conditions would allow a coup. Balbay said such discussions were theoretical and constituted no criminal intent.
The government also cited Balbay’s news coverage, including a May 2003 story headlined “The Young Officers Are Restless.” The phrase had been used previously in Turkish politics and was seen as code for a potential military coup. The story claimed that Hilmi Özkök, then the military’s chief of general staff, had warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about perceived anti-military pressure from the ruling AKP. Özkök denounced the story as false at the time. Authorities claimed that Balbay’s own notes showed that Atilla Ateş, then the commander of Turkish land forces, had congratulated him for the piece by saying, “You did your duty.”
The İKMS Law Firm, which represents Balbay, did not respond to CPJ’s questions seeking further information about his defense.
Ahmet Birsin, Gün TV
Imprisoned: April 14, 2009
Birsin, general manager of Gün TV, a regional pro-Kurdish television news station in southeastern Turkey, faced trial for assisting an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, attending PKK events, possessing PKK documents, and assisting the PKK in its press work, according to Justice Ministry documents. His lawyer, Fuat Coşacak, told CPJ that the charges were retaliatory and without basis.
Birsin described his arrest in a May 2009 letter published in the daily Gündem. He said police came to his office on the night of April 13, searched the building, and confiscated archival material, computer hard drives, laptops, cameras, and other broadcast equipment. Birsin, imprisoned at Diyarbakır D Type Prison, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Deniz Yıldırım, Aydınlık
Imprisoned: November 8, 2009
Yıldırım was the chief editor of the ultranationalist-leftist Aydınlık (Enlightenment), then a monthly, when police detained him at his house in Istanbul as part of the government’s investigation into the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities believed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup.
He was being held at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization, violating privacy rights, and disclosing state secrets. According to the indictment, Yıldırım received a recording from Ergenekon conspirators and published its contents. The recording purported to include a 2004 phone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which the two discussed the sensitive issue of Cyprus’ political status. It also purportedly included a conversation between Erdoğan and businessman Remzi Gür.
As evidence, authorities cited Yıldırım’s published work and other recordings allegedly found during a police raid of the Aydınlık offices. Yıldırım, who faced up to 57 years in prison, said he had no ties to Ergenekon. Mehmet Aytenkin, his lawyer, told CPJ that his client was arrested because Aydınlık was critical of the government.
Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: December 7, 2009
Akyüz, Adana correspondent for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was serving a 12-year term at Kürkçüler F Type Prison in Adana on charges of aiding the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the Kurdistan Workers Party. Authorities cited as evidence his possession of banned newspapers and his presence at a May Day demonstration in İzmir.
The trial in Adana made national news when the judge refused to allow Akyüz and other defendants to offer statements in their native Kurdish. A report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also found that court officials withheld case documents from Akyüz’s lawyer for more than a year.
Legal representation for Akyüz and other detained Azadiya Welat journalists changed in 2012. The new defense lawyer, Cemil Sözen, who represented Akyüz on appeal, said he could not comment because he was not yet familiar with the case.
Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya
Imprisoned: December 7, 2009
Karavil, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish radio station Radyo Dünya in the southern province of Adana, was serving a prison term of 13 years and six months on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
As evidence, authorities cited news programs that Karavil produced, his meetings with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, and his wiretapped telephone conversations with colleagues, listeners, and news sources, his defense lawyer, Vedat Özkan, told CPJ. In one phone conversation, the lawyer said, Karavil discussed naming a program “Those Who Imagine the Island.” He said the indictment considered this illegal propaganda because it referred to the imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was being held in a prison on İmralı Island.
In a letter to media outlets, Karavil said authorities had questioned him about the station’s ownership and the content of its programming. Court officials refused to allow Karavil to give statements in his native Kurdish language, Özkan said.
Erdal Süsem, Eylül Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi
Imprisoned: February 10, 2010
Süsem, editor of the leftist culture magazine Eylül Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi (September Arts Literature Magazine), was being held at Edirne F Type Prison on charges of helping lead the outlawed Maoist Communist Party, or MKP. Authorities alleged that Süsem’s magazine produced propaganda for the party.
In a letter published in February 2012 by the independent news portal Bianet, Süsem said the evidence against him consisted of journalistic material such as books, postcards, and letters, along with accounts of his newsgathering activities such as phone interviews. Süsem made similar statements in a letter to the Justice Ministry that was cited in news accounts.
Süsem had started the magazine during an earlier imprisonment at Tekirdağ F Type Prison. The magazine featured poems, literature, and opinion pieces from imprisoned socialist intellectuals. After producing the initial four editions by photocopy from prison, Süsem transformed the journal into a standard print publication after his 2007 release from prison, circulating another 16 issues.
Süsem’s earlier imprisonment stemmed from March 2000 allegations that he stole a police officer’s handgun that was later used in a murder. (He was not directly charged in the murder.) Süsem pleaded innocent to the gun theft charge during proceedings that were marked by a number of questions. No forensic evidence tied Süsem to the weapon, and witness descriptions of the suspect did not match the journalist. A criminal court convicted him on the theft charge and sentenced him to life imprisonment, a ruling that was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2007. In 2011, the Supreme Court reversed itself, reinstating the theft conviction.
Ali Konar, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: May 27, 2010
Konar, the Elazığ correspondent for Azadiya Welat, Turkey’s sole Kurdish-language daily, was serving a term of seven years and six months at Malatya E Type Prison on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party is part.
In a January 2012 letter published by the independent news portal Bianet, Konar said his published news reporting and his interactions with colleagues were cited as evidence of criminality. Authorities also cited his visits to his jailed brother as evidence that he was a prison liaison for the KCK, he said.
Soner Yalçın, Odatv and Hürriyet
Imprisoned: February 14, 2011
Yalçın Küçük, Odatv and Aydınlık
Imprisoned: March 7, 2011
Several members of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv were arrested in February and March 2011 on charges of having ties to the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. Authorities charged all of the staffers with propagandizing on behalf of Ergenekon and lodged additional charges against some. Yalçın and Küçük remained imprisoned when CPJ conducted its December 1 worldwide census.
Odatv features news and commentary that promotes an ultranationalist agenda from a Kemalist perspective and is harshly critical of its perceived opponents. The targets of its attacks include the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Fethullah Gülen religious community, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and liberals. Much of Odatv‘s critical commentary involves highly personal attacks.
Yalçın, owner of the site and an opinion writer for the daily Hürriyet (Freedom), was charged with attempting to influence court proceedings, inciting hatred, violating privacy rights, and disclosing classified military and intelligence documents. He denied the accusations and said the evidence amounted to the website’s published material and his professional phone conversations. He was being held at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul pending trial.
Küçük, an opinion writer for the site and for the daily Aydınlık, was also accused of being a leader of the Ergenekon organization, inciting hatred, violating privacy rights, and disclosing classified military and intelligence documents. In court, Küçük said the charges were without basis.
As evidence, authorities cited wiretapped phone conversations between staffers in which coverage was discussed. In one conversation, authorities alleged, Yalçın directed a columnist to write a piece suggesting that the ruling AKP was forcing the military’s hand to stage a coup.
Authorities also cited as evidence a series of digital documents found on Odatv computers during a police raid on the news outlet. The authenticity of the documents has been challenged by the defense. A team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, which examined the evidence at the request of the defense, found that the computers contained Trojan files that left the machines vulnerable to outside manipulation. The team also found that the documents themselves were altered on the day of the police raid, further raising the possibility that the files could have been planted or manipulated.
Authorities said the documents included an Ergenekon media strategy memo, an ultranationalist text describing the AKP as dangerous, and directions on covering the PKK, AKP, army generals, and the Ergenekon investigation.
Authorities also cited two documents claiming that the well-known investigative reporter Nedim Şener had helped a former regional police chief, Hanefi Avci, write a 2010 book alleging that the Gülen movement had infiltrated the police force. Another document claimed Şener was also helping investigative reporter Ahmet Şık write a book about the Gülen movement. Authorities used those documents to link Şener and Şık to the Ergenekon plot. The two were jailed for more than 12 months before being freed pending trial; they continued to face anti-state charges related to the plot.
Turhan Özlü, Ulusal Kanal
Imprisoned: August 21, 2011
Özlü, chief editor for the ultranationalist-leftist television station Ulusal Kanal (National Channel), was being held at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul on charges of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy, a shadowy plot that prosecutors said was aimed at overthrowing the administration. Özlü faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
According to the government’s indictment, the channel aired an audio recording made by Ergenekon conspirators. The recording purported to include a 2004 phone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which the two discussed the sensitive issue of Cyprus’ political status. It also purportedly included a conversation between Erdoğan and businessman Remzi Gür.
The indictment identified Ulusal Kanal as a media arm of Ergenekon.
Tayip Temel, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: October 3, 2011
Temel, a former editor-in-chief and columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was being held at Diyarbakır D Type Prison on charges of being a member of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. He faced more than 22 years in prison upon conviction, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
In a January 2012 letter to the independent news portal Bianet, Temel said he was being targeted for his journalistic activities. As evidence, the government cited wiretapped telephone conversations he had with colleagues and with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Temel said. He said the government had wrongly described his work-related travels to Iraq as related to attendance at PKK meetings.
“My articles, correspondences, headline discussions, and requests for news and visuals from reporters were defined as ‘orders’ and ‘organizational activity’ and I am accused of organization leadership,” Temel wrote, describing the government’s indictment.
Another chief editor of Azadiya Welat-Mehmet Emin Yıldırım-was also imprisoned on similar charges.
Hasan Özgüneş, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: October 28, 2011
Özgüneş, a veteran journalist and a columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of helping to lead the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. He was also charged with producing propaganda and taking part in illegal demonstrations.
Özgüneş has written columns for Azadiya Welat on political, social, cultural, and economic issues since 2007 after writing for Kurdish magazines such as Tiroj and Zend since 1993. He is also a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP.
Authorities would not allow Özgüneş to give statements in his native Kurdish, news accounts said. During questioning, authorities sought information about Özgüneş’ lectures at a BDP political academy, his conversations with the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV, and his presence at a political demonstration, according to the indictment.
Abdullah Çetin, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: December 16, 2011
Abdullah Çetin, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, in the southeastern province of Siirt, was being held at Diyarbakır D Type Prison on charges of aiding the Union of
Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. Upon conviction, he faced up to 15 years in prison, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The ETHA news agency said Çetin was accused of organizing anti-government demonstrations. The government’s indictment also cited Çetin’s professional phone conversations as evidence, the Bianet independent news portal said. Çetin told authorities that he attended demonstrations for journalistic purposes, Bianet said.
Ziya Çiçekçi, Özgür Gündem
Turabi Kişin, Özgür Gündem
Yüksel Genç, Özgür Gündem
Nevin Erdemir,Özgür Gündem
Dilek Demiral,Özgür Gündem
Sibel Güler, Özgür Gündem
Nurettin Fırat, Özgür Gündem
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
At least seven editors and writers associated with the daily Özgür Gündem (The Free Agenda) were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK.
Çiçekçi, publisher and news editor, was being held at Kandıra F Type Prison in Kocaeli on charges of helping lead the KCK press committee, which allegedly orchestrated coverage that would further the organization’s goals. The indictment accused Çiçekçi of setting his news agenda in conformance with organization orders and participating in press committee meetings in Iraq. As evidence, authorities cited books, magazines, a computer hard drive, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, bank account books, handwritten notes, letters, and a copy of Özgür Gündem. One of the electronic documents, the indictment said, included video of PKK and KCK events.
Kişin, Özgür Gündem editor, was being held at Kandıra F Type Prison on charges of being a leader of the KCK press committee and taking orders from the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan that were sent via email from defense lawyers. As evidence, authorities cited three pro-Kurdish newspaper stories, one written by Kişin and two in which he was the subject. The prosecution also cited wiretapped telephone conversations in which Kişin spoke to people who wanted him to run obituaries for PKK members-Kişin declined because of legal constraints-and contributors seeking to publish articles in his newspaper. Kişin said his newspaper was a dissident publication but did not take orders from the KCK.
Genç, a columnist, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the press committee of the KCK. Authorities, citing statements from other suspects, alleged that Genç was a “high-level” member of the KCK press committee and had participated in committee meetings in northern Iraq. Authorities also cited as evidence Genç’s notes about ethnic conflicts in Spain, South Africa, and Bolivia, along with her phone conversations with other journalists. Genç’s request that a writer do a piece about a World Peace Day demonstration in Turkey, for example, was considered by authorities to be an order serving the PKK. Genç said she did not participate in the KCK press committee and that her communications with other journalists were professional in nature.
Erdemir, a reporter and editor, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges that she helped lead the KCK’s press committee. Citing passport records and the statements of confidential witnesses, the government alleged that Erdemir participated in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2009. The indictment also cited as evidence her participation in a press conference in which Özgür Gündem editors protested police operations against Kurdish journalists, and an interview she conducted with a leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Erdemir disputed the charges.
Demiral, a former editor, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee and producing propaganda for the organization. Citing passport records and the statement of a detained PKK member, authorities said Demiral participated in a 2005 KCK press meeting in Iraq. Authorities also cited the seizure of digital copies of banned books and a speech Demiral gave at a memorial ceremony that cast a deceased PKK member in a favorable light. Demiral denied any ties to the KCK and said she had traveled for journalistic purposes.
Güler, a former editor, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Citing passport records and documents seized from an accused KCK member, the government alleged that Güler participated in the organization’s press committee meetings in Iraq in 2003 and 2005, and had met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. Güler told authorities she did not participate in any KCK meetings.
Fırat, an editor and columnist for the paper, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a leader of the KCK press committee. Citing passport records, organization records, and the accounts of confidential witnesses, authorities alleged he participated in committee meetings in Iraq in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Authorities, who tapped Fırat’s phone conversations, said the journalist printed an article by KCK leader Karayılan, applying a penname that he had devised in conspiracy with another journalist. Fırat said his travel was for journalistic purposes and that he did not participate in KCK activities.
In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison upon conviction.
Zuhal Tekiner, Dicle News Agency
Semiha Alankuş, Dicle News Agency
Kenan Kırkaya, Dicle News Agency
Ramazan Pekgöz, Dicle News Agency
Fatma Koçak, Dicle News Agency
Ayşe Oyman, Dicle News Agency
Çağdaş Kaplan, Dicle News Agency
Ertuş Bozkurt, Dicle News Agency
Nilgün Yıldız, Dicle News Agency
Sadık Topaloğlu, Dicle News Agency
İsmail Yıldız, Dicle News Agency
Ömer Çelik, Dicle News Agency
Mazlum Özdemir, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
At least 13 editors, writers, and managers with the Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK.
Tekiner, chairwoman of the DİHA board, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being an “administrative” member of the KCK press committee, which allegedly orchestrated coverage that would further the organization’s goals. The indictment cited Tekiner’s contribution to DİHA’s account of a 2010 May Day rally as evidence that she was producing propaganda. Authorities, who tapped Tekiner’s phone, also cited a conversation she had with an accused PKK member who had sought news coverage of a press conference. Tekiner denied any links to the KCK.
Alankuş, a translator and editor, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the press committee of the KCK. Authorities alleged that Alankuş participated in a meeting of the KCK press committee in northern Iraq in September 2009, and used her position as a DİHA editor to broadcast directions from the PKK. Possession of banned magazines and books was also cited as evidence. Alankuş said she did not participate in the press committee meeting.
Kırkaya, DİHA’s Ankara representative, was being held at Kandıra F Type Prison in Kocaeli on charges that he helped lead the KCK press committee. Authorities cited the statements of two confidential witnesses as evidence. The government also cited as evidence news reports by Kırkaya, including pieces about PKK militia allegedly killed by chemical weapons, articles addressing the Kurdish issue, and stories critical of the government. Calling Kırkaya a “so-called journalist” who worked under orders from convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the indictment alleged that his reporting had furthered the aims of the KCK and had sought to manipulate public opinion. Kırkaya told authorities he had no connection to the KCK.
Pekgöz, an editor, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges that he helped lead the KCK press committee. Citing passport records and the statements of confidential witnesses, the government alleged that he participated in two KCK committee meetings in Iraq and that he met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. Pekgöz said he met with Karayılan for journalistic purposes and denied the government’s allegations. Authorities, who tapped Pekgöz’s phone conversations, accused the editor of following KCK directives and relaying the organization’s orders to other journalists. The indictment said Pekgöz directed a pro-KCK agenda when he served as news editor for Günlük, the daily now known as Özgür Gündem. The indictment cited as evidence a phone conversation between Pekgöz and columnist Veysi Sarısözen concerning potential column topics, and Pekgöz’s efforts to recruit a writer to discuss the potential unification of socialist and leftist parties. The indictment said convicted PKK leader Öcalan supported the unification of the parties.
Koçak, a news editor, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Koçak’s phone conversations with news sources and reporters, including tips to DİHA about pro-Kurdish demonstrations, were cited as evidence. The indictment asserted that “a normal journalist” would not receive such tips, and it faulted Koçak for not relaying information about the events to authorities. The indictment also faulted Koçak for receiving information by phone about fatalities among guerrillas in eastern Turkey, and fielding a request from German ZDF TV for video of PKK army clashes and the funerals of PKK fighters. Stories Koçak wrote about democratic autonomy were also considered evidence. Koçak disputed alleged ties to the KCK.
Oyman, a reporter, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Among the cited evidence were phone conversations with reporters in the field, banned books and magazines, and the news stories that she produced for DİHA. The indictment labeled her reporting as propaganda aimed at causing “disaffection for the state and sympathy for the organization.” Citing passport records and the accounts of two confidential witnesses, authorities also alleged that she participated in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2003 and had contact with İsmet Kayhan, a Fırat News Agency editor wanted by the government on charges of leading the KCK’s press committee in Europe. Oyman, who also worked as a reporter for Özgür Gündem, disputed the allegations.
Kaplan, a reporter for DİHA, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. The indictment cited as evidence Kaplan’s news coverage and phone conversations in which he relayed information to the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV. The indictment said Kaplan’s stories distorted the facts, reflected the official perspective of the KCK, and presented “police operations against the KCK as operations against the Kurdish people.” For example, the indictment said a report about the funeral of a PKK member “tried to draw conclusions in favor of the organization.” Kaplan was also accused of having contact with Fırat’s Kayhan.
Bozkurt, an editor in DİHA’s Diyarbakır office, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of helping lead the KCK press committee. As evidence, the indictment cited phone conversations in which Bozkurt relayed information to Roj TV. Authorities described Bozkurt’s reports as “false,” provocative, and designed to further the KCK’s aims. The indictment also faulted Bozkurt for ensuring news coverage of pro-Kurdish demonstrations, and for providing German ZDF TV with video of a PKK fighter’s funeral and army movements in southeast Turkey. Citing passport records and the account of a confidential witness, authorities alleged that Bozkurt took part in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2007 and had contact with Fırat’s Kayhan. Authorities said they seized banned books by convicted PKK leader Öcalan, along with photographs of PKK guerrillas and Turkish military intelligence. Bozkurt told prosecutors that his activities were journalistic and that he had no ties to the KCK.
Nilgün Yıldız, a reporter, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul Bakırköy L Type on charges of being a member of the KCK’s press committee. Citing passport records and the account of a confidential witness, authorities alleged that Yıldız participated in KCK press committee meetings in Iraq. Authorities also cited her news coverage as evidence. The indictment pointed to a story that recounted a Kurdish youth setting himself on fire to protest Öcalan’s imprisonment, which authorities called propaganda, and a piece that referred to a memorial service for a PKK member, which authorities said constituted a call for organization members to gather. Photographs of a PKK member’s funeral, taken from her confiscated flash drive, were also cited as evidence. Yıldız denied any wrongdoing.
Topaloğlu, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. As evidence, the indictment cited phone conversations in which Topaloğlu relayed information to Roj TV. The indictment also faulted Topaloğlu for fielding phone tips about press conferences and other news events, and for seeking information from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s Antep branch about a local police crackdown against the party. Authorities alleged his reporting was aimed at humiliating the government, furthering the KCK’s aims, and provoking “innocent Kurdish people against their state.”
İsmail Yıldız, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK’s press committee. As evidence, authorities cited his news coverage of demonstrations, his telephone conversations at DİHA offices, and information he relayed to Roj TV. The indictment also detailed an episode in which Yıldız was among the first at the scene of an explosion in a trash container; authorities alleged his quick arrival meant that he had prior knowledge of the bomb. Banned books and magazines on the Kurdish issue, digital equipment, and CDs featuring interviews with PKK sympathizers were among the items seized from Yıldız.
Çelik, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Authorities faulted Çelik for biased coverage of a university dispute and other news events, labeling his reporting of an earthquake, for example, as “black propaganda.” They also cited as evidence phone conversations in which Çelik received tips about press conferences and other news events, and a conversation in which he relayed information to Roj TV. His coverage of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party was in itself considered evidence of a crime. Çelik denied any wrongdoing, telling prosecutors he was not a member of the KCK press committee.
Özdemir, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type prison on charges of helping lead the KCK press committee. Citing passport records, email traffic, and the accounts of confidential witnesses, authorities alleged that Özdemir attended KCK committee meetings in Iraq, had contact with the Fırat editor Kayhan, and produced journalism that cast the group in a favorable light. Authorities said they intercepted encrypted electronic messages showing that Özdemir handled financial transfers for the KCK. Authorities also cited Özdemir’s news stories as evidence of culpability. Özdemir told authorities that his email messages involved news reporting and personal matters. Authorities confiscated books, CDs, a hard drive, cellphone, and a hunting rifle. Defense lawyer Özcan Kılıç told CPJ that the weapon was an antique handed down by his client’s grandfather; Özdemir was not charged with a weapons violation.
In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison upon conviction.
Zeynep Kuray, Birgün, Fırat News Agency
Hüseyin Deniz, Evrensel
Nahide Ermiş, Özgür Halk ve Demokratik Modernite
Selahattin Aslan, Özgür Halk ve Denokratik Modernite
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
Editors and writers representing a variety of news outlets were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK.
Kuray, a reporter and photographer for the leftist daily Birgün, and an occasional contributor to Fırat, was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the press committee of the KCK, which allegedly orchestrated coverage furthering the organization’s goals. As evidence, authorities cited photos and stories by Kuray, along with wiretapped phone conversations with İsmet Kayhan, a Fırat News Agency editor wanted by the government on charges of leading the KCK press committee in Europe. Prosecutors alleged Kuray’s work served as propaganda for the PKK, particularly in coverage of the alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey, and police operations against Kurdish politicians and lawyers for Abdullah Öcalan, the convicted leader of the PKK. Police photographs of Kuray at Kurdish demonstrations were also presented as evidence.
Deniz, a reporter for the socialist daily Evrensel, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison in Kocaeli on charges that he helped lead the KCK’s press committee. Citing passport records, authorities alleged that Deniz had participated in KCK press committee meetings in Iraq in 2003, 2005, and 2009, and had met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. The indictment said authorities had also seized news reports, documents, and banned books from Deniz that allegedly linked him to the group. The indictment described one of the documents as a “report of the publishing board” of the daily Özgür Gündem, an internal document that authorities said had cast Öcalan in a favorable light and had described efforts to further the aims of his organization. Deniz, who had once worked for the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem, denied participating in KCK meetings and said his travel was for journalistic purposes.
Ermiş, a member of the editorial board of the political bimonthly Özgür Halk ve Demokratik Modernite (Democratic Modernity), was being held at Bakırköy Prison for Women and Children in Istanbul on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Citing passport records, the indictment said Ermiş participated in a 2009 KCK press committee meeting. The government also said it had seized notes from her property that cast Öcalan and other PKK members in a favorable light. The indictment considered those notes as being taken during organizational training. Ermiş disputed the charges.
Aslan, editor for now-defunct, pro-Kurdish opinion magazine Özgür Halk ve Denokratik Modernite (The Free People and Democratic Modernity), was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK’s press committee. As evidence, authorities cited seized text messages and tapped phone calls concerning published stories, distribution of the periodicals, and police efforts to block distribution. Authorities also said they found one of Aslan’s fingerprints at his office, citing that as evidence that he worked for the “terrorist organization’s media organ.” Citing passport records, authorities alleged that he participated in KCK press committee meetings in Iraq. Aslan has disputed allegations of KCK ties.
In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison upon conviction.
Mehmet Emin Yıldırım, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: December 21, 2011
A court in Diyarbakır ordered that Yıldırım, editor-in-chief of the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, be held as part of an investigation into the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. Authorities allege that the KCK directs all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey.
Yıldırım was being held in Kandıra F Type Prison in Kocaeli on charges of following the directives of the KCK press committee. As evidence, authorities cited conversations in which Yıldırım relayed information to the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV. The indictment also faulted Yildirim’s news coverage for being critical of police operations against the KCK, insulting the government, and provoking Kurds to oppose the state. Authorities claimed notes and email traffic showed that he executed orders from the KCK. For example, a list of toiletries and other items-shaving blades, a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, a digital radio, and batteries-was cited as evidence that Yıldırim was providing supplies to the PKK.
Authorities would not allow Yıldırım to give a statement in his native Kurdish, which defense lawyer Özcan Kılıç said was a violation of a defendant’s rights but one common in political cases. “They bring in a translator for cases such as narcotics trafficking, but they do not for these cases,” he said.
Another chief editor of Azadiya Welat-Tayip Temel-was also imprisoned on similar charges.
Özlem Ağuş, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: March 6, 2012
Ağuş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, who helped expose the sexual abuse of juvenile detainees at an Adana prison, was being held at Karataş Women’s Closed Prison. Ağuş faced allegations that she was a member of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. She faced up to 22 years in prison upon conviction.
Defense lawyer Vedat Özkan told CPJ that authorities had questioned his client about her published news coverage and her newsgathering practices. Authorities focused particularly on her coverage detailing the abuse of minors being held at Pozantı M Type Juvenile and Youth Prison in Adana. On March 1, 2012, DİHA published an interview Ağuş conducted with a 16-year-old detainee who described being abused by adult prisoners. The government said it would investigate the abuse allegations.
Özkan said his client was targeted because she worked for a news outlet that focused on the Kurdish issue and reported critically about the administration. He said the government’s accusations of criminality were baseless.
Şükrü Sak, Baran
Imprisoned: April 20, 2012
Sak, an opinion writer and former chief editor for the Islamist weekly Baran, was summoned to serve a term of three years and nine months on charges of aiding the outlawed İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncılar Cephesi, or İslamic Great East Raiders Front.
A veteran editor and writer for Islamist publications, Sak was summoned to prison in April 2012 after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a conviction that dated back to 1999. Defense lawyer Güven Yılmaz told CPJ that authorities cited as evidence Sak’s handwritten notes and the content of Akıncı Yol, the magazine he was editing at the time.
Musa Kurt, Yürüyüş
Bahar Kurt, Tavır
Imprisoned: September 18, 2012
Police arrested sibling journalists Musa and Bahar Kurt as they waited outside the Forensic Evidence Office in Istanbul for the transfer of the body of a suicide bomber to the family of the deceased. The bomber, a member of the outlawed Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi, or DHKP-C, had attacked a police station on September 11, news reports said. One police officer died and several civilians were injured in the blast.
Musa Kurt, a reporter for the leftist monthly magazine Yürüyüş (March), and Bahar KIurt, the owner of culture and arts magazine Tavır (Attitude), were charged with “taking photographs of the police” and “participating in events the terrorist organization called for.” Yürüyüş and Tavır take editorial positions in support of the DHKP-C.
Musa was being held at Tekirdağ Prison in Tekirdağ, and Bahar at the Bakırköy Prison in Istanbul. Their lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karataş alleged that the two had been abused in custody. He said his clients were at the scene to report and photograph the transfer of the body as a news event.
Ferhat Arslan, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: October 5, 2012
Arslan, Mersin reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was being held at Kürkçüler F Type Prison in Adana after being arrested on allegations he is a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK. No indictment had not been filed as of late November so formal charges and evidence against Arslan had not been disclosed.
Vedat Özkan, Arslan’s lawyer, told CPJ he could not discuss details of the investigation because the case had been subjected to official secrecy rules. But the defense claimed the detention is related to Arslan’s reporting on allegations of sexual harassment and brutality at the Pozantı Prison in Mersin. Other journalists have faced legal harassment concerning coverage of the Pozantı allegations.
Zeynep Kuriş, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: November 3, 2012
Kuriş, a correspondent for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, was being held at Karataş Prison in Adana on allegations of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK. No indictment had not been filed as of late November so formal charges and evidence against Kuriş had not been disclosed. Defense lawyer Vedat Özkan told CPJ he could not discuss details of the investigation because the case had been subjected to official secrecy rules.
Kuriş had been previously detained because of her reporting on allegations of sexual harassment and brutality at the Pozantı Prison in Mersin. Other journalists have faced legal harassment concerning coverage of the Pozantı allegations. The defense believes the current detention is related to her Pozantı coverage.
Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999
Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, and Ruzimuradov, a reporter for the paper, are the two longest-imprisoned journalists worldwide, CPJ research shows. Both journalists were jailed on politicized anti-state charges after extradition from Ukraine.
In January 2012, shortly before Bekjanov’s scheduled release, authorities sentenced him to another five years in prison for allegedly violating unspecified prison rules, regional press reports said. Bekjanov was being held at a prison colony outside Kasan, southwestern Uzbekistan, in late 2012.
Ruzimuradov was last known to be serving a 15-year prison term in a penal colony outside Navoi, central Uzbekistan. Officials at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington did not respond to CPJ’s request for information about Ruzimuradov’s whereabouts, legal status, or well-being.
Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov were first detained in Ukraine-where they had lived in exile and produced their newspaper-and were extradited at the request of Uzbek authorities. Six months after their arrest, a Tashkent court convicted them on charges of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper. Both were also convicted of participating in a banned political protest and attempting to overthrow the regime.
According to CPJ sources and news reports, both men were tortured before their trial began. After the verdict was announced in November 1999, the two were jailed in high-security penal colonies for individuals convicted of serious crimes.
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Uznews
Imprisoned: June 7, 2008
Abdurakhmanov, a reporter for the independent news website Uznews, is serving a 10-year sentence at a penal colony outside the southern city of Karshi after he was convicted on charges of possessing drugs with intent to sell. CPJ has determined the charges were fabricated in retaliation for his journalism.
Abdurakhmanov was imprisoned immediately after traffic police in Nukus, in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, stopped his car and said they found four ounces (114 grams) of marijuana and less than a quarter ounce (about five grams) of opium in his trunk, Uznews reported. The journalist denied possessing narcotics, and said police had planted them in retaliation for his reporting on corruption in the agency.
Abdurakhmanov’s prosecution and trial were marred by irregularities, defense lawyer Rustam Tulyaganov told CPJ. Investigators failed to maintain chain of custody for the seized drugs, and they did not collect fingerprints or other evidence proving Abdurakhmanov ever handled the material, Tulyaganov said. Instead, police agents interrogated Abdurakhmanov, extensively focusing on his journalism, searched his home, and confiscated his personal computer. Ignoring the violations and lack of evidence, a court in Nukus convicted the journalist in October 2008 and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Higher courts denied his appeals.
Abdurakhmanov had reported on corruption in regional law enforcement agencies, including the traffic police, for Uznews. He also contributed to the U.S. government-funded broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
In September 2011, authorities rebuffed Abdurakhmanov’s application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, according to CPJ research.
Uznews reported in November 2012 that prison authorities obstructed the International Committee of the Red Cross when it sought to speak with Abdurakhmanov in prison. Abdurakhmanov’s son told Uznews that prison officials presented Red Cross staff with another detainee who unsuccessfully purported to be the journalist.
Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Abdurakhmanov’s imprisonment and calling for his release. Officials at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington did not respond to CPJ’s request for information about Abdurakhmanov’s whereabouts, legal status, or well-being.
Dilmurod Saiid, freelance
Imprisoned: February 22, 2009
Saiid was serving a 12½-year prison term at a high security prison colony outside Navoi, where authorities have denied him adequate medical treatment for tuberculosis that he contracted in jail, according to the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now.
Saiid was imprisoned on fabricated extortion and forgery charges in retaliation for his journalism, CPJ’s analysis found. Prior to his arrest, Saiid had reported on official abuses against farmers for the independent regional news website Voice of Freedom as well as for a number of local publications.
Authorities arrested Saiid in February 2009 in his hometown, Tashkent, and placed him in detention in the central city of Samarkand after a woman accused him of extorting US$10,000 from a local businessman. The accuser soon withdrew the accusation, saying she had been coerced, but authorities refused to release the journalist, according to Saiid’s lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov. In March 2009, Samarkand prosecutors announced that new witnesses had come forward to accuse Saiid of extortion; authorities also said that several local farmers had accused him of using their signatures to create fraudulent court papers.
At Saiid’s trial, Ferghana News reported, the farmers publicly recanted and told the court that prosecutors had pressured them to testify against Saiid. Their statement was ignored, one of several irregularities reported during the proceedings. Komilov, the defense lawyer, said authorities failed to notify him of a number of important hearing dates. When a regional court convicted and sentenced Saiid in a July 2009 closed-door proceeding, the journalist’s defense lawyer and family were not present at the hearing.
In November 2009, the journalist’s wife and 6-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident on their way to visit him in prison, regional press reports said. Authorities rejected Saiid’s 2011 application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, Uznews reported. Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with Freedom Now filed a March 2012 complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Saiid’s imprisonment and calling for his release.
Nguyen Van Hai (Nguyen Hoang Hai), freelance
Imprisoned: April 19, 2008
Hai was first arrested in April 2008 and held without charge for five months. A closed court convicted him of tax evasion on September 10, 2008, charges that rights groups criticized as a pretext to stifle his critical blog postings about the government. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
After completing his prison term, Hai remained in detention while authorities investigated new anti-state charges related to his online journalism. On September 24, 2012, a criminal court sentenced Hai to 12 years in prison and five years’ house arrest under Article 88 of the penal code, a vague law that bars “conducting propaganda” against the state.
Hai, who also goes by the name “Nguyen Hoang Hai,” was an outspoken commentator on his political blog Dieu Cay (The Peasant’s Pipe) and on website of the Free Journalists Club, which he co-founded with two other bloggers. (Co-founders Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan were also tried and convicted in September 2012.) Several of Hai’s blog entries had touched on politically sensitive issues, including national protests against China, which disputed Vietnam’s claim to sovereignty over the nearby Spratly and Paracel islands, and government corruption. Hai had also called for demonstrations against the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which passed through Ho Chi Minh City in December 2007.
Court President Nguyen Phi Long said in his verdict that Hai and the other bloggers had “abused the popularity of the Internet to post articles which undermined and blackened Vietnam’s (leaders), criticizing the (Communist) party (and) destroying people’s trust in the state,” according to an Agence France-Presse report.
The one-day trial was plagued with procedural irregularities, according to the Observatory of Human Rights Defenders (OHRD), a joint international human rights group reporting program. OHRD reported that the court cut off the microphone when Hai spoke to defend himself and that his lawyer was barred from calling any witnesses.
According to the Free Journalists Network of Vietnam, Hai’s family filed 12 different formal requests, petitions, and appeals for visitation in 2011, none of which the authorities acknowledged. Hai was being held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Security Police Investigations Department.
Nguyen Xuan Nghia, freelance
Imprisoned: September 11, 2008
Nghia, who helped edit the pro-democracy news and commentary journal To Quoc (Fatherland) and contributed to several state-run publications, was arrested at his home in Haiphong province. He was sentenced in a one-day trial on October 9, 2009, to six years in prison under Article 88 of the penal code for “propagandizing” against the state.
The charges against Nghia were based on 57 articles, essays, and poems he wrote between 2007 until his arrest in 2008, including writings that the judges said were intended to “insult the Communist Party,” “distort the situation of the country,” and “slander and disgrace the country’s leaders,” according to an English-language translation of the verdict done by PEN International, a freedom of expression organization.
Many of the articles promoted democracy and were published in To Quoc, a publication sanctioned by the state. Nghia was also charged with being a founding member of Bloc 8406, a banned pro-democracy movement that has called for pluralism and multi-party democracy. A Haiphong city appeals court upheld his sentence in January 2010. He was being held at the B14 labor camp in northern Ha Dong province.
Pham Thanh Nghien, freelance
Imprisoned: September 13, 2008
A Haiphong city court sentenced online writer Nghien on January 29, 2010, to four years in prison and three years of house arrest on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda. She was arrested when more than 20 police officers raided her home during a September 2008 crackdown on dissidents.
Nghien was originally charged with staging a protest at her home, erecting banners protesting government policy in a maritime dispute involving China, and posting the images on the Internet. But state prosecutors dropped the charges and instead singled out an online article she had written for international media in which she criticized public officials for siphoning off compensation funds intended for survivors of fishermen killed by Chinese maritime patrols in 2007, according to international news reports.
Nghien was also accused of criticizing the government in interviews with Western media outlets, including the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia. Her half-day trial was closed to international media and diplomats, news reports said. She was held in solitary confinement until her sentencing in January 2010.
On July 4, 2008, before her arrest, Nghien was severely beaten by four plainclothes police officers who threatened her and her family if she continued her outspoken criticism of government policies, according to Front Line, a human rights group. Nghien wrote several online articles in promotion of human rights, democracy, and better treatment of landless peasants, according to international news reports.
Phan Thanh Hai (Anh Ba Saigon), freelance
Imprisoned: October 18, 2010
Hai, a lawyer and political blogger who wrote under the penname Anh Ba Saigon, was first taken into custody on a provisional four-month detention while authorities investigated charges that he had disseminated anti-state information, a criminal offense under Article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code.
On September 24, 2012, Hai was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of house arrest on anti-state charges of “conducting propaganda” against the state for his blogging activities. Hai was one of three founding members of the independent Free Journalists Club website, which was singled out in the court’s ruling for posting anti-state materials. Co-founders Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Van Hai were tried and convicted at the same time.
Hai’s personal blog often touched on issues considered sensitive by the Vietnamese authorities, including a scandal at the state-run shipbuilder Vinashin, maritime and territorial disputes with China, and a controversial Chinese-supported bauxite mining project in the country’s Central Highlands.
In the days before his arrest, Hai published on his blog a critical legal analysis of Article 88, arguing that the provision violated the right to freedom of expression protected broadly in Vietnam’s constitution under Article 69, according to the Observatory of Human Rights Defenders. He was being held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Security Police Investigations Department in late 2012.
Lu Van Bay (Tran Bao Viet), freelance
Imprisoned: March 26, 2011
Bay, also known as Tran Bao Viet, was arrested after police raided his house and confiscated his computers and copies of his published articles, according to news reports. On August 22, 2011, he was sentenced by a court in southern Kien Giang province to four years in prison and three years of house arrest on charges of “conducting propaganda against the state,” a penal code offense.
The court’s judgment cited 10 articles Bay posted on overseas websites-including Dam Chin Viet (Vietnamese Birds), Do Thoa (Dialogue), and To Quoc (Fatherland)-that were critical of Vietnam’s one-party system and called for multi-party democracy.
Dang Xuan Dieu, freelance
Ho Duc Hoa, freelance
Imprisoned: July 30, 2011
Dieu and Hoa, religious activists and contributors to the news website Vietnam Redemptorist News, were detained at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Redemptorist News, an online publication run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, reports on the plight of the country’s persecuted Catholic minority, land disputes between the government and grassroots communities, and other social issues.
Dieu and Hoa were detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Under Vietnamese law, the maximum penalties for violations are life imprisonment or capital punishment. The two were also accused of membership in the outlawed, exile-run Viet Tan party.
In late year, Dieu and Hoa were being held in pre-trial detention in Hanoi’s B14 Detention Center and had not been allowed legal counsel, according to Viet Tan. Dieu had not been allowed to receive any visitors since his initial arrest, according to Human Rights Watch and other international rights organizations.
Paulus Le Van Son, freelance
Imprisoned: August 3, 2011
Son, a blogger and contributor to the news websites Vietnam Redemptorist News and Bao Khong Le (Newspaper Without Lanes), was arrested in front of his home in the capital, Hanoi. News reports citing an eyewitness said that police knocked him from his motorcycle to the ground, grabbed his arms and legs, and threw him into a waiting police vehicle.
Son was detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Under Vietnamese law, the maximum penalties for violations are life imprisonment or capital punishment. Son was also accused of membership in the outlawed, exile-run Viet Tan party.
Vietnam Redemptorist News, an online publication run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, reports on the plight of the country’s persecuted Catholic minority, land disputes between the government and grassroots communities, and other social issues. Bao Khong Le focuses on issues such as corruption and sovereignty conflicts with China. In the months before his arrest, Son posted a number of sensitive entries to his own blog, addressing anti-China protests and territorial disputes with China.
Son was also briefly detained in April 2011 after attempting to attend a court hearing for pro-democracy dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu. Son’s personal blog covered sensitive political and social issues, including anti-China demonstrations, government harassment of prominent pro-democracy and Catholic Church activists, and violence in schools.
Son was being held in pre-trial detention at Hanoi’s notoriously harsh Hoa Lo prison. He had not been allowed visitors since his arrest, according to Human Rights Watch and other international rights organizations.
Nong Hung Anh, freelance
Imprisoned: August 5, 2011
Anh, a foreign languages student at Hanoi University, was detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code. He frequently wrote about social and religious issues in various Vietnamese-language blogs and online news services, including Vietnam Redemptorist News, Bao Khong Le (Newspaper Without Lanes), and the environmental blog Bauxite Viḝt Nam.
Anh was being held in pre-trial detention at Hanoi’s B14 Detention Center, according to the exile-run political party Viet Tan. No trial date had been set by late year, Viet Tan said.
Nguyen Van Duyet, freelance
Imprisoned: August 7, 2011
Duyet, a regular contributor to the news website Vietnam Redemptorist News and president of the Association of Catholic Workers, was first detained in Vinh city, Nghe An province. Vietnam Redemptorist News, an online publication run by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, reports on the plight of the country’s persecuted Catholic minority, land disputes between the government and grassroots communities, and other social issues.
Duyet was detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Under Vietnamese law, the maximum penalties for violations are life imprisonment or capital punishment. Duyet was also accused of membership in the outlawed, exile-run Viet Tan political party.
Duyet was being held in pre-trial detention in Hanoi, according to Viet Tan. No trial date had been set by late year, according to Viet Tan.
Ta Phong Tan, freelance
Imprisoned: September 5, 2011
Tan, a blogger and former police officer, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on anti-state charges related to her online writings. On September 24, 2012, a criminal court sentenced her to 10 years in prison and five years’ house arrest under Article 88 of the penal code, which bars “conducting propaganda” against the state. She had been briefly detained and interrogated on several occasions before her arrest.
Tan was one of three founding members of the Free Journalists Club website, which was singled out in the court ruling for posting anti-state materials. Co-founders Phan Thanh Hai and Nguyen Van Hai were tried and convicted at the same time. Tan’s personal blog, Cong Ly v Su That (Justice and Truth), focused on human rights abuses and corruption among police.
Court President Nguyen Phi Long said in his verdict that Tan and the other two bloggers had “abused the popularity of the Internet to post articles which undermined and blackened Vietnam’s (leaders), criticizing the (Communist) party (and) destroying people’s trust in the state,” according to an Agence France-Presse report.
Tan’s mother, Thi Kim Lieng, self-immolated on July 30, 2012, in front of a government office in Bac Lieu province to protest the official harassment suffered by her family and the handling of her daughter’s case, according to news reports. She died on her way to the hospital while in police custody, the reports said.
Dinh Dang Dinh, freelance
Imprisoned: October 2011
Dinh, a former schoolteacher and blogger, was sentenced in a one-day trial to six years in prison by a Dak Nong province court on August 8, 2012. He was charged with violating the criminal code’s Article 88, a vague provision that bans “propagandizing” against the state. He was held in pre-trial detention for 10 months while state investigators prepared their case against him.
The charges related to entries Dinh posted on his personal blog between 2007 and 2011 in which he expressed opposition to the Communist Party leadership and a controversial government-supported bauxite mining project in the country’s Central Highlands region, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
Authorities said they found hundreds of pages of what they considered to be anti-state material on Dinh’s seized laptop computer, including entries that rejected the ruling Communist Party and questioned the ethics of state founder Ho Chi Minh, according to a Voice of America report.
Radio Free Asia reported that Dinh’s family had been pressured by authorities not to publicize his case and had not been told when his trial would be held. A Dak Nong province appeals court upheld his sentence at a hearing held on November 21. Radio Free Asia reported Dinh was beaten by police with clubs and violently pushed into a waiting police truck after the ruling.
Le Thanh Tung, freelance
Imprisoned: December 1, 2011
A Hanoi court convicted Tung, a former military officer and independent blogger, on charges of “conducting propaganda” against the state under Article 88 of the criminal code, news reports said. He was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of house arrest. In the one-hour trial held in August 2012, the court ruled that Tung’s articles “distorted the policies of the state and the party,” the reports said.
Tung’s online articles called for pluralism, multi-party democracy, and constitutional amendments that would alter Vietnam’s authoritarian, one-party political system, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local-language publications.
Nguyen Van Khuong (Hoang Khuong), Tuoi Tre
Imprisoned: January 2, 2012
Khuong, a reporter with the Vietnamese-language daily Tuoi Tre, was arrested on charges of bribing a police officer, according to news reports. The 15 million dong (US$720) bribe, made in June 2011, was part of a Tuoi Tre undercover investigation into police corruption. Based on the undercover transaction, the newspaper published an article headlined “Traffic cop takes bribe to return bike” under Khuong’s penname, Hoang Khuong. The story prompted a government investigation of not only the recipient of the bribe but of the journalist as well.
Authorities pressured Tuoi Tre‘s editorial board to suspend Khuong from his reporting duties in early December 2011, a month before his arrest. Tuoi Tre representatives were not permitted to give evidence during Khuong’s brief trial, according to The Associated Press.
In a two-day trial on September 7, the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Khuong to four years in prison, news reports said. The police officer who received the bribe and the two businessmen involved in brokering and delivering the money on Khuong’s behalf were also given prison terms. Khuong, who had reported on police corruption in the past for Tuoi Tre, appealed the verdict.
Abdulelah Hider Shaea, freelance
Imprisoned: August 16, 2010
Shaea, a freelance journalist and a frequent commentator on Al-Jazeera, was sentenced in January 2011 to five years in prison for “belonging to an illegal armed organization” and “recruiting young people, including foreigners, to the organization by communicating with them via the Internet.”
In February, after social unrest erupted in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned Shaea among other prisoners, according to local news reports. In a phone call to Saleh, however, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern about Shaea’s release, according to a White House statement that did not elaborate on the reasons.
Shaea, known for his coverage of extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, was critical of Yemen’s counterterrorism policies. Using his tribal affiliation to gain access, he conducted several interviews with senior members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In December 2009, Shaea interviewed the U.S.-born militant Anwar Awlaki for ABC News. Awlaki was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone attack.
In 2012, international and local human rights groups and press freedom groups renewed their calls for the release of Shaea.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This census has been updated to reflect the correct name of the Eritrean government-owned daily Haddas Erta.