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Avaz Zeynally, Khural
Imprisoned: October 28, 2011
Zeynally, editor of the independent daily Khural, was arrested in October 2011, after a then-parliament member, Gyuler Akhmedova, accused him of bribery and extortion. Akhmedova alleged that the editor had tried to extort 10,000 manat (US$12,700) from her in August 2011, according to regional and international press reports. After Zeynally was arrested, authorities confiscated all ofKhural‘s reporting equipment, citing the newsroom’s inability to pay damages in a separate 2010 defamation lawsuit filed by presidential administration officials. Khural now publishes online only.
Zeynally denied the accusations 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.
According to news reports and CPJ sources, Zeynally’s trial, which started in May 2012, was marred with procedural violations and lack of evidence. Zeynally’s lawyer, Elchin Sadygov, told Kavkazsky Uzel that the prosecution witnesses had failed to support with credible evidence any of the charges lodged against Zeynally.
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. Although she was imprisoned on swindling charges, authorities did not drop the charges against Zeynally.
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.
On March 9, 2013, the Baku-based Court for Grave Crimes sentenced Zeynally to a nine-year prison term after convicting him on criminal charges including tax evasion, bribery, and extortion. The tax evasion charges were introduced after tax authorities alleged that Zeynally had avoided tax payments since 2008, according to reports.
CPJ believes the charges to be fabricated in retaliation for Zeynally’s reporting and commentary.
News accounts reported that Zeynally is being held in a penal colony, but have not offered further details.
Faramaz Novruzoglu (Faramaz Allahverdiyev), freelance
Imprisoned: April 18, 2012
Authorities arrested Novruzoglu, who is also identified in news reports as Faramaz Allahverdiyev, in April 2012 after accusing him of incitement to mass disorder and illegal border crossing. Novruzoglu denied the accusations, and insisted in court that the charges were fabricated in connection to his reporting on government corruption and abuses.
Authorities said that in March 2011, Novruzoglu called for mass disobedience on a Facebook page, and that five months prior, he had illegally crossed the border into Turkey, according to the regional press. During his trial, Novruzoglu said that both charges were unsubstantiated: Authorities showed no evidence connecting him to the Facebook page; his passport, which he provided to the court, indicatedother travel during the time that he was accused of having crossed the border into Turkey, reports said.
Prior to his arrest and imprisonment, Novruzoglu contributed reporting to the independent newspaper Milletim and published critical articles on social networking websites, according to Kavkazsky Uzel.
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.
In August 2012, a district court in Baku convicted him on all charges and sentenced him to four and a half years in jail, news reports said.
News accounts reported that he is being held in a penal colony, but have not offered further details.
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 Aliyev to be held in pretrial detention; since then, authorities extended his imprisonment several times.
Colleagues disputed the charges, and said they were in retaliation for his journalism. Aliyev’s deputy, Parvin Zeynalov, told local journalists that the outlet’s critical reporting on the government’s religion policies, including perceived anti-Islamic activities, could have prompted the editor’s arrest.
CPJ has documented a pattern of cases in which Azerbaijani authorities file questionable drug charges against journalists whose coverage has been at odds with official views.
Aliyev’s lawyer, Anar Gasimli, told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that investigators tortured the journalist in custody and pressured him to admit he had drugs in his possession. According to the institute, Gasimli said police also threatened to plant narcotics in the editor’s apartment and file “more serious” charges against him.
In January 2013, authorities slapped Aliyev with additional charges of illegal import and sale of religious literature, making calls to overturn the constitutional regime, and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, the institute reported. In March 2013, investigators finished the probe against the editor. His trial was ongoing in late 2013.
In September 2013, the institute said Aliyev was being held in pretrial detention, but did not offer further details.
Hilal Mamedov, Talyshi Sado
Imprisoned: June 21, 2012
Baku police detained Mamedov, editor of minority newspaperTalyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), on June 21, 2012, after allegedly finding drugs, about five grams of heroin, in his pocket, the Azeri-language service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Following his arrest, Baku police declared that they had found another 30 grams of heroin in Mamedov’s home, which they searched the same day, news reports said. A day later, a district court in Baku ordered Mamedov imprisoned for three months before trial on drug possession charges, the reports said. Mamedov’s family claimed police had planted the drugs, and his colleagues said they believed the editor had been targeted in retaliation for his reporting, the reports said.
Talyshi Sado covered issues affecting the Talysh ethnic minority group in Azerbaijan. Mamedov’s articles have been published in Talyshi Sado and on regional and Russia-based news websites, according to Emin Huseynov, director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. Huseynov told CPJ that Mamedov had investigated the 2009 death in prison of Novruzali Mamedov, Talyshi Sado‘s former chief editor.
In July 2012, authorities lodged another set of charges against Mamedov, including treason and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, news reports said. Azerbaijan’s interior ministry said in a statement that Mamedov had undermined the country’s security in his articles for Talyshi Sado, in 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.
In September 2013, Mamedov was convicted on charges of drug possession, treason, and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, and was sentenced to five years in jail, regional press reported.His trial was marred with procedural violations and authorities failed to back up their charges with credible evidence, news reports said.
Local human rights defenders said they believe the conviction was in retaliation for Mamedov’s criticism of the authorities’ lack of an investigation into the death in custody of Novruzali Mamedov. News reports said he had been denied adequate medical treatment for several illnesses. After his death, human rights and press freedom groups including CPJ repeatedly called in vain for an independent investigation into his death.
According to Kavkazsky Uzel, the court ruled that Mamedov was to serve his sentence in a strict penal colony. The report did not offer further details.
Araz Guliyev, Xeber 44
Imprisoned: September 8, 2012
Guliyev, chief editor of news website Xeber 44, was arrested on hooliganism charges in September 2012 while reporting on a protest in the southeastern city of Masally, news reports said. Local residents were protesting dancers at a festival who they perceived to be not properly clothed, the reports said. Police arrested the demonstrators, who were calling on the festival organizers to respect religious traditions.
During Guliyev’s pretrial detention, authorities expanded his charges to include “illegal possession, storage, and transportation of firearms,” “participation in activities that disrupt public order,” “inciting ethnic and religious hatred,” “resisting authority,” and “offensive action against the flag and emblem of Azerbaijan.”
Guliyev’s brother, Azer, told Kavkazsky Uzel that his brother’s imprisonment could be related to his coverage of local protests against an official ban on headscarves and veils in public schools. Xeber 44 covers news about religious life in Azerbaijan and international events in the Islamic world. The journalist’s lawyer told Kavkazsky Uzel that investigators claimed to have found a grenade while searching Guliyev’s home, but his lawyer said the investigators had planted it.
In April 2013, the Lankaran Court on Grave Crimes convicted Guliyev of all charges and sentenced him to eight years in jail.
Guliyev’s lawyer, Fariz Namazli, told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that the charges against the journalist were not substantiated in court and that witness testimonies conflicted with one another. The lawyer also said that Guliyev had been beaten by authorities after his arrest and that he was not immediately granted access to a lawyer.
In late 2012, Guliyev’s brother said the journalist was being held in a Kurdakhani prison. In late 2013, Guliyev’s whereabouts were unknown.
Tofiq Yaqublu, Yeni Musavat
Imprisoned: January 24, 2013
Police arrested Yaqublu, a columnist for the leading opposition daily Yeni Musavat, when he arrived at the town of Ismayilli to interview local residents about the causes of riots that shook the town, according to news reports.
On February 4, 2013, the Nasimi District Court in Baku ordered Yaqublu jailed for two months pending trial on charges of organizing mass disorder and violently resisting the police. If convicted, Yaqublu faced up to 10 years in jail. Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition politician who was arrested with Yaqublu, was imprisoned on similar charges, according to news reports. Authorities extended Yaqublu’s pretrial detention several times during the year.
Kavkazsky Uzel reported that the charges against the journalist were in connection to the riots in Ismayilli on January 23, 2013. Thousands of local residents demonstrated to demand a local governor’s resignation after regional authorities refused to shut down a motel that allegedly housed a brothel, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. News reports said the motel, which protesters later burned to the ground, allegedly belonged to the family of a high-ranking government official. Authorities sent police to quell the demonstrations; more than 100 residents were detained, the radio station’s Azeri service said.
Rauf Ariforglu, Yeni Musavat‘s chief editor, told Kavkazsky Uzel that his newspaper had sent Yaqublu to Ismayilli to report on the riots, and that the journalist had his press card with him at the time of his arrest. Emin Huseynov, head of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, confirmed that Yaqublu was in the town to report on the unrest, telling CPJ that staffers from the institute saw the journalist working there.
Yaqublu is being held at a pretrial detention facility in Baku, according to the institute. His trial was ongoing in late 2013, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Sardar Alibeili, P.S. Nota
Imprisoned: July 31, 2013
On July 31, 2013, Baku police took Alibeili, chief editor of the independent newspaper P.S. Nota, to a police station, where a local resident accused the editor of having attacked him. Alibeili denied the allegation but was held nonetheless.
Two days later, a district court in Baku ordered Alibeili imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into a criminal hooliganism charge, according to news reports. The charge carries up to seven years in jail, the reports said.
Alibeili has frequently criticized President Ilham Aliyev and his administration in P.S. Nota and has published commentaries by exiled politicians and army officers who accuse the president of corruption, human rights abuses, and authoritarianism. Kavkazsky Uzel reported that in a recent Facebook post Alibeili had published a collage that depicted Aliyev in handcuffs.
Alibeili, who previously edited the independent newspaperNota Bene, has been imprisoned in retaliation for his work before, CPJ research shows. In July 2009, a court in Baku convicted Alibeili on criminal defamation charges, and imprisoned him for three months. In April 2007, the editor was convicted of defaming Interior Minister Ramil Usubov and served 18 months of corrective labor.
Alibeili is being held at a pretrial detention facility in Baku. His trial was ongoing in late 2013.
Parviz Hashimli, Moderator, Bizim Yol
Imprisoned: September 17, 2013
Agents with the National Security Agency, or MNB, arrested Hashimli, editor of the independent news website Moderatorand a reporter for the independent newspaper Bizim Yol, outside the offices of the Moderator in Baku. The same day, agents also raided his home, without presenting a court order and in the absence of a lawyer, and claimed to have found a pistol and several hand grenades, according to news reports.
Agents also raided the newsrooms of the Moderatorand Bizim Yol and confiscated their equipment, the independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Both outlets are known for their coverage of corruption and human rights abuses as well as for their critical reporting on the government of President Ilham Aliyev.
On September 19, 2013, the Sabail District Court in Baku ordered Hashimli imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into accusations of smuggling and the illegal possession of weapons, according to news reports. The charges carry up to 13 years in jail. Hashimli denied the allegations.
Emin Huseynov, director of the Baku-based press freedom group Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that he believed the charges against Hashimli were fabricated, and that his arrest was meant to be a threat to the local press in the run-up to the October 2013 election. Aliyev was subsequently declared the winner of a third term in the polls.
Citing Hashimli’s lawyer, Huseynov told CPJ that agents had orchestrated the detention of the journalist. He said that a man named Tavvakyul Gurbanov had called Hashimli to meet him outside the Moderatoroffices in connection to what he said was a personal matter. When Hashimli went outside and sat in Gurbanov’s car, agents surrounded the vehicle and searched it. The agents claimed to have found six guns as well as ammunition. News reports said that Gurbanov said he had brought the weapons on Hashimli’s request, which the journalist denied. Hashimli also denied ever having met Gurbanov before.
Gurbanov was also detained and faced similar charges, news reports said.
Hashimli is being held in a pretrial detention center in Baku. In November 2013, his pretrial detention was extended for three months, according to news reports. He is being held at the MNB detention facility, reports said.
A date for his trial had not been announced in late 2013.
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.
On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shia-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy. He was first arrested on anti-state conspiracy charges in August 2010 as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents, but was released in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement.
In September 2012, the High Court of Appeal upheld Alsingace’s conviction and life sentence, along with those of his co-defendants. Four months later, on January 7, 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, also upheld the sentences.
Ahmed Humaidan, freelance
Imprisoned: December 29, 2012
Police arrested Humaidan, a freelance photographer, and charged him with “demonstrating illegally” and “using violence to assault police and damage public properties” during protests on the island of Sitra, where he lived, according to news reports.
Humaidan has covered demonstrations since 2011, when thousands of Bahrainis descended into the streets to protest the government. His photographs were published by local opposition sites, including the online newsmagazine Alhadath and the news website Alrasid.
Adel Marzouk, head of the Bahrain Press Association, an independent media freedom organization based in London, told CPJ that Humaidan’s photographs had exposed police attacks on protesters during demonstrations. Humaidan’s family said authorities had sought his arrest for months and had raided their home five times in an attempt to arrest him, news reports said.
Humaidan’s trial, which was delayed repeatedly, was ongoing in late 2013.
Hussein Hubail, freelance
Imprisoned: July 31, 2013
Hubail, a photographer, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to the Dry Dock prison on August 5, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported.
Hubail was detained the same day as a Bahraini blogger, Mohammed Hassan. The arrests came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14 that was modeled after the demonstrations that led to the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad Bin Issa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities.
On August 7, 2013, Hubail and Hassan were interrogated by the public prosecutor who accused them of incitement against the regime and calling for illegal gatherings. Hubail’s lawyer, Ali al-Asfoor, said in a series of Twitter posts that investigators had questioned Hubail about his photography and purported posts on social media that had called for the protests on August 14. Al-Asfoor told CPJ that his client faces up to 15 years in prison under the charges.
In a statement from the Bahrain government’s Information Affairs Authority to CPJ on August 28, 2013, the Bahraini government accused the journalists of abusing freedom of the press in Bahrain by undertaking “incitement [that] threatens public order and the community’s security.” The government declined to provide any evidence of the charges, citing the ongoing investigation.
Hubail, who photographs opposition protests in Bahrain, has had his work published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas.
Hubail and Hassan have claimed they were tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail was beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep. The government told CPJ in the statement that it was investigating the torture claims.
Authorities also charged Hassan’s lawyer, Abdel Aziz Moussa, with “committing acts of slander and defamation” and “preventing the course of justice by obstructing and hindering the authorities” in connection with the lawyer’s August 7, 2013, tweet that said his client showed signs of torture. The government said Moussa had disclosed on Twitter the names of other individuals under investigation in the same case who had not yet been arrested or questioned by the authorities.
No trial date was set in late 2013, al-Asfoor told CPJ.
Mahmudur Rahman, Amar Desh
Imprisoned: April 11, 2013
Rahman, 60, acting editor and majority owner of the pro-opposition Bengali-language daily Amar Desh, was arrested at his office, according to news reports. Rahman faced charges of publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension in connection with what the government said was highly critical coverage of the Shahbagh movement. The movement calls for the death penalty for Islamist leaders on trial for war crimes.
News reports cited a February 2013 article published in Amar Desh as an example of the daily’s critical coverage during heightened political and religious tension. The article, headlined “Bloggers committing contempt of religion and court,” criticized self-described atheist bloggers, who helped amplify support for the Shahbagh movement, and called them “enemies of Islam” and their work “vulgar, objectionable propaganda.”
Rahman was also charged with sedition and unlawful publication in connection with his paper’s publication of reports in December 2012 that questioned the impartiality of a war crimes tribunal set up by the government to investigate mass killings during the war of independence. The paper’s reports included leaked Skype conversations of a judge presiding over the tribunal. The controversy led to the judge’s resignation.
At his initial hearing, Rahman refused to request bail, news reports said. His trial was pending in late 2013.
Rahman, who served as an energy adviser in the previous opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government, which is aligned with Islamist parties, was previously arrested in June 2010 and spent 10 months in prison for contempt of court in connection with Amar Desh reports that accused the country’s courts of bias in favor of the state. The editor was also charged with defamation in connection with his reports on alleged corruption by the son of the prime minister, but those charges were dropped in early 2013, reportssaid.
Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, Rassd Online News
Imprisoned: July 3, 2013
Abdel Nabi, a correspondent for the critical news website Rassd, was arrested while covering clashes between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and supporters of the Egyptian army in the Sidi Beshr neighborhood in Alexandria, according to news reports. The clashes resulted in at least four killed and 84 injured, reports said.
A prosecutor charged Abdel Nabi and at least 14 others with possessing weapons and inciting rioting, according to the state-run paper Al-Ahram. The journalist was being held at Burg Al-Arab prison outside of Alexandria, according to Rassd.
Abdel Nabi’s trial, which was delayed several times, was ongoing in late 2013.
Following Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013, the military-supported government detained dozens of local and international journalists. Most have been freed.
Mohammad Bader, Al-Jazeera
Imprisoned: July 15 or 16, 2013
Bader, cameraman for Al-Jazeera Mubashir, was arrested while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at Ramses Square, according to news reports. The reports gave conflicting dates as to Bader’s arrest.
Bader was charged with attempted murder and possessing a weapon, according to news reports. The charges were the same as those levied against hundreds of protesters detained during the clashes. His lawyer, Mohamed Shaaban, told CPJ that Bader denied the charges. Al-Jazeera also denied the charges against Bader and said he had been carrying out his journalistic duty.
Following Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013, the military-supported government detained dozens of local and international journalists. Most have been freed.
Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar and funded by the Qatari government, and its affiliates have been consistently harassed by the Egyptian authorities through a series of detentions, raids, and acts of censorship. The crackdown on Al-Jazeera has been supported by many Egyptians, who accused the station of bias, an allegation Al-Jazeera denies.
Political tensions between Qatar and Egypt increased after Morsi’s ouster. Qatar had supported Morsi’s government with billions of dollars in aid and investment, and has been critical of the military-backed leaders who replaced him. The interim Egyptian government returned the money to Qatar and replaced it with aid from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Abdullah al-Shami, Al-Jazeera
Imprisoned: August 14, 2013
Al-Shami, Egypt correspondent for Al-Jazeera, was arrested while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, according to news reports.
On August 17, 2013, the journalist was transferred to Abu Zaabal prison, according to news reports and his brother, Mosa’ab Elshamy.
Al-Shami was accused of possessing weapons, according to news sources. His pre-trial detention was extended at least twice in late 2013. Authorities had not lodged charges against al-Shami in late 2013, according to reports.
Following Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013, the military-supported government detained dozens of local and international journalists. Most have been freed.
Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar and funded by the Qatari government, and its affiliates have been consistently harassed by the Egyptian authorities through a series of detentions, raids, and acts of censorship. The crackdown on Al-Jazeera has been supported by many Egyptians, who accused the station of bias, an allegation Al-Jazeera denies.
Political tensions between Qatar and Egypt increased after Morsi’s ouster. Qatar had supported Morsi’s government with billions of dollars in aid and investment, and has been critical of the military-backed leaders who replaced him. The interim Egyptian government returned the money to Qatar and replaced it with aid from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Mahmoud Abou Zeid, freelance
Imprisoned: August 14, 2013
Abou Zeid, a freelance photographer, was detained while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo.
Abou Zeid has contributed to the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix and digital media company Corbis. After his detention, Demotix sent a letter to the Egyptian authorities, confirming that Abou Zeid was covering the clashes for the agency, the photographer’s brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, told CPJ.
Abou Zeid was first detained by police and held in Cairo stadium with other protesters and foreign correspondents who were released the same day. He was transferred to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Cairo after his detention was extended by 15 days, the reports said.
His brother, Mohamed, told CPJ that Egypt’s general prosecutor’s office extended his pre-trial detention in September 2013 on accusations of “possessing weapons.” The accusations were the same as those levied against hundreds of protesters detained during the clashes.
Abou Zeid’s lawyer told CPJ in November 2013 that no charges had been filed against the journalist.
Mohamed told CPJ that Abou Zeid’s lawyer and the legal team at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information had appealed for his release. The appeal was denied.
Metin Turan, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation
Imprisoned: August 17, 2013
Turan, a reporter for the state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, was detained while covering the security forces’ crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi at Al-Fateh Mosque at Ramses Square, according to news reports
The day after his arrest, Turan was taken first to Egypt’s Tora prison in southern Cairo and then held at the Wadi El Natrun prison in northern Cairo. His pre-trial detention has been extended several times by the Egyptian prosecutor’s office, according to news reports.
No formal charges had been lodged against Turan in late 2013.
On September, 30, 2013, Turkey’s ambassador in Cairo, Huseyin Avni Botsali, said that his government was lobbying for Turan’s release, according to Anadolu news agency.
Since the ouster on July 3, 2013, the military-supported government detained dozens of local and international journalists. Most have been freed.
Turkey became a target of popular protests in Egypt for characterizing the military takeover that ousted Morsi as a coup, and the Turkish government has been critical of Egypt’s interim government. Turkish journalists have been subject to obstruction, detentions, and assaults. In a nationally televised speech on August 20, 2013, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of plotting Morsi’s overthrow, news reports said.
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. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the vice chairman of the party’s 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. He is expected to be released in the fall of 2014.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. The Independent Chinese PEN Center 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.
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.
He is being held in Dantu District Detention Centre in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, according to the PEN American Center.
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, 2007, 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, but in May that year, local authorities told him that the court had received new evidence against him. On June 9, 2011, less than three weeks before the end of his term, a Shandong provincial court sentenced him to another eight years in jail, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia.
Ma was also 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 other 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 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.
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 Centre 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, 2012, and that it feared he had been detained again.
Lhamo Tso told Radio Netherlands Worldwide in 2011 that her husband was working extremely long hours in prison and had contracted hepatitis B.
In October 2013, the film company reportedthat Wangchen continued to suffer from hepatitis B and had not received the medical treatment he needed. They said it had been difficult to obtain reliable information about his condition and that it was believed he had been transferred to Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison.
Wangchen was scheduled to be released in June 2014. 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.
In March 2013, unidentified assailants beat two Hong Kong journalists as they filmed an activist’s attempt to visit Liu Xia at her home.
In June 2013, Liu’s brother-in-law, Liu Hui, a manager of a property company, was convicted of fraud in what the journalist’s family said was reprisal for Liu Xiaobo’s journalistic work. The conviction stemmed from a real estate dispute that his lawyers said had already been settled. Liu Hui was sentenced to 11 years in prison, news reports said. A court rejected his appeal in August 2013.
Liu Xiaobo is being held in Jinzhou Prison in northeastern China’s Liaoning province, according to news reports.
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 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.
Gopey Tsang served four years of his sentence in Dingxi prison in Lanzhu, Gansu Province,
before being transferred in August 2013 to another prison in Gansu where conditions are
more harsh and where there are serious concerns for his health, according to PEN International. His family is allowed to visit him once every two months, but is only permitted to speak with him in Chinese via intercom through a glass screen. Not being allowed to converse in Tibetan is difficult for many of his nomadic family members, PEN International said.
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 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.
No information about where he is being held or any details about his health and living conditions have been disclosed.
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 to the prison were subject to strict examination before being allowed to see him, the German public news organization Deutsche Welle reported in 2012, citing Wang.
A number of prominent China and U.S.-based rights lawyers and dissidents published
an open letter calling for Tan’s release in May 2013, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, according to news reports.
No information on his whereabouts had been disclosed in late 2013. CPJ’s emailed questions to his lawyer went unanswered.
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 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, Radio Free Asia reported. The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress confirmed the sentence with sources in the region, according to The New York Times.
Abdulla is being held in a prison in Xinjiang, according to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an organization founded by Congress in 2000 that has the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the rule of law in China.
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.
No information on where he is being held has been disclosed.
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.
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, Radio Free Asia reported. Imin had been critical of the government in her online writings, readers of the website told Radio Free Asia. 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, 2009, only to be sure she was safe.
The riots, which began as a protest against 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 and hundreds of protesters were arrested, according to international human rights organizations and local and international media reports.
Imin is being held in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi, according to the World Uyghur Congress.
Nijat Azat, Shabnam
Imprisoned: July or August 2009
Authorities imprisoned Azat and another journalist, Nureli, who goes by one name, 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.
Nureli’s three-year sentence should have been completed in 2013. Although prisoners in China are generally released at the completion of their sentence, CPJ could not confirm that Nureli had been freed. Former prisoners in China are often ordered not to discuss their detention or are afraid to do so.
Azat’s whereabouts were also unknown in late 2013.
Dilshat Parhat (Dilixiati Paerhati), Diyarim
Imprisoned: August 7, 2009
Parhat, who edited the popular Uighur-language website Diyarim, was one of several online forum administrators arrested after ethnic violence in Urumqi in July 2009. Parhat was sentenced to a five-year prison term in July 2010 on charges of “endangering state security,” according to international news reports. He has previously appeared on CPJ’s prison census as Dilixiati Paerhati, which is the pinyin transliteration of his Chinese name.
Parhat 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 told Amnesty International. News reports citing his brother said Parhat was prosecuted for failing to comply with an official order to delete anti-government comments on the website.
No information on where he was being held had been disclosed in late 2013.
Gheyrat Niyaz (Hailaite Niyazi), Uighurbiz
Imprisoned: October 1, 2009
Security officials arrested Niyaz, a website manager who is sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, according to international news reports. He was convicted 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, 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.
Niyaz is being held at Xinjiang No. 3 Prison, according to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an organization founded by Congress in 2000 that has a legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the rule of law in China.
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. Rabten had already been detained once before, in 2009, according to international Tibetan rights groups and Radio Free Asia.
A court in Aba prefecture, a predominantly Tibetan area of Sichuan province, sentenced Rabten to four years in prison in a closed-door trial on June 2, 2011, according to Radio Free Asia and the International Campaign for Tibet. Radio Free Asia cited a family member as saying that Rabten had been charged with separatism, although CPJ could not independently confirm the charge.
No information on where he was being held had been disclosed in late 2013.
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.
No information on where he was being held, his legal status, or his health had been disclosed in late 2013.
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 reported.
Donkho, an author and editor who wrote under the penname Nyen, meaning “Wild One,” was detained on June 21, 2010, Radio Free Asia reported. The name on his official identification 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, Radio Free Asia 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. Radio Free Asia, citing an unnamed source in Tibet, reported that the court later sentenced Donkho and Buddha to four years’ imprisonment each and 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 Dungri was 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, Radio Free Asia 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.
Jinpa’s three-year sentence may have been completed in 2013. Although prisoners in China are generally released at the completion of their sentence, CPJ could not confirm that Jinpa had been freed. Former prisoners in China are often ordered not to discuss their detention or are afraid to do so.
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.
No information about where Liu was being held had been disclosed in late 2013.
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 his 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 reproduced as proof of incitement to subvert the state. The paragraph said in part that the Chinese Communist Party’s status as a “governing power and leadership utility has long-since been smashed and subverted by the powers that hold the Party at gunpoint.”
Court documents said Lü and Jin were being held in the Beijing Number 1 Detention Center. Lü suffered a heart attack and other health problems in jail, 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 in September 2010, according to international news reports. The Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court tried him behind closed doors on April 18, 2011, but did not announce the verdict until January 18, 2012, when he was handed a 10-year prison term and three additional years’ political deprivation, according to news reports citing his lawyer. Only Li’s mother and daughter were allowed to attend the trial, news reports said.
The court cited 13 of Li’s online articles to support the charge of subversion of state power, a more serious count than inciting subversion, which is a common criminal charge used against jailed journalists in China, according to CPJ research. Evidence in the trial cited articles including one headlined “Human beings’ heaven is human dignity,” in which Li urged respect for ordinary citizens and called for democracy and political reform, according to international news reports. Prosecutors argued that the articles proved Li had “anti-government thoughts” that would ultimately lead to “anti-government actions,” according to 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.
No information about where Li was being held had been disclosed in late 2013.
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. Radio Free Asia reported that police had selected four pro-democracy articles Chen had written for overseas websites as the basis for criminal prosecution.
In December 2011, a court in Suining sentenced Chen to nine years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion,” a term viewed as unusually harsh.
He is being held in Suining City Detention Centre in Sichuan Province, according to Amnesty International.
Gartse Jigme, freelance
Imprisoned: January 1, 2013
Police arrested Jigme, a Tibetan author and monk, in his room at the Rebgong Gartse monastery in the Malho prefecture of Qinghai province, according to news reports. His family was unaware of his whereabouts until a Qinghai court sentenced him to five years in prison on May 14, 2013. The charges have not been disclosed.
The conviction was in connection with the second volume of Jigme’s book, Tsenpoi Nyingtob (The Warrior’s Courage), according to Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. The book contained chapters expressing Jigme’s strong opinions on topics such as Chinese policies in Tibet, self-immolations, minority rights, and the Dalai Lama, according to reports.
Authorities did not disclose any information on Jigme’s health or whereabouts.
Jigme had also been briefly detained in 2011 in connection with the first volume of his book, Tsenpoi Nyingtob, according to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders and Tibetan rights groups. He had written the book as a reflection on widespread protests in Tibetan areas in the spring of 2008, Tibetan scholar Robert Barnett told CPJ. China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Liu Wei’an, freelance
Imprisoned: June 5, 2013
Hu Yazhu, Nanfang Daily
Imprisoned: June 21, 2013
The Shaoguan People’s Procuratorate, a state legal body, issued a statement in June 2013 that said Hu and Liu had been arrested in Guangdong province after confessing to accepting bribes while covering events in the northern city of Shaoguan.
Hu, a staff reporter for the official Guangdong Communist Party newspaper Nanfang Daily, and Liu, a freelance writer, had both written articles published in 2011 in Nanfang Daily and news websites about a land-use dispute involving the illegal extraction of rare minerals in Shaoguan, according to news reports.
The prosecutors’ statement said Hu accepted 95,000 yuan (about US$16,000) in bribes, but did not offer a specific amount for Liu. The statement did not offer further details.
Users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog service, said they suspected the reporters were arrested “due to possible revenge from local authorities” because their reports had exposed problems in the government and judiciary, according to CPJ research.
Shaoguan authorities had not disclosed the health, whereabouts, or legal status of the journalists in late 2013.
Liu Hu, Modern Express
Imprisoned: August 23, 2013
Liu, a journalist for the Shenzhen-based state-owned newspaper New Express, was arrested at his home in Chongqing province in connection with statements he made on his microblog in July 2013, according to news reports and Liu’s lawyers. He was charged with libel on September 30, 2013, news reports said.
In his posts, Liu urged authorities to investigate Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, for dereliction of duty during his term as vice mayor of Chongqing. Liu accused the official of losing millions of yuan while overseeing the privatization of two state-owned companies, according to media reports. Liu’s posts were later removed, and his microblog accounts were shut down without explanation.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post in July, Liu said that in 2002 Ma allowed civil servants to purchase the state companies for 1.7 million yuan (US$278,000), far less than their value of 27.7 million yuan. He also posted a government document allegedly showing that Ma waived investigation into the deal, saying, “What is done cannot be undone. Let’s focus now on the later development.”
Neither Ma nor the State Administration for Industry and Commerce publicly addressed Liu’s claims.
Authorities have not disclosed Liu’s whereabouts. No trial date was set in late 2013.
Authorities detained scores of people starting in August 2013 in a stepped-up campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, casts the government in a critical light, according to Chinese media and human rights groups. Many have been released, but some were still being held on criminal accusations.
Charles Xue Biqun, freelance
Imprisoned: August 23, 2013
Charles Xue Biqun, a Chinese-born American billionaire venture capitalist and a prominent microblogger, was detained on August 23, 2013, in connection with alleged involvement in prostitution, according to Beijing police. He was put under administrative detention, whereby individuals are imprisoned without trial. It is not clear if Xue has been officially charged.
Xue appeared in a 30-minute program on CCTV in September in prison garb, and confessed to being an “irresponsible opinion leader” and not for soliciting prostitutes. At the end of the program, Xue expressed his support for recent judicial guidelines that define and outlaw false online rumors, saying that they would “restore order” in the online world.
Xue’s Weibo microblog had 12 million followers, and critics have said that the allegations against Xue were fabricated in reprisal for his online comments. He was known for his investing tips and commentary on social issues, such as child trafficking and the underprivileged, according to The New York Times. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times paper, said, “It is a universal ruse by governments around the world to use sex scandals or tax evasion charges to frame political rivals,” according to the South China Morning Post.
Although Xue is not a professional journalist, CPJ determined that he was jailed in connection with his news-based commentary published on the Internet. Authorities detained scores of people starting in August 2013 in a stepped-up campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, casts the government in a critical light, according to Chinese media and human rights groups. Many have been released, but some were still being held on criminal accusations.
Dong Rubin, freelance
Imprisoned: September 12, 2013
Dong was detained in Kunming City, Yunnan Province, on accusations of misstating his company’s registered assets, according to statements from his lawyer.
Dong, who runs an Internet consulting company, had used the name “Bianmin” on his microblog to criticize authorities and raise concerns about local issues. He had also used the microblog to campaign in 2009 for an investigation into the death of a young man in police custody. (Authorities had initially said it was accidental but later admitted the man was beaten to death, according to news reports.) In 2013, Dong raised safety and environmental concerns about plans for a new state-owned oil refinery project near the city of Kunming and expressed support on his microblog for a protest against the project by Kunming residents in May 2013.
Dong predicted his own arrest when he wrote on his microblog, which has about 50,000 followers, that strangers had raided his office in late August and taken away three computers. “What crime will they bring against me? Prostituting, gambling, using and selling drugs, evading tax, causing trouble on purpose, fabricating rumors, running a mafia online?” Dong wrote.
Dong’s friend, Zheng Xiejian, told Reuters in September: “If they want to punish you, they can always find an excuse. They could not find any wrongdoing against Dong and had to settle on this obscure charge.”
Dong’s lawyer, Xiao Dongzhi, told CPJ that he was formally charged at a hearing in late October. Dong was charged with declaring false capital in the registration of his Internet consulting company and of conducting illegal business operations, according to Xiao and statements from police authorities that were published by Xinhua, China’s official state news agency.
He was also charged with creating disturbances in connection to his online activities, police said.
As of November 2013, a date for Dong’s trial had not been set, Xiao told CPJ.
Although Dong is not a professional journalist, CPJ determined that he was jailed in connection with his news-based commentary published on the Internet. Authorities detained scores of people starting in August 2013 in a stepped-up campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, casts the government in a critical light, according to Chinese media and human rights groups. Many have been released, but some were still being held on criminal accusations.
Chen Yongzhou, The New Express
Imprisoned: October 18, 2013
Police detained Chen, a journalist working for the state-run New Express newspaper based in the southern city of Guangzhou, in connection with his reports on the finances of one of the country’s largest construction machinery companies, Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Company, according to The New York Times.
Chen had written 15 articles, published between September 2012 and June 2013, that questioned Zoomlion’s revenue and profit figures, news reports said. Chen alleged that the company, which is partly owned by the Hunan government, had exaggerated profits and manipulated the market, reports said. Zoomlion denied the allegations.
Chen was summoned to a Guangzhou police station on October 18, 2013, and was then taken into custody by police officers visiting from Changsha, located 700 kilometers (437 miles) to the north. He was put in a Mercedes-Benz and driven away, reports said. Four days later, police announced his arrest on their official Sina Weibo microblog, saying he was being held on criminal charges of “damaging commercial reputation,” the Hong Kong-based China Media Project reported.
After failed attempts to secure Chen’s release behind closed doors, The New Express published a front-page appeal for his release, marking one of the few times a Chinese newspaper has openly demanded the release of one of its journalists. The paper’s editors said they had thoroughly vetted Chen’s stories and found only one factual error.
However, on October 26, 2013, Chen appeared in handcuffs on China Central Television (CCTV) and confessed to having filed false information in exchange for money. He said the stories on Zoomlion had been written by someone else, according to news reports. The CCTV broadcast did not name the intermediary who allegedly bribed Chen or offer any evidence or details on the amounts received. According to Caixin magazine, a close-up shot of Chen’s signed confession aired during the CCTV interview clearly showed the name of Zoomlion’s chief competitor, Sany Heavy Industry Co.
The New Express subsequently published an apology. The official All-China Journalists Association, which had pledged to investigate Chen’s arrest, condemned his actions, the China Media Project reported.
No information about a trial had been disclosed in late 2013, and it was unclear where Chen was being held. His lawyer could not be reached.
Roger Sebyera, Walikale Radio
Imprisoned: November 30, 2013
Officials from the National Intelligence Agency (known by its French acronym, ANR) in the eastern town of Rutshuru detained Sebyera without charge after he went to their offices to retrieve his cellphone and petty cash that had been confiscated the day before, according to a local journalist and a report from Congolese press freedom group Journaliste en Danger.
On November 29, ANR officers seized a cellphone and US$5 from Sebyera while he was phoning in a live report to his station, Walikale Radio, about a visit to Rutshuru by President Joseph Kabila. The officers said they suspected Sebyera was in communication with enemies of the president and was possibly plotting to harm him, Journaliste en Danger reported.
Sebyera was being held in Rutshuru’s central prison in late 2013. No charges had been filed against him.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
Imprisoned: July 2000
Security agents arrested Ghebrehiwet, reporter for the now-defunct private weekly Tsigenay, while he was on his way to work. He has not been heard from since. Sources told CPJ at the time that Ghebrehiwet was being held in connection with the government’s overall crackdown on the press.
CPJ listed Ghebrehiwet on its annual prison list until 2010, when exiled journalists told the organization that Ghebrehiwet may have been released.
But in 2013, one of Ghebrehiwet’s children, who had recently fled Eritrea, said Ghebrehiwet was still in government custody, according to another exiled journalist who spoke to CPJ.
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Dawit Habtemichael, Meqaleh
Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Said Abdelkader, Admas
Seyoum Tsehaye, Setit
Temesgen Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Imprisoned: September 2001
Eritrean authorities have never accounted for the whereabouts, health, or legal status of several newspaper editors who were arrested after the government summarily banned the private press on September 18, 2001, in response to growing criticism of President Isaias Afewerki. CPJ has confirmed that at least one of the journalists has died in secret detention, and is investigating unconfirmed reports that others have also perished in custody.
The journalists’ papers had reported on divisions between reformers and conservatives within the ruling Party for Democracy and Justice and advocated for full implementation of the country’s democratic constitution. A dozen top reformist officials, whose pro-democracy statements had been relayed by the independent newspapers, were also arrested.
Authorities initially detained the journalists at a police station in the capital, Asmara, where they began a hunger strike on March 31, 2002, and smuggled a message out of jail demanding due process. The government responded by transferring them to secret locations without ever bringing them before a court or publicly registering charges. Several CPJ sources said the journalists were confined at the Eiraeiro prison camp or at a military prison, Adi Abeito, based in Asmara.
Over the years, Eritrean officials have offered vague and inconsistent explanations for the arrests-accusing the journalists of involvement in anti-state conspiracies in connection with foreign intelligence, of skirting military service, and of violating press regulations. Officials, at times, even denied that the journalists existed. Meanwhile, shreds of often unverifiable, second- or third-hand information smuggled out of the country by people fleeing into exile have suggested the deaths of as many as five journalists in custody.
In February 2007, CPJ established that one detainee, Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, a co-founder of the newspaper Setit and a 2002 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, had died in custody at the age of 47.
CPJ is seeking corroboration of successive reports that several of the remaining detainees may have died in custody. In August 2012, the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, citing a purported former prison guard, said Dawit Habtemichael and Mattewos Habteab had died at Eiraeiro in recent years. In 2010, the Ethiopian government-sponsored Radio Wegahta also cited a purported former Eritrean prison guard as saying that Mattewos had died at Eiraeiro.
In August 2006, an unbylined report on the Ethiopian pro-government website Aigaforum quoted 14 purported former Eiraeiro guards as reporting the deaths of prisoners whose names closely resembled Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Medhanie Haile, and Said Abdelkader. The details could not be independently confirmed, although CPJ sources considered it to be generally credible. In 2009, the London-based Eritrean opposition news site Assena published purported death certificates of Fesshaye, Yusuf, Medhanie, and Said.
CPJ continues to list the journalists on the prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for their fates. Relatives of the journalists also told CPJ that they maintain hope their loved ones are still alive.
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Imprisoned: September 23, 2001
Dawit, co-founder of the newspaper Setit, was one of 10 prominent journalists imprisoned in the September 2001 government crackdown on the independent press. He has been held incommunicado and without charge since his arrest, except for brief contact with his family in 2005.
When asked about Dawit’s crime in a May 2009 interview with Swedish freelance journalist Donald Boström, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki said, “I don’t know,” before asserting that the journalist had made “a big mistake,” without offering details. 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.”
Dawit, who has dual Eritrean and Swedish citizenship, has drawn considerable international attention, particularly in Sweden, where members of his family, including his brother, Esayas, live.
In September 2011, on the 10th anniversary of Dawit’s imprisonment, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing “fears for the life” of Dawit, calling for his release and urging the European Council to consider targeted sanctions against relevant top Eritrean officials.
In a January 2013 interview with a Swedish newspaper, former information minister and government spokesman Ali Abdu pleaded ignorance of Dawit’s fate.
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eri-TV
Imprisoned: February 15, 2002
Hamid, a reporter for the Arabic-language service of the government-controlled national broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested without charge in connection with the government’s crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001, according to CPJ sources.
In a July 2002 fact-finding mission to Asmara, the capital, a CPJ delegation learned from local sources that Hamid was among three state media reporters arrested. 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 Hamid’s whereabouts, health, and legal status.
While the government’s motivation in imprisoning journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.
Basilos Zemo, Radio Bana
Bereket Misguina, Radio Bana
Ghirmai Abraham, Radio Bana
Meles Nguse, Radio Bana
Petros Teferi , Radio Bana
Yirgalem Fesseha, 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 6 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.
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 Meles 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, Bereket (also a film director and scriptwriter), Meles (also a poet), and Yirgalem (a poet as well) were columnists for Haddas Erta. Basilos was the head of Radio Bana, and Petros a reporter for the station. CPJ learned from an exiled journalist in 2013 of their detention with the others in 2009.
CPJ sources confirmed that at least eight of the journalists arrested in February 2009 were released on April 2013: Ismail Abdelkader, Mohammed Dafla, Araya Defoch, Simon Elias, Biniam Ghirmay, Mulubruhan Habtegebriel, Mohammed Said Mohammed, and Issak Abraham.
Sources told CPJ that the mental health of at least two of the detainees, Yirgalem and Meles, had seriously deteriorated in detention.
Sitaneyesus Tsigeyohannes, Eritrea Profile
Imprisoned: August 2009
Two men believed to be government agents took Sitaneyesus into custody at the offices of the English-language state weekly Eritrea 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.
Ahmed Usman, Dimtsi Hafash
Eyob Kessete, Dimtsi Hafash
Mohamed Osman, Dimtsi Hafash
Nebiel Edris, 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 services 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.
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, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.
But Tesfalidet and Saleh had not been tried by late 2013, and authorities disclosed no information about legal proceedings against them, according to local journalists. Authorities also did not disclose any information about their health or whereabouts.
Woubshet Taye, Awramba Times
Imprisoned: June 19, 2011
Police arrested Woubshet, deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, after raiding his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, and confiscating documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of the newspaper, according to local journalists. The outlet’s top editor, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Dawit Kebede, fled the country in November 2011 in fear of being arrested; the newspaper is published online from exile.
Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Woubshet was among several people accused of planning terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, according to news reports. In January 2012, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced Woubshet to 14 years in prison, news reports said.
CPJ believes Woubshet’s conviction was in reprisal for Awramba Times‘ critical coverage of the government. 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. He was detained for a week in November 2005 during the government’s crackdown on news coverage of unrest that followed disputed elections.
In April 2013, authorities transferred Woubshet from Kilinto Prison, outside Addis Ababa, to a detention facility in the town of Ziway, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, according to local journalists and the Awramba Times. Ziway, one Ethiopia’s largest prisons, is a maximum-security jail designed for those convicted of serious offenses, according to local journalists. The authorities did not provide a reason for the transfer. In November, Woubshet was transferred back to Kality prison because he was in poor health, according to local journalists.
Woubshet did not appeal his conviction and applied for a pardon, according to local journalists. In August 2013, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice rejected the request for a pardon, the Awramba Times reported.
In October 2013, Woubshet was honored with the Free Press Africa Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards in Cape Town, South Africa.
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. 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.
The High 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. The conviction was based on emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups; reports she had sent to the U.S.-based opposition news site Ethiopian Review; and unspecified money transfers from her bank account, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ.
CPJ believes Reeyot’s conviction is due to columns she wrote that accused authorities of governing by coercion, by (for example) allowing access to economic and educational opportunities only to those who were members of the ruling party, according to CPJ’s review of the translations in 2013. In the last column published before her arrest, she wrote that the ruling party had deluded itself in believing it held the legitimacy of popular support in the way of late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, according to local journalists.
In August 2012, the Supreme Court overturned Reeyot’s conviction on the planning and possession charges, but upheld the charge of promoting terrorism. The court reducedher sentence to five years.
In January 2013, the Ethiopian Court of Cassation, the last resort for legal appeals in Ethiopia, rejected Reeyot’s appeal, according to news reports. She is being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa.
In March 2013, prison authorities threatened to place Reeyot in solitary confinement for saying she would publicize the abuse of her rights, according to her lawyer and family members. The same month, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment issued a report that determined Reeyot’s rights under the U.N. Convention Against Torture had been violated by the government’s failure to respond to allegations of her ill treatment. Reeyot’s health had deteriorated while she was held in pretrial detention, reports said.
In April 2013, Reeyot won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in recognition of her courage and commitment to freedom of expression.
In September 2013, prison officials limitedReeyot’s visitors to her parents, denying visits from her fiancé, relatives, and friends. The journalist waged a four-day hunger strike in protest. Kemal said that Reeyot was being disciplined for violating prison laws, but did not elaborate, according to news reports.
Eskinder Nega, freelance
Imprisoned: September 14, 2011
Ethiopian security forces arrested Eskinder, a prominent online columnist and former publisher and editor of now-shuttered newspapers, on vague accusations of involvement in a terrorism plot. The arrest came five days after Eskinder published a column on the U.S.-based news website EthioMedia that criticized the government for misusing the country’s sweeping anti-terrorism law to jail prominent journalists and dissident intellectuals.
Shortly after Eskinder’s arrest, state television portrayed the journalist as a spy for “foreign forces” and accused him of having links with the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7, which the Ethiopian government designated a terrorist entity. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, government spokesman Shimelis Kemal accused the detainee of plotting “a series of terrorist acts that would likely wreak havoc.” Eskinder consistently proclaimed his innocence, but was convicted on the basis of a video of a public town hall meeting in which he discussed the possibility of a popular uprising in Ethiopia if the ruling party did not deliver democratic reform, according to reports.
In July 2012, a federal high court judge in Addis Ababa sentenced Eskinder to an 18-year prison sentence, according to local journalists and news reports. Five exiled journalists were convicted in absentia at the same time.
Also in 2012, a U.N. panel found that Eskinder’s imprisonment came as “a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression,” according to a report published in April 2013.
In May 2013, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal and upheld the sentence.
CPJ believes the charges are part of a pattern of government persecution of Eskinder in reprisal for his coverage. In 2011, police detained Eskinder and threatened him in connection with his online columns that drew comparisons between the Egyptian uprising and Ethiopia’s 2005 pro-democracy protests, according to news reports. His coverage of the Ethiopian government’s repression of the 2005 protests landed him in jail for 17 months on anti-state charges at the time. After his release in 2007, authorities banned his newspapers and denied him licenses to start new ones. He was first arrested in September 1993 in connection with his articles in the Amharic weekly Ethiopis, one of the country’s first independent newspapers, about the government’s crackdown on dissent in Western Ethiopia, according to CPJ research.
Eskinder was being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, with restricted visitation rights, in late 2013.
Yusuf Getachew, Ye Muslimoch Guday
Imprisoned: July 20, 2012
Police officers raided the Addis Ababa home of Yusuf, editor of the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), as part of a broad crackdown on journalists and news outlets reporting on protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims. The Muslims were demonstrating against government policies they said interfered with their religious freedom. The government sought to link the protesters to Islamist extremists and tried to suppress coverage by arresting several local and international journalists and forcing publications to close down, according to local journalists and news reports.
After Yusuf’s arrest, other Ye Muslimoch Guday journalists went into hiding, and the publication ceased operations, local journalists told CPJ.
Yusuf spent weeks in pre-trial custody at the Maekelawi federal detention center without access to his family and limited contact with his lawyer, according to local journalists.
In October 2012, he was formally charged under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Law with plotting acts of “terrorism [and] intending to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause,” according to local journalists. Yusuf told the court he had been beaten in custody, local journalists told CPJ.
Prosecutors accused Yusuf of inciting violence in columns in Ye Muslimoch Guday by alleging that the government-appointed Supreme Council for Muslim Affairs was corrupt and lacked legitimacy, according to local journalists and court documents obtained by CPJ. The prosecution also used as evidence Yusuf’s CDs with Islamic teachings even though these were widely available in markets, according to local journalists.
The editor is being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa. The trial was ongoing in late 2013.
Solomon Kebede, Ye Muslimoch Guday
Imprisoned: January 17, 2013
Police arrested the managing director of the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), as part of a broad crackdown on journalists and news outlets reporting on peaceful protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims against government policies they said interfered with their religious freedom. The government sought to link the protesters to Islamist extremists and attempted to suppress coverage by arresting several local and international journalists and forcing publications to close down, according to local journalists and news reports.
Solomon was held at the Maekelawi federal detention center for weeks without access to his family and with limited contact with his lawyer, according to local journalists.
A few weeks after his arrest, Solomon was formally charged under the Ethiopian anti-terrorism law, according to local journalists. Authorities have not disclosed any evidence against him. His case was ongoing in late 2013, according to a human rights lawyer familiar with matter.
“Chief” Ebrima Manneh, Daily Observer
Imprisoned: July 7, 2006
Two plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence Agency arrested Manneh at the office of his newspaper, the pro-government Daily Observer, according to witnesses. The reason for the arrest was unclear, although some colleagues believe it was linked to his attempt to republish a BBC article critical of President Yahya Jammeh.
Despite dozens of inquiries from international organizations, the government has not provided a credible account of what happened to Manneh after he was taken into custody. In 2008, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States ruled that Gambia had unlawfully seized Manneh and ordered his immediate release.
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, Jammeh described Manneh as having died, but denied any government involvement in the journalist’s fate. “Let me make it very clear that the government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh,” he said.
But Justice Minister Edward Gomez provided contradictory information just months later. In an October 2011 interview with the local newspaper Daily News, Gomez said that Manneh was alive. “Chief Ebrima Manneh is alive, and we will talk about this case later,” Gomez told AFP in a subsequent interview.
In February 2012, Reuters reported that Jammeh had asked the United Nations to investigate Manneh’s disappearance. “In response to civil society complaints about the disappearance of a journalist in the Gambia, the president of Gambia asked for the U.N. to come in and investigate,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, according to Reuters. In a subsequent interview with CPJ, a government spokesman denied having any knowledge of the request to the U.N.
Gambian authorities have not responded to CPJ’s inquiries about Manneh’s whereabouts, health, or legal status.
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 under section 124A of the Indian penal code, waging war against the state under sections 121 and 121A under the Indian penal code, and alleged involvement with a terrorist group under sections 17, 20, and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act , according to news reports and Anand Teltumbde, a member of the Mumbai-based Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights. Sections 124 and 121 of the penal code carry a potential death penalty.
Police said a Maoist insurgent in custody had accused Dhawale of involvement in the banned organization’s war against the state in tribal areas of India, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Teltumbde. Police searched Dhawale’s home on January 3, 2011, and seized books and a computer, 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 violence between Maoists and the government. 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 Teltumbde, who said Vidrohi covered the Maoists but did not support them.
On January 20, 2011, police also accused Dhawale of hanging Maoist posters in Gondia district in December 2010. Dhawale’s wife said the journalist was in Mumbai, not Gondia, at the time, according to local news reports. No formal charges were filed against Dhawale, and that case against him was soon dropped, Teltumbde told CPJ.
Shortly after proceedings began in 2011, a court in Maharashtra state withdrew the sedition charges against Dhawale, but kept the other charges, Teltumbde told CPJ.
Dhawale was denied bail in March 2012. His trialwas ongoing in late 2013. He was imprisoned in a Kanpur jail in Maharashtra state, according to Teltumbde.
Adnan Hassanpour, Aso
Imprisoned: January 25, 2007
Security agents seized Hassanpour, 32, editor of the now-defunct Kurdish-Persian weekly Aso, in his hometown of Marivan, Kurdistan province, according to news reports. In July 2007, a Revolutionary Court convicted him 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, his defense lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told the independent press outlet Human Rights Activists News Agency.
The government’s case against Hassanpour amounted to a series of assertions by security agents, his defense attorney, Sirvan Hosmandi, told CPJ in 2008. Hassanpour’s sister, Lily, told CPJ that she believed his critical writings were behind the charges.
Hassanpour was being held at Sanandaj Central Prison in Kurdistan Province. He has not been allowed furlough during his time in prison despite repeated requests by his lawyer and family, news reports said. His sister told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters in 2013 that the journalist’s overall health had deteriorated in prison from lack of proper medical care.
Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Payam-e-Mardom
Imprisoned: July 1, 2007
Plainclothes security officials arrested journalist and human rights activist Kaboudvand, 49, at his Tehran office, according to Amnesty International and CPJ sources. He was being held at Evin Prison in Tehran.
Authorities charged Kaboudvand, head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e-Mardom, with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, according to his organization’s website. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced him to 11 years in prison in 2008.
Kaboudvand’s health deteriorated in prison, and he was consistently denied requests for medical leave or family visits. The journalist’s wife, Farinaz Baghban Hassani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that when his family members were finally allowed to see him, they believed he had suffered significant heart problems in custody. News accounts also reported that the journalist had suffered from severe dizziness and disruption of speech and vision.
Kaboudvand has waged several hunger strikes to protest authorities’ refusal to grant him a furlough to see his son, who was diagnosed with leukemia, according to news reports. After waging a hunger strike that left him hospitalized, authorities in December 2012 temporarily released him on bail of 700 million toman (about US$250,000) to visit his son. The journalist returned to prison after four days, news reports said.
In 2013, security forces told Kaboudvand that they would file additional charges against him in connection with letters he allegedly wrote to senior officials, calling on them to respect human rights in the country, according to news reports. No additional charges had been filed in late 2013.
Mojtaba Lotfi, freelance
Imprisoned: October 8, 2008
Security forces arrested Lotfi, a blogger and clergyman, on a warrant issued by the Clergy Court in Qom. Authorities accused him of publishing the views of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the deceased cleric who had criticized then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions, but did not specify any 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 to four years in prison followed by a period of exile, according to news 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 spokesman for the judiciary confirmed at a press conference in Tehran that Derakhshan, a well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger, had been detained in November 2008 in connection with comments he allegedly made about a key cleric, according to 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 that claimed the journalist had confessed to “spying for Israel” during a preliminary interrogation.
Known as the “Blogfather” for his pioneering online work, Derakhshan started blogging after the September 11, 2001, 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, had returned to Tehran a few weeks before his arrest, The Washington Post reported.
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 reports.
Derakhshan spent much of his early 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. He has been allowed short-term furloughs in recent years.
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.
Samimi was subject to mistreatment while being held in Evin Prison. 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, the journalist 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 briefly hospitalized in March 2012 for treatment, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
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 waged several hunger strikes to protest prison conditions and treatment.
Samimi, 65, has not been allowed a single day of furlough over the past three and a half years, according to news reports.
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. Amrabadi was released on September 18, 2013.
Bastani was released on furlough in July 2013, and summoned back to Rajaee Shahr Prison on September 16, 2013, according to Kaleme.
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. He was released on bail, then re-arrested in July 2009 amid the government’s massive crackdown on dissidents and the press.
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted Matin-Pour in July 2011 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.
In September 2012, Matin-Pour’s wife, Atieh Taheri, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that her husband had been kept in solitary confinement for months, interrogated, and tortured. Reformist news websites reported that Matin-Pour had developed heart and respiratory problems.
The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency reported on April 1, 2013, that Matin-Pour had also developed severe spinal pain and chronic headaches in prison. The agency said authorities had denied his repeated requests for transfer to a hospital.
Matin-Pour has not been allowed a single day of furlough in the more than four years he has been in prison, according to news reports.
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 2012. Davari has been denied furlough, his brother told the campaign.
CPJ honored Davari with its International Press Freedom Award in November 2010.
Davari suffered a heart attack in prison in February 2013 when he learned that his brother had died. He was temporarily released on furlough on February 21, 2013. He returned to prison on April 23, 2013, after authorities refused to extend his furlough, according to Human Rights Activists News Agency.
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, his 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 in hand and ankle cuffs to a hospital 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 2012, 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 2012, although follow-up treatment had yet to be completed, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
In September 2013, Ronaghi Maleki began waging a hunger strike and refused medication, demanding that he be allowed medical furlough, according to the human rights campaign.
Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, Bahar Ahvaz
Imprisoned: March 3, 2010
Abedini, who wrote about labor issues for the provincial weekly Bahar Ahvaz, was arrested in Ahvaz and transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran, according to the website of Reporters and Human Rights Activists News Agency.
An Ahvaz court in April 2010 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. 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 Kaleme 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.
In August 2012, Abedini suffered severe abdominal pain, the reformist news website Kaleme reported. Authorities denied his request for an independent medical examination, the website said.
In October 2013, Kaleme reported that Abedini had been sent to Karoun Prison in Ahvaz in late July 2013 after he testified in an investigation into the death of Sattar Beheshti, an Iranian blogger who died under unclear circumstances while in government custody. Abedini said he had talked to Beheshti before his death. The investigation was still ongoing in late 2013.
Siamak Ghaderi, freelance
Imprisoned: July 27, 2010
Ghaderi was arrested in connection with entries he posted on his blog, IRNA-ye maa (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 then-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.
In August 2012, Ghaderi told his wife that he and 13 political prisoners had received lashes, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The reformist news website Kaleme reported that Ghaderi was being held at Evin Prison. The journalist has not been allowed furlough since his arrest.
Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (Siamak Mehr), freelance
Imprisoned: September 12, 2010
Pourshajari, a 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. The journalist wrote that he was taken to Rajaee Shahr Prison, where interrogators tortured him and subjected him to a mock execution. He said he was not allowed visitors, phone calls, or access to a lawyer.
Pourshajari was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2010 on charges of “propagating against the regime” and “insulting the supreme leader,” Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran reported. In October 2011, he 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. The journalist has declined to file appeals, citing the lack of due process in the judicial system.
Pourshajari’s daughter told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on April 1, 2013, that the journalist had suffered a heart attack in prison in the fall of 2012. She said her father would die in custody unless prison authorities allowed him to have open heart surgery. In August 2013, she told the Human Rights Activists News Agency that her father was also suffering from diabetes and heart disease, and that prison authorities were still refusing to allow him out of prison for hospital treatment.
Arash Honarvar Shojaei, freelance
Imprisoned: October 28, 2010
On October 2, 2011, nearly a year after Shojaei was first jailed, a special clerical court sentenced him to four years in prison and 50 lashes on multiple charges of “acting against national security,” “espionage,” and “cooperation with foreign embassies,” the reformist news outlet Radio Zamaneh reported.
Shojaei, a blogger and cleric, was also the author of the book Madar-e-Shari’at, about the dissident cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari, according to Radio Zamaneh. Shariatmadari had opposed the principle of velayat-e-faqih, which seeks to convey unlimited power to the supreme leader.
Shojaei was being held at Evin Prison, where he endured torture and several months of solitary confinement, according to the Human Rights House of Iran and Radio Zamaneh. The journalist suffered from a heart condition, a hearing impairment, epilepsy, brain atrophy, spinal disc problems, and diabetes, all of which developed while he was in prison, reformist news websites said.
Shojaei was granted a medical furlough in November 2011 but was summoned back to Evin Prison in January 2012 before his medical treatment had been completed, news reports said. He was briefly hospitalized in September 2012 after suffering a heart attack and seizure, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI).
The Human Rights Activists News Agency reported that Shojaei has waged multiple hunger strikes to protest his treatment in prison.
Shojaei told the ICHRI in September 2013 that he had been sentenced to an additional year in prison on charges of “insulting Imam Khomeini” against him after he said in an interview during a previous furlough that Ayatollah Khomeini had “populist conduct.” He said that authorities considered the comment an insult.
Fereydoun Seydi Rad, freelance
Imprisoned: March 2, 2011
Seydi Rad, a blogger, was 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, a prominent cleric who had criticized then-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 not told the media about the journalist’s arrest because they feared reprisal. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters, an organization of journalists who document human rights abuses, said Seydi Rad underwent 43 days of interrogation and solitary confinement after being arrested.
In July 2013, Seydi Rad briefly waged a hunger strike to protest prisoners being placed in solitary confinement, according to news reports.
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 reformist publications including Jame’eh, Iran-e-Farda, Payam-e-Hajar, and Iran Political.
Alireza Beheshti 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 in Evin Prison, according to reformist news websites. Kalemeh Sabz was one of the initial Green Movement publications, which arose after the disputed 2009 election and criticized the regime’s policies, according to news reports.
Shirazi was first arrested in December 2009 and transferred to solitary confinement in Evin Prison, according to reformist news websites. He was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “acting against national security,” but was released on bail in October 2010, the report said. He was summoned to begin serving his prison term in July 2011.
According to the reformist website Kaleme, Shirazi was released on a two-week furlough in September 2013. He returned to Evin Prison on October 6, 2013.
Ahmadreza Ahmadpour, freelance
Imprisoned: July 18, 2011
Ahmadpour, a journalist, blogger, and researcher at Qom Seminary, was serving a three-year term 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.
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. Ahmadpour was being held at Khorram Abad’s Parsilon Prison, which is used to confine hardened criminals, according to news reports.
Ahmadpour was a student of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the now-deceased cleric who had criticized then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s positions. He was arrested in December 2009 and sentenced to a year in prison on charges of “acting against national security” and “violating the dignity of the clergy” in his writings, reformist news websites said.
Ahmadpour was released from prison on June 24, 2013, and was exiled to the southern town of Izeh for 10 years, according to news reports.
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.”
Jalalifar and four other political detainees waged a hunger strike in June 2012 to protest abusive treatment by prison guards, according to the reformist news website Kaleme. Numerous journalists working for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters have been detained since 2009 in connection with their work in exposing human rights violations and government malfeasance. The prisoners have waged several hunger strikes to protest poor prison conditions.
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. He was being held in Tabriz Central Prison.
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.
He was re-arrested in August 2011 after taking part in protests related to the environmental degradation of Lake Orumiyeh in northwestern Iran, reformist news websites reported.
Mostafa Abdi, Majzooban-e-Noor
Omid Behroozi, Majzooban-e-Noor
Mostafa Daneshjoo, Majzooban-e-Noor
Reza Entessari, Majzooban-e-Noor
Amir Eslami, Majzooban-e-Noor
Afshin Karampour, Majzooban-e-Noor
Hamid Reza 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 journalists affiliated with Majzooban-e-Noor, a website that reports news about the Gonabadi dervish community, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the reformist news website Rooz Online.
The Majzooban-e-Noor website listed Daneshjoo, Karampour, Entessari, Moradi, and Yadollahi as directors, and Behroozi and Eslami as editors. The journalists are also lawyers who have represented Gonabadi dervishes in recent years. Abdiis listed on the site as a reporter.
On January 15, 2013, the journalists refused to attend their trial, saying the Revolutionary Court was not qualified to hear their case, news reports said. The journalists were put in solitary confinement in Evin Prison and charged with “publishing falsehoods,” “creating public anxiety,” “propaganda against the state,” and “acting against national security,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Majzooban-e-Noor said agents had targeted the journalists in an effort to silence news coverage about the group. The wife of another Majzooban-e-Noor journalist told the campaign that her husband and his colleagues had established the website so that “people would know what is happening to the dervishes.” She said the charges against the journalists were unfounded.
In July 2013, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced the journalists to between three and 10 years each in prison on charges of “forming the illegal Majzooban-e-Noor group with the intent to disrupt national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “participation in disrupting public order,” according to news reports. The journalists had refused to appear in court in protest of what they said was the court’s bias.
Moradi was given 10 years and six months in prison, and Entessari was given eight years and six months, according to news reports. Daneshjoo, Yadollahi, Eslami, Behrouzi, and Karampour were sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Abdi was given three years in prison.
The journalists were also banned for five years from “membership in groups, parties, sects, and activities in publications, media, and virtual space.”
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. The reformist news website Kaleme reported that Madani had been subjected to violent interrogations.
Madani faced trial on January 16, 2013, at a Tehran Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion,” and offered a statement in his own defense, news reports said.
Madani’s wife, Mansoureh Ettefagh, told Kaleme in June 2013 that a Tehran Revolutionary Court had sentenced Madani to six years in prison in the southern city of Bandar Abbas and 10 years’ exile to the same city on charges of “assembly and collusion with the intent to commit a crime against national security” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic to benefit regime opposition groups.” She said he was appealing the decision.
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 the U.S. government-funded Radio Farda, according to Majzooban-e-Noor. 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 prison on the initial counts. In a separate case, the Shiraz Criminal Court convicted Nouri of “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 at Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, according to reformist news websites. The journalist began waging a hunger strike in April 2013 to protest the transfer to solitary confinement of several Majzooban-e Noor journalists, according to Majzooban-e Noor.
On April 24, 2013, a Shiraz Revolutionary Court convicted Nouri of “propaganda against the regime,” “acting against national security,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “membership in the Majzooban-e-Noor group,” according to Majzooban-e-Noor. He was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
Rahman Bouzari, Shargh
Imprisoned: May 19, 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. He was released on bail and 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.
Bouzari is being held at Evin Prison.
Nassour Naghipour, Human Rights Activists News Agency
Imprisoned: July 9, 2012
Naghipour, a reporter and Web editor for the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 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.
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, an 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, Nazar 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.
Nazar 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.”
Nazar Ahari was granted a three-day furlough for the Iranian New Year on March 12, 2013, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters website. She was granted another three-day furlough in September, according to news reports.
Mehrdad Sarjoui, Iran News
Imprisoned: November 28, 2012
Sarjoui was initially arrested in July 2011 and sentenced by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with enemy states,” according to the reformist news site Kaleme. He was detained for 10 months and freed on bail in May 2012, the reports said. In August 2012, an appeals court reduced his sentence to three years in prison and seven years’ suspended imprisonment. He was summoned to begin serving his term in November 2012, news reports said.
Sarjoui covered international news for the English-language daily Iran News and other publications. He 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.
The journalist is being held at Evin Prison.
Khosrow Kordpour, Mukrian News Agency
Imprisoned: March 7, 2013
Massoud Kordpour, freelance
Imprisoned: March 8, 2013
Intelligence forces arrested Khosrow Kordpour, editor-in-chief of the Mukrian News Agency, an outlet that covers the arrests and prosecutions of Kurdish activists and documents human rights violations. The U.S. government-funded Radio Farda reported that authorities had a warrant for his arrest and also searched his home, but did not offer further details.
Kordpour’s brother, freelance journalist Massoud Kordpour, was arrested at the Boukan Intelligence Office the next day, when he went to inquire about the imprisonment of his brother. Authorities later searched his home and confiscated personal items. Massoud Kordpour had frequently covered human rights in Kurdistan province, and his work has been published by RFI Persian, Deutsche Welle Persian, Voice of America Persian, and on local and Kurdish-language websites.
Massoud was initially held in solitary confinement before being transferred to Mahabad Prison in Azerbaijan Province. Both journalists were then transferred to Orumiyeh Prison on March 26, 2013, according to Kurdish news website Kurdpa and Radio Zamaneh.
Neither journalist has been allowed access to his lawyer or family members, according to the independent press service Human Rights Activist News Agency. Another brother, As’ad, told Kurdpa on April 11, 2013, that a judge had forbidden the journalists’ family from visiting the brothers.
The brothers were taken to court on September 16, 2013, and officially charged with propaganda against the regime,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “publishing falsehoods with the intent to create public anxiety,” according to the Mukrian News Agency. The judge did not issue a decision in relation to the defense lawyer’s request to release the journalists on bail. Massoud and Khosrow Kordpour were sent back to prison.
In November 2013, news accounts reported that the Mahabad Revolutionary Court had sentenced Massoud to three and a half years in prison and Khosrow to six years in prison, followed by exile for two years.
Walid Khalid Harb, Falastin
Imprisoned: March 10, 2013
Israeli authorities arrested Harb, West Bank director of the Gaza-based Falastin, at his home in the northern West Bank town of Isskaka, the daily newspaper reported.
After visiting Harb in Jalama interrogation center in April, his lawyer, Mohammed Abed, said that Israeli authorities had accused his client of supporting Hamas and facilitating the transfer of money to the West Bank, Falastin reported. Abed said Harb confessed to the charges, fearing he would otherwise be held in administrative detention. 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.
Harb’s family told Falastin that he had spent about 18 years in prison, most of it under administrative detention. In May 2007, Harb was arrested and held in administrative detention for what an Israeli judge called his “recent propensity for military activity.” At the time, the paper’s editor, Mustafa al-Sawaf, said his work for the paper led to his arrest. His lawyer, Tamar Pelleg, also said he had been accused of being a prominent leader of Hamas. Harb did not deny knowing Hamas members but said his ties to them were purely social.
Falastin is a daily that has published news on Palestine and Israel. It was licensed in 2006, and published its first issue in 2007.
In an interview with Falastin this year, Harb’s mother said, “I am confident my son is arrested only for his profession and his journalistic writing, nothing more and nothing less.” It is not clear how Harb continues to work for the paper while he has remained in detention for so many years. While in prison, he has published several books and novels dealing with the themes of religion and resistance to Israeli policies.
In August 2013, the Salem military court delayed Harb’s trial by two months, the Center for Palestinian Prisoner Studies reported. He is currently being held in Megiddo prison, his family said.
Falastin did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Muhammad Anwar Muna, Quds Press News Agency
Imprisoned: August 7, 2013
Israeli authorities arrested Muna in a dawn raid of his house in Nablus, the U.K.-based Quds Press News Agency reported. The authorities also confiscated his computer, cellphone, and some papers, news reports said.
A military court ordered Muna, the Nablus correspondent for Quds Press News Agency, to be held for six months under administrative detention without disclosing any charges against him. 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.
Quds Press News Agency’s correspondent in the southern West Bank, Yousef Faqeeh, told CPJ in November 2013 that the reasons for Muna’s arrest were unclear but that the journalist had reported critically on alleged Israeli human rights violations in the West Bank.
It was not clear which reports were written by Muna because Quds Press News Agency, which is critical of Israeli policies, does not use bylines.
On October 7, 2013, the Ofer military court considered an appeal of Muna’s six-month detention, Quds Press News Agency reported. The journalist was transferred to the Negev detention facility after the appeal was denied on October 29, 2013, the agency said.
Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Al-Quds and Al-Rai
Imprisoned: November 6, 2013
Israeli authorities arrested Abu Khdeir at Ben Gurion Airport as he was returning from a trip to Cairo, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai reported. His house was also raided and authorities confiscated his phones and computer, news reports said.
Abu Khdeir, who writes for Al-Rai as well as the Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds, was in Cairo to report on a recent Arab League meeting. His most recent articles, published the week of his arrest, dealt with a controversial draft law that would allow Jews to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is considered one of the most holy places in Islam, but it sits on the Temple Mount, which Jews consider sacred as well.
Al-Rai also reported that a gag order has been placed on Abu Khdeir’s arrest. The Israeli courts often impose gag orders on the press concerning cases of national security, and local publications that violate the orders can face legal repercussions. Al-Quds has not reported publicly about the case and did not respond to a request for comment.
It is not clear what accusations or charges have been filed against Abu Khdeir. The Israeli Prison Service and Israel Airports Authority did not respond to a request for comment.
News reports said Abu Khdeir was being held in Be’er Sheba in the Negev desert, and his family and lawyer have not been allowed to visit.
In a separate incident in 2012 reported by The Associated Press, Israeli authorities demanded to strip search Abu Khdeir and several other Palestinian journalists attempting to cover a press conference by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Abu Khdeir refused, saying Israeli and international journalists were not asked to undergo the same procedure.
Francesco Gangemi, Il Dibattito
Imprisoned: October 6, 2013
Gangemi, the 79-year-old editor of the monthly magazine Il Dibattito (The Debate), was taken into police custody the day after he was found guilty of libel and perjury. He initially faced a six-year sentence on all charges, but the sentence was reduced to two years. He spent a week at a Calabria regional prison before being transferred to home confinement on October 12, 2013.
The imprisonment stemmed from eight libel convictions against Gangemi between 2007 and 2012 in connection with articles and commentaries in his magazine about public life in Italy, with a focus on public figures involved in corruption cases.
Gangemi was also convicted of perjury in a case originating in 1992 that was finalized in 2012. He publicly accused a local politician of financial misconduct during the 1990s corruption investigations known as “Tangentopoli,” while he himself briefly served as a regional councilor in Calabria region. In that case, the editor was also found guilty of failing to disclose his source for the accusations.
Although Italy is one of the few countries in the European Union where defamation remains a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment, journalists are often made to pay fines rather than go to prison. Elvira Tafuri, public prosecutor in the Catania region, told the press that Gangemi’s arrest was necessary because the journalist’s lawyers had not requested an alternative sentence, or fine, from the judge.
In September 2013, the European Court of Human Rights found Italy in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (freedom of expression) for giving a newspaper editor a suspended four-month prison sentence for criminal defamation. Despite domestic and international calls to decriminalize defamation, the Italian parliament has so far failed to reform its laws, which date back to the 1930s.
Gangemi is disabled and has cancer, according to local news reports.
Nidal al-Faraaneh, Jfra News
Amjad Mu’ala, Jfra News
Imprisoned: September 17, 2013
Al-Faraaneh, publisher of Jfra News, and Mu’ala, its editor-in-chief, were arrested by Jordanian security forces and taken to Juwaida prison, according to the website. Jfra News covers general news and culture in the region.
The prosecutor charged the journalists under Article 118 of the Jordanian penal code with disturbing relations with foreign states, news reports said. Agence France-Presse reported, citing an unnamed security official, that the charges carry up to five years in prison.
Jfra News said in a statement posted to its website on September 22, 2013, that the journalists were arrested after the website had reposted a certain video.
Jfra News manager Samer Khatib told AFP that the video, which is no longer available on the website, was called “Son of (former) Qatari emir in sex scandal with Israeli woman.” According to the AFP report, the video contains no sexual content and shows “a man wearing a baseball cap, tank top and a pair of jeans talking to a fully clothed woman on a bed.”
Several versions of the video are available on YouTube. Some only show the bed scene, while others also purportedly show the royal family member dancing, showering, and groping women. The videos have been viewed thousands of times and most have been online since 2012.
Jfra News denied having any intention of insulting the “brotherly state of Qatar” in its statement.
The journalists’ case was transferred to the State Security Court, which has refused to release them on bail, according to news reports. Al-Faraaneh and Mu’ala were being held in the Hashemite Prison of Zarqa after being transferred from Juwaida Prison, news reports said.
The trial was ongoing in late 2013.
Abdul Aziz al-Baz, freelance
Imprisoned: December 31, 2012
A Kuwaiti court on February 7, 2013, sentenced al-Baz, an Egyptian blogger who lives in Kuwait, to a year in prison, deportation, and a fine of about US$200 on charges of insulting Islam in connection with his blog posts on secularism, the blogger’s lawyer told CPJ.
Al-Baz’s personal blog featured several entries that criticized the mixing of politics with religion and included critical posts on strict interpretations of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The blog was no longer available in late 2013.
In its statement announcing the official charges against the blogger, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior highlighted one of al-Baz’s posts that discussed a story by Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany about patients being refused health care during prayer time.
It is not clear whether Egyptian authorities have sought al-Baz’s release.
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 Kyrgyzstan 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 or 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 the fabrication of criminal cases, arbitrary detentions, and the rape and abusive treatment of detainees in his native Jalal-Abad region. Askarov’s exposés had led to 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 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.
Although in December 2012, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev publicly pledged during a visit to Brussels to review the case if new evidence emerged, prosecutors failed to pursue leads provided by Askarov’s lawyers and CPJ. No action followed after Askarov’s co-defendants in the case publicly said in July 2013 that authorities forced them to testify against the journalist.
In November 2012, CPJ honored Askarov in absentia with an International Press Freedom Award.
Tomsilav Kezarovski, Nova Makedonija
Imprisoned: May 29, 2013
Police arrested Kezarovski, a critical reporter with the national daily Nova Makedonija, in his hometown of Veles, and charged him with revealing the identity of a witness in a 2005 murder case. Authorities claimed the witness’ identity was protected, although the witness himself has disputed the claim.
Kezarovski’s lawyer’s motions for his release pending trial were rejected. Kezarovski’s trial started in early August.
On October 21, 2013, the Skopje First Basic Court convicted Kezarovski and sentenced him to four and a half years in prison. The court would not release him while he appealed, according to news reports.
The conviction stemmed from Kezarovski’s coverage in 2008 of a 2005 murder case for the now-defunct independent weekly Reporter 92. Local journalists told CPJ that Kezarovski had criticized the Macedonian national security service for pressuring and intimidating people into giving false testimony in criminal cases. Kezarovski revealed the name of a witness in an article that criticized the way police handled a 2005 murder case.
But the witness that Kezarovski named did not have protected status at the time, according to news reports and local journalists. In February 2013, the witness told a court that he had received protected status only in 2010. The witness also testified that he had been pressured by police to give fabricated evidence in the murder case, exactly as Kezarovski had reported. Upon his testimony, the imprisoned defendants in the murder case were released, news reports said.
“My articles revealed only breaches of justice procedures and criticized the works of the interior ministry and the justice system,” Agence France-Presse quoted Kezarovski as saying during his trial.
At the time of his arrest in May 2013, Kezarovski was investigating the death of Nikola Mladenov, owner of the critical independent paper Fokus, in a car crash in March 2013. On April 1, 2013, Kezarovski wrote an article, published in the daily paper Nova Makedonija, which raised questions about the police investigation into the crash and authorities’ treatment of the case as an accident. The circumstances of the crash also raised questions among Mladenov’s colleagues at Fokus.
Local journalists have repeatedly organized rallies in Kezarovski’s support.
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 2012, a local court sentenced him to two years in prison on charges of drug possession and trafficking, according to news reports.
News accounts reported that Sokrate’s criticism of the monarchy and political Islam is widely believed to be the reason for his imprisonment. 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. The blogger eventually signed the confession, news reports said.
Sokrate was also a member of the February 20 youth group, which had organized protests for reform in Morocco in 2011.
Farhan Ahmed Bangash, Royal TV
Imprisoned: November 20, 2013
Bangash, a reporter for the Urdu-language news channel Royal TV, was arrested on November 20, five days after he covered sectarian violence in Kohat district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The violence stemmed from ethnic clashes between Shias and Sunnis that intensified around the holy month of Muharram. At least 10 people were killed in the clashes, media reports said.
On November 18, police filed a First Information Report, or complaint, against Bangash, naming him as a participant in the unrest. Two days later, they summoned him to their office and took him into custody, Fazal Mehmood, the president of the Kohat Press Club, told CPJ.
Geo TV journalist Syed Yasir Shah, who is a member of the Kohat Press Club, told CPJ that he was covering the clashes on the same day as Bangash and that he did not see him participating in the violence. “Police blamed [Bangash] for supporting a group, but I didn’t see this. We were there covering the unrest,” he said.
An anti-terrorism court placed Bangash in pre-trial detention for further investigation, according to the Freedom Network, a Pakistan-based press freedom group. He was charged with seven offenses, including terrorism, in connection with allegedly inciting violence, the Freedom Network said citing local journalists. Police have not disclosed any evidence in the case, Mehmood said.
Bangash denied the allegations and said he believed the police filed a case against him in connection with his reporting, according to Freedom Network.
Bangash covers crime and social issues for Royal TV. Bangash had been critical about the police’s inability to maintain law and order in the district, Mehmood said, adding that he believed police had arrested the journalist in retaliation for his work. Mehmood also said that the arresting officer was Shia, while Bangash was Sunni, which could have been another factor for retaliation against him.
Raymond Malonga, Sel-Piment
Imprisoned: November 22, 2013
Police in the capital, Brazzaville, arrested Malonga, editor of the private weekly Sel-Piment, saying he had defied a nine-month suspension imposed on his newspaper, according to local journalists and news reports.
On November 13, the state-run media regulatory board High Council on Freedom of Communication (CSLC) suspended Sel-Piment for re-publishing in its November 6, 2013, edition an Internet article on a purported victim of alleged police brutality, according to local journalists and news reports. At a press conference, Deputy Director General of Police Albert Ngoto singled out the article as “defamatory,” according to news reports. The CSLC accused the paper of “insulting the national police corps, defamation, manipulation of opinion, publication of misinformation and accusations without proof,” according to news reports.
Malonga had published the next edition of the paper despite the suspension, local journalists said.
Malonga was held at Brazzaville’s central police station until December 2, 2013, when he was taken to court and a magistrate ordered his release, according to local journalists. It was not immediately clear whether formal charges had been filed against him.
Nikolai Yarst, OTR
Imprisoned: May 23, 2013
Traffic police in Sochi detained Yarst, a Sochi correspondent for the public television channel OTR, while he was on his way to meet the head of the Sochi branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee, the agency tasked with handling serious crimes in the country, in connection with a story. Local news reports said police arrested him after saying they found drugs in his car, which Yarst denied.
A drug test performed on the journalist immediately after his detention showed no traces of drug use, local reports said. A search of Yarst’s home also showed no traces of drugs, according to his lawyer and local journalists.
Yarst was placed under house arrest. He was formally charged on May 31, 2013, with drug possession, drug use, and carrying of narcotics. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, according to press reports. He was forbidden from receiving visitors, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
Yarst was investigating the case of a local girl, Diana Serdyukova, who was taken to Georgia by her stepfather, against the will of her blood relatives. Yarst was investigating the possible corruption of local officials in the case-specifically, allegations that they had taken bribes and allowed the girl to be taken abroad without her relatives’ consent, according to news reports. At the time of his arrest, Yarst was headed to the Investigative Committee agency to see the Serdyukova case files. His report for OTR was never finished.
Yarst’s lawyer, Aleksandr Popkov, told CPJ that his client’s detention and the official evidence against him were marred by procedural violations. Popkov said Yarst was detained by three officers with Sochi’s traffic police, who, according to Russian law, are not authorized to conduct searches. Popkov told Human Rights Watch that his client’s case files contain testimony by a “secret witness” who allegedly alerted the traffic police to the presence of powdered narcotics in Yarst’s car. But, Popkov said, no security cameras recorded the seizure of narcotics from Yarst, and traffic police testimony initially did not mention a secret witness. Yarst’s case file said that at least three different traffic police officers gave different reasons for stopping the journalist’s car in the first place, according to his lawyer.
Yarst’s lawyer and his friends and supporters believe that his arrest and continued detention are in retaliation for his work on the Serdyukova story, and his investigation of the potential involvement of local officials and police in allowing the girl to allegedly be taken out of Russia illegally.
Before he started worked for OTR in 2012, Yarst was a Sochi correspondent for the Moscow-based channel TV Tsentr.
Sergei Reznik, freelance
Imprisoned: November 26, 2013
Regional authorities in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, jailed Reznik immediately after the Pervomaiskiy District Court declared him guilty on charges of insulting a public official, bribery, and deliberately misleading authorities, the regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The court sentenced him to jail for 18 months. Yuri Kastrubin, Reznik’s defense attorney, told Kavkazsky Uzel that the journalist would appeal the verdict.
News reports said Reznik had maintained a personal blog on the popular platform Livejournal and had contributed reporting to regional news outlets, including the website Yuzhnyi Federalnyi. His articles for the website criticized municipal and regional authorities and alleged widespread corruption and abuses.
Authorities filed charges against Reznik in November 2012, saying that an investigation into the blogger had shown that Reznik staged threats he had reported receiving in February 2012 to stop publishing his articles. Officials accused Reznik of misleading them. Authorities also said that the blogger had bribed a car shop mechanic to get an inspection sticker for his vehicle.
Reznik was also charged with insult in connection with a series of articles he posted on his personal blog in which he accused the chairwoman of the Regional Arbitration Court of corruption and nepotism, local and international media reported.
According to the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta, at the time of his imprisonment, authorities were also investigating two other charges against Reznik related to his reporting on local authorities.
He has denied all charges, according to news reports.
A month before he was sentenced, Reznik was attacked by two unidentified men outside his apartment building. The blogger and his wife were beaten and shot at, according to news reports. Authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible for the attack.
News reports said Reznik was being held in a regional detention facility in late 2013, but did not offer further details.
Agnès Uwimana, Umurabyo
Imprisoned: July 8, 2010
In February 2011, a court in Kigali sentenced Uwimana, founder and chief editor of the independent vernacular weekly Umurabyo, to 17 years in prison 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 paper’s deputy editor, Saidati Mukakibibi, was convicted on the same charges and sentenced to seven years. 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 the convictions of genocide and ethnic division, but upheld Uwimana’s conviction of defaming President Paul Kagame and inciting violence, according to local journalists. The court upheld Mukakibibi’s conviction on inciting violence. Mukakibibi was released in June 2013.
Uwimana, a single mother and the breadwinner for her family, submitted a letter requesting a presidential pardon in April 2012. Although Kagame had said publicly that the original sentences were harsh, the 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.
Uwimana was held at Central Prison in the capital, Kigali, in late 2013.
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 critical news website Al-Fajr Cultural Network, in the city of Jubail in connection with the site’s coverage of pro-reform protests in Eastern Province, news outlets reported. The website posts videos from Shia leaders including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, as well as Saudi sheikhs.
Al-Maatiq and al-Salam were being tried in the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh as of late 2013, local news reports said. The government had not disclosed any charges against them. CPJ viewed a purported court indictment that said the pair was charged under Article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which prohibits the production, storage, and transmission of material on information networks that disturbs public order, but the veracity of the document could not be confirmed. According to the document, the indictment includes a teacher, Reda al-Baharna, and an engineer, Montazer al-Aqili, who are accused of contributing to Al-Fajr and social media outlets.
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 had been allowed to enter the province, and in the absence of independent reporting, coverage of the unrest was carried out by websites such as Al-Fajr Cultural Network.
Mohamed Bashir, Shabelle Media Network
Imprisoned: November 20, 2013
Abdimalik Yusuf, Shabelle Media Network
Imprisoned: November 22, 2013
Authorities arrested Shabelle Media Network reporter Mohamed on November 20, 2013, on charges of defamation, local journalists told CPJ.
In November, a video was posted online in which Mohamed interviewed Faduma Abdulkadir, a reporter for Kasmo Voice Women Radio, who claimed she was raped at gunpoint by two journalists from state Radio Mogadishu, according to news reports. Faduma named her alleged attackers in the video. The accused denied the allegations and filed a defamation suit, according to news reports. Faduma was arrested along with Mohamed, and both were charged with defamation.
The video was posted on a personal website owned by Mohamed, but taken down after a few days, according to local journalists.
Police then arrested Shabelle Media Network Chairman Abdimalik Yusuf on November 22, 2013, after previously detaining and questioning him. He was held for “owning the camera” that was used to shoot the video, according to a statement by the Shabelle Media Network. All three were being held at the Central Prison in the capital, Mogadishu, the statement said.
Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar told CPJ that Abdimalik took part in conducting the interview and that the female journalist had fabricated the story to attain a visa. He claimed that Mohamed set up the interview as a means to target a Radio Mogadishu reporter accused of destroying some Radio Shabelle equipment.
In an interview with BBC Somali Service prior to his incarceration, Abdimalik said he took no part in conducting the interview and could not confirm the veracity of the rape allegations.
No hearings had taken place in early December 2013, and Abdimalik had not been formally charged.
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.
On October 24, 2013, a Syrian court ordered al-Mallohi’s release, news reports said. In late 2013, it was not clear if the court order had been implemented.
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 unrest had 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 in late 2013.
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.
There were conflicting reports about the location of Bilal’s arrest. Electronic media outlet Syria Deeply reported that Bilal’s wife claimed hewas arrested at a regime checkpoint, while local news reports also citing his family said he was taken from his home in Damascus to an army recruitment center in the town of Daraya.
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. In June 2013, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and the Arabic international satellite news channel Al-An TV reported that a military field court had sentenced Bilal to 15 years in prison, but did not specify the charges on which the journalist was convicted.
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
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 2013 were the center’s president, Darwish, the prominent blogger Ghrer, and al-Zitani, another journalist for the center. Mansour al-Omari and Abd al-Rahman Hamada, two other journalists arrested the same day, were released for unknown reasons in early 2013 pending trial, the center reported.
The center said all five of the journalists were indicted on February 27, 2013, for purportedly publicizing acts of terror under Article 8 of the newly enacted counterterrorism law. The trial has been repeatedly delayed, and the next session will be held on January 27, 2014, according to a statement by the center and other human rights groups. The accused face up to 15 years each if convicted, human rights groups said.
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.
Ghrer had been arrested previously, in October 2011, on charges of “weakening national sentiments,” “forming an association without a permit,” and “inciting demonstrations.” He was released on bail on December 1, 2011, according to Razan Ghazzawi, the U.S.-born blogger who was also arrested in the February 2012 raid on the center. Ghrer’s 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 medication.
Since his detention, Darwish was has been honored with two international human rights awards in absentia: In 2012, he was awarded the Press Freedom Prize from Reporters Without Borders, and in June 2013 he was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Services to Human Rights.
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 2012, Jamal’s case was transferred to a military court, according to news reports. He waged a hunger strike that month to protest his detention, reports said. Authorities had disclosed no other information about Jamal’s legal status, whereabouts, or well-being as of late 2013.
Jamal had been arrested several times previously, including once in October 2011 when he was detained along with Sean McAllister, a British reporter working for the U.K.’s Channel 4. Local news websites said his repeated arrests stemmed from his reporting on human rights abuses and the popular uprising.
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 U.K.’s Channel 4.
Conroy, who was injured in the government attack on the Baba Amr media center that killed journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, said Othman was instrumental in getting journalists in and out of the embattled district. He said Othman, originally a vegetable vendor, was one of the first Syrians to use video to document the unrest in Homs. Citizen journalists such as Othman filled the information void as the Syrian regime barred international journalists from entering the country to cover the civil war, CPJ research shows.
Authorities had not disclosed information on Othman’s condition or legal status in late 2013.
International reporters and diplomats, including U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, have expressed concern that Othman has been tortured while in custody, according to news reports. Othman appeared on Syrian state television in May 2012 for what the station described as an interview. The questioning was aimed at asserting a theory of an international media conspiracy against the Syrian regime.
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 2012, according to news reports.
In an August 28, 2012, interview with Czech television, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Syria, who represents U.S. interests there, said embassy sources reported that 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 denied holding Tice, according to news reports citing his family.
The first public sign of Tice’s condition appeared in a YouTube video posted on September 26, 2012. 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 staged, and that the segment had been shot to promote a view that Islamic extremist groups were behind the unrest in Syria.
Authorities had not disclosed any information on Tice’s whereabouts, legal status, or condition in late 2013. The Tice family said in a statement on their website on May 30, 2013, that they have not had any contact with Austin or his captors and “do not know with certainty who is holding him captive.”
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.
Authorities had not disclosed any information on Maamou’s whereabouts, well-being, or legal status in late 2013.
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, which criticized the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, had been published on his own blog and a number of websites, including that of Al-Jazeera.
Conflicting reports have emerged about Raslan’s status. Cartoon Rights Network International, which has closely tracked Raslan’s case, reported that he may have been executed by the Syrian regime after being sentenced to life imprisonment on July 26, 2013. But after reports emerged that Raslan was still alive and the family said it could not confirm his death, the network amended its statement and said it was working to verify those claims.
Massoud Akko of the Syrian Journalists Association told Public Radio International that he had also received reports that Raslan had been killed, but said the claims could not be confirmed.
The Syrian government has not disclosed any information about Raslan’s health, whereabouts, or legal status.
Jihad As’ad Mohamed, freelance
Imprisoned: August 10, 2013
Mohamed, a freelance writer, contributed several critical articles to local news websites, including the pro-reform Alef Today. In his articles, he criticized the government’s crackdown on peaceful protests and called for reforms.
Mohamed was the editor-in-chief of the weeklyKassioun before leaving the paper in the summer of 2012, citing a disagreement with the paper’s editorial position, according to a staff member at Kassioun who spoke to CPJ. The paper is affiliated with the socialist Popular Will party, which has shown a willingness to engage with the Syrian government, which other opposition groups vehemently refuse to do.
Syrian state security forces had previously held Mohamed for questioning in connection with his journalistic activities after leaving Kassioun, according to news reports that did not specify the exact date of the earlier detention. The journalist had joined Kassioun in 2006, the reportssaid.
In late 2013, authorities had not disclosed Mohamed’s whereabouts, condition, or legal status.
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, 2011.
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.
On January 23, 2013, a Bangkok criminal court sentenced Somyot to 11 years in prison for news articles judges deemed insulting to Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej. The charges stemmed from two articles that were published in the now-defunct Voice of Taksin, a highly partisan newsmagazine affiliated with the political group United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.
Somyot, a labor activist and political protest leader, was founder and editor of the controversial publication. He had initially refused to divulge the name of the author of the articles, but during his court testimony identified the individual as Jakrapob Penkair, a former government spokesman now living in self-imposed exile in Cambodia. The articles, published in February and March 2010, were written under the penname “Jit Polachan.”
Days before his initial arrest, Somyot had launched a petition campaign to pressure parliament into amending the lѐse majesté law, known as Article 112 in the Thai penal code. Under the law, any Thai individual may file lѐse majesté charges; Thai royal family members have never personally filed charges. Lѐse majesté charges have been abused for political purposes by both sides of the country’s protracted political conflict.
Somyot appealed the conviction. No date for the appeal was set in late 2013. He was being held at Bangkok’s Remand Prison.
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 Women’s Closed Prison in Kocaeli on charges of being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP, producing propaganda, and “attempting to change the constitutional order by force.” Duman was also charged with seizing weapons and forgery of an official document, among other charges, in relation to her association with MLKP, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
CPJ believes the charges are baseless and unsubstantiated after viewing the available court documents, including the indictment.
As evidence of the membership and propaganda charges, authorities cited Duman’s attendance at MLKP demonstrations and the testimony of confidential witnesses. Duman’s lawyer, Keleş Öztürk, told CPJ that his client was targeted because Atılım had opposed administration policies.
The weapons and forgery charges were mainly pegged to the alleged confession of a witness, Duman’s husband, who later said he had been questioned under torture.
Duman was convicted on all charges on May 4, 2011, according to local press reports.
In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld Duman’s life sentence. Duman’s lawyers appealed to a higher appellate court, Turkey’s Constitutional Court, and were awaiting a verdict in late 2013.
Mustafa Gök, Ekmek ve Adalet
Imprisoned: February 19, 2004
Gök, Ankara correspondent for the leftist magazine Ekmek ve Adalet (Bread and Justice), is charged with being a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), according to his defense lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana. Gök faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
He was being kept at the Ankara F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Karatana told CPJ that the evidence against the journalist consisted of his news coverage and attendance at political demonstrations. She said Gök had been targeted for his reporting on politics and human rights, along with his beliefs as a socialist. Karatana said her client suffers from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which has led to a loss of sight and balance. She said that he was jailed despite having a medical document that says he is severely disabled and ineligible for incarceration.
Gök was also serving a life term on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, forgery, bombing, and murder, all dating back to the early 1990s, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. The life sentence was withdrawn in 2002 when Gök was released on parole for health reasons, Karatana told CPJ. But when Gök was rearrested in 2004 on the DHKP/C membership charges, the life term was reinstated, she said. She said they had appealed the reinstated life term, but the appeal was rejected.
Fusün Erdoğan, Özgür Radyo
Imprisoned: September 8, 2006
Erdoğan, former general manager for the leftist Özgür Radyo (The Free Radio), was being held at Gebze Women’s Closed Prison.
Authorities alleged Erdoğan used radio station assets to support the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. A full list of the charges against Erdoğan-obtained by CPJ from Turkey’s Justice Ministry-include “breaching the Constitution,” “forming organizations with the intention of committing crimes,” “possessing hazardous substances without permission,” “endangering public safety intentionally,” “damaging property,” and “forgery of official documents,” among others.
On November 5, 2013, Erdoğan, along with several other defendants, was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to life in prison by the Tenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul, the independent news portal Bianet reported.
Zulfü Erdoğan, the journalist’s lawyer and sister, told CPJ that the case against Fusün Erdoğan had been fabricated because the journalist and her news outlet had opposed the administration. She said the main evidence on all charges 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.
Erdoğan spent more than seven years in prison before a verdict against her was given-an extraordinarily long period that was also the subject of a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights. Zulfü Erdoğan said the journalist suffered from a thyroid disease and needed medical attention.
Erdoğan is appealing the sentence before Turkey’s Constitutional Court-the last instance of domestic redress. The appeal was pending in late 2013.
Bayram Namaz, Atılım
Imprisoned: September 8, 2006
Namaz, a columnist for the weekly socialist newspaper Atılım (Leap), was charged with possession of dangerous materials, forgery of official documents, breaching the Constitution, forming organizations with the intention of committing crimes, endangering public safety, making threats, breaking and entering, damaging public property, and others, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
The official indictment, which was obtained by CPJ, did not contain any evidence of the alleged criminal activity.
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 identification and that identification documents 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.
On July 12, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that Namaz had been kept in prison for an exorbitant amount of time without a verdict, according to news reports. The court told Turkey to pay compensation of 6,600 euros to Namaz. Turkish authorities complied.
On November 5, 2013, Namaz, along with several other defendants, was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison by the Tenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul, the independent news portal Bianet reported. The journalist was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison.
Lawyer Tuncer told CPJ that the defense believed the verdict to be “unlawful.”Namaz has appealed his verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was pending in late 2013.
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 for, aiding and abetting intentionally, and being a member of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Tunç was charged and convicted of using the media to perform those activities, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
It was unclear why Tunç was still being held after his sentence should have expired.
After his case was heard, 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.
In 2011, Tunç was transferred to the Rize Kalkandere L Type Prison in Rize, where he was being held in late 2013, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Mustafa Balbay, Cumhuriyet
Imprisoned: March 5, 2009
Balbay, a columnist and former Ankara representative for the leftist-ultranationalist daily Cumhuriyet (The Republic), 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 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 were 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.”
In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul sentenced Balbay and at least 19 other journalists to varying prison terms in the Ergenekon case, according to news reports. Balbay was given a term of 34 years and eight months for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the Turkish Government or trying to prevent its duty to perform,” according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Balbay appealed the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013. He was being held at the Ankara L Type Closed Prison No. 1, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list.
Ahmet Birsin, Gün TV
Imprisoned: April 14, 2009
Birsin, general manager of Gün TV, a regional pro-Kurdish television news station in southeastern Turkey, was charged with “leading an armed terrorist organization by organizing its activities” and “violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations,” according to information provided to CPJ by Turkey’s Justice Ministry in November 2013. Birsin’s lawyer, Fuat Coşacak, told CPJ that the charges were retaliatory and without basis.
Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations.
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, 2009, searched the building, and confiscated archival material, computer hard drives, laptops, cameras, and other broadcast equipment. Birsin, imprisoned at Diyarbakır D Type High-Security Closed Prison, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Birsin’s trial was ongoing in late 2013.
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 L Type Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul on initial 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.
As evidence, authorities cited Yıldırım’s published work and other recordings allegedly found during a police raid of the Aydınlık offices. Yıldırım 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.
In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted at least 20 journalists, including Yıldırım, in the Ergenekon case, and sentenced them to various terms in prison, according to news reports. Yıldırım was sentenced to 16 years and 10 months on charges of “acquiring confidential documents concerning the security of the State,” “obtaining and distributing personal data illegally,” and “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Yıldırım is appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was pending in late 2013.
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 Ceyhan M Type Closed Prison in Adana, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Akyüz was initially charged with aiding the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Authorities cited as evidence his possession of banned newspapers and his presence at a May Day demonstration in İzmir. He was later convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization, the PKK.
Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations.
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, told CPJ in 2012 that he could not comment because he was not yet familiar with the case. In 2013, the defense was still unable to get full access to Akyüz’s case documents.
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, served more than three years in prison before being convicted on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
In January 2013, the Eighth Court of Serious Crimes in Adana Province sentenced Karavil to 25 years in prison, his lawyer, Vedat Özkan, told CPJ. Özkan said the journalist will appeal the case.
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, 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 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.
Karavil was serving his term at the Kırıkkale F Type High Security Closed Prison in Adana, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Erdal Süsem, Eylül Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi
Imprisoned: February 1, 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. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
In a letter published in February 2012 by the independent news portal Bianet, Süsem he had been detained on MKP accusations and charged in February 2010. He said the evidence against him consisted of journalistic material such as books, postcards, and letters, along with accounts of his newsgathering activities such as phone interviews. Süsem made similar statements in a letter to the Justice Ministry that was cited in news accounts.
Süsem 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. Süsem pleaded innocent to the gun theft and murder charges. The gun possession and related serious charges against Süsem were twice rejected by Turkey’s Supreme Court, which ruled-in 2005 and 2007-that there was no sufficient evidence to link Süsem to those alleged crimes.
However, without new evidence, and after Süsem was imprisoned in 2010 on the propaganda charges, the Supreme Court reversed its initial stance and convicted him in 2011 on the previous gun theft, murder, and other charges. The court also reinstated a life sentence.
The court proceedings that led to his conviction were marked by a number of inconsistencies. For example, in his Bianet letter, Süsem wrote that the police officer, whose stolen gun was later used in a number of crimes, testified that he was not the person who had stolen it. Witness descriptions of the suspect did not match the journalist, Süsem’s wife told CPJ.
It is unclear if Süsem is appealing the life sentence. The trial on the MKP leadership charges was ongoing in late 2013.
Yalçın Küçük, Odatv and Aydınlık
Imprisoned: March 7, 2011
Several members of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv, including Küçük, 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.
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.
Küçük, an opinion writer for the site and for the daily Aydınlık, was 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 Odatv staffers in which coverage was discussed.
Authorities also cited as evidence a series of digital documents purportedly 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, who received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2013, 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.
In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted at least 20 journalists, including Küçük, in the Ergenekon case, according to news reports. The journalists were handed different prison terms. Küçük was sentenced to 22 ½ years on charges of “founding or leading an armed terrorist organization,” which is what Ergenekon is considered, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Küçük was appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013.
Küçük was serving his term at the Silivri L Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list.
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 L Type Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul on charges of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy, a shadowy plot that prosecutors said was aimed at overthrowing the administration.
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.
The indictment identified Ulusal Kanal as a media arm of Ergenekon. In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted Özlü of being a member of a terrorist organization, which is what Ergenekon is considered, and sentenced him to nine years in prison.
Özlü was appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013.
Tayip Temel, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: October 3, 2011
Temel, former editor-in-chief and columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was being held at Diyarbakır D Type High-Security Closed Prison on charges of being a member of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. He faces more than 22 years in prison if convicted, 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.
Temel’s trial was ongoing in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey, in late 2013. He had not testified in court by late year, his lawyer, Cemil Sözen, told CPJ.
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 Silivri L Type High Security Closed Prison No. 2 in Istanbul, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
According to the same list, Özgüneş is charged with membership in the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part; attempting to change the constitutional order by force; and making propaganda for the same banned organization.
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 publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations.
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.
Özgüneş’trial was ongoing in late 2013.
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 Siirt E Type Closed Prison, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. According to the list, Çetin is charged with membership in an armed terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.
The government’s indictment cited Çetin’s professional phone conversations as evidence, the Bianet independent news portal said. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The trial was ongoing in late 2013.
Dilek Demiral, Özgür Gündem
Nevin Erdemir,Özgür Gündem
Nurettin Fırat, Özgür Gündem
Yüksel Genç, Özgür Gündem
Sibel Güler, Özgür Gündem
Turabi Kişin, Özgür Gündem
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
At least six editors and writers associated with the daily Özgür Gündem (The Free Agenda) were in prison on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. They were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets in December 2011. 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.
Kişin, Özgür Gündem editor, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Kişin is charged with being a leader of the KCK press committee and taking orders from the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. 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 Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK. 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 Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 if convicted. Their trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.
Semiha Alankuş, Dicle News Agency
Ertuş Bozkurt, Dicle News Agency
Kenan Kırkaya, Dicle News Agency
Ayşe Oyman, Dicle News Agency
Mazlum Özdemir, Dicle News Agency
Ramazan Pekgöz, Dicle News Agency
Nilgün Yıldız, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
At least seven editors and reporters with the Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, who were arrested as part of a massive roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets in December 2011, remained in prison on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its global prison census. 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.
Alankuş, a translator and editor, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. 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 Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, and attempting to change the constitutional order by force, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 High Security Closed Prison No. 2 on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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.
Oyman, a reporter, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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.
Bozkurt, an editor in DİHA’s Diyarbakır office, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 Women’s Closed Prison on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 on her confiscated flash drive were also cited as evidence. Yıldız denied any wrongdoing.
Özdemir, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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 if convicted. Their trial was ongoing in late 2013.
Hüseyin Deniz, Evrensel
Nahide Ermiş, Özgür Halk ve Demokratik Modernite
Imprisoned: December 20, 2011
Deniz and Ermişwere in jail on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its global prison census. They were arrested as part of a massive government roundup on December 2011 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.
Deniz, a reporter for the socialist daily Evrensel, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK; attempting to change the constitutional order by force; and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. 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 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 Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK; and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. 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.
The journalists face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.
Mehmet Emin Yıldırım, Azadiya Welat
Imprisoned: December 21, 2011
A court in Diyarbakır ordered Yıldırım, editor-in-chief of the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, to 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 alleged that the KCK directs all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey.
Yıldırım was being held in Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the PKK, and producing propaganda in favor of that organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
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 Yıldırım 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 his 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. Yıldırım’s trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.
Şükrü Sak, Baran
Imprisoned: April 20, 2012
Sak, a veteran opinion writer and former chief editor for the Islamist weekly Baran, was summoned to serve a term of three years and nine months in prison after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld in 2012 a conviction that dated back to 1999.
Sak was convicted of being a member of the outlawed İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncılar Cephesi, or İslamic Great East Raiders Front; staging a protest; and possessing organizational documents, among other charges, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Sak’s 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.
Sak, the ministry said, was being kept at the Bolu F Type High Security Closed Prison in the city of Bolu.
Imprisoned: January 18, 2013
Police detained Kılıç, reporter for the biweekly Yürüyüş (March), as part of a large crackdown by authorities on the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), of which she was accused of being a member. She denied the charges, which carry up to 10 years in prison.
Her lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana, said the charges against her were based on secret witness testimonies as the sole evidence. Kılıç was targeted because she was an employee of a publication that opposes the government, Karatana said. Yürüyüş is a socialist revolutionary publication that focuses on politics, workers’ rights, and global politics. The publication uses harsh language in reference to the ruling AKP.
Kılıç was under investigation and being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. No trial date had been set in late 2013.
Fatih Özgür Aydın, Artı İvme
Veysel Şahin, Tavır
Imprisoned: January 21, 2013
Gamze Keşkek, Tavır
Imprisoned: January 22, 2013
Aydın, Şahin, and Keşkek were arrested as part of a large crackdown by the Turkish police against the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C) in Istanbul. All of them were charged with being members of an armed terrorist organization-the DHKP/C-and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
Aydın, news editor of the quarterly Artı İvme (Positive Acceleration), was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison in Edirne province; Şahin, an editor for the bimonthly Tavır (Attitude), was being held at Tekirdağ F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Tekirdağ province; and Keşkek, who co-edits Tavır along with Şahin, was being held at the Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list.
Their lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana, said the journalists had denied any ties to the DHKP/C. She said they were targeted because “they work for publications that oppose the government.” Artı İvme and Tavır are pro-socialist publications that are often highly critical of the government. Karatana said that the prosecution considered the publications the journalists work for as being under the supervision and orders of the DHKP/C-accusations that the journalists deny.
Karatana also told CPJ that fabricated evidence in the form of false testimonies by undisclosed witnesses was the main basis of the charges against her clients. She said the journalists were beaten by the police during their detention.
The journalists’ trial was ongoing at the 6th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul in late 2013. If convicted, Aydın, Şahin, and Keşkek face up to 15 years in prison.
Kaan Ünsal, Yürüyüş
Imprisoned: March 14, 2013
Ünsal, reporter for the biweekly Yürüyüş (March), was detained as part of a large, official crackdown against the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C). Ünsal was accused of being a member of the organization. The journalist denied the accusations.
Ünsal was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison in Edirne province, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Evrim Deniz Karatana, Ünsal’s lawyer, told CPJ that authorities had not filed official charges against Ünsal in late 2013, and no court date had been scheduled. If charged with being a member of the DHKP/C, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Karatana said the evidence against Ünsal was based on secret witness testimony and his presence at opposition gatherings, which he was covering as a journalist. Karatana said the accusations were in retaliation for Yürüyüş‘ criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-run government. Yürüyüş is a socialist revolutionary publication that focuses on politics, workers’ rights, and global politics. The publication uses harsh language in reference to the ruling AKP.
Ünsal had been detained by the police several times before on similar accusations of belonging to a banned organization.
Karatana said that Ünsal was beaten by the police during his detention.
Cüneyt Hacıoğlu, Dicle News Agency
Imprisoned: September 2, 2013
Hacıoğlu, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was arrested in Uludere District of Şırnak province. He was accused of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part.
Hacıoğlu was also accused of possessing of illegal firearms and bullets, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Hacıoğlu’s lawyer, Tırşenk Bartan told CPJ that the weapons accusation stemmed from the presence in the journalist’s family home of an old rifle, which belonged to his father. The journalist has denied any wrongdoing.
Bartan told CPJ that Hacıoğlu was questioned about his phone conversations with sources, his reporting notes, and videos he had taken for newsgathering activities. DİHA, which is known as a pro-Kurdish news agency, often covers human rights issues, including those of the Kurdish minority.
Bartan also said that Hacıoğlu was detained with several canned goods in his car, which authorities said was a form of logistic support to the Kurdish rebels. Bartan said that the journalist was taking the goods to a festival and had no ties to an outlawed organization.
Hacıoğlu was being held in Mardin E Type Closed Prison. No formal charges had been filed against him in late 2013, a common practice in Turkey, for which it has often been criticized by international partners including the Council of Europe, of which it is a member.
No trial date had been scheduled in late 2013.
Merdan Yanardağ, Yurt and Bağımsız
Imprisoned: September 13, 2013
An arrest order was issued for Yanardağ, chief editor of the pro-Republican People’s Party (CHP) daily Yurt and the weekly Bağımsız, after the Thirteenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul sentenced him in absentia on August 5, 2013, to 10 years and six months in prison on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, which is what Ergenekon is considered, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.
The alleged Ergenekon plot is a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup.
Yanardağ was detained by police in Bodrum District of Muğla Province on September 13, 2013, a month after his sentence was pronounced.
When the Ergenekon investigation began, Yanardağ was a managing director at Kanal Biz, a television channel owned by Tuncay Özkan, a journalist and media manager sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the Ergenekon case.
Some of the accusations against Yanardağ refer to his work as a news manager at Kanal Biz, which according to authorities was a propaganda tool of Ergenekon. Among the activities cited as evidence in the indictment are Yanardağ’s booking of guests for television shows, managing the station’s programming schedule, organizing the order of appearance of studio guests, and working on programming scripts, according to CPJ’s review of the indictment.
Yurt and Bağımsız share a pro-opposition editorial slant. Yurt, a daily newspaper, publishes hard news, while Bağımsız is a newsmagazine that focuses on analysis and commentary.
Yanardağ’s lawyer, Serkan Gürel, told CPJ, “From the point of view of the court, his one truly negative action was to publish Yurt newspaper and Bağımsız magazine while the lawsuit against him was going.”
Yanardağ is being held at Muğla E Type Closed Prison No. 1, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. His lawyers filed an appeal, but the appellate court had not ruled on the case in late 2013.
Roger Shuler, Legal Schnauzer
Imprisoned: October 23, 2013
Shuler, whose blog Legal Schnauzer specializes in allegations of corruption and scandal in Republican circles in Alabama, was arrested on contempt of court charges for failure to comply with an October 1, 2013, preliminary injunction prohibiting him from publishing certain stories on his blog. The charges stem from a defamation suit brought by prominent local attorney Robert Riley, Jr., son of a two-term former Alabama governor and a rumored future political candidate himself. The suit is related to Shuler’s blog posts in July 2013 that claimed Riley had an extramarital affair and offered details. Riley vehemently denies the allegations.
In an interview with CPJ, Riley said he has a right to seek injunctive relief in a defamation case and there is legal precedent for doing so. He said someone who decides “to make up a lie, destroy someone’s reputation, that’s not journalism.”
As the case was pending, the Circuit Court of Shelby County issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Schuler from publishing more about the alleged affair. When Shuler continued to publish stories about Riley on his blog, the lawyer filed a petition asking that the blogger be held in contempt. He was arrested weeks later.
Leading press freedom and civil rights groups said the injunction contradicted decades of First Amendment jurisprudence and did so in complete secrecy, as all records in the case were initially sealed by the court. The ReportersCommittee for the Freedom of the Press wrote: “Neither a default judgment nor a full adjudication on the merits of the defamation claims appears to have occurred. … Courts have determined that bans on speech prior to such determinations are prior restraints. The Supreme Court has found prior restraints to be presumptively unconstitutional and has never upheld one.”
On November 12, 2013, the judge in the case filed a permanent injunction against Shuler and said he would unseal the court documents. It was not clear whether the permanent injunction pertained only to past defamatory content, such as a takedown order, or applied to future speech. In a footnote in the ruling, the judge said Shuler would remain imprisoned until he complied with the order to remove the statements. Carol Shuler wrote on Legal Schnauzer that her husband said in court that he could not remove the content from a jail cell.
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 2013.
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. Authorities also ignored a similar inquiry sent by 12 members of the U.S. Senate in June 2013.
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.
Both men were tortured before their trial began, according to CPJ sources and news reports. After the verdict was announced in November 1999, the two were jailed in high-security penal colonies for individuals convicted of serious crimes.
Nina Bekjanova, the editor’s wife, told reporters that his health had deteriorated when she visited him in jail in March 2013. Bekjanova said her husband needed immediate treatment for a hernia and a relapse of tuberculosis, according to Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek service of the U.S. government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She said the editor had not complained about his health to her during her previous visits, but that when she visited him in March, he had said, “There’s not much longer left [for me] to suffer.”
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Uznews
Imprisoned: June 7, 2008
Abdurakhmanov, a reporter for the independent news website Uznews, was imprisoned in June 2008, 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 the police agents had planted them in retaliation for his reporting on corruption in their agency.
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.
Abdurakhmanov’s prosecution and trial were marred by irregularities, defense lawyer Rustam Tulyaganov told CPJ at the time. Investigators failed to maintain chain of custody for the seized drugs, and they did not collect fingerprints or other evidence proving that the journalist ever handled the material, Tulyaganov said.
Instead, police agents interrogated Abdurakhmanov, extensively focusing on his journalism, searched his home, and confiscated his personal computer. According to Uznews, authorities also offered Abdurakhmanov a deal-to give up his journalism and human rights activism in exchange for amnesty and release-but the journalist refused.
In October 2008, a court in Nukus convicted Abdurakhmanov and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Higher courts denied his appeals.
In September 2011, authorities denied Abdurakhmanov’s application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, according to CPJ research. Uznews reported in November 2012 that prison authorities obstructed the International Committee of the Red Cross when it 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.
At least three times in 2013, authorities transferred Abdurakhmanov from a penal colony in the southern city of Karshi to a prison hospital outside the capital, Tashkent, to receive treatment for a stomach ulcer. In October, after the journalist’s family told Uznews about his deteriorating health conditions, authorities placed Abdurakhmanov in solitary confinement for two weeks and forbade his family from seeing him.
Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a complaint in March 2012 with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Abdurakhmanov’s imprisonment and calling for his release. The case is pending.
Dilmurod Saiid, freelance
Imprisoned: February 22, 2009
Saiid was serving a 12-and-a-half-year prison term at a high-security prison colony outside Navoi, where he was subjected to torture and denied adequate medical treatment for tuberculosis that he contracted in jail, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
The journalist was arrested in his hometown, Tashkent, and placed in detention in the central city of Samarkand after a woman accused him of extorting US$10,000 from a local businessman. Although the woman soon withdrew her accusation, saying she had been coerced, authorities refused to release the journalist, Saiid’s lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov, told CPJ at the time. In March 2009, regional authorities announced that new witnesses had come forward to accuse Saiid of extortion; authorities also said that several local farmers had accused him of using their signatures to create fraudulent court papers.
Saiid was charged with extortion and forgery. Several international human rights and press freedom groups, including CPJ, have found the charges were fabricated in retaliation for his journalism. Prior to his arrest, Saiid had reported on official abuses against farmers for the independent regional news website Voice of Freedomas well as for a number of local publications.
At Saiid’s trial, Ferghana News reported, the farmers recanted and told the court that they were pressured by prosecutors to testify against Saiid. Their statement was ignored, one of several irregularities reported during the proceedings. Komilov said that authorities failed to notify him of a number of important hearing dates. When a regional court convicted and sentenced Saiid in a July 2009 closed-door proceeding, the journalist’s lawyer and family were not present.
In November 2009, the journalist’s wife and 6-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident on their way to visit him in prison, regional press reports said. Authorities rejected Saiid’s 2011 application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, Uznews reported.
Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a March 2012 complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Saiid’s imprisonment and calling for his release. The case is pending.
In a handwritten note that he passed in January 2013, via his visiting brother, to a local rights activist, Saiid revealed some details of his conditions in jail and pleaded for help. Saiid did not explicitly detail violations he had suffered, but hinted that Uzbek and international laws against torture that had been violated during his imprisonment.
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 sentenced him to two and a half years in prison for tax evasion on September 10, 2008-charges that rights groups criticized as a pretext to stifle his critical blog postings about the government and its policies.
After completing his prison term, Hai remained in detention while authorities investigated new anti-state charges related specifically 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. An appellate court upheld his sentence on December 28, 2012.
Hai was an outspoken commentator on his political blog Dieu Cay (The Peasant’s Pipe) and on the website of the unsanctioned 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, Vietnam’s sovereignty dispute with China over the nearby Spratly and Paracel islands, and government corruption.
Court President Nguyen Phi Long said in his verdict that Hai 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.
The one-day trial was plagued with procedural irregularities, according to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint reporting program of international human rights groups. The observatory reported that the court cut off the microphone when Hai spoke to defend himself and that his lawyer was barred from calling any witnesses.
Hai has been frequently moved between far-flung prison facilities without his family being told. In February 2013, he was transferred from northern Binh Duong province’s Bo La prison to southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province’s Xuyen Moc prison camp. On April 26, 2013, he was transferred again to central Nghe An province’s Thanh Chuong District Prison No. 6. The frequent moves have limited his family’s ability to deliver essential medicines for his declining health, including symptoms related to hypertension.
On June 23, 2013, Hai began waging a hunger strike after prison authorities tried to force him to sign an admission of guilt for the anti-state offenses for which he was convicted. He was placed in solitary confinement when he refused to sign the confession. His family said he was barely recognizable and could not walk or talk during a five-minute prison visit on July 20, 2013. He ended his strike on July 27, 2013, after the highest government prosecutor’s office agreed to investigate a petition he filed about alleged widespread prison abuses, according to Radio Free Asia.
Hai was bestowed CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2013.
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 first arrested at his home in northern Haiphong province. He was sentenced in a one-day trial on October 9, 2009, to six years in prison and four years’ house arrest under Article 88 of the penal code for “propagandizing” against the state.
The anti-state 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 unsanctioned by the state. He had been banned from contributing to state-run publications in 2003. 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.
In March 2012, Nghia was transferred from northern Ha Dong province’s B14 labor camp to central Nghe An province’s Thanh Chuong District Prison No. 6. His health, including complications from prostate cancer, has deteriorated while in detention.
In late 2012, authorities allowed him to undergo surgery. His wife, Nguyen Xuan Nghia, said he was returned to detention just four days after the medical procedure, according to Boat People SOS, a Vietnamese-American advocacy, research, and community development organization.
In July 2013, Nghia was put in solitary confinement after telling his wife during a visit that fellow detained blogger Nguyen Van Hai was on a hunger strike to protest against alleged prison abuses, according to English PEN. It is unclear if Nghia had been released in late 2013.
Nghia was awarded Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammet prize in 2011.
Tran Huyn Duy Thuc (Tran Dong Chan), freelance
Imprisoned: May 24, 2009
Thuc, a blogger who wrote under the penname Tran Dong Chan (Change We Need), was first arrested on charges of “promoting anti-Socialist, anti-government propaganda,” according to news reports. On January 20, 2010, he was sentenced by the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City to 16 years in prison and five years’ house arrest for “activities aimed at overthrowing the government” under Article 79 of the penal code.
The court’s indictment charged him with disseminating false information over a website and three different blogs, according to news reports. He was convicted in part for writing, along with two political activists, a book called “The Vietnam Path” which the court ruled was part of a plan to create unsanctioned political parties and overthrow the government, according to news reports. Thuc maintained his innocence at the trial.
Thuc was not listed on CPJ’s prison census in prior years, but new information obtained in 2013 led CPJ to conclude that he is jailed for journalistic work.
His personal blog, “Tran Dong Chan,” focused on local issues of inequality, social ills, and risks of a possible socioeconomic crisis. He also wrote about sensitive foreign affairs-related topics, including a March 2009 article called “Obama, China, and Vietnam,” which analyzed the three countries’ divergent approaches to civil liberties, human rights, and economic development.
On May 11, 2012, an appellate court upheld Thuc’s sentence in a closed trial, according to news reports. He was being held at southern Dong Nai province’s Xuan Loc Z30A prison, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
Thuc was held in solitary confinement from August 2012 to March 2013, and denied access to books, newspapers, and writing materials, according to a Radio Free Asia report citing his father.
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,” an anti-state offense under Article 88 of the penal code.
The court’s judgment cited 16 articles Bay posted from early 2010 until his arrest on websites hosted overseas-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, according to media reports.
Bay had also been detained in January 2008 and interrogated in connection with eight articles he was accused of writing under pseudonyms and contributing to the overseas Voice of Freedom website. He was released at the time on the condition that he stop writing, according to state media reports.
He was being held at northern Kien Giang province’s An Bien prison camp, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
Dang Xuan Dieu, freelance
Ho Duc Hoa, freelance
Imprisoned: July 30, 2011
Dieu and Hoa, both religious activists and frequent contributors to the news website Vietnam Redemptorist News, were arrested at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Redemptorist News, 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.
They were first detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. Both were also accused of being members of the exile-run Viet Tan party, an organization outlawed by the dominant Communist party.
In a two-day trial that concluded on January 9, 2013, a court in the northern city of Vinh convicted and sentenced each to 13 years in prison and five years’ house arrest on charges of participating in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” “undermining of national unity,” and of disseminating “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” news reports said.
An appellate court upheld Hoa’s prison sentence on May 23, 2013.
Dieu submitted to authorities a petition calling for a new investigation and trial on the grounds that his conviction was based on fabricated information, according to a Radio Free Asia report. Authorities had not responded to his petition in late 2013.
Both were being held at Vinh city’s Nghi Kim Detention Center.
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 initially detained on unspecified charges under Article 79 of the penal code, which outlines penalties for activities aimed at overthrowing the government. He was also accused of membership in the outlawed, exile-run Viet Tan party.
In a two-day trial that concluded on January 9, 2013, a court in the city of Vinh sentenced Son to 13 years in prison and five years’ house arrest on charges of participating in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” “undermining of national unity,” and disseminating “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” news reports said. On May 23, 2013, Son’s prison sentence was reduced to four years’ imprisonment and four years’ house arrest by the Appeal Court of the Supreme People’s Court.
Months before his arrest, Son had posted a number of entries on his personal blog about anti-China protests and territorial disputes with China. His work also focused on land disputes, government harassment of pro-democracy and Catholic Church activists, police abuse, and discrimination against HIV patients. He was also briefly detained in April 2011 after attempting to report on the court hearing for pro-democracy dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu.
On July 18, 2013, Son was severely beaten by prison guards at Ha Nam province’s Nam Ha prison, according to the international human rights group Frontline Defenders. He was denied medical treatment for his injuries, including a broken leg, and was placed in solitary confinement, the group reported. After a prison visit on August 21, 2013, Son’s family said he was still in pain from his injuries and had difficulty walking, according to Frontline Defenders.
Son was still in solitary confinement in late 2013.
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.
In a two-day trial that concluded on January 9, 2013, a Vinh city court convicted and sentenced Anh to five years in prison and three years’ house arrest on charges of participating in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” “undermining of national unity,” and disseminating “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” news reports said.
He was being held at Nghe An provincial prison, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
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. Duyet was also accused of membership in the outlawed, exile-run Viet Tan political party.
In a two-day trial concluded on January 9, 2013, Vinh city court convicted and sentenced Duyet to six years in prison and four years’ house arrest on charges of participating in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” “undermining of national unity,” and disseminating “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” news reports said.
On May 23, 2013, an appellate court reduced his sentence by six months to five and a half years total. He was being held at Vinh city’s Nghi Kim Detention Center.
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 previous occasions.
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 and in the court system.
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 Agence France-Presse. An appellate court upheld Tan’s sentence on December 28, 2012.
Tan is widely recognized as one of Vietnam’s first independent bloggers to write and comment on political news events banned by authorities in the state-controlled media. She was expelled from her job as a police officer and as a member of the Communist Party in connection with her online writings, according to a Radio Free Asia report.
Tan’s mother, Thi Kim Lieng, set herself on fire 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.
Tan was being held at southern Dong Nai province’s Z30A Xuan Loc prison camp, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network. She was honored with the U.S. State Department’s International Woman of Courage Award in 2013.
Dinh Dang Dinh, freelance
Imprisoned: October 2011
Dinh, a former schoolteacher and blogger, was held in pre-trial detention for 10 months while state investigators prepared their case against him. He was charged with violating the criminal code’s Article 88, a vague provision that bans “propagandizing” against the state. On August 8, 2012, he was sentenced in a one-day trial to six years in prison by a Dak Nong provincial court.
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 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 on November 21, 2012. Before the trial, police tried to pressure Dinh into signing a confession in exchange for a reduced sentence. Radio Free Asia reported Dinh was beaten by police with clubs and violently pushed into a waiting police truck after the ruling.
Dinh is suffering from advanced stomach cancer, according to an interview with his wife, Dang Thi Dinh, posted on the independent Danlambao blog. He was being held at Dak Nong provincial prison, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
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.
He was being held at Hanoi’s Thanh Liet B14 Detention Center, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
Nguyen Van Khuong (Hoang Khuong), Tuoi Tre
Imprisoned: January 2, 2012
Khuong, an investigative reporter with the Vietnamese-language state-controlled 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 also of the journalist.
Authorities pressured Tuoi Tre‘s editorial board to suspend Khuong from his reporting duties on December 3, 2011, a month before his arrest. Police investigators seized voice recordings from his private residence after his arrest, according to state media reports. 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, 2012, 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, maintained his innocence at the trial. An appellate court upheld his conviction on December 27, 2012.
Pham Nguyen Thanh Binh, freelance
Imprisoned: May 25, 2012
Binh was arrested at his home in Ho Chi Minh City, according to a local Thanh Nien newspaper report citing his court indictment.
He was charged in connection with eight critical articles he wrote on political, economic, and social issues in Vietnam, which were published between January and May 2012 on a blog called “Nguoi Viet Vi Dan Toc Viet” (Vietnamese people dedicated to Vietnam). The blog is run by a dissident group based in Australia, according to news reports.
On April 17, 2013, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court convicted Binh under Article 88 of the penal code, a vague law that bars “conducting propaganda” against the state. He was sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of house arrest.
According to the indictment, Binh’s articles contained “distorted information about the Party’s policies, the State’s laws and fabricated information about the private life of Party and State leaders,” Thanh Nien reported.
The court ruled that Binh’s articles were “against the guidelines of the Communist Party of Vietnam and Vietnamese government” and “aimed at inciting the people to act against” the state, Radio Free Asia reported, citing state media reports. Court judges said that he had misrepresented himself in his writings as a member of the party with inside sources, according to the reports.
On August 15, 2013, an appeals court reduced Binh’s sentence to two years. He was being held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Phan Dang Luu Detention Center, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network.
Le Quoc Quan, freelance
Imprisoned: December 27, 2012
Quan, a lawyer and blogger, was arrested on tax evasion charges while taking his children to school in the capital city of Hanoi. His arrest came days after he wrote an article published on the BBC’s Vietnamese-language website that criticized the Communist Party-dominated government’s constitutional reform drive. The opinion piece criticized the inclusion in the reform drive of Article 4, which states that the Communist Party has the leading role in Vietnam.
On October 2, 2013, the People’s Court in Hanoi ruled in a one-day trial that Quan had failed to pay income tax at a consulting company he ran and established with his family. He was given a 30-month prison sentence and fine of 1.2 billion dong (US$60,000), and was ordered to pay 600 million dong ($30,000) in back taxes.
Quan denied the charges in court and said he was the victim of “political acts,” according to news reports. His lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said the presiding judge would not allow any arguments from the defense and that there were “inaccuracies” in the prosecution’s evidence, according to news reports. Son said after the trial that Quan would appeal the conviction.
CPJ research shows that Vietnamese authorities have used trumped-up tax evasion charges to silence critical voices. Another journalist, Nguyen Van Hai, was sentenced to prison in 2008 on similar trumped-up tax evasion charges.
Quan wrote a popular blog that reported and commented on issues of government corruption, religious freedom, political pluralism, and human rights abuses. In August 2012, Quan was beaten outside his home by two unidentified men wielding iron bars who he suspected were sent by local police, he told local reporters.
He was being held at Thanh Liet-B14 Detention Center in Hanoi, according to the Vietnam Human Rights Network, an exile-run human rights group.
Truong Duy Nhat, freelance
Imprisoned: May 26, 2013
Nhat, a former reporter with state-controlled newspapers, was arrested at his home in the central coastal city of Danang, according to news reports. He was flown under police escort the next day to the capital, Hanoi, where he was charged with “abusing democratic freedoms,” an anti-state crime under Article 258 of the penal code.
Nhat had maintained a personal blog known as “Nhat Mot Goc Nhin Khac” (A Different Point of View) since 2010, according to reports. His posts were frequently critical of the Communist Party-led government and included entries that called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong for their perceived mismanagement. Vietnamese authorities did not initially specify whether the charges against Nhat were in connection with his blog.
CPJ has documented an intensifying crackdown on Vietnam’s independent bloggers, many of whom are detained on arbitrary anti-state charges. Blogging is the only avenue open to critical and independent reporters and writers in Vietnam, as many issues are not covered by the state-dominated mainstream media.
Nhat’s blog was disabled soon after his arrest, but later reappeared with software embedded that downloaded malware to viewers’ computers, according to reports. If convicted under Article 258, Nhat faces up to seven years in prison. He was being held in Hanoi while a government investigation was ongoing in late 2013.
Pham Viet Dao, freelance
Imprisoned: June 13, 2013
Police arrested Dao, a prominent political blogger and a former official at the Ministry of Culture, at his home in the capital of Hanoi. His house was searched and he was accused by the Ministry of Public Security of “abusing democratic freedoms,” an anti-state crime under Article 258 of the penal code, according to news reports.
Dao was arrested days after giving an interview to the BBC’s Vietnamese-language service in which he criticized a confidence vote, in which National Assembly members voted on the performance of ministers and officials, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. In the interview, Dao raised questions about the integrity of the vote as well as the government’s constitutional reform initiative.
Dao’s blog posts were frequently critical of government officials and policies. He also wrote about sensitive issues such as territorial disputes with China. His online journalism had several thousand regular followers at the time of his arrest, according to news reports.
Authorities did not initially disclose whether the anti-state accusations against Dao were related to his critical blogging.
CPJ has documented an intensifying crackdown on Vietnam’s independent bloggers, many of whom are detained on arbitrary anti-state charges. Blogging is the only avenue open to critical and independent reporters and writers in Vietnam, as many issues are not covered by the state-dominated mainstream media.
If found guilty of violating Article 258, Dao faces up to seven years in prison. He was being held in Hanoi while a government investigation was ongoing in late 2013.
Vo Thanh Tung (Duy Dong, Vo Tung), Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh
Imprisoned: August 7, 2013
Police arrested Tung, a prize-winning investigative reporter with the state-controlled Vietnamese-language daily Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, accusing him of receiving a bribe from a bar owner in Bien Hoa town in southern Dong Nai province, according to local press reports.
Tung had recently reported investigative stories in Phap Luat detailing noise level violations, drug abuse, and illegal pole-dancing in some of the town’s entertainment venues. Local reports said the journalist allegedly accepted a 50 million dong (US$2,370) bribe from the owner of one of the bars to stop his investigative reporting. The reports added that two individuals identified as Tung’s reporting assistants, Nguyen Van Tai, a university student, and Duong Van Minh, a local official, were also arrested on the same accusation of bribery. Police claimed the three had demanded a total of 200 million dong ($9,481) to stop their reporting.
While in police custody, Tung allegedly confessed to demanding a bribe, according to the police’s local newspaper Cong An Nhan Dan. His paper’s editor-in-chief, Pham Phu Tam, could not confirm the confession, according to other local reports.
Local police were implicated in Tung’s reporting for not upholding the law at the exposed entertainment venues. Police authorities in Vietnam often coerce confessions from suspects in custody, according to CPJ research.
Police raided Tung’s home on the day of his arrest and seized a computer, camera, camcorder, and cartons of documents, among other items. The journalist is under investigation.
The journalist is known for his investigative reporting on corruption issues. An exposé he wrote on the unregulated incineration of government-seized meat products was recognized by the Ho Chi Minh City Journalists Association as the top news story of 2012.
Tung also exposed a bribery racket involving traffic police and gas stations along a national highway in the country’s southern region.
Vietnamese journalists working for state-controlled newspapers have previously faced retribution for exposing corruption and illegal activities. Nguyen Van Khuong, an investigative reporter for Vietnamese-language daily Tuoi Tre, was convicted of bribery in connection with his undercover reporting to expose corruption.
Tung and his two assistants were being held in detention in Hanoi while an investigation into the accusations was ongoing in late 2013. They each faced a potential 20 years in prison if convicted on bribery charges.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This census has been updated to reflect the correct name of the Eritrean government-owned daily Haddas Erta.