As of December 1, 2015
Analysis: China, Egypt imprison record numbers of journalists
Blog: None jailed in Americas | Blog: Q&A with Vietnam’s Ta Phong Tan
Click on a country name to see summaries of individual cases.
- Azerbaijan: 8
- Bahrain: 5
- Bangladesh: 5
- Cameroon: 1
- China: 49
- Democratic Republic of Congo: 1
- Egypt: 23
- Eritrea: 17
- Ethiopia: 10
- Gambia: 2
- India: 4
- Iran: 19
- Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: 1
- Kuwait: 1
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Baku police arrested Aliyev, editor-in-chief of the independent news website Azadxeber, near a subway station in downtown Baku and charged him with possession of illegal drugs. A local court ordered Aliyev to be held in pretrial detention. Authorities have extended his pretrial detention 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 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, a local press freedom organization, that Aliyev said investigators tortured the journalist in custody and pressured him to admit he had drugs in his possession. The lawyer did not say how Aliyev was tortured. According to the institute, Gasimli said police threatened to plant narcotics in the editor’s apartment and file more serious charges against him.
In January 2013, authorities brought additional charges against Aliyev-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 investigation against the editor, according to local press reports.
On December 9, 2013, the Baku Court for Grave Crimes sentenced Aliyev to 10 years in prison, according to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel. In June 2014, Azerbaijan’s Court of Appeals denied Aliyev’s appeal, reports said. He was being held in Azerbaijan’s Prison No. 2. CPJ could not determine the state of his health.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan’s crackdown on journalists and civil society.
Baku police detained Mamedov, editor of Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), on June 21, 2012, on allegations that they had found about five grams of heroin in his pocket, the Azeri-language service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. After his arrest, Baku police declared they found an additional 30 grams of heroin in Mamedov’s home when they searched it the same day, news reports said. A day later, a district court in Baku ordered Mamedov to be held in pretrial detention for three months on drug possession charges. Mamedov’s family claims police planted the drugs, and his colleagues said they believed the editor was targeted in retaliation for his reporting, 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 local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. Huseynov told CPJ that Mamedov had investigated the case of Novruzali Mamedov, Talyshi Sado‘s former chief editor who died in prison in 2009. The two journalists were not related.
In July 2012, authorities lodged more 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 articles for Talyshi Sado, through interviews with the Iranian broadcaster Sahar TV, and in unnamed books that he was alleged to have translated and distributed. The statement denounced domestic and international protests against Mamedov’s imprisonment and said the journalist used his office to spy for Iran.
In September 2013, Mamedov was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of drug possession, treason, and incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, regional press reported. His trial was marred by 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’ failure to investigate the death of Novruzali Mamedov. News reports said that before his death, the chief editor had been denied adequate medical treatment for several illnesses. Human rights and press freedom groups including CPJ have called for an independent investigation into his death.
According to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel, the court ruled that Hilal Mamedov was to serve his sentence in a strict penal colony. Mamedov was being held at Prison No. 17, outside Baku, according to an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations.
In June 2014, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court denied Mamedov’s appeal, the report said. His lawyers filed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which in November 2014 started the first stages of communication with Azerbaijani authorities, a necessary step before the court can begin work on the case, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. In late 2015 CPJ was unable to determine the status of Mamedov’s case or of his health.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan’s crackdown on journalists and civil society.
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. Residents were protesting over dancers at a festival who they claimed were 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 the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel that his brother’s imprisonment could be related to his coverage of 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 prison.
Guliyev’s lawyer, Fariz Namazli, told the local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that the charges against the journalist were not substantiated in court and that the testimony of witnesses conflicted. The lawyer said that Guliyev had been beaten by authorities after his arrest and that he was not immediately granted access to a lawyer.
News reports said that Guliyev filed an appeal, which was denied by regional courts. In July 2014, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld the journalist’s sentence.
Guliyev was being held at Prison No. 14, outside Baku, according to Kavkazsky Uzel and an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations. In late 2015, CPJ was unable to determine his health status.
In the run-up to the first European Games, held in Baku in June 2015, CPJ and the Sport for Rights coalition pressed the European Olympic Committees to demand the release of imprisoned journalists and a halt to Azerbaijan’s crackdown on journalists and civil society.
Police arrested Yaqublu, a columnist for the leading opposition daily Yeni Musavat, when he arrived in Ismayilli to interview residents about riots, according to news reports.
On February 4, 2013, the Nasimi District Court in Baku ordered Yaqublu to be held in pretrial detention for two months on charges of organizing mass disorder and violently resisting police. 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.
The independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported that the charges against the journalist were in connection with riots in Ismayilli on January 23, 2013. Thousands of residents demonstrated to demand a governor’s resignation after regional authorities refused to shut down a motel that was alleged to have housed a brothel, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. News reports said the motel, which protesters later burned, was said to belong to the family of a high-ranking government official. Authorities sent police to quell the demonstrations and 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 sent Yaqublu 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 local press freedom organization Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, confirmed that Yaqublu was in the town to report on the unrest, telling CPJ that staff members saw the journalist working there.
On March 17, 2014, a regional court in Ismayilli convicted Yaqublu of mass disorder and sentenced him to five years in prison, according to news reports. His appeal was denied in September 2014. He was being held at Prison No. 13 in late 2014, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
In April 2015, authorities briefly released Yaqublu to attend the funeral of his 26-year-old daughter, reports said. He returned to prison a week later. CPJ could not determine the details of Yaqublu’s health.
Agents with the National Security Agency arrested Hashimli, the editor of the independent news website Moderator and a reporter for the independent newspaper Bizim Yol, outside the offices of the Moderator in Baku. The same day agents claimed to have found a pistol and several grenades after raiding his home without presenting a court order and in the absence of a lawyer, according to news reports.
Agents also raided the newsrooms of the Moderator and Bizim Yol and confiscated equipment, the independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Both outlets are known for coverage of corruption and human rights abuses as well as for critical reporting on the government of President Ilham Aliyev.
On September 19, 2013, the Sabail District Court in Baku ordered that Hashimli be imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into accusations of smuggling and the illegal possession of weapons, according to news reports. Hashimli denied the allegations.
Emin Huseynov, director of the local 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, which Aliyev later won.
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 and asked to meet him outside the Moderator offices about a personal matter. When Hashimli got in Gurbanov’s car, agents surrounded the vehicle and searched it. The agents claimed they found six guns and rounds of ammunition. Gurbanov said he brought the weapons along on Hashimli’s request, which the journalist denied, according to news reports. Hashimli denied having met Gurbanov before.
Gurbanov was detained and faced similar charges, news reports said.
In November 2013, Hashimli’s pretrial detention was extended for three months, according to news reports.
On May 15, 2014, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Hashimli to eight years in prison, the Azerbaijani service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. After the Baku Appeals Court denied his appeal in December 2014, his lawyers asked Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court to review the case and acquit the journalist. The court upheld the sentence at a hearing in October 2015, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Hashimli was being held at Prison No. 1, outside Baku, according to an August 2014 report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a group of lawyers, human rights defenders, and non-governmental organizations. CPJ could not determine the status of Hashimli’s health.
Azerbaijan’s National Security Agency detained Mirkadyrov when he arrived in Baku from Ankara, according to regional and international press reports. Mirkadyrov, who worked as the Turkey correspondent for the independent Azerbaijani daily newspaper Zerkalo for three years, had been deported from Turkey the day before at the request of Azerbaijani authorities, the reports said.
Mirkadyrov was arrested and charged with espionage, according to news reports. Mirkadyrov was ordered into pretrial detention for three months, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
In July 2014, authorities extended his detention until November 21 of that year, Kavkazsky Uzel said. When the term was about to expire, the Nasimi District Court ordered Mirkadyrov to be kept in pretrial detention for a five more months, regional press reported.
The espionage charges stemmed from Mirkadyrov’s trips to Armenia and Georgia, as well as his time in Turkey. He was accused of meeting with Armenian security services and handing them information of a political and military nature, including state secrets, the independent news website Contact reported, citing the Azerbaijani prosecutor-general’s office.
Mirkadyrov denied the accusations and said they were politically motivated and in retaliation for his work. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison, Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
While reporting for Zerkalo in Turkey, Mirkadyrov often criticized Turkish and Azerbaijani authorities for human rights abuses, news reports said.
According to a Kavkazsky Uzel report that cited Mirkadyrov’s wife, Turkish police detained the family in Ankara on April 18, 2014, and accused them of being in the country on expired travel documents. She said their documents were valid through the end of the year. Mirkadyrov was deported the next day. His wife later said that the family showed police a document that said the family was allowed to remain in Turkey until the end of the year, the paper reported. Turkish authorities did not explain the discrepancy, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.
Mirkadyrov was also involved in nongovernmental projects on improving dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to news reports. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the early 1990s, due to a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Mirkadyrov is being held at the National Security Agency’s pretrial detention facility, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. In August 2015, authorities briefly hospitalized him after he complained of hypertension, his lawyer told Kavkazsky Uzel. A month later, news reports said that the journalist’s pretrial detention was extended until November 16. A closed-door trial for Mirkadyrov began on November 19, 2015, according to reports.
Police in the eastern Absheron district arrested Hazi, a reporter for the opposition newspaper Azadliq, over claims that he attacked a man at a bus stop, the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The day after his arrest, the Absheron District Court ordered the journalist, who also uses the name Haziyev, to be held in pretrial detention for two months, the report said. He was charged with hooliganism.
At the trial in Absheron District Court on November 11, the journalist’s lawyer requested that the judge be disqualified because authorities continued to hold Hazi even though his pretrial detention had expired, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The judge denied the request.
Authorities said that while waiting for a bus on his way to work, Hazi attacked and beat a Baku resident named Magerram Hasanov, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. Hazi said in court that he had acted in self-defense, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He said Hasanov had insulted and attacked him. Elton Guliyev, the journalist’s lawyer, told Kavkazsky Uzel that he believed authorities had orchestrated the altercation because police arrived moments after it started. Guliyev said he believed Hazi had been imprisoned in retaliation for his journalism.
Hazi often criticized the Azerbaijani government’s domestic and foreign policies in his reports for Azadliq, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. As a host for Azadliq‘s online TV program “Azerbaijan Saati” (Azerbaijani Hour), he was critical of government corruption and human rights abuses in the country.
In January 2015, Hazi was sentenced to five years in jail, news reports said. His appeal was denied. Hazi is being held at Baku Investigative Prison No. 1. CPJ could not determine details of his health.
Ismayilova, an award-winning investigative reporter and program host on Radio Azadlyg, the Azeri service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was arrested in Baku on December 5, 2014.
Authorities charged Ismayilova with inciting a man to commit suicide and ordered her to be imprisoned for two months pending an investigation into the case, news reports said. While she was in jail, authorities raided the radio station’s Baku bureau, detained and interrogated its staff, confiscated financial documents and reporting equipment, and sealed the newsroom, reports said.
In January 2015, a Baku court extended Ismayilova’s pretrial detention for another two months; a few weeks later, the general prosecutor’s office brought new charges against her of embezzlement, illegal business, tax evasion, and abuse of power, according to regional and international press reports.
During her trial, defense witnesses, including RFE/RL representatives, denied the accusations against Ismayilova, telling the court that she did not have authority to conduct business deals, make decisions about hiring, or manipulate fiscal documents, news reports said. Additionally, the man whose attempted suicide authorities used to file original charges against Ismayilova stated publicly that prosecutors had forced him to incriminate the journalist, RFE/RL reported.
On September 1, 2015, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Ismayilova to seven and a half years in prison on charges of illegal business, tax evasion, abuse of power, and embezzlement, local and international press reported. Authorities dropped the charge of incitement to suicide. On November 25, 2015 the Baku Court of Appeals upheld Ismayilova’s conviction, according to the Sport for Rights coalition.
Ismayilova is known for her exposés of high-level government corruption, including her investigation into alleged ties between President Ilham Aliyev’s family and businesses. For years, Ismayilova also covered Azerbaijan’s grave human rights record.
Ismayilova and her lawyer denied the allegations against her, which they said were in retaliation for her coverage. In an article published by the local press two days before Ismayilova’s arrest, Ramiz Mehdiyev, head of the presidential administration, accused her of treason and espionage, according to news reports.
Before her imprisonment, authorities had consistently harassed Ismayilova through smear campaigns, prosecution, and travel bans, CPJ research shows. Ismayilova, the 2015 winner of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, is being held in Prison No. 4, according to the Sport for Rights coalition. CPJ was unable to determine Ismayilova’s health.
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.
In 2015, Alsingace began refusing all solid food to protest the conditions at Jaw Central Prison, where he was being held. In a joint statement on October 7, 2015, the 200th day of his protest, CPJ and other press freedom and human rights organizations called for his release.
In November 2015, Alsingace was temporarily released to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral. As of late 2015, he remains detained in a clinic where he is receiving treatment in relation to his hunger strike.
Humaidan, a freelance photojournalist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 26, 2014, in a trial of more than 30 individuals charged with participating in a 2012 attack against a police station on the island of Sitra, according to news reports. The reports said three defendants were acquitted, and the rest were given three to 10 years in prison.
Humaidan was at the station to document the attack as part of his coverage of unrest in the country since anti-government protests erupted in February 2011, according to news reports. 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 to try to arrest him, news reports said.
The High Court of Appeals upheld Humaidan’s sentence on August 31, 2014, despite calls by CPJ and other human rights organizations to throw out the conviction.
In 2014, the U.S. National Press Club honored Humaidan with its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
Humaidan is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Hubail, a photographer, was sentenced to five years in prison on April 28, 2014, on charges of inciting protests against public order, according to news reports. Eight other individuals were sentenced in the same trial, including online activist Jassim al-Nuaimi and artist Sadiq al-Shabani, the reports said.
Hubail 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.
The arrest came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14, 2013, that was modeled after the demonstrations that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities.
On August 7, 2013, Hubail was interrogated by the public prosecutor, who accused him 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.
Hubail, who photographs opposition protests, has had his work published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, the independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas.
Hubail said he was tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail told of being beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep. The Bahraini Information Affairs Authority told CPJ on August 28, 2013, that the government was investigating the torture claims.
The High Court of Appeals upheld Hubail’s conviction on September 21, 2014, according to news reports.
In April 2015, someone familiar with Hubail’s situation, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told CPJ that Hubail’s health has deteriorated and that he has been denied adequate medical care for his heart condition. The journalist is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Bahraini security forces arrested Mearaj at his home in the village of Nuwaidrat and confiscated his computer and phone, according to news reports. On April 8, 2014, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on charges of “insulting the king” and “misusing communication devices” in relation to posts he was accused of writing on the opposition website Lulu Awal, the reports said.
Lulu Awal publishes news and information in opposition to the Bahraini government. The website’s YouTube page has posted hundreds of videos showing peaceful protests and violent clashes between protesters and police. Anti-government protests have been a frequent occurrence in the country since the government cracked down on large-scale demonstrations in 2011.
According to news reports citing court documents, Mearaj said he posted news and pictures of demonstrations on several websites, but he denied insulting the king or being responsible for Lulu Awal. Authorities said that a computer seized from his home had been used to post on Lulu Awal, according to news reports. It was not clear if any specific posts on the website led to the arrest and conviction.
Mearaj’s sentence was under appeal in late 2015 after repeated delays for more than a year. He is being held in Jaw Central Prison.
Authorities raided al-Mosawi’s home on February 10, 2014, and arrested him along with his brother, Mohammed, according to news reports. The freelance photographer was transferred to Dry Dock jail after being interrogated about his work as a photographer.
Al-Mosawi’s internationally recognized photographs, most of which he posts on social networking sites, have won several awards. His work includes a range of subjects such as wildlife and daily life in Bahrain in addition to opposition protests. Anti-government protests have been a frequent occurrence in Bahrain since the government cracked down on large-scale demonstrations in 2011.
According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the government has frequently abused an overly broad definition of terrorism as a tool to suppress dissent and independent reporting.
The journalist told his family in a phone call from prison in 2014 that he had been beaten and given electric shocks, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
Al-Mosawi and his brother were charged in late 2014 with rioting and participating in a terror organization, according to news reports. On November 23, 2015, al-Mosawi was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and had his citizenship revoked, according to news reports. Since 2012, Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of more than 130 Bahrainis, including journalists, human rights defenders and accused terrorists, according to local human rights groups.
Rahman, 60, acting editor and majority owner of the opposition Bengali-language daily Amar Desh, was arrested at his office on April 11, 2013, according to news reports. Rahman was charged with publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension. The government cited what it said was critical coverage of the Shahbagh movement, which calls for the death penalty for Islamist leaders on trial on war crimes charges.
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 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 in late 2013, Rahman refused to request bail in protest, news reports said.
Rahman was also indicted on corruption charges over allegations that he failed to submit his wealth statement despite being served several legal notices. The charges relate to his tenure as energy adviser in the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government, according to reports. The party, now in opposition, is aligned with Islamist parties.
In August 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced Rahman to three years in prison for not providing details of his wealth, according to news reports. Rahman is facing trial on several other cases. It is unclear if he has been convicted in any of those cases, according to the English-language The Daily Star. CPJ contacted Rahman’s newspaper to try to verify the status of his case, but by late 2015 had not received a response.
Rahman 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.
CPJ could not determine details of his health.
A Dhaka court sentenced Choudhury, an editor of the Bangladeshi tabloid Weekly Blitz, to seven years in prison over his articles about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
Choudhury was convicted of harming the country’s interests under section 505(A) of the penal code, having been found to have intentionally written distorting and damaging materials, reports said. Choudhury had written about anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries and the spread of Islamist militancy in Bangladesh.
The prosecutor in the case, Shah Alam Talukder, told Agence France-Presse that Choudhury was taken to prison after the verdict. The editor’s family said they would appeal the decision in the High Court, news reports said. No details about his state of health, or where he is being held, have been disclosed.
The sentence was linked to Choudhury’s arrest in November 2003 when he tried to travel to Israel to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association. Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens to travel there. Choudhury was released on bail in 2005.
He was charged with passport violations, but the charges were dropped in February 2004 and he was accused of sedition, among other charges, in connection with his articles, according to news reports. The editor was not convicted on the sedition charge, the reports said. He was arrested again in 2012 in connection with embezzlement charges, and the current charges relating to his writing were filed. In Bangladesh, judicial proceedings can take years to resolve. In February 2015, Choudhary was sentenced to four years in prison on the embezzlement charges, according to news reports.
Salam, the owner of Ekushey TV, and Sarwar, a former senior correspondent for the privately owner broadcaster, have been accused of sedition and being in violation of Bangladesh’s Pornography Act, according to reports. Some journalists said in news reports and to CPJ that the arrests were related to a speech by Tarique Rahman, the son of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, which was broadcast by the channel on January 5, 2015.
Salam was arrested at the station’s offices in Dhaka on January 6, 2015, according to local news reports. At a press conference in Dhaka after his arrest, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said police had charged the chairman of the channel under the Pornography Control Act of 2012. Police said a woman filed a complaint in November 2014 saying she had been vilified in a news program, according to reports. The police said Ekushey TV, which covers local and national news, aired pornographic images of the woman, news reports said. The channel denies the accusations, reports said.
In March 2015, Sarwar was arrested under the Pornography Act after the station’s owner, Salam, was said to have confessed to charges brought against him, reports said. CPJ was unable to determine if Sarwar was formally charged under the act. Sarwar was also charged with sedition, according to news reports. After Sarwar’s arrest, members of the Jatiya Press Club issued a statement expressing concern over the government’s role in undermining independent media in the country, according to reports.
In the speech aired by Ekushey TV on January 5, 2015 Rahman, the senior vice chairman of opposition leader Zia’s party, called for the toppling of the Sheikh Hasina-led government, reports said. Rahman, who has been in exile since 2008 and faces corruption charges in Bangladesh, is a fierce critic of Hasina’s father, the founder of the country.
Sarwar was fired in the days after the speech was aired, reports said. The broadcaster has not commented in English-language reports on the reason for his dismissal.
Ekushey TV was unavailable in some parts of the country after the airing of Rahman’s speech, according to local and international news reports. Cable operators said they were instructed to take Ekushey TV off the air, according to Agence France-Presse. Authorities denied issuing any order, reports said.
Zia, who had been confined to her office earlier in the year after calling on her supporters to topple the Hasina-led government, accused the government of interrupting Ekushey TV broadcasts.
CPJ was unable to determine the state of Salam or Sarwar’s health. The journalists are in jail in Dhaka. Salam was denied bail in January 2015 and March 2015, according to reports. CPJ was unable to determine if a court date has been set for them.
Rahman, a reporter at the daily Amader Rajshahi, was taken into custody after a complaint was filed against him by members of the paramilitary force Border Guards Bangladesh, according to The Financial Express.
Rahman’s family told CPJ that on September 30, a member of the border guards called Rahman and ordered him to bring his camera, memory card, and mobile phone to a camp in Godagari. At the camp, a guard erased the contacts on his phone and took him to the local police station.
Authorities brought drug-related charges against Rahman, claiming he was in possession of heroin and yaba tablets (a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine), his family and colleagues told CPJ. The family says the allegations are fabricated.
Drug smuggling is rampant along Bangladesh’s border with India and Myanmar, according to news reports.
Rahman’s parents, Raoshan Ara and Al Amin, told CPJ their son had been arrested in retaliation for his critical reporting on the border guards and powerful drug lords operating along the India-Bangladesh border. Rahman had worked as a freelance journalist for various local papers for four years, and most recently worked at the Amader Rajshahi, Ara told CPJ.
On September 15, Rahman published a report alleging that members of the border guards were collecting excessive money from cattle traders at the border with India before the Eid holiday, Ara told CPJ.
Two people familiar with Rahman’s case, who have not been named for security reasons, told CPJ that Rahman had reported on border guards’ alleged role in drug smuggling.
The border guards did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment.
Rahman’s family told CPJ in October 2015 that he is being held at a Rajshahi jail. They reported no health issues, but expressed concern about his mental health. The family told CPJ they had not heard if a date for his trial had been set.
Ahmed Abba, a Nigerian national and correspondent for Radio France Internationale’s (RFI) Hausa service, was arrested by Cameroonian officials in Maroua, the capital of the Far North Region of Cameroon, on July 30, 2015, according to a report by RFI. He was taken to the capital, Yaoundé. The journalist was denied access to his lawyer until October 19, RFI told CPJ.
RFI cited the journalist’s lawyer, Charles Tchoungang, as saying Abba was interrogated in relation to the activities of the extremist sect Boko Haram, which has renamed itself the Islamic State in West Africa. Formed in 2002, Boko Haram, which is based in northern Nigeria, has been increasing its presence in northern Cameroon since 2014, according to reports. The group has become notorious for mass kidnappings and targeted attacks on civilians, reports said.
According to RFI, Abba mostly covered refugee issues in the region. The outlet said that Abba had reported on attacks carried out by Boko Haram, but that he never cited any Boko Haram sources or conducted investigations into Boko Haram activities.
Dennis Nkwebo, president of the Cameroon Journalism Trade Union, told CPJ in September 2015 that Abba has lived in northern Cameroon for some time. He said the day Abba was arrested he had gone to a meeting at the office of a local governor. The reason for Abba’s visit to the governor was not clear.
RFI told CPJ that it had not been told of any specific allegations against Abba. The outlet said that it was not aware that Abba had broken any local laws through his reporting and that it had had no contact with him since his arrest.
Authorities had not disclosed any charges against Abba as of late 2015. RFI said the journalist was healthy and was being held in a prison in Yaoundé.
Yang, known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of subverting state power 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 the release of jailed Internet writers.
According to the verdict in Yang’s case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence was over a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a “democratic Chinese transitional government.” His colleagues said he was 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 jailed for endangering state security. 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.
Yang’s health deteriorated in 2015. He has pleural tuberculosis, nephritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions, according to Radio France Internationale. Because Yang maintains he is innocent, his medical parole applications have been rejected. To demand his right to proper medical care, Yang has staged hunger strikes, according to Radio France Internationale.
Yang is being held in Nanjing No. 1 Prison in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, according to Radio Free Asia.
Tengzhou police arrested Qi, a journalist of 13 years, and charged him with fraud and extortion. He was 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 posted photographs on the Xinhua news agency’s anti-corruption Web forum that showed a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou. Ma was sentenced in 2007 to one and a half years in prison. He was released in 2009, according to Jiao.
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 due to be released in 2011, but in May of that year local authorities told him 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 an additional eight years in prison, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia.
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 charge was 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 limits visits. Jiao told journalists in 2012 that her husband offered her a divorce, but she declined. As of late 2015, no new information about Qi’s legal status or health had been disclosed.
On two occasions in November 2007, Ekberjan used his cell phone to record sounds of riots in his home town of Turpan. The audio files, which included the noise of rioters, sirens, and a voice-over of Ekberjan describing what was happening, were sent to friends in the Netherlands, and later used in news reports by Radio Free Asia and Phoenix News in Hong Kong. Ekberjan posted links to the news reports on his blog, which was closed by authorities on December 25, 2007, according to the rights group World Uyghur Congress.
In an April 2009 Radio Free Asia report, Ekberjan’s mother said he made the recordings on two occasions, but at his trial he faced 21 counts of sending information abroad. She told Radio Free Asia she believed he might have been motivated to send the files to help achieve his ambition of studying abroad. The Turpan Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on February 28, 2008 for “separatism”-trying to break away from the Communist Party-and revealing state secrets, crimes under articles 103 and 11 of the Chinese penal code.
As of April 2009, he was being held in the Xinjiang Number 4 prison in Urumqi, Radio Free Asia reported. No new information about his health or where he is being held has been disclosed, according to Radio Free Asia.
Liu, a longtime advocate of political reform and the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was imprisoned on charges of 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 No. 1 Intermediate Court in December of that year. Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., 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.” In September 2015, Geir Lundestad, who was secretary of the Norwegian Nobel committee when Liu was awarded the prize, claimed that the Norwegian government tried to dissuade the committee for fear of offending the Chinese government, according to reports. Norway’s foreign minister at the time, Jonas Gahr Støre, denied the allegations.
Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has been 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 when they filmed an activist’s attempt to visit Liu Xia at her home. In February 2014, Liu Xia spent a brief period in the hospital for treatment of heart problems, depression, and other medical conditions. She remained under house arrest in late 2015.
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 Liu Hui’s lawyers said had already been settled. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, news reports said. A court rejected his appeal in August 2013.
Liu Xiaobo was being held in Jinzhou Prison in northeastern China’s Liaoning province, according to news reports.
In August 2015, Liu’s three brothers visited him for the first time in 13 months. They told reporters at Radio France Internationale that Liu was not allowed to communicate with his family through letters.
Public security officials arrested the online writer Tsang 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 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.
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 harsher and there are serious concerns for his health, according to PEN International. His family is allowed to visit every two months, and is permitted to speak with him only in Chinese via an intercom and separated by glass screen. Not being allowed to converse in Tibetan is difficult for many of his family members, PEN International said.
As of late 2015 it was unclear in which prison Tsang was being held.
Abdulla, editor of the state-run China National Radio Uighur service, was detained in July 2009 and accused of 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 for translating articles on the Salkin website, Radio Free Asia reported. The World Uyghur Congress, a rights group based in Germany, confirmed the sentence with contacts in the region, according to The New York Times.
Abdulla is in an unspecified prison in Xinjiang, according to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which monitors human rights and law in China. CPJ could not determine details of his health in late 2015.
Details of Hezim’s arrest after 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 between groups of Han Chinese and the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority on July 5, 2009, in Urumqi, the regional capital.
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 Uighur website Orkhun. Erkin Sidick, a U.S.-based Uighur scholar, 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 undisclosed charges in a trial closed to observers, according to Sidick, who learned the news by telephone from sources in Aksu, the district he comes from. Hezim’s family was informed of the sentence but not of the charges against him, Sidick said. Chinese authorities frequently restrict information on sensitive trials, particularly those involving ethnic minorities, according to CPJ research.
Hezim’s whereabouts in late 2015 were unknown, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Uighur rights group based in Washington.
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 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 statement at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in 2011.
Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of 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 writing, readers of the website told Radio Free Asia. The website was shut down after the 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 called her on July 5, 2009, but only to check on whether she was safe.
The riots, which began as a protest over 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 blocked access to 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 was being held in the Xinjiang women’s prison (Xinjiang No. 2 Prison) in Urumqi, according to the rights group World Uyghur Congress. CPJ could not determine details of her health in late 2015.
Kahar, a reporter and blogger, disappeared during ethnic rioting in Urumqi in July 2009. His family announced in February 2014 that he had been convicted of separatism and was being held in Shikho prison outside Shikho city in the far north of Xinjiang, according to the Uighur service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia.
Kahar worked as a local reporter before launching the Uighur-language website Golden Tarim, which featured articles on Uighur history, culture, politics, and social life.
With the unrest surrounding the riots, it is difficult to determine the exact date of his arrest or where he was initially held. His family had questioned police and government authorities after his disappearance, but received no information, and assumed he had been killed until they were informed of his conviction in 2010, Radio Free Asia reported.
The family was told that Kahar was sentenced to 13 years in prison during a closed court session in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, though they did not know the date of the trial. Kahar’s sister Nurgul told Radio Free Asia that during their search for Kahar, the family was told by court officials in Urumqi that he “published illegal news and propagated ideas of ethnic separatism on his website. He was charged with the crime of splitting the nation.”
According to a September 2015 report by Radio Free Asia, Kahar’s health is failing. His family is allowed only a 15-minute visit with the journalist every four months. “He is losing his courage year by year,” Radio Free Asia cited his mother as saying.
Thousands of Uighurs remain unaccounted for in Xinjiang. Many were detained during the 2009 crackdown or other security sweeps by Chinese authorities.
Authorities imprisoned Azat and another journalist, Nureli Obul, in an apparent crackdown on managers of Uighur-language websites. Azat was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Obul to three years on charges of endangering state security, according to international news reports. The Uyghur American Association reported that the pair were sentenced in July 2010.
Their websites, which have been shut down by the government, published news articles and discussion groups on Uighur issues. The New York Times cited friends and relatives of the journalists who said they were prosecuted because they failed to respond quickly enough when they were ordered to delete content that discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang.
The Uyghur PEN Center confirmed to CPJ that Obul was released after completing his sentence. Azat’s whereabouts were unknown as of October 2015. As is the case with many Uighur prisoners, the government releases little information on where they are being held.
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 of endangering state security and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to 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 before ethnic unrest in July 2009 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 though he had given 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.
According to Humanitarian China, a San Francisco-based Chinese human rights organization, as of late 2015 Niyaz was being held in Changji prison in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The state of his health and the conditions under which he was being held were unknown.
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 article was titled “Constitutional Democracy for China: Escaping Eastern Autocracy,” according to the BBC.
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 U.S.-based prisoner rights group Laogai Research 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 sentence handed down in 1999 after he founded a branch of the China Democracy Party, according to The New York Times.
Liu is being held at Chuanzhong prison in Sichuan province, according to China Change, a website tracking human rights in the country.
Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, detained Li, a 52-year-old freelancer, 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 the 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 a small opposition group, the China Social Democracy Party, the group reported.
Li is in Edong prison in Huanggang, Hubei province, according to Boxun News.
Beijing police detained Jin, a freelance writer, Lü Jiaping, a military scholar, and Lü’s wife, Yu Junyi, on allegations of inciting subversion in 13 online articles they wrote and distributed together, according to international news reports and human rights groups.
A Beijing court sentenced Lü to 10 years in prison and Jin to eight years in prison on May 13, 2011 for subverting state power, 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, which was lifted in February 2012, according to the group and the English-language, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America. Lü, who is in his 70s, was granted medical parole in February 2015 due to his deteriorating health, according to BBC Chinese.
The court maintains 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 lawyer in Beijing. The 13 offending articles, which were principally written by Lü, were listed in the appeal judgment, along with dates, places of publication, and the number of times they were reposted. 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.”
Jin is serving his sentence in Xian Prison in Shaanxi province, according to China Political Prisoner Concern, a human rights website based in New York.
Police in Suining, Sichuan province, detained Chen alongside dozens of lawyers, writers, and activists who were jailed nationwide after anonymous online calls for a nonviolent “Jasmine Revolution” in China, according to international news reports. The Hong Kong-based group 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.”
Chen has been jailed twice before. He served a year and a half in prison for participating in the Tiananmen protests in 1989. In 1992 he was sentenced to five years in prison for organizing the Chinese Freedom and Democracy Party.
He is being held in Jialin prison in Sichuan province, according to Boxun News.
Police arrested Jigme, a Tibetan author and monk, 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 officially, but the Independent Chinese PEN Center says he was accused of separatism.
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 opinions on topics such as Chinese policies in Tibet, self-immolation, minority rights, and the Dalai Lama, according to news reports.
Jigme was briefly detained in 2011 in connection with the first volume of his book, 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 the protests.
Authorities did not disclose any information on Jigme’s health or whereabouts. According to the Independent Chinese PEN Center, he may be in prison in Xining, a city in Qinghai province. In late 2015, CPJ was unable to verify his whereabouts or details of his health.
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 and Liu were sentenced to 13 years and 14 years in prison respectively in June 2014 for accepting bribes and for extortion, according to Shaoguan Daily, a government-run newspaper.
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 on news websites about a dispute involving the illegal extraction of rare minerals in Shaoguan, according to news reports.
The prosecutors’ statement said Hu and Liu accepted 493,000 yuan (about US$82,200) in bribes. The pair were stripped of their press cards and banned from journalism for life, according to the state-run paper China Daily.
Users on Weibo, China’s microblog service, said they suspected the reporters’ arrests were in retaliation for their reports that exposed problems in the government and judiciary.
Shaoguan authorities had not disclosed the health or whereabouts of the journalists in late 2015.
Dong was detained in Kunming city, Yunnan province, on accusations of misstating his company’s registered assets, according to statements from his lawyer. On July 23, 2014, he was sentenced by Wuhua Court in Kunming to six years and six months in prison on charges of illegal business activity and creating a disturbance, according to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
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 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 the man’s death was an accident but later admitted he had been beaten to death, according to news reports. In 2013, Dong raised safety and environmental concerns about a state-owned oil refinery planned 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 arrest when he wrote on his microblog, which had about 50,000 followers, that strangers had raided his office in late August and taken three computers. “What crime will they bring against me?” Dong wrote. “Prostituting, gambling, using and selling drugs, evading tax, causing trouble on purpose, fabricating rumors, running a mafia online?”
Dong’s friend, Zheng Xiejian, told Reuters in September 2013, “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.”
Although Dong is not a professional journalist, CPJ determined that he was jailed in connection with his news-based commentary published on the Internet. From August 2013, authorities detained scores of people 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 were released, but some were still being held.
During his trial Dong said he was interrogated for seven to eight hours at a time for more than 70 days, while chained to a chair, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. He is in frail condition, the Hong Kong-based group stated.
No information on where Dong is being held had been disclosed as of late 2015.
Yao Wentian, a Hong Kong publisher and honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was placed under residential surveillance in Shenzhen, in China’s southern Guangdong province, by state public security officers on October 27, 2013, on “suspicion of smuggling ordinary goods” before he was detained on November 2 and formally arrested on November 12, 2013. Yao’s son, Edmond Yao, said his father had been preparing to publish a book titled Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping by the exiled, U.S.-based Chinese author Yu Jie. A previous book by Yu that Yao published, which criticized former Premier Wen Jiabao, is banned in China.
Yao was accused of falsely labeling and smuggling industrial chemicals. His family claimed he was delivering industrial paint to a friend in Shenzhen. At his trial, prosecutors said the cost of the industrial chemicals Yao was accused of smuggling from Hong Kong amounted to more than 1 million yuan (U.S.$163,000), according to reports.
On May 7, 2014 during a closed-door trial at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, Yao was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison. According to family members, he is being held in Dongguan prison in Shilong in Guangdong province. The elderly Yao’s health is poor, the family says, because he is forced to do hard labor and is not receiving medical treatment.
Yao started his publishing business, Morning Bell Press, in Hong Kong in the 1990s. The small business has published many books by Chinese dissident writers.
Tohti, a Uighur scholar, writer, and blogger, was taken from his home by police on January 15, 2014, and the Uighurbiz website he founded, also known as UighurOnline, was closed. The site, which Tohti started in 2006, was published in Chinese and Uighur, and focused on social issues.
Tohti was charged with separatism by Urumqi police on February 20, 2014. He was accused of using his position as a lecturer at Minzu University of China to spread separatist ideas through Uighurbiz. On September 23, 2014, at the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment. He denied the charges.
Several foreign governments and human rights organizations protested the sentence. The European Union released a statement condemning the life sentence as unjustified. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. was concerned by the sentencing and called on Chinese authorities to release him, along with seven of his students.
Tohti’s appeal request was rejected at a hearing in a Xinjiang detention center on November 21, 2014, that was scheduled at such short notice that his lawyer was unable to attend. According to Tohti’s lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, the blogger’s mother and brother visited him in jail on October 15, 2015. Tohti said he would appeal the case again, the lawyer told Radio Free Asia.
Seven of his students-Perhat Halmurat, Shohret Nijat, Luo Yuwei, Mutellip Imin, Abduqeyum Ablimit, Atikem Rozi and Akbar Imin-were charged with being involved with Uighurbiz during a secret trial held in November 2014, according to Tohti’s lawyer Li Fangping. Many were administrators for the site, according to state media. According to the political prisoner database of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an organization set up by Congress to monitor human rights and laws in China, Rozi and Mutellip Imin wrote for the site. Imin, who is from Xinjiang and enrolled at Istanbul University in Turkey, has a blog, too. He was arrested when he tried to leave China.
According to The New York Times, three of the students made televised confessions on the state-run China Central Television in September, saying they worked for the site. Halmurat claimed to have written an article, Nijat claimed to have taken part in editorial policy decisions, and Luo, from the Yi minority, claimed to have done design work.
The seven students were sentenced to three to eight years in prison, according to the Global Times, a government-affiliated website. The length of sentence for each student was unclear and details of where they are being held have not been disclosed.
Tohti was being held at the Xinjiang No. 1 Prison in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to Radio Free Asia. Tohti’s family has been allowed to visit him only three times since September 2014.
Tohti is a member of the Uyghur PEN Center and an honorary member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center and PEN America.
Wang, publisher of two Chinese-language magazines in Hong Kong-New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face-and Guo, a reporter for the magazines, were detained by police in the southern city of Shenzhen on May 30, 2014, and accused of operating an illegal publication and suspicion of illegal business operations. Liu Haitao, an editorial assistant at the magazines, was detained on June 17, 2014, on the same accusations. Liu did not appear on CPJ’s 2014 prison census because the organization was unaware of his arrest.
According to a Hong Kong media report, Wang’s wife was also placed under criminal detention on May 30, 2014, and her house was raided the same day. She was held overnight and released on bail. In April 2015, Wang’s wife published an open letter on the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun calling for the release of her husband.
Oiwan Lam, founder of Inmedia, an independent media outlet promoting free speech, told CPJ that Wang and Guo were known as politically well-connected journalists who frequently reported insider information and speculation on political affairs in China. In an editorial, the Hong Kong- and Taiwan-based newspaper Apple Daily described Wang’s magazines as being “close” to the political factions of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and former Vice President Zeng Qinghong.
Sham Yee Lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, told CPJ that the arrests were part of a wider attempt to suppress the freewheeling publishing industry in Hong Kong.
At a hearing on November 5, 2015, the three journalists and Wang’s wife pleaded guilty to the illegal business charges, according to news reports. Wang also pleaded guilty to additional charges of bribery and bid rigging in relation to his other businesses in China, the Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao reported. CPJ was unable to determine when the additional charges were brought against Wang. No verdict was given during the trial, according to news reports.
The journalists were being held in Nanshan Detention Center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, according to the human rights group, Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Lü, a freelance writer, was detained on July 7, 2014, and his home was raided by security officers in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province. He was charged with subversion of state power on August 13, according to Human Rights in China. Two fellow activists told Radio Free Asia that his detention was most likely linked to writing he had published online in previous days about corruption and petitioners.
Lü lost his teaching position at Zhejiang Higher Professional School of Public Security in 1993 over his support of the pro-democracy movement. In 2000 his book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, was published by Hong Kong Culture and Arts Studio. In March 2007 his article “China’s Biggest Spy Organization: The Political and Legal Affairs Commission” appeared in Beijing Spring, an overseas democracy magazine. On February 5, 2008, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights on a charge of inciting subversion of state power. A lower court found him guilty of publishing “subversive essays” on foreign websites, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
After his release on August 23, 2011, Lü wrote a series of articles on corruption, organized crime, and other topics. Lü has also reported on the sentencing of rights activists, and frequently voiced support for the protection of basic rights. In October 2013, Lü and others wrote an open letter and petition against China’s presence on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
A Hangzhou court tried Lü on September 29, 2015. As the journalist was making a statement during the trial, the presiding judge interrupted and prohibited Lü from speaking, claiming the content of the statement endangered state security, according to Radio Free Asia. A verdict had not been issued as of late 2015.
Lü is being held at Hangzhou Detention Center. He has high blood pressure and diabetes, according to Radio Free Asia. Lü’s wife told Radio Free Asia she was not sure whether the medicine the detention center provided to Lü was sufficient.
Tsomo, an online writer from Zatoe County in Qinghai’s Yushul Prefecture, was arrested by public security officers at her home at Chiza Sachen village in Zatoe County, on August 23, 2014.
She was accused of breaking China’s cyber laws by publishing politically sensitive articles online. Tsomo had written several Chinese language essays on websites and Chinese social media sites. Shortly before her arrest, she wrote about poor living conditions of Tibetans in an area devastated by an earthquake, according to the Tibetan service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia.
It is unclear where Tsomo was being held. As of late 2015, CPJ was unable to determine whether formal charges had been brought against her or whether she had been released.
In September 2014, police in Shanghai detained a group of managers and editors of a leading business media company, the 21st Century Media Group, state press agency Xinhua reported.
The managers and editors were accused of extorting money from companies, particularly ones due to be listed on the stock market, in return for positive coverage on the news website 21st Century Net, daily newspaper 21st Century Business Herald and weekly magazine Money Week, all owned by the group, according to Xinhua. The publications have a focus on business news and a liberal political stance.
On September 29, 2014, Shen Hao, the president of the group, appeared on state television and stated that he had instructed his reporters to blackmail companies into signing advertising deals by threatening to write negative articles about them. Liu Dong and Luo Guanghui made similar televised statements, according to reports.
Former colleagues of Shen and experts on Chinese media told The Washington Post that the group was targeted because it represented independent reporting at odds with the Communist Party’s ideology.
According to the Post, Shen founded 21st Century Business Herald in 2001 after he was fired from the Southern Media Group for writing articles that angered a local official. When 21st Century Business Herald became successful, he founded several affiliated publications. In the following years, the group was put under steady pressure for crossing lines in political and financial reporting. In 2003, three editors were jailed and one of its papers was closed, the Post reported.
According to China Digital Times, the government ordered the media to not report on a poem written by Shen’s wife in protest of his arrest, and prohibited news outlets from portraying Shen and the other suspects positively.
The Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao reported that the crackdown on the 21st Century Media Group was retaliatory, as the group had been “outspoken and bold for years.” A contributor to the overseas Chinese-language news site Boxun told Radio Free Asia in August 2015 that the news outlet was being targeted because “these media outlets … don’t do as they are told.”
On October 11, 2014, prosecutors in Shanghai announced that 25 people involved in the extortion scheme had been arrested. On August 20, 2015, prosecutors announced that 30 people involved would stand trial for suspected “extortion” and “coercive business transactions,” according to state media.
The government did not publicize the full list of those charged. CPJ was able to confirm that at least nine are journalists.
Shen and his colleagues did not appear on CPJ’s 2014 prison census although they were in detention at the time. CPJ added the journalists in 2015 after becoming aware of new details in their case.
Chen, a freelance writer and member of the China Democratic Party and the Independent Chinese PEN Center, was detained on September 11, 2014, in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, on suspicion of subversion of state power, and his home was raided by agents from the Hangzhou Public Security Bureau. He had written several articles for the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun about pro-democracy advocates, many of whom are in the hospital or detention. According to Human Rights in China, Chen was formally arrested on October 22, 2014.
Chen has been jailed before. He was placed under criminal detention on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power on September 14, 2006. On August 16, 2007, he was sentenced by Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court to four years in prison and one year’s deprivation of political rights for subversion of state power. After the original verdict was upheld at the appellate court, Chen was jailed at Qiaosi prison in Hangzhou. He was released on September 13, 2010 after serving his term.
Chen was tried on September 29, 2015, by a Hangzhou court, the same day as another dissident writer, Lü Gengsong, but in a separate case. Chen denied all charges, according to Radio Free Asia. A verdict had not been given as of late 2015. Chen was being held at Hangzhou Detention Center.
Wang, a volunteer journalist for the independent human rights news website 64 Tianwang, was arrested on December 10, 2014, while photographing protesters near the Beijing headquarters of the state-run broadcasting agency China Central Television, according to news reports that cited Huang Qi, founder and editor of the website. Wang, who is being held on accusations of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” was denied bail on May 30.
In March 2014, Wang was detained by Chinese authorities after she and two other volunteer journalists published a report on 64 Tianwang about an attempted self-immolation and the defacing of a portrait in Tiananmen Square, news reports said. On that occasion she was held on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” but released on bail about a month later, the reports said. She was not formally charged at the time.
Wang is in poor health and her condition has worsened in custody, according to Radio Free Asia. She was beaten repeatedly by local police and force-fed after she staged hunger strikes to protest her mistreatment, her lawyer told the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Wang is being held at a detention center in Jilin City, Jilin province, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Wang’s case is still under investigation and, as of late 2015, she had not been charged, according to 64 Tianwang.
Ye, a regular contributor to Xizi, a local news website in Huizhou prefecture, Guangdong province, was arrested at his home on December 12, 2014. Ye was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Police allege that Ye fabricated and spread false information on the Internet forums Tianya and Xizi, according to the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party. The accusation was based on articles he posted on September 17 and 19, 2014. In one article, Ye mocked the head of the local public security bureau for cracking down on an environmental protest. In another article, he wrote about police visiting a protester’s home. Police said Ye’s posts caused a protest involving more than 300 people on September 20, the Communist Party newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported.
Before Ye’s hearing on August 7, 2015, his lawyer, Liu Hao, told Radio Free Asia that police had ordered him not to speak to the media about the case, but Liu said Ye would deny the charges in court. CPJ was unable to determine what happened at the hearing.
Ye is being held in Huizhou Detention Center in Guangdong province, according to the human rights website China Political Prisoner Concern.
Druklo, a Tibetan writer who goes by only one name, was detained on March 19, according to Radio Free Asia. Druklo’s family discovered he had been arrested after they reported him missing, according to Radio Free Asia, which cited a source who refused to be identified.
The government has not given any reason for his detention and it is not clear whether charges have been filed against Druklo, who writes under the name Shokjang, according to Voice of America.
Friends of Druklo said they believed his arrest was related to his blog and social media posts about the current situation in Tibet, including political repression by the Chinese authorities and environmental degradation, according to the Tibet Post .
Druklo was previously detained for more than a month in 2010 on allegations of conducting and instigating separatist activities, according to Radio Free Asia. Druklo had written about the Tibetan protests of 2008 and the harsh responses from the Chinese government.
Druklo is in a detention center in Rebgong county in Qinghai province, according to Radio Free Asia.
Tibetan writer and blogger Lobsang Jamyang, also known as Lomig, was arrested by the Chinese police in Ngaba county in Sichuan province on April 17, according to Radio Free Asia.
Though no reasons were given for his arrest, other Tibetan writers speculated it was because of articles he wrote that were critical of China’s policies in Tibet, including on the underlying causes of the 2008 protests and self-immolation, environmental degradation, and restrictions on free speech, according to Tibet Express and other outlets. As well as writing for Tibetan websites such as Choeme, Sengdor and the blog Tsongon, Jamyang published a book titled “Surge of Yellow Mist,” according to the website Tibet Express.
As of late 2015, CPJ could not determine whether charges have been brought against Jamyang or where he was being held.
Wang, a reporter for the Beijing-based business magazine Caijing, was arrested on August 25 on suspicion of “colluding with others and fabricating and spreading false information about securities and futures trading.” The arrest was made after he wrote an article in Caijing on July 20 that said the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) was examining ways for securities companies to withdraw funds from the stock market, according to a Caijing statement. The commission denied the allegations and called Wang’s report “irresponsible,” according to news reports. The state-run agency Xinhua reported that the article caused “unusual fluctuations” of the stock market.
The Chinese state broadcaster later aired footage of Wang appearing to say that he regretted writing the story and pleading for leniency with the judicial authorities. Televised confessions are among tactics deployed by Chinese authorities for dealing with journalists who cover sensitive stories.
In September, Radio France Internationale reported that Chinese authorities had placed Wang under “residential surveillance at a designated place,” a form of pre-trial custody. It is unclear where Wang was being held as of late 2015, or whether he had been formally charged.
Jiang Yefei, a political cartoonist, was repatriated from Thailand alongside a Chinese activist, Dong Guangping, and detained by Chinese authorities on November 13, 2015 on suspicion of “assisting others to illegally cross the national border,” according to the state news agency Xinhua.
Jiang, who is also an activist, fled to Thailand in 2008 after being harassed by Chinese authorities, according to Human Rights Watch. The cartoonist was detained twice that year after giving interviews to the international press in which he criticized the government’s handling of the Sichuan earthquake, according to Radio Free Asia. Jiang was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and had been accepted for resettlement by Canada, according to Human Rights Watch and news reports.
While in Thailand, Jiang used his social media accounts and articles published on the overseas Chinese-language news website Boxun to continue to speak publicly against China’s human rights record and other policies. The journalist’s wife, Chu Ling, told CPJ that since 2014, Jiang has been publishing political cartoons on his Facebook and Google+ page. In 2015, Jiang published a series of cartoons on Boxun, Chu said. She told CPJ that in 2015, as her husband’s cartoons became more popular, she and Jiang received several anonymous phone calls from China demanding Jiang stop drawing. Chinese authorities also threatened Jiang’s brother in China, asking him to tell his brother to stop drawing, Chu said.
In October 2015, Jiang was arrested by Thai authorities for allegedly breaking immigration rules by helping Dong come to Thailand, according to reports. (Dong had spent 10 months in a Chinese jail for participating in a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre before being released in February 2015, according to the BBC). On November 13, 2015 the Thai government deported Jiang and Dong to China, despite objections raised by human rights organizations and the Canadian government, which had accepted their applications for asylum, according to news reports.
On November 26, 2015 Jiang appeared on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, dressed in prison clothes, and confessed to human trafficking. He said he regretted his actions and pleaded for leniency. According to Chu, from the footage, Jiang looked as if he was in pain. “It was obvious to me that he had been beaten. A friend who was imprisoned for 13 years told me that from his experience in jail, it was clear to him that my husband was tortured,” Chu told CPJ. CPJ was unable to verify her claims.
CPJ was unable to determine where Jiang was being held in late 2015.
Egide Mwemero, a Burundian journalist with the independent station Radio Publique Africaine, was arrested in Uvira, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on October 13, 2015, his station manager told CPJ. He had not been charged as of late in the year.
Mwemero, a reporter, was apprehended by Congolese authorities at the offices of Democratic Republic of Congo community radio station Radio le Messager du Peuple, alongside Congolese reporters Manzambi Mupenge and Lucien Kanana, according to Journaliste en Danger, a Congolese press freedom organization. Mupenge and Kanana were released two days later, news reports said. It is not clear why the journalists were arrested.
The Congolese station had partnered with Radio Publique Africaine to broadcast its news and current affairs show “Humura Burundi,” according to Journaliste en Danger. Following an attempted coup in Burundi in May 2015, several radio stations were forced off the air and had equipment damaged. Radio Publique Africaine was among those closed. The Congolese station stopped broadcasting the show on October 9, 2015 on the orders of Congolese authorities, a local news report said. No reason for the order was given, according to reports.
Mwemero had been living in exile since fleeing unrest in Burundi after the attempted coup, Bob Rugurika, managing director of Radio Publique Africaine, told CPJ. On the night of November 1, 2015, Mwemero was moved from the police station in Uvira to an undisclosed location. CPJ could not determine his whereabouts in late 2015.
Abdel Nabi was arrested while covering clashes that erupted between pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters and security forces in Alexandria, hours after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was then minister of defense, announced the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Abdel Nabi is a correspondent for the news website Rassd, which is critical of the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and the government that subsequently came to power. Months after Abdel Nabi’s arrest, Egypt’s prosecutor-general accused the banned Muslim Brotherhood of using several media outlets, including Rassd, to support its plot to take over the government and spread lies about the military and the government
Authorities arrested Abdel Nabi, along with his brother, Ibrahim, while he was photographing the clashes around Sidi Bishr mosque in Alexandria, according to reports by Rassd and other news outlets. Police seized his camera. He was charged with possessing weapons and rioting. No trial date had been set by late 2015.
In June 2015, Rassd issued a statement saying Abdel Nabi had been beaten in prison and placed in solitary confinement. He is being held in Borg el Arab prison on the outskirts of Alexandria.
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 the pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, according to news reports.
He was first held in a Cairo stadium with other protesters and foreign correspondents who were released the same day.
Abou Zeid contributed to the U.K.-based citizen journalism site and photo agency Demotix and the digital media company Corbis. After his detention, Demotix sent a letter to the Egyptian authorities confirming that Abou Zeid had been covering the clashes for the agency, the photographer’s brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, told CPJ.
In September 2013, the Egyptian general prosecutor’s office extended the journalist’s pre-trial detention, Mohamed Abou Zeid, his brother, told CPJ. Mohamed told CPJ in 2014 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.
On May 14, 2015, Abou Zeid appeared before a judge for the first time since his arrest, according to news reports. The judge renewed his pre-trial detention, according to the Freedom for Shawkan campaign. The journalist, whose lawyer was not present in court, told the judge about his arrest and denied the allegations against him.
In September 2015, after more than two years of pretrial detention, Abou Zeid’s case was referred to a Cairo criminal court for trial. The photographer was charged with weapons possession, illegal assembly, murder, and attempted murder, according to court documents. The trial is scheduled to begin on December 12.
Abou Zeid is being held at Tora Prison. Human rights groups said his health has deteriorated in jail. A campaign for his release has led to global protests and online petitions on his behalf.
Abou Zeid wrote a letter to mark his 600th day in jail in April 2015. The letter described the abuse he has suffered since his arrest and urged advocacy on behalf of detained journalists in Egypt.
Mustafa, co-founder of the news website Rassd, Rassd Executive Director Abdullah al-Fakharny, and Amgad TV presenter Mohamed al-Adly were arrested on August 25, 2013, in the home of the son of a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In February 2014, the three were charged with “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the dispersal of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
The prosecutor-general accused the Muslim Brotherhood of using several media outlets, including Rassd and Amgad TV, to support its plot to take over the government and spread lies about the military and the government.
Ahmed Helmy, Mustafa’s lawyer, denied all of the charges against the journalists.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced all three journalists to life in prison on April 11, 2015. They had been tried along with dozens of other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of a retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
The three journalists were being held in Tora prison, southeast of Cairo. In a letter from prison that was publicized on May 3, 2015, World Press Freedom Day, al-Fakharny described being beaten and abused in custody.
Abuhaj, a videographer, was arrested from his day job at a tax agency in the city of Arish in northern Sinai and charged with inciting violence, participating in demonstrations, and using arms against police, among other crimes, according to news reports and local journalist unions.
Abdel Qader Mubarak, head of the Federation of Journalists and Reporters in Sinai, told CPJ that he believed Abuhaj could have been targeted because of his coverage of Muslim Brotherhood meetings and protests in northern Sinai. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood an illegal organization.
In a statement by the federation, Abuhaj’s lawyer, Saeed al-Kassas, said that the accusations against the journalist were based on a leaflet bearing Muslim Brotherhood slogans that police found with Abuhaj. The prosecution was also relying on video footage showing Abuhaj at a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration. Abuhaj told prosecutors that he was using the leaflet as part of his coverage of protests, and that he attended demonstrations as part of his work as a journalist, the federation told CPJ. The lawyer said there was no proof that Abuhaj had participated in any violent activity, according to the federation’s statement.
Abuhaj worked for the Sinai Media Center, which is made up of a group of journalists who post news items, videos, and photos online, and feed information to other news outlets. Abuhaj’s work, including his coverage of terrorist attacks, was also published by the Rassd Sinai News Network. Abuhaj covered demonstrations, deadly clashes, and the destruction of government buildings that occurred as part of the conflict between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and government forces after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Abuhaj also covered socioeconomic issues such as fuel shortages in northern Sinai.
Terrorist attacks and fighting between state forces and militant groups have made Sinai more dangerous and restrictive to reporters in recent years. Journalists face threats from violent anti-government groups as well as state security forces, Mubarak said.
On November 17, 2013, a court in Arish ordered Abuhaj placed in pretrial detention, according to news reports. His pretrial detention has been periodically renewed, but no trial date had been set in late 2015, Mubarak said.
Abuhaj is being held in Arish Central Prison. He suffers from a problem with his spine and receives medication sent by his family, according to Mubarak.
CPJ did not include Abuhaj in its 2013 or 2014 prison census because the organization was not aware of his imprisonment until May 2015. Abuhaj was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Salah el-Deen was arrested while trying to board a flight from Cairo to Beirut, according to news reports. He was interrogated and accused of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, the reports said. Salah el-Deen’s family said he was traveling for medical purposes, but other news reports and Hazem Ghorab, the general manager of Misr 25, told CPJ he was traveling to look for work.
Misr 25, a channel supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, was shut down when the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Ghorab told CPJ that Salah el-Deen was the news manager for the outlet and hosted his own TV show. After the outlet shut down, he could not find work elsewhere. Before working at Misr 25, Salah el-Deen was a managing editor for Youm Sabea, according to that news website.
Salah el-Deen’s TV show on Misr 25 was called “Matafi 180” (Firefighters 180). On June 26, 2013, one week before the station was shut down, Salah el-Deen aired an audio recording in which unidentified individuals called for Egyptian security forces to assassinate Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
On his show, Salah el-Deen regularly accused media critical of the Muslim Brotherhood of serving the interests of the former government of President Hosni Mubarak. On June 20, 2013, amid calls for nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood, Salah el-Deen said he received telephone threats in retaliation for his criticism of anti-Brotherhood media. He broadcast the phone numbers from which he received the threats, which he said included statements such as: “Don’t you dare let me hear your voice again. …We will do to you what national security used to do to you earlier.” Egyptian police and national security are known to have tortured and killed Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist sympathizers under previous regimes.
A Cairo criminal court sentenced Salah el-Deen to life in prison on April 11, 2015. He was tried, along with 50 other defendants including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, on charges of “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the dispersal in August 2013 of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports.
Salah el-Deen’s wife, Najlaa Taha, told CPJ that the journalist was appealing the sentence along with other defendants in the case. The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
Najlaa, who was able to visit the journalist in Tora prison, where he is being held, said that Salah el-Deen’s health had deteriorated. The journalist has chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and weak eyesight. In mid-April 2015, he was sent to Al-Manyal hospital in Cairo to be treated, according to news reports, but his wife says he needs additional medical care, which he is not receiving.
CPJ did not include Salah el-Deen in its 2013 or 2014 prison census because the organization was unaware of his case. Salah el-Deen was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Salah was arrested while covering student protests at Al-Azhar University in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo on December 27, 2013, according to the opposition news website El- Shaab el-Jadeed.
Salah, who was 19 at the time of his arrest, was a photojournalist in training with El-Shaab el-Jadeed and was pursuing a degree in media studies at Egypt University for Science and Technology in Cairo, according to his outlet and the regional group Arab Network for Human Rights.
Salah wrote several reportsfor El-Shaab el-Jadeed and took photographs of anti-government protests in November 2013 around Nasr City and other parts of Cairo. El-Shaab el-Jadeed is critical of the current Egyptian government. Magdy Hussein, who was El-Shaab el-Jadeed‘s editor-in-chief at the time, called for demonstrations in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In February 2014, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Salah to five years in prison on charges of illegal demonstrations and inciting violence, according to local human rights groups and his news outlet. At least 22 others were convicted in the same trial.
In court documents, the judge wrote that he was not convinced that Salah was a journalist, despite the presentation by Salah’s defense lawyer of documents and ID cardsindicating his training with El-Shaab el-Jadeed, according to the regional group Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
On March 18, 2014, a higher court amended Salah’s sentence to three years in prison, a sentence which he cannot appeal, according to his outlet. Local rights organizations and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate called for a pardon for Salah.
An injunction filed by Salah’s defense lawyers against his sentence was rejected by a Cairo court on May 10, 2014, according to his outlet.
CPJ was unable to determine Salah’s health status or whereabouts. CPJ’s calls in late 2015 to El-Shaab el-Jadeed were not answered.
CPJ did not include Salah on its 2014 prison census because CPJ was unable to determine at the time if his imprisonment was in connection with his journalistic work. Salah was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Fouad, a reporter for the news website Karmoz, was arrested while covering a demonstration by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the neighborhood of Sidi Beshr in Alexandria governorate, according to his employer and local press freedom groups. The protest led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Fouad was charged with “joining a group that aims to disrupt the law,” “demonstrating without permission,” “blocking a road,” and “possessing a weapon,” according to news reports, and was being tried in an Alexandria criminal court along with nine other defendants. His trial, initially scheduled to begin in December 2014, was postponed at least six times due to the prison authorities’ failure to transfer Fouad and the other defendants to court on time, according to reports citing Fouad’s lawyer and family. The next hearing was scheduled for January 10, 2016, news reports said.
Karmoz denied the allegations against Fouad and said he was doing journalistic work at the time of his arrest. The website covers local news and politics in Alexandria.
Fouad is also a college student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sciences at the University of Alexandria. He has been able to take exams for each of the three semesters that have passed since his arrest, according to reports. He is being held in Burj al Arab prison in Alexandria.
Albarbary, the administrative manager of Misr 25, a TV channel affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested in Beirut, where he had gone to reopen and manage another satellite station, Ahrar 25, on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hazem Ghorab, Misr 25’s general manager, told CPJ. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
Ahrar 25 operated from Lebanon from September 2013 to February 2014 but faced several disruptions before being finally removed from the air because of pressure from neighboring governments, according to news reports citing Islam Akl, a host at the station.
Albarbary was arrested near Rafik Hariri airport while he was waiting for the arrival of Mokhtar al-Ashry, head of the legal department of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Al-Ashry was detained first and, when Albarbary inquired about him with airport authorities, he was also arrested. Both were detained for five days by Lebanon’s National Security, after a request by the Egyptian government, then were deported to Cairo with Egyptian security agents, the reports said. Lebanese authorities said Albarbary had been extradited based on a bilateral extradition treaty between the countries, according to news reports. Ahrar TV staff members fled Lebanon after Albarbary was arrested, according to reports.
Albarbary was charged with “publishing false news” in order to support the Brotherhood’s alleged operations room during the dispersal of the August 2013 sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. He was also charged with “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the dispersal.
Albarbary was tried along with 50 other defendants, including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who faced similar charges. Albarbary’s lawyer, Mahmoud Amer, told CPJ that Albarbary was added to the Rabaa operations room case after it was referred to court in March 2014.
On April 11, 2015, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Albarbary to life in prison. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports. The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
Albarbary was being held at Tora prison. In April 2015, his wife said that prison authorities were restricting her visits. Amer told CPJ the journalist was in good health.
CPJ did not include Albarbary on its 2014 prison census because the organization was unable to determine at that time whether his imprisonment was related to his journalistic work. Albarbary was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Shaheen, a correspondent for Freedom and Justice Gate, was arrested on the street in Suez City, according to news reports. Freedom and Justice Gate is a news website affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government has declared a terrorist organization.
In June 2014, a Suez court sentenced Shaheen to three years in prison and 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,400) on charges of inciting and committing violence during protests. His appeal was denied on December 25, 2014, according to his employer, and again on October 7, 2015, according to the local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture Observatory.
Freedom and Justice Gate condemned the arrest and denied the allegations against Shaheen in a statement issued shortly after the journalist’s arrest. Shaheen’s wife said the court did not allow his defense lawyer to present his case and did not inform them of the verdict, news reports said.
In February 2015, another Suez court sentenced Shaheen to an additional three years on charges of aiding terrorism and broadcasting false news, according to the Journalists Against Torture Observatory. The journalist’s wife told the group on May 24, 2015, that their lawyer had appealed the second verdict, but that the court had not yet reviewed the request for appeal.
Shaheen has also faced separate trial in a military court since February 2015 on multiple charges of murder on August 14 and 16, 2013, according to news reports. On August 14, 2013, security forces violently dispersed a sit-in of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo. Hundreds died in the dispersal, triggering violence and unrest throughout the country, in which dozens more people were killed.
His wife told press freedom groups that despite being in prison since the military trial began, he was not transferred from prison to court to attend any hearings in this trial and was therefore listed in the military court’s documents as “a fugitive from the law.”
In a letter written by Shaheen in prison and published by his outlet in August 2015, the journalist said he believed he was being targeted due to his former affiliation with the Al-Jazeera network, which was banned in Egypt after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. In his letter, Shaheen also denied all the charges against him. Al-Jazeera confirmed to CPJ in October 2015 that Shaheen had been working for the network up until his arrest, but that he and his family requested that the outlet not campaign for his release for fear that it could harm his chances of release.
Abdel Maksoud was first arrested on February 19, 2014, while covering a baby shower for a woman who had been taken into custody and forced to give birth in a hospital in handcuffs, according to news reports. The woman had been arrested on accusations of participating in an anti-government protest.
Activists organized a celebration for the woman and her baby in front of their home in the Al-Zawya Al-Hamra neighborhood in Cairo, days after the mother was released from custody, according to news reports. Police stormed the celebration, and beat and arrested the participants, including Abdel Maksoud, according to news reports.
Abdel Maksoud, a photographer, was covering the celebration for the independent Masr al-Arabia news website, the outlet said. Masr al-Arabia said the journalist was charged with working for Al-Jazeera, which is banned in Egypt on the accusation that it uses its reporting to serve the interests of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
On April 15, 2014, he was arrested again while visiting his family at their house in Mit Ghamr City, north of Cairo. Abdel Maksoud’s family told reporters that police came to their house looking for the journalist, and arrested him and one of his brothers, Ibrahim. The next day, the police came back for another brother, Anas. All three were charged with setting fire to cars belonging to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s presidential campaign. The cars had been set on fire a few days before the arrest, according to news reports.
Abdel Maksoud was also charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. His colleagues and friends publicly denied the accusation.
Masr al-Arabia officials said Abdel Maksoud was on assignment for them in Cairo at the time of the alleged crime. Cairo is hundreds of miles from Mit Ghamr City, where the cars were attacked.
While Abdel Maksoud and his brothers were being held in pretrial detention, a court in the city of Mansoura ordered their release on bail twice, but the Ministry of Interior appealed in order to keep them in custody, according to reports citing their lawyer Malek Al-Ghazali. The court refused the ministry’s appeal and ordered their release a third time on September 11, 2014, according to the reports.
The journalist’s family posted bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds (US$2,000), but the three brothers were not released. Ten days later, on September 21, 2014, Abdel Maksoud’s family and his lawyers were told that the prosecution had brought a new case against them and that the three had been charged with participating in an illegal demonstration in Mit Ghamr, according to reports citing their lawyer.
Although the three brothers were in detention, the Mansoura Criminal Court on January 19, 2015, sentenced them in absentia to life in prison on charges of setting fire to cars and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Abdel Maksoud and his defense lawyer were not informed about the court session.
The family’s lawyer said they were pursuing a retrial, as is customary when sentences are issued in absentia, according to reports. The retrial, which is being heard in a terrorism circuit court, was continuing in late 2015. The regional group Arabic Network for Human Rights Information told CPJ that Abdel Maksoud’s defense team would present evidence that he was working in Cairo at the time of the arson attacks in Mit Ghamr for which he is being tried.
On February 21, 2015, a criminal court in the city of Senbellawein, in the Dakahlia Governorate, sentenced Abdel Maksoud and one of his brothers to two years in prison on separate charges of illegal protests. That sentence was overturned on appeal on May 16, 2015, and the court cleared them of the illegal protest charges.
No trial date had been set for Abdel Maksoud on the charge of working for Al-Jazeera.
In detention and during interrogations, Abdel Maksoud was physically abused, according to his family and colleagues, who said police had pulled out his fingernail in an attempt to pressure him to confess. Abdel Maksoud and his lawyers have denied all of the charges against him.
In late 2015, he was being held in Mit Ghamr prison, which is about 90 kilometers outside Cairo. He has heart problems for which he has received medical attention in custody, according to colleagues. In September, the Egyptian Journalist’s Syndicate filed a complaint to the general prosecutor against security officers who it said beat the journalist in his cell after he objected to the confiscation of his medication.
CPJ did not include Abdel Maksoud in its 2014 prison because the organization was unable to determine at the time if Abdel Maksoud’s imprisonment was related to his journalistic work. Abdel Maksoud was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Security forces arrested Abu Zeid from his home in the southern governorate of Beni Suef in September 2013 and accused him of publishing false news that harmed public opinion, both on the news website Suef Online as well as on social media affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,according to news reports.
One month later, Abu Zeid was released pending investigation. In September 2014, he was rearrested when he appeared in court and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to his daughter, Fatma, who spoke to CPJ. According to local press freedom groups and Suef Online, he was convicted on charges of publishing false news and joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has declared an illegal organization.
Abu Zeid was a correspondent for Al-Ahram Gate, the online portal of Egypt’s main state-run newspaper, Al-Ahram. He also frequently wrote for Suef Online, which was critical of the July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the news website said.
According to Suef Online, Abu Zeid was arrested in connection with an article he wrote for the news website on September 10, 2013, that criticized the local government in Beni Suef. The journalist has written several other articles for Suef Online that criticized the military-backed government.
Abu Zeid’s brother, Shaaban Abu Zeid, said at an October 2013 press conference that his brother had been interrogated about his views of Morsi and the dispersal of a pro-Morsi sit-in on August 14, 2013, in which hundreds of protesters were killed. The journalist’s brother said that Abu Zeid was also asked to swear that he was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports.
On December 8, 2014, the journalist denied any affiliation with the banned group in a letter he wrote from prison, which was published on social media.
Abu Zeid is being held in a prison in the city of Fayyoum, where he still writes articles critical of the Egyptian governmentfor Suef Online, according to news reports. It is unclear if he is appealing.
CPJ did not include Abu Zeid’s case in its 2014 imprisoned census because CPJ was not able to determine at the time if the journalist’s imprisonment was related to his work. Abu Zeid was included in CPJ’s mid-2015 special census of journalists imprisoned in Egypt.
Abdelfattah, a prominent blogger and activist who has written about politics and human rights violations for numerous outlets, including the independent al-Shorouk newspaper and the progressive Mada Masr news website, is serving a five-year prison sentence for organizing an illegal protest and assaulting a police officer, according to reports. Abdelfattah denies the charges.
In late 2015, the blogger was standing trial in a separate case on charges of “insulting the judiciary” on the Internet and in media appearances. The blogger’s writing and social media posts were part of the evidence presented by the prosecution, his family and lawyers told CPJ. Co-defendants in this case include former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and a number of journalists and politicians.
Abdelfattah’s current sentence is based on charges that he organized a protest on November 26, 2013. The day after the protest an arrest warrant for him was issued and on November 27, 2013, armed agents raided Abdelfattah’s Cairo home and took him away for questioning, his family said. Abdelfattah’s family, lawyers, and several human rights organizations told CPJ they believe the blogger was charged at least partly in retaliation for his writing about alleged human rights abuses by the police and security forces.
Abdelfattah was held in pretrial detention until the trial began on December 4, 2013, and continued to be detained until he was granted bail in March 2014, according to news reports.
On June 11, 2014 Abdelfattah was barred from entering the courtroom when a judge sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in jail, according to reports. The blogger was then taken into custody from outside the courtroom, according to his family and news reports. Under Egyptian law, cases that conclude with a sentence issued in absentia are referred automatically to retrial.
In September 2014, Abdelfattah was released pending the retrial. When the retrial began in October 2014, he was taken back into custody, according to news reports.
Abdelfattah’s sister Mona Seif was among several witnesses who testified in court that the journalist was not among the organizers of the protest. Seif said that she and other members of the No Military Trials group had claimed responsibility for organizing the protest, according to news reports. Defense lawyers submitted cell phone records proving Abdelfattah was not at the site of the protest at the same time as the police officer he was accused of assaulting, the family told CPJ.
The prosecution submitted as evidence tweets and quotes from Abdelfattah’s writing in which he was critical of the judiciary and security forces, his family and lawyers told CPJ. State media broadcast tweets and excerpts of Abdelfattah’s articles and Facebook posts, branding them proof of his anti-state beliefs, according to news reports.
Abdelfattah had been detained previously for his writing. In October 2011, the blogger was arrested after writing about the Maspero massacre, in which 26 protesters, mostly Coptic Christians, died when the military ran over demonstrators with tanks. This was the first time reports and footage circulated widely online of deadly violence against civilians by the Egyptian military, which was ruling the country at the time. State media and the military government accused the protesters of attacking security forces, and described the bloodshed as sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims.
Abdelfattah was being held in Cairo’s Tora prison where he is periodically denied access to books, pens, and paper. Close relatives are able to visit him, according to the family.
CPJ did not include Abdelfattah in its 2014 census because it could not determine whether his arrest was linked to his reporting. Evidence provided to CPJ in 2015, including details of his trial and sentencing, led CPJ to reconsider his case.
Police in plainclothes raided Hassan’s home at dawn on December 11, 2014, and took him, his wife, and their infant daughter to the Agouza police station in Cairo, Hassan’s wife told CPJ. They did not present a warrant, she said. She was released with their child after a few hours in custody.
Hassan, 31, is a correspondent for the privately owned news website Misr Alan, which is affiliated with a satellite television channel of the same name. Both are sympathetic to ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and his supporters. The website has covered demonstrations against Morsi’s ouster.
During the arrest, police told Hassan and his wife that he was being detained because he worked for Misr Alan,Hassan’s wife said.
Prosecutors charged Hassan with “spreading false news,” “inciting illegal protests,” “funding illegal protests,” as well as belonging to “an illegal group,” according to his wife and local rights groups. The Muslim Brotherhood is banned and listed as a terrorist organization in Egypt.
Hassan’s pretrial detention, at the Giza prison, is periodically renewed by the prosecutor’s office. His request for release was rejected by a Cairo criminal court on May 3, 2015, according to rights groups. Hassan’s wife told CPJ he was in good health in prison.
No trial had been scheduled as of late 2015.
El-Kabbani, a reporter for several news websites, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s news website Freedom and Justice Gate and Rassd, has been in pretrial detention since his arrest, according to news reports. In the meantime, his name was added to the sentencing phase in a separate, mass trial, resulting in life in prison.
The journalist is also a press freedom advocate and blogger who co-founded the “Journalists for Reform” movement in 2007. The movement, which identifies itself as a press freedom group, took a stand against the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and is critical of the current administration. Months before el-Kabbani was arrested, he wrote several articles in which he criticized the military-led government for ousting Morsi. His articles, several of which were published in Freedom and Justice Gate, also expressed support for a popular uprising against the government.
El-Kabbani was arrested in his home in the 6th of October neighborhood in Cairo and taken by security agents in plainclothes to the local national security headquarters, according to news reports and human rights groups. El-Kabbani’s wife said she and her brothers were also detained for one day and that el-Kabbani was abused in custody.
The reporter was charged with espionage, damaging Egypt’s standing abroad, joining an illegal group, and disseminating false information to disturb public security and peace, among other charges, according to news reports. Before his arrest, his house was raided twice by police while he was out, according to the reports.
El-Kabbani’s wife said that one of the central pieces of evidence against the journalist was a phone call he had made to Dr. Mohammed Ali Beshr, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egyptian politician who served as minister of state under Morsi. His wife said the phone call was for journalistic purposes.
Cairo’s National Security Court continuously renewed el-Kabbani’s pretrial detention pending investigation, most recently on May 5, 2015, according to local rights groups and news reports. No trial date was scheduled by late 2015.
Meanwhile, on April 11, 2015, el-Kabbani was sentenced to life in prison on different charges in a separate case, in which he was tried with 50 other defendants, including prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. All of them were charged with “spreading chaos” and “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government” during the August 2013 dispersal of the sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, where Egyptians had gathered to protest Morsi’s ouster. The dispersal left hundreds dead, according to news reports. The Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. Life sentences in Egypt are 25 years long, and can be appealed, according to news reports.
El-Kabbani’s family and lawyer did not know he was being tried in that case until his name was read during the sentencing at the end of the trial, according to news reports. Egyptian authorities listed him as a fugitive in official court documents and tried him in absentia, even though he was in custody for the other case.
The Egyptian Court of Cassation accepted the request for an appeal on December 3, 2015, according to news reports. The date of the retrial had not been announced in late 2015.
The journalist is being held at Scorpion prison, a maximum-security facility that is part of Cairo’s Tora prison complex, with restricted visits, according to news reports citing El-Kabbani’s wife.
Yaqot, a photographer for the independent news website Karmoz, was detained by two police officers in plainclothes outside the Fauzi Maath police station, in the coastal city of Alexandria, where he had gone after getting a tip about a bomb threat at the station, according to Karmoz.
When Yaqot told the officers that he was a photographer, they verbally harassed him, beat him, and confiscated his press card, mobile phone, camera, and bag, Karmoz reported. The website said Yaqot was taken to his house, where police searched his apartment without a warrant. The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture Observatory reported that Yaqot’s lawyer said police did not find any evidence against Yaqot in his apartment.
Yaqot is charged with possessing explosives, which authorities said he had in his bag, “attempting to burn down the Fauzi Maath police station,” “participating in an illegal protest,” and belonging to an “illegal group,” the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Karmoz and Journalists Against Torture. The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt.
Yaqot’s trial, scheduled to begin on September 12, was postponed to January 20, 2016, according to news reports.
The journalist’s lawyer and Karmoz said that Yaqot was not involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and had no political affiliations, according to news reports. Karmoz said he was arrested while doing his job for the website. Yaqot’s lawyer said he submitted documents to authorities that verified Yaqot’s legal employment at Karmoz, according to Journalists Against Torture.
Yaqot was being held in the Dekheila police station in Alexandria in pretrial detention. He has written several letters from jail, published by Journalists Against Torture and local media websites. In the letters, he describes the use of beatings and electric torture by security forces to collectively punish the group of detainees with whom he is being held.
Shaaban, an editor and reporter for the independent news website Al-Bedaiah, was arrested when he appeared in court for an appeal hearing, according to Khaled al-Balshy, editor-in-chief of Al-Bedaiah and a board member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.
The appellate court in the city of Alexandria on May 31, 2015, confirmed the February conviction of the editor and sentenced him to 15 months in prison, according to news reports. Shaaban had been convicted in February, along with nine activists, on charges of assaulting police officers and attempting to storm a police station, the reports said. All of them denied the allegation and said the police officer had assaulted them, according to news reports. They were released on bail pending appeal, according to news reports.
The charges stemmed from a March 29, 2013, protest that Shaaban was covering at an Alexandria police station against the alleged police assault of a lawyer, according to Al-Bedaiah. The lawyer was representing defendants who were accused of burning the local headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports. Shaaban was briefly detained while covering the protest.
Al-Balshy told CPJ that Shaaban would appeal at the Court of Cassation, which would be his last legal resort. The editor said he, his outlet, and the syndicate would ask the prosecutor general to release Shaaban until that court heard his case. Al-Balshy told CPJ that Shaaban has Hepatitis C and requires medical attention.
Shaaban is at Burg Al-Arab prison, in Alexandria, according to news reports.
El-Battawy was arrested by security forces after they raided his house in the village of Tokh in the Qalyubiya governorate, just north of Cairo. Security forces seized el-Battawy’s mobile phone, his hard drive, and his personal books and papers, according to news reports. They did not present a warrant or give a reason for his arrest.
El-Battawy was a journalist with the state-owned daily Akhbar al-Youm. He wrote opinion pieces for independent outlets such as Masr al-Arabia and was frequently critical of the state’s violence against anti-government protesters and its crackdown on the media. His writing was sometimes satirical. Some of the outlets he has written for, such as opposition newspaper el-Shaab el-Jadeed and Masr al-Arabia, say they have been targets of smear campaigns by government-aligned media, who accuse them of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Police have visited the Masr al-Arabia offices on more than one occasion, in what are described as “routine” inspections.
Two weeks after el-Battawy’s arrest, his outlet Akhbar al-Youm published a report claiming that Masr al-Arabia secretly served as a “media militia” for the Muslim Brotherhood. Masr Al-Arabia‘s Editor-in-Chief Adel Sabry denied the allegations and pointed out factual errors in the report. Akhbar al-Youm published his denial in a statement in its print edition on July 25, 2015.
The journalist’s family and lawyers were unable to locate him for five days after his arrest. He was not at Tokh police station, where security forces had told the family they would take him. The Egyptian Journalist’s Syndicate issued a statement saying it had filed a complaint to the general prosecutor on the family’s behalf, demanding to know the journalist’s whereabouts.
On June 23, nearly a week after his arrest, a state-owned news wire reported that el-Battawy was being held at Tora prison.
El-Battawy later told his family that before he was transferred to the prison, he had been held at National Security headquarters in the Cairo neighborhood of Shubra el-Kheima for five days. He said he was blindfolded the entire time and was hit in the face and threatened with electric shock and sexual torture, according to Masr al-Arabia.
The Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying el-Battawy faced charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to news reports. El-Battawy’s wife, journalist Rafeeda al-Safty, wrote on Facebookin mid-July 2015 that he was also being questioned on accusations of “possessing explosives,” “damaging public property,” and “endangering the lives of others.”
His wife told reporters in August that Akhbar al-Youm had put the journalist on probation and was moving to terminate his employment because he had not shown up to work since his arrest. Akhbar al-Youm could not be reached for comment.
El-Battawy’s wife is able to visit him in Tora prison. His pre-trial detention is renewed by the prosecution periodically. No trial date had been set for the journalist as of late 2015.
Khallaf is the founder and head of the Electronic Media Syndicate, which trains and supports journalists who work online in Egypt. It is independent from the state-recognized Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate, which admits only print journalists and not those working online, or in radio or television.
Khallaf was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum that accused Khallaf and his syndicate, along with other media outlets including the news website Masr Al-Arabiya, of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and receiving money from the group.
Khallaf denied the accusations on his personal Facebook page. The day he was arrested, Masr Al-Arabiya wrote an open letter to the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, saying the outlet was a victim of a smear campaign and that the staff demanded a right of reply.
Khallaf was arrested at the Federation of Egyptian Syndicates in Cairo, to which the Electronic Media Syndicate belongs. He had been summoned for questioning by the federation about the accusations published in Akhbar Elyoum, his lawyer told reporters. When he arrived at the federation’s headquarters, police officers arrested him.
After his arrest, prosecutors charged Khallaf with belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to the news website Dot Msr. The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and the local Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said Khallaf was charged with “taking pictures and displaying artistic works without a license,” among other allegations. A 1998 executive order states that individuals conducting audio and audiovisual work must have a license from the Ministry of Culture. According to AFTE, the accusation is in connection with Khallaf’s photographing the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s prosecutor general, who was assassinated in late June 2015.
The Electronic Media Syndicate issued a statement in September denying the accusations made against it by the prosecution and government-aligned media.
Khallaf is being held in pre-trial detention in Cairo’s Tora prison. No trial date had been set as of late in 2015.