Sami al-Haj

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Blog   |   Security, USA

In times of war, Pentagon reserves right to treat journalists like spies

A press briefing at the Pentagon in April. Worrying guidelines on how the military can categorize the press during conflict are contained in the Defense Department's Law of War Manual. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

The Pentagon has produced its first Department of Defense-wide Law of War Manual and the results are not encouraging for journalists who, the documents state, may be treated as "unprivileged belligerents." But the manual's justification for categorizing journalists this way is not based on any specific case, law or treaty. Instead, the relevant passages have footnotes referring to either other parts of the document or matters not germane to this legal assertion. And the language used to attempt to justify this categorization is weak at best.

CPJ in the News

Sami al-Haj: From Gitmo Detainee Back to Al Jazeera as Liberties/Human Rights Advocate

Sami al-Haj has now returned to Al Jazeera, an organization he previously worked for a decade ago as a cameraman covering the then nascent war in Afghanistan. While on assignment in December 2001 he was delayed by a passport problem during a routine over land crossing into the country from Pakistan. Quickly named an 'enemy combatant' by the U.S. military, he spent the next six years and seven months in a military prison cell at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

Drawing on his experience al-Haj is now head of liberties and human rights affairs, where his "mission is to monitor the human rights-related news and abuses and present them to TV channels." 

January 10, 2012 4:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan, CPJ, UAE, USA

Meeting Sami al-Haj

(Reuters)

In conjunction with the International Freedom of Expression Exchange general meeting, the Norwegian government hosted a Global Forum on Freedom of Expression featuring three days of discussions, seminars, and lectures from leading experts. For me, a highlight was finally meeting Sami al-Haj, at left, the Al-Jazeera correspondent who was held for six years at Guantanamo Bay

June 5, 2009 4:16 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2008: Introduction

By Joel Simon

In 2008, the numbers of journalists killed and jailed both dropped for the first time since the war on terror was launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. This is welcome news, but it is tempered by harsh realities. The war on terror had a devastating effect on journalists, and the trends will be difficult to reverse. Over seven years, journalists were targeted for murder in record numbers, while deterioration in the international legal environment led to a surge in journalist imprisonments.

Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press in 2008: Sudan

Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which formally ended a decades-long civil war between north and south, officially protects press freedom. However, Sudanese officials ignored these guarantees in practice. In February, the government reinstated formal censorship of the print news media, instructing local editors to submit each issue for pre-approval. Throughout the year, authorities confiscated newspapers and harassed journalists for attempting to report on sensitive topics, such as the conflict in Darfur, the Sudanese security forces, and official censorship itself. The government also used more subtle methods to control content, such as withholding government advertisements and imposing strict licensing that allows for the suspension of critical publications on administrative technicalities.

February 10, 2009 12:11 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press in 2008: United States

U.S. government actions against journalists abroad continued to sully the nation’s image. Authorities finally freed two long-detained journalists, one in Iraq and the other at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without ever charging them with a crime or producing any evidence to support the imprisonments. But the military continued its alarming practice of holding journalists in open-ended detention without due process. At least one journalist was being held without charge when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists.

February 10, 2009 12:06 AM ET

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Letters   |   Azerbaijan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, USA

CPJ urges Obama to assert U.S. leadership on press freedom

Dear President-elect Obama: I am writing as chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists to seek your leadership in reaffirming America's role as a staunch defender of press freedom throughout the world. Journalists in many countries who risk their lives and liberty upholding the values of free expression look to the United States for support.

Alerts   |   Afghanistan

U.S. military frees Afghan journalist from Bagram

New York, September 22, 2008--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the U.S. military's release of imprisoned journalist Jawed Ahmad from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Sunday, 11 months after he was first detained. But CPJ calls again on the U.S. military to end its practice of holding journalists without charge on an open-ended basis.

Ahmad, 22, was never charged with a crime, and military officials have never explained the basis for his prolonged detention. Ahmad, who is known by his nickname Jojo and also uses the surname Yazemi, does not know why he was freed, according to an interview with the Canadian Globe and Mail. Ahmad worked most recently as a field producer for the Canadian broadcaster CTV and had several other freelance clients in the past.

September 22, 2008 9:25 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Sudan, USA

After six years, Al-Jazeera cameraman freed from Guantanamo

New York, May 1, 2008--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of an Al-Jazeera cameraman who was held for six years without charge or trial at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Al-Jazeera reported late this afternoon that Sami al-Haj had been freed and was on a plane that was expected to land in Khartoum, Sudan, tonight. The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

May 1, 2008 12:00 PM ET

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Impact   |   China, France, India, Iraq, Mexico, Mozambique, Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe

CPJ Impact

May 2008
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists
May 1, 2008 2:00 AM ET

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