Wall Street Journal reporter Julie Wernau embraces a colleague before her departure at Beijing Capital International Airport on March 28, 2020. China has expelled more than a dozen American journalists working for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. (AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

CPJ, Christiane Amanpour testify to US Congress, call for greater press freedom protections

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

On Thursday, CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch, CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, testified about threats to press freedom in the United States at the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission. Watch the full hearing here, and read more here.

In Honduras, journalist David Romero died on July 18 of respiratory failure after contracting COVID-19 behind bars. Romero’s death came only days after Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir died after contracting the coronavirus while in pretrial detention. Imprisoned journalists face an increased threat to their lives amid the pandemic. CPJ’s #FreeThePress campaign continues to call on world leaders to release all jailed journalists immediately.

Also this week, journalists told CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler that U.S. media outlets face bleak prospects of recovering their presence in China. For months, the countries have gone tit-for-tat over visas and requirements for journalists.

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Global press freedom updates

  • CPJ spoke with journalist Patricia Devlin about threats she received reporting in Northern Ireland
  • Belarus police detained at least 17 journalists covering protests
  • Ukrainian journalist Katerina Sergatskova in hiding amid threats, doxing
  • Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono arrested, charged with incitement in Zimbabwe
  • Liberian authorities attacked, detained journalist Max Richards Jr.
  • CPJ called on Burundi’s new president to free Iwacu journalists, respect press freedom
  • Pakistani journalists beaten, detained in Balochistan prison without charge
  • Nepal TV operators refuse to air Indian news channels following critical reports
  • Journalist Julia Gavarrete’s home robbed, laptop stolen in El Salvador
  • Brazilian Minister of Justice calls for criminal investigations of two journalists, cartoonist
  • Venezuelan authorities charged two journalists and imprisoned one under ‘anti-hate’ law
  • Lebanese TV host to stand trial over remarks critical of Turkish President Erdoğan
  • Gaza authorities banned Saudi-funded broadcasters over ‘fake news’ report
  • Canadian private investigative firm compiled reports on journalists

Spotlight

Journalist Maria Ressa talks to the press before leaving the Pasig Hall of Justice in Manila, the Philippines, after her arraignment and pretrial on July 22, 2020 (Alecs Ongcal/Rappler)

More than 80 press freedom groups and civil society organizations, journalism institutions, filmmakers, and other supporters have formed a coalition in support of journalist Maria Ressa and independent media in the Philippines, united around her call to #HoldTheLine.

On June 15, Ressa was convicted of “cyber-libel” alongside her former Rappler colleague Reynaldo Santos Jr. — a criminal charge for which they could each face up to six years in prison. This, week Ressa appeared at an arraignment, and on July 30, she must return to court for a second cyber-libel case.

Join us in calling for authorities to immediately drop charges against Ressa and Santos Jr. by signing the petition, and show your support on social with the hashtag #HoldTheLine


CPJ, alongside the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the National Press Photographers Association, will lead a series of training sessions from July 28 to August 7 for journalists covering the 2020 national political conventions in the United States. Interested members of the news media can register for the sessions here.

What we are reading and watching

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