Ghana police officials receive technology
A screenshot from the YouTube channel of the U.S. Embassy in Ghana shows Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan, center, handing over Cellebrite technology to Gustav Yankson, left, director of the Ghana police cybercrime unit of the Criminal Investigation Department, and Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, right, former director general of Ghana police CID. Journalists are wary that phone hacking technology could affect their safety or that of their sources.

US, UK, Interpol give Ghana phone hacking tools, CPJ investigation finds

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.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is investigating nearly 500 press freedom violations reported during protests in the U.S. since late May. Incidents include arrests, assaults, attacks with rubber bullets, pepper spray, and teargas, among others. The majority of the abuses were at the hands of police.

A new investigation by CPJ’s senior Africa researcher, Jonathan Rozen, found that since 2017 the U.S., U.K., and Interpol have provided Ghana with phone hacking tools.

Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir died on Monday after contracting COVID-19 in pretrial detention. Monir was arrested on June 15 on trumped up charges of joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, and misusing social media. He was released from Cairo’s Tora Prison unconditionally on July 2 after falling ill. This spring, CPJ launched #FreeThePress, a campaign calling on world leaders to immediately release all imprisoned journalists in light of the dire threat posed by the pandemic. CPJ is aware of more than a dozen journalists held in Tora prison in southern Cairo. At least seven Egyptian journalists have been detained since March.

Journalism in the time of coronavirus

  • CPJ spoke to five data journalists from around the world about covering COVID-19
  • Hong Kong denies work permit to New York Times correspondent Chris Buckley
  • Journalists in India assaulted, targeted with investigations amid the pandemic
  • Journalists attacked, harassed while covering anti-lockdown protests in Serbia
  • Gambian police detain journalist reporting on COVID-19 protests
  • Tanzania bans Kwanza Online TV for 11 months citing ‘misleading’ post on coronavirus
  • Tajikistan authorities question family of Mirzo Salimpur, founder and editor of the news site Akhbor, on critical reporting about alleged government corruption and COVID-19


2020 International Press Freedom Awardees. Clockwise from top left: Svetlana Prokopyeva (Artiom Avanesov); Dapo Olorunyomi (Dapo Olorunyomi); Shahidul Alam (Shahidul Alam); and Mohammad Mosaed (Farid Kamran Nia).

The Committee to Protect Journalists will honor four courageous journalists from Bangladesh, Iran, Nigeria, and Russia with the 2020 International Press Freedom Awards. CPJ will also honor lawyer Amal Clooney with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for her extraordinary and sustained achievements in the cause of press freedom.

The winners will be honored at CPJ’s annual awards ceremony on November 19, 2020, which will feature video profiles, compelling press freedom stories, award presentations, and acceptance speeches streamed online and shared around the world.

Learn more about this year’s impressive awardees, and details about the event, here.

CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said will be speaking on a panel hosted by the U.S. Senate Human Rights Caucus about COVID-19 and human rights on Wednesday, July 22, 4-5 p.m. EDT. To RSVP, contact [email protected] 

On July 23, 11 a.m. EDT, CPJ’s Advocacy Director, Dr. Courtney Radsch, will give expert testimony at a Helsinki Commission hearing on “Human Rights at Home: Media, Politics, and Safety of Journalists.” Also speaking are celebrated journalist and CPJ Senior Advisor Christiane Amanpour, and David Kaye, United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. You can watch the event live here.

CPJ is excited to partner again with the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival, for a virtual event, October 14-16. The virtual festival will feature timely discussions, interactive workshops, master classes, and a pro bono legal clinic. Visit before July 31 for early bird tickets.

What we are reading

Beyond the pandemic

  • Philippine Congress denies ABS-CBN news broadcaster’s franchise renewal
  • Malaysia investigates Al-Jazeera reporters over documentary on migrant arrests
  • On July 8, Indian police arrested a journalist in Uttar Pradesh; separately, Indian authorities arrested two journalists in June who were covering corruption allegations
  • Army bars journalists from reporting on Beirut’s Hamra Street; Separately in Lebanon, soldiers assault five journalists covering protest north of Beirut; judge bans outlets from interviewing U.S. ambassador
  • Russian journalists detained during protests for release of jailed reporter Ivan Safronov
  • Hackers delete social media content of independent Azerbaijani news outlet Meydan TV
  • Freelance reporter charged with insulting Zimbabwe’s president
  • Panama court freezes Corporación La Prensa’s assets amid defamation suit by former president
  • The U.S. Agency for Global Media froze J-1 visa processing for Voice of America journalists working in the U.S.

[Editor’s Note: The text in the second paragraph has been updated to correct the date from which Ghana was reported to have received phone hacking tools.]

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