Belarus opposition supporters hold a giant former white-red-white flag of Belarus used in opposition to the government, during a demonstration in central Minsk on August 16, 2020. - The Belarusian strongman, who has ruled his ex-Soviet country with an iron grip since 1994, is under increasing pressure from the streets and abroad over his claim to have won re-election on August 9, with 80 percent of the vote. (Photo by Sergei GAPON / AFP)

Hospitalized Belarusian journalist tells of brutality in detention

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.

Belarusian journalist Alena Scharbinskaya spoke to CPJ from the hospital about her traumatic experience being arrested during protests in the country, and the severe beatings she endured in a Minsk detention center. She was among dozens of journalists detained and beaten by security forces since protests broke out throughout the country.

“I am not frightened as a journalist though I understand that everything may start again, and I may suffer much more than I did now,” Scharbinskaya said.

In Zimbabwe, a court barred human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from representing jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who was arrested on July 20 and faces charges of incitement. CPJ recognized Mtetwa’s work defending journalists and upholding press freedom with an International Press Freedom Award in 2005, and the Benjamin Burton Memorial Award in 2008.

CPJ spoke with Turkish journalists engaged in a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the country’s judiciary about how routine website blocks threaten Turkey’s independent online news media.

Global press freedom updates

  • Colombian journalist José Abelardo Liz was shot and killed during a military attack on an Indigenous group on August 13. Separately in the country, a court ordered authorities to compensate journalist Claudia Julieta Duque for years of harassment and surveillance
  • Facebook India executive files criminal complaint against journalist
  • Cartoonist Xavier ‘Bonil’ Bonilla threatened by son of former Ecuadorian president
  • Nicaraguan journalists face criminal slander suits in separate cases over their reporting
  • Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants abduct U.S. journalist Bilal Abdul-Kareem and driver in Syria
  • Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat’s 10-year jail sentence upheld on appeal
  • Iraqi Kurdish security forces raid broadcaster, detain and beat journalists, and seize equipment
  • Ethiopian authorities detain journalists and media workers on incitement allegations
  • Senegalese newspaper Les Echos office vandalized over COVID-19 report
  • CPJ spoke to the wife of imprisoned Russian journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiev about his case
  • Serbian journalist Jeton Ismaili’s family threatened during break-in
  • Ukrainian investigative program “Schemes” targeted with car burning and alleged surveillance
  • North Macedonia journalist Tanja Milevska receives death and rape threats


A protester waves an American flag as a fire burns at the former spot of the Elk Statue during Monday evening’s protest. (Jonathan House)

CPJ reported this week that criminal charges remain for journalists arrested while covering protests in the U.S., and journalists in Portland, Oregon, shared firsthand experiences of physical attacks, sexual harassment, and the psychological trauma covering protests.

With the U.S. political conventions underway and the presidential election in less than three months, CPJ Emergencies has compiled safety resources designed to help journalists protect their physical, digital, and mental health while covering both the conventions and the election.

This year has been marked by a dramatic uptick of press freedom violations in the U.S., particularly during the Black Lives Matter protests: over 700 violations have been reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker since late May.

For journalists continuing to cover U.S. protests, bookmark our safety advisory for tips on staying safe.

RSVP: On August 25, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon will join Anya Schiffrin, the director of technology, media, and communications studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, at the annual European Alpbach Forum for a conversation titled “Media Under Fire.” Tickets and more information can be found here.

What we are reading:

Do you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device? Enable CPJ's flash briefing skill to stay up to date with the latest press freedom news from around the world.