Slovak tycoon acquitted in murder case of Slovak journalist Kuciak and his fiancée

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.

Illustration: Gianluca Costantini

CPJ was disappointed by the acquittal of businessman Marián Kočner in the trial for the 2018 murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak, who had investigated tax fraud associated with individuals close to the ruling party, and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. CPJ’s EU representative, Tom Gibson, cited the case as an example of threats to journalists in a piece arguing that press freedom must remain a priority for the U.K., regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

CPJ condemned the harsh sentence meted out by a Tehran court to Iranian journalist and 2020 International Press Freedom Awardee Mohammad Mosaed, who received more than four years in prison, and two-year bans on journalism activities and use of communication devices. 

In Zimbabwe, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was released on bail, with restrictions. His release came only days after he was reported to be showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. CPJ’s #FreeThePress campaign calls for the immediate release of all journalists in light of the pandemic.

Of Note:

The Kashmir Zone Police reacted to CPJ’s Washington Post ad in support of jailed journalist Aasif Sultan by claiming he isn’t a journalist. We beg to disagree, and explained why in this detailed Twitter thread. (CPJ research has found that anti-state charges like aiding terrorism are frequently used by governments to silence critical reporting, so we don’t buy the terrorism charge.)

Global press freedom updates

  • Rio mayor’s office paid employees to harass journalists covering pandemic
  • Belarus strips accreditation of foreign journalists. CPJ analyzes the situation and forecasts four press freedom trends to watch amid historic protests
  • Russian journalist David Frenkel’s car vandalized following June attack
  • Hong Kong denies permit to editor of independent Hong Kong Free Press
  • China detains state-run CGTN anchor and Australian citizen Cheng Lei
  • Pakistani journalists receive death threats after reporting called ‘fake news’
  • Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for owner of Iraqi broadcaster Dijlah TV for allegedly insulting Shia Muslims by broadcasting music during Ashura, a day of mourning
  • Jordanian security forces arrest cartoonist over criticism of Israel-UAE deal
  • Libyan radio journalist Sami al-Sharif detained while covering protests
  • Kuwaiti authorities detain blogger Mohamed al-Ajmi for ‘insulting religion’ in tweets
  • Turkey to try two journalists for alleged membership in terrorist groups
  • Malawi journalists threatened over commentary on education policies amid COVID-19


Design: John Emerson

This week, CPJ launched the #MissingNotForgotten campaign and wrote to UN officials to increase pressure on authorities to investigate the disappearances of at least 64 journalists globally. Supporting families in their search for answers, the campaign focuses in particular on those in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Check out the interactive map of disappearances in the Middle East. Using voice Tweets, CPJ read aloud the names of these journalists, and on Instagram, we shared their names in a Story. Join the conversation on Twitter using #MissingNotForgotten and watch Al Jazeera’s The Stream on Sunday for an interview with CPJ and members of the journalists’ families.

Each day of the 19-day campaign will feature one journalists’ story, including a video interview with the family of missing reporter Samir Kassab. The One Free Press Coalition, of which CPJ is a founding member, used their September list to highlight missing journalists, leading with cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknelygoda, who went missing over a decade ago in Sri Lanka. 


Credit: RSF

This Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C., join Reporters Without Borders (RSF), journalist Khaled Dareni’s brother, Chekib Drareni, and Algerian activists to protest the unjust imprisonment of the Algerian journalist. Khaled is currently serving three years behind bars for his coverage of anti-government protests that erupted in February 2019. RSVP here.

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