Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich is seen in a confession video published one day after Belarusian authorities detained him from a Ryanair flight that was forced to land in Minsk. (Photo: Zhyoltiye Slivy Telegram Channel/Screenshot)

Belarus makes it clear they will cross any red line to censor independent voices

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In a shocking move, even for Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, authorities in Belarus forcibly diverted a jet to Minsk to arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich. The next day, Pratasevich appeared in a government video apparently confessing to “organizing mass riots.” In an op-ed for CNN, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said stressed how dire the situation is, saying, “Pratasevich’s life could be in danger and the survival of independent media as a whole is at stake.” CPJ calls on the Council of the EU to press Belarus to release Pratasevich, while separately in the country, authorities briefly detained four journalists and at least 13 staff remain in custody.

Global press freedom updates

  • CPJ calls on Myanmar to release Kamayut Media editor Nathan Maung, news producer Hanthar Nyein. Meanwhile, local authorities arrest U.S. editor Danny Fenster  
  • Oromia Broadcasting Network journalist Sisay Fida shot and killed in Ethiopia; separately, CPJ condemns Ethiopia’s expulsion of New York Times reporter Simon Marks
  • Iranian journalist Najaf Mehdipour imprisoned with no charges disclosed
  • Unidentified men attack, bind, and gag Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor at his home in Islamabad
  • CPJ calls for immediate release of seriously ill Egyptian journalist Gamal al-Gamal
  • Israeli journalists assaulted and harassed by protesters and security forces
  • Turkmen security officials threaten, harass families of two exiled journalists
  • Supporters of Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Castillo harass, assault two journalists covering rally
  • Nicaraguan police raid Confidencial office, briefly detain camera operator Leonel Gutiérrez
  • U.K. online safety bill raises censorship concerns and questions on future of encryption
  • Canadian police bar journalists from covering anti-logging protests


A police officer in Minneapolis points a hand cannon at detained protesters on May 31, 2020. Since the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests began last year, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented 580 assaults affecting at least 416 journalists. (AP/John Minchillo)

This week, as people around the U.S. reflected on the impact one year since the murder of George Floyd in police custody, CPJ published our first audio feature, on the implications of the subsequent protests for press freedom. U.S. researcher Katherine Jacobsen explores the factors that led U.S. authorities to violate the rights of many reporters, and spoke with journalists who were targeted and detained. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Soundcloud.

For data and a macro analysis of national press freedom violations, see the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker’s report on restrictions and aggression faced by U.S. journalists covering the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

Join CPJ next week, on June 4, at the virtual One World Film Festival for a screening and panel conversation on the moving  film “Last Chance for Justice,” about Azimjon Askarov, a human rights journalist who died last year while behind bars in Kyrgyzstan.

A closer look | CPJ’s most-read features in May

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