Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad is seen in New York on October 16, 2018. U.S. authorities recently indicted five Iranian nationals for allegedly plotting to kidnap Alinejad. (AFP/Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Iranian nationals indicted in attempt to kidnap US-based journalist

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.

This week, U.S. prosecutors indicted five Iranian nationals for allegedly surveilling and planning to kidnap Brooklyn-based journalist Masih Alinejad.

The indictment “shows that Iranian intelligence agents will stop at nothing to silence independent members of the press, even those abroad,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. Iranian agents have previously kidnapped journalists and returned them to Iran: In 2019, authorities abducted Roohollah Zam from Iraq and executed him in 2020.

In South Africa, demonstrators and looters attacked at least four radio stations and robbed and assaulted journalists covering ongoing unrest. Find advice for working in such environments in CPJ’s safety note on civil disorder.

Global press freedom updates

  • Georgian camera operator Aleksandre Lashkarava dies after beating by anti-LGBT demonstrators
  • Botswana police use Israeli Cellebrite tech to search journalist’s phone
  • Chilean police shoot two journalists with rubber bullets at funeral procession
  • Journalists detained and harassed, internet disrupted amid Cuban protests
  • Myanmar military continues crackdown and rearrests journalist Aung Mya Than
  • Iraqi freelance journalist Ali al-Mikdam abducted, found beaten; Iraqi Kurdish security forces raid office of broadcaster iPLUS
  • Moroccan journalist Soulaiman Raissouni sentenced to five years in prison
  • Belarusian authorities raid news outlets, detain journalists amid nationwide crackdown
  • Sri Lankan anti-terror authorities interrogate journalist Selvakumar Nilanthan
  • Brazilian president’s lawyer sends threatening message to UOL journalist
  • Bangladesh authorities investigate three journalists under Digital Security Act
  • Mexican journalist Daniel Lizárraga expelled from El Salvador
  • CPJ joins letter to UN and AU rapporteurs expressing concern about free expression in Zimbabwe


A woman lights a candle at a memorial to journalist Pavel Sheremet on the site where Sheremet’s car exploded in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 20, 2020. (AFP/Sergei Supinsky)

July 20 will mark five years since a car bomb killed journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kyiv, Ukraine. Sheremet was awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 1999 in recognition of his work. As CPJ reported last year, Ukrainian journalists continue to work in fear following his death.

CPJ joined the Canadian Association of Journalists this week in advocating for journalists barred and obstructed from covering anti-logging protests at Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island. As CAJ and partners advocate in the court system, listen to their press briefer detailing the importance of the hearing on this case, and read CPJ’s Q&A about the situation at Fairy Creek.

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