A logo adorns a wall on a branch of the Israeli NSO Group company, near the southern Israeli town of Sapir on August 24, 2021. The U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed export controls on NSO, citing its role in facilitating attacks by foreign governments on journalists and other targets. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

A step closer to curbing spyware abuse

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The U.S. Department of Commerce this week imposed export controls on the Israel-based technology company NSO Group, citing its role in facilitating attacks by foreign governments on journalists and other targets. “We hope this first step in export control is a move toward greater global oversight and transparency around the export and use of spyware by governments,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna.

Separately, India’s Supreme Court ordered an independent investigation into allegations that the Indian government used Pegasus spyware, which is sold by NSO Group, to surveil journalists. CPJ spoke to lawyer Apar Gupta about the Supreme Court’s move and what comes next.

Global press freedom updates

  • Mexican journalist Fredy López shot and killed in San Cristobal de las Casas
  • Journalist Orlando Dinoy shot and killed in the Philippines
  • Journalists shot, beaten, and detained in Afghanistan
  • Ethiopian authorities detain two broadcast journalists
  • Hamas security forces arrest journalist Alaa al-Mashrawi in Gaza
  • CPJ condemns harsh prison sentences handed to five journalists in Vietnam
  • Iranian journalist Manoochehr Aghaei begins eight-month prison sentence. Separately, the country’s parliament moves forward with a bill further restricting the internet
  • Finland charges three investigative journalists with revealing state secrets
  • CPJ and other groups call on Turkey to release imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent
  • Rimma Maksimova’s fight to bring her son’s killers to justice lives on past her death


Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws, QC addresses the tribunal at The Hague (CPJ/Gypsy Guillén Kaiser) 

This week, in conjunction with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, CPJ and the A Safer World For The Truth project held the opening hearing of the People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists. During the powerful event, testimony was heard from leaders in the fight for press freedom. As Almudena Bernabeu, prosecutor of the People’s Tribunal, noted, “Freedom of expression is an essential human right. And yet, the frequency of grave violations committed against journalists coupled with prevailing high levels of impunity is alarming. It is time that states are held accountable.” Watch the entire event here.

In another event around the International Day to End Impunity, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo, delivered remarks on the dire state of press freedom and sustained impunity in East Africa at an event hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to Uganda and the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO. Watch her full remarks here. Separately, CPJ’s senior communications associate Bebe Santa-Wood shared reflections in The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership newsletter on the impact of impunity, and the efforts of families and colleagues of journalists to fight for justice.

This week also saw the launch of an exciting campaign from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle to promote free access to information through a new fashion collection. With the Uncensored Collection, DW is bringing attention to different ways to circumvent censorship, with proceeds benefiting CPJ.

What we are reading

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