Lucy Westcott (left), now CPJ’s emergencies director, with Afghan journalist Zahra Adeli in Doha, Qatar on September 10, 2021. (CPJ/Lucy Westcott)

What we’re grateful for at CPJ

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.

Most weeks, this newsletter highlights cases of journalists under threat globally. Today, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, and as we approach the end of 2021, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on events we are grateful for:

Afghan journalists make it to safety

When the Taliban swept into Kabul in August and took over amid the U.S. troop withdrawal, CPJ focused on evacuating Afghan journalists at risk. To date, CPJ has helped more than 60 journalists and their families flee the country and assisted in evacuations of hundreds more.

Freedom for American journalist imprisoned in Myanmar

Earlier this month, U.S. journalist Danny Fenster was released from prison in Myanmar after spending nearly six months behind bars. We are relieved that Danny is home and continue to advocate for the release of the dozens of journalists who remain imprisoned in Myanmar, in addition to journalists jailed around the world.

Nobel Peace Prize spotlights press freedom on the world stage

This year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its Nobel Peace Prize to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, and as symbolic of journalists globally fighting to protect press freedom. Their award comes at a time of unprecedented attacks on journalists in the form of sweeping crackdowns, digital surveillance, and an erosion of public trust in journalism. Both are still under threat. In recent weeks, Russian authorities fined Muratov under the country’s foreign agent law while Ressa faces state-orchestrated attacks in the Philippines.

Progress in curbing spyware abuse against journalists

The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed export controls on Israel-based technology company NSO Group, which sells spyware technology that government clients have used to target journalists, as CPJ has documented. This is hopefully the first step toward greater global oversight and transparency around the export and use of spyware by governments.

Brave journalists around the world honored for their work

CPJ celebrated courageous journalists from around the world at the 31st annual International Press Freedom Awards. One particularly moving moment from the awards came when Iranian journalist Mohammad Mosaed, who was unable to accept his 2020 award due to the threat of imprisonment, received his award and described his fight against censorship.

Is there a piece of recent press freedom news that you’re grateful for? Let us know via Twitter.

Global press freedom updates


Remarks from CPJ’s executive director from the 2021 International Press Freedom Awards.

Last week, CPJ and supporters around the world honored courageous journalists who have risked it all for press freedom. Missed the stream? Catch the entire event here, where you can learn more about our brave awardees from Guatemala, Myanmar, and Mozambique and watch their inspiring acceptance speeches.

CPJ also honored Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media entrepreneur and dedicated advocate for democracy and press freedom, with its 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. Lai is currently imprisoned and faces charges that could keep him behind bars for life. During the stream, journalist Amanda Bennett, a former director of Voice of America, interviewed Lai’s son, Sebastien Lai, who shared the story of his father’s courage in the face of crackdowns from Chinese authorities.

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

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