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.
They champion independent reporting despite government crackdowns, kidnapping, exile, and the rising criminalization of their work. On November 16, CPJ will recognize four remarkable journalists with our 2023 International Press Freedom Awards for their invaluable contributions to an informed society empowered with facts.
⚡️ Togolese journalist Ferdinand Ayité is an investigative journalist and a staunch defender of human rights. He has been one of the most targeted journalists in Togo in recent years—facing persistent legal harassment and threats that have forced him into exile.
⚡️ Georgian journalist Nika Gvaramia is a TV presenter whose show often featured investigations exposing alleged government corruption and covered allegations of Georgian authorities’ pro-Russian bias. He served more than a year of a 3.5-year prison sentence before receiving a presidential pardon in a case widely considered as retaliation for his work.
⚡️ Indian journalist Shahina K.K. is a veteran Indian journalist for Outlook India who reports on marginalized communities. She is currently free on bail pending trial on several criminal charges connected to her reporting on alleged police misconduct. Shahina was one of the first journalists in India to be charged under a draconian anti-terror law extensively weaponized against journalists in the country.
⚡️ Mexican journalist María Teresa Montaño is an investigative journalism powerhouse. She is the founder and editor of The Observer, which investigates corruption, abuse of power, and wasteful spending. In 2021, she was abducted and robbed at gunpoint, demonstrating the brutal violence that reporters face in the country.
CPJ will also honor Knight Foundation’s Alberto Ibargüen, a visionary leader in journalism, with our 2023 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom.
Global press freedom updates
- CPJ urges Guatemalan authorities to ensure a fair trial for José Rubén Zamora in 2024
- Bangladeshi student journalists Abdul Alim and Abu Sayed Rony attacked on university campus
- Ghanaian soldiers beat and arrest journalist Nicholas Morkah, wipe phone
- Iran arrests journalist Manijeh Moazen; two female environmental journalists are arrested in mass raids
- Two Sri Lankan journalists questioned, harassed following protest coverage
- Russian authorities deport Kazakh journalist Vladislav Ivanenko ahead of court hearing
CPJ spoke to Pavel Butorin, the husband of journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen who has been in Russian detention since October 18. Russian authorities charged Kurmasheva with failure to register herself as a foreign agent; if found guilty, she faces up to five years in prison.
🗯️ Butorin told CPJ, “As a journalist, [Kurmasheva is] not working on behalf of the U.S. government or any government.” He continued, “This is a wrongful detention and Alsu should be set free as soon as possible.”
Butorin also emphasized Kurmasheva’s U.S. citizenship. “As a human being and an American citizen, Alsu is entitled to certain rights and her rights must be upheld by the Russian government.” She is the second U.S. journalist to be held by Russia this year, after Russian authorities arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges in March.
CPJ previously called Kurmasheva’s arrest the most egregious instance to date of the abuse of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against the independent press.
➡️ Read the full interview by CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said to learn more about how Kurmasheva and her family have been handling her detention, and how her husband is calling on the U.S. government to secure her release.
CPJ continues to report on the growing number of journalists and media workers killed in the Israel-Gaza war. The first month of the war was the deadliest for journalists since CPJ began documenting journalist fatalities in 1992.
CPJ’s ongoing coverage can be found in one place. The page includes a chart comparing the number of journalist killings in the first month of the Israel-Gaza war to worldwide yearly totals.
➡️ Our interactive map of journalist killings in the war
➡️ FAQ: How CPJ documents journalist deaths in the war
What we are reading
- A free man, Georgian journalist Nika Gvaramia considers next moves — Liam Scott, Voice of America
- President’s war against ‘fake news’ raises alarms in South Korea — Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times
- The key challenge in the fight against misinformation is an audience increasingly disconnected from quality news — Eduardo Suárez, The Forum Network
- Israel’s NSO unleashes controversial Pegasus spyware in Gaza conflict — Sam Sabin, Axios
- Taming culture in Georgia: Georgian government clamps down on freedom of speech and cultural expression — Polina Sadovskaya and Jane Buchanan, PEN America
- Why Anna Politkovskaya was a pillar of press freedom — Cassandra Vinograd, The New York Times
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