In Vietnam, 17 bloggers and activists will stand trial [today]. This trial will be the largest of its kind in Vietnam—14 of the defendants will appear at once. They have been charged under Article 79 (“activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s government”) of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The allegations include: attending workshops on digital security; writing and linking to blog posts that are critical of the Communism Vietnamese government; calling for peaceful protests and political pluralism; and association with the Vietnam Reform Party (Viet Tan). If convicted, the defendants could face sentences ranging from five years in prison to capital punishment. Three of the accused activists—Nguyen Xuan Kim, Thai Van Tu, and Le Sy—have fled the country and the Ministry of Public Security has issued a warrant for their arrest.
2012 was a year of crackdowns on free expression in Vietnam, including the introduction of new censorship laws. But just as important as the new regulations was the ongoing harassment, intimidation, and detainment of bloggers who had spoken out against the Communist regime. Dozens of social activists were arrested, some of whom received harsh prison sentences, and many of whom have been detained for over a year without trail. In the summer, the mother of imprisoned Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan died after setting herself on fire to protest her daughter’s detention on charges spreading anti-state propaganda.
Twelve Egyptian newspapers Tuesday refused to publish and five TV stations have suspended their broadcasts in protest of the new Islamist-drawn constitution, as tens of thousands prepare for an anti-Mursi rally outside the presidential palace. The self-imposed media blackout comes one day after several Egyptian newspapers, including Al Watan and Al-Masry Al-Youm, carried a front page image showing the silhouette of a reporter in shackles behind bars under the headline: ‘A constitution that cancels rights and shackles freedoms. No to dictatorship.’
Background (via CNN):
Newspapers and television stations known for criticizing President Mohamed Morsy are falling silent Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the country’s new draft constitution and an edict the head of state issued nearly two weeks ago to expand his powers.
As Egyptians count down to a public referendum on the draft constitution to be held in less than two weeks, some newspapers disappeared from news stands Tuesday. Others printed the same protest picture of the press symbolically behind bars with the headline, “No to Dictatorship.”
Article 48 of the draft constitution ties media freedom to the framework of society and national security, which many Egyptian journalists see as vague terminology.
More: See here for a Q&A on what’s driving Egypt’s unrest.
Today, on behalf of El Faro, I receive the Anna Politkovskaya award with great pride. However, I think that such recognition should also be given to other journalists in the Central American region who are going through really alarming situations.
Nowadays, 75% of murdered journalists do not die in war zones. Instead, they are being killed deliberately only to be silenced. In fact, Mexico and Honduras are the most dangerous countries in the world to practice journalism.
Recently, an NGO passed along a questionnaire to several local journalists in Mexico and asked what could international organizations do to support their work. Several responded that they wanted a firearm, and one of them explained: “I want a gun so they cannot catch me alive.”
Background: Dada and his colleagues operate under constant and very real threats in one of the most hazardous regions of the world for independent journalists. El Faro was also awarded the 2012 WOLA Human Rights Award last month, and the Columbia School of Journalism’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize back in 2011.
I want to expose the crimes that the regime is carrying out… I will film until my last breath.
I think we have to make clear to him and to the American people that we’re not going to accept this kind of behavior.
Leon Panetta, US Defense Secretary, on the publishing of No Easy Day, an account by a retired Navy Sea involved in the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden.
Written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, it’s been reported that the author is Matt Bissonnette. ABC News, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on SEAL book: “We’re not going to accept this kind of behavior”
The CPJ just released a special report on how Venezuela has used a combination of legal and illegal maneuvers to break down the country’s independent, private media, including non traditional outlets, such as websites.
According to the New York based NGO, Hugo Chavez desire to control what is published in the country has extended to the Internet. Under current legislation, for example, government officials can order Internet Service Providers to restrict websites that violate controls.
From CPJ’s report:
… It curbs electronic media content according to the time of the day, with adult content reserved for shows after midnight, including violent or sexual content and soap operas—and news images of violence.
Chavez efforts to put more controls on what news outlets can publish is more a result of the President desire to curb freedom of expression and threat critics of the regime, than a candid concern about the quality of the content audiences in Venezuela are being exposed to.
FJP: El Universal and El Nacional newspapers have lost all government advertsising, another measure to put pressure on independent news outlets.
Exclusive: Former Navy SEAL in “material breach” of non-disclousre agreements with Osama bin Laden book, according to the Pentagon’s top attorney in a letter obtained by Reuters.
The Pentagon says it is considering “all remedies legally available” against the former Navy SEAL and all those acting in concert with him. The Pentagon says further public dissemination of the book “will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”