Posts tagged press freedom

Iran Arrests Journalists for “Cooperating” with Foreign Media

Via the Washington Post:

Iran has arrested 14 journalists for alleged cooperation with foreign-based Persian-language media organizations, several chief editors of Iranian outlets said Monday.

The arrests signal a major escalation in a press crackdown that reflects Iran’s zero tolerance for those who work with dissident media or outlets considered hostile to the regime.

Via the New York Times:

None of the arrests were reported by the raided organizations themselves. Some Iranian journalists said the omissions appeared to reflect fears of further antagonizing the Revolutionary Guards and affiliated security forces whose loyalties lie with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Mehr news agency said the arrested journalists had been accused of “collaborating with some of the Persian-language foreign media” — apparently an allusion to the Persian services of both the BBC and the Voice of America. The Fars news agency, without citing any sources, said the suspects had tried to contact the foreign media and had sought training on photography and filming with cellphone cameras. “Moreover, they wanted to learn how to assemble the pieces and send them to the BBC,” Fars said.

Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:

CPJ ranks Iran as the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists, with 45 behind bars in 2012, according to its prison census conducted on December 1.

As the Washington Post notes: “Since 2000, Iran’s judiciary has shut down more than 120 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities.”

Fake Blogs and Social Media Accounts Smear Exiled Iranian Journalists

Via The Guardian:

Iran has been conducting a smear campaign designed to intimidate Iranian journalists living in exile, including apparent death threats. Cyber-activists linked to the Islamic republic have fabricated news, duplicated Facebook accounts and spread false allegations of sexual misconduct by exiled journalists, while harassment of family members back in Iran has been stepped up by security officials.

Staff at the BBC’s Persian service in London are among dozens of Iranian journalists who have been subjected to what appears to be an operation sponsored by the authorities and aimed at discrediting reporters in the eyes of the public in Iran…

…In recent weeks, the pro-regime activists have set up a number of fake Facebook accounts and blogs, purporting to belong to BBC journalists or their Iranian colleagues. Web users who want to access the real BBCPersian.com, might accidentally visit its counterfeit at persianbbc.ir. The fake site mirrors the BBC’s site in design and fonts but has completely different content...

…Nafiseh Kouhnavard, a presenter on BBC Persian’s talkshow Your Turn, is one of the victims. In a fake Facebook account that carries her name and picture, she supposedly confesses to a culture of extramarital relationships among journalists working for the BBC’s Persian service. The fake comments attributed to Kouhnavard were reproduced extensively in Iran.

"You wrote about my relationships with my colleagues," she is falsely quoted by a national newspaper in Iran as saying. "Swinging … is not only limited to me, in fact it is common and normal here.

First carried in Vatan-e-Emrooz daily, the fake material has since been republished by state-affiliated news organisations. The fabricated contents are usually chosen carefully to target the most sensitive issues in Iran, especially among conservatives wary of western lifestyles.

The Guardian, Iran creates fake blogs in smear campaign against journalists in exile.

Yesterday they raided radio stations; today we have explosions at journalists’ homes.

There is an open effort to terrorize the media, a vital part of our democracy.

Simos Kedikoglou, spokesperson, Greek Government, in response to an attack against five journalists by a group called Lovers of Lawlessness. The group claims the journalists are sympathetic to the austerity measures being imposed on the country due to its economic crisis. New York Times, Journalists in Greece Are Becoming Targets.

The News: On Friday, attackers detonated gas canisters at the homes of an editor, two broadcasters, a crime reporter and a former journalist who’s now spokesman for a government agency privatizing Greek assets.

"These attacks are the most visible expression of an increasingly dangerous climate for all journalists, who are being turned into the scapegoats of a crisis they are just analysing," said Reporters Without Borders in a statement.

As the Times reports, “Activism by far-left groups appears to be on the rise after a series of attacks and threats against journalists last year by Golden Dawn, the far-right neo-facist group.”

No one was injured in the attacks.

A safe haven for journalists in Colombia
fjp-latinamerica:

La Otra Orilla (The Other Shore) is a Colombian website dedicated to publishing the work of threatened and displaced journalists of the country’s provinces. When independent journalists working in the provinces are threatened by the guerrilla, drug cartels or paramilitary groups, they usually relocate to Bogota, the capital, looking for safety. Soon, they lose their contacts, they are forced to stop writing and, eventually, lose their income source. The Other Shore seeks to support these journalists.


“As a member of La Otra Orilla I feel the support of the website and FLIP. They’re aware of your case and they value your security over a deadline. The journalist takes priority over the report” said Sonya Godoy to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.


Image: La Otra Orilla website.

A safe haven for journalists in Colombia

fjp-latinamerica:

La Otra Orilla (The Other Shore) is a Colombian website dedicated to publishing the work of threatened and displaced journalists of the country’s provinces.

When independent journalists working in the provinces are threatened by the guerrilla, drug cartels or paramilitary groups, they usually relocate to Bogota, the capital, looking for safety. Soon, they lose their contacts, they are forced to stop writing and, eventually, lose their income source. The Other Shore seeks to support these journalists.

“As a member of La Otra Orilla I feel the support of the website and FLIP. They’re aware of your case and they value your security over a deadline. The journalist takes priority over the report” said Sonya Godoy to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Image: La Otra Orilla website.

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.

Now Showing: Reportero

Last summer we interviewed Bernardo Ruiz, the director of Reportero, a documentary that follows the crime and drug war reporting of a Tijuana-based newsweekly called Zeta.

The hour-long film gets its PBS premiere on POV this Monday January 7.

Via POV:

In Mexico, more than 50 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to power and launched a government offensive against the country’s powerful drug cartels and organized crime. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced?

For our interviews with Bernardo, see here.

More important, tune in to POV Monday. A full description of the film is here and includes a background on Mexican press freedom over the last 25 years.

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.’

Egypt’s media on strike ahead of anti-Mursi rally | Al Akhbar English (via theamericanbear)

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.

Timeline: One Year in the Debate Over Press Freedom

jcstearns:

One year ago today I published a blog post entitled “Why I’m Tracking Journalist Arrests at Occupy Protests.” The next day, police raided New York City’s Zuccotti Park, where they arrested 12 journalists and blocked many others from documenting the raid. Here is a look back at the year in journalist arrests and debates over press freedom in the digital age.

Read on.

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.”

Carlos Dada, the news director of Central American publication El Faro, in his acceptance speech (in Spanish) of the 2012 Anna Politkovskaya Award honoring courageous investigative reporting.

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.

(via fjp-latinamerica)

Philippines Suspends Internet Law
The Philippine Supreme Court suspended a far reaching Internet law that went into effect October 3. The law passed new restrictions on online behavior and speech in an attempt to address child pornography, identity theft and other computer related crime.
However, journalists and free speech activists protested that the libel provisions bundled into the law would curtail free speech.
Via ABC Radio Australia:

However one provision that metes out heavy jail terms for online libel, tougher than for defamation in the traditional media, has caused an uproar.
Equally controversial is a provision that allows the government to shut down websites and monitor online activities, such as video conversations and instant messaging, without a court order.
Human rights groups, media organisations and netizens have voiced their outrage at the law, with some saying it echoes the curbs on freedoms imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.
Philippine social media has been alight with protests, while hackers have attacked government websites and petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court calling for it to overturn the law.

Note that the law has been suspended, not struck down. This gives the government time to amend it.
Image: A protester in Manila rallies against a cyber-crime law in front of the Supreme Court building. By Noel Celis, AFP/Getty Images via the Los Angeles Times.

Philippines Suspends Internet Law

The Philippine Supreme Court suspended a far reaching Internet law that went into effect October 3. The law passed new restrictions on online behavior and speech in an attempt to address child pornography, identity theft and other computer related crime.

However, journalists and free speech activists protested that the libel provisions bundled into the law would curtail free speech.

Via ABC Radio Australia:

However one provision that metes out heavy jail terms for online libel, tougher than for defamation in the traditional media, has caused an uproar.

Equally controversial is a provision that allows the government to shut down websites and monitor online activities, such as video conversations and instant messaging, without a court order.

Human rights groups, media organisations and netizens have voiced their outrage at the law, with some saying it echoes the curbs on freedoms imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.

Philippine social media has been alight with protests, while hackers have attacked government websites and petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court calling for it to overturn the law.

Note that the law has been suspended, not struck down. This gives the government time to amend it.

Image: A protester in Manila rallies against a cyber-crime law in front of the Supreme Court building. By Noel Celis, AFP/Getty Images via the Los Angeles Times.

I want to expose the crimes that the regime is carrying out… I will film until my last breath.
Abdel Karim al-Oqda, a former construction worker, on why he quit his job to film the Syrian revolution. He was killed by government forces this week when they lit his house on fire in Hama.

Meanwhile, In Iran

Two journalists begin their prison sentences.

Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Authorities summoned Shiva Nazar Ahari, a blogger and founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), on Saturday to begin serving her prison sentence in the women’s ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison, according to CHRR. In 2010, Nazar Ahari was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of moharebeh, or “waging war against God,” “propagating against the regime,” and “acting against national security” for reporting on political gatherings, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. In January 2011, an appeals court reduced her sentence to four years in prison and 74 lashes, news reports said…

…In the other case, Zhila Bani Yaghoub, a former editor of the banned reformist daily Sarmayeh, began serving a one-year prison term on September 2 in Evin Prison’s women’s ward, according to news reports. She was sentenced in 2010 to a year in prison on anti-state charges and banned from practicing journalism for 30 years, news reports said.

Bani Yaghoub was arrested in June 2009 with her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, who is also a journalist, news reports said. Amouee, who is serving a five-year sentence, was transferred out of Evin Prison and sent to Rajaee Shahr Prison earlier this year, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders reports that the country is disrupting Internet access in major cities in the lead up to the Islamic Revolution’s 31st anniversary, and Google Mail, specifically, has been blocked.

Also, Gizmodo reports that with the Iranian currency tanking, SMS messages that use words like “dollar” are being blocked.

Indian Cartoonist Arrested on Sedition Charges
Via the Wall Street Journal:

Cartoonist and free speech activist Aseem Trivedi was set to pick up an award for his hard-hitting cartoons in Washington D.C. this week. But his trip was abruptly canceled after a Mumbai court found the same cartoons “offensive” and issued a warrant for his detention.
“My cartoons did nothing but tell the truth,” Mr. Trivedi told India Real Time on Friday after he heard of the court order. He voluntarily surrendered to police on Saturday and has been unreachable since.
A local court accused Mr. Trivedi of sedition over cartoons that appear to mock the Indian state. The cartoons were on display at an anti-corruption rally last December in Mumbai.

Indian Cartoonist Arrested on Sedition Charges

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Cartoonist and free speech activist Aseem Trivedi was set to pick up an award for his hard-hitting cartoons in Washington D.C. this week. But his trip was abruptly canceled after a Mumbai court found the same cartoons “offensive” and issued a warrant for his detention.

“My cartoons did nothing but tell the truth,” Mr. Trivedi told India Real Time on Friday after he heard of the court order. He voluntarily surrendered to police on Saturday and has been unreachable since.

A local court accused Mr. Trivedi of sedition over cartoons that appear to mock the Indian state. The cartoons were on display at an anti-corruption rally last December in Mumbai.

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”