July 2017

days since last accident 165
July 2017

The following are links to articles related to media safety. The stories compiled here are from other sources and for informational purposes only. SAG-AFTRA does not verify their accuracy and posting them here does not imply an endorsement of the source.

In Mexico, Reporting the News is a Deadly Profession with Little Protection
July 5, 2017 – The Washington Times
The murder was outrageous, but for Mexican journalists these days, grimly familiar.  Like other victims, Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco was in his car when masked gunmen shot him four times in the head and neck. Like other victims, he was with family members, having just left a physical therapy session with his children. And, like the others, Ortiz Franco was a journalist — a co-founder and editor of Zeta magazine in Tijuana, a border city in Mexico. Like others, his 2004 case remains unsolved.  “It was 100 meters away from the Baja, California, [state prosecutor’s] office,” said Adela Navarro, general director of Zeta, speaking last week before an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “But, of course, ‘no one saw it.’”
Last week marked the 13th anniversary of Ortiz Franco’s death, and still no one has been prosecuted. A group of Mexican journalists traveled to Washington to discuss conditions in one of the hemisphere’s most dangerous places to report the news. The watchdog group Article 19 says harassment and dangerous incidents targeting journalists in Mexico rose more than 250 percent from 2011 to 2016, and 26 journalists have been killed in the past 18 months alone.
To read the entire article, click here.

German Journalist Violently Attacked by Terrorist PKK Sympathizers in Bremen
July 6, 2017 – Daily Sabah (Turkey)
A German journalist was violently attacked Thursday by supporters of the PKK terror group as he was attempting to report the case of a Syrian migrant killed in Bremen. Martin Lejeune was attacked outside the courthouse where he was following the case of 15-year-old Odei Khaled, who had been beaten to death by PKK terrorists. Lejune shared photographs on Twitter after the attack that showed a sizable bruise below his left eye and a cut above his right eye. He also confirmed the attack was by PKK supporters and that police did not stop the assault. Lejeune, known for his pro-Turkey and anti-PKK stance, is reportedly under medical observation.
Turkey has repeatedly criticized the German government for not cooperating with Ankara's efforts to eradicate the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.  More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have been killed since the PKK resumed its decades-long armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
To read the entire article, click here.

Chinese Journalist Arrested on Charges of Revealing State Secrets
July 6, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Chinese authorities should drop all charges and immediately free Yang Xiuqiong, a contributor to the banned human rights news website 64 Tianwang, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.  Police in Mianyang city, Sichuan province, arrested Yang on June 23 and charged the journalist with "illegally providing state secrets overseas," according to news reports and a 64 Tianwang volunteer, whose name CPJ is withholding for fear they might face retaliation. Yang, who has been detained by police several times in the past, was arrested after authorities charged her in the same criminal case as that of Huang Qi, the founder and publisher of the site, who was arrested on November 28, 2016.
The arrest came as Chinese authorities stepped up their campaign against the site and its contributors. A court on July 4 rejected 64 Tianwang contributor Wang Shurong's appeal of a six-year sentence for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles," according to press reports. Another 64 Tianwang volunteer, Chen Tianmao, was also arrested late last year and charged alongside Huang Qi on charges of providing state secrets. Lian Huanli, also a volunteer for the website, has been missing since May, according to media reports.
To read the entire article, click here.

Ombudsman Calls for Recognition of Azeri Journalist as Victim
July 6, 2017 – Georgia Today
Public Defender of Georgia (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili has called on the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, to recognize Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, who was allegedly abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 and put in pre-trial detention in Baku, as a victim and to ensure the effective investigation into the alleged offense committed by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia.
On Wednesday, Nanuashvili publicized a number of recommendations concerning the issue.  He stressed that the investigation, launched by the MIA under Part 1 of Article 143 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, pertaining to illegal deprivation of liberty, cannot provide the degree of independence required for effective investigation, because the officers of the same ministry are alleged to have committed offences against Mukhtarli.
“Afghan Mukhtarli should be granted the status of a victim in order to ensure that he can enjoy all the necessary procedural rights and that he and his lawyer have more opportunities to observe the investigation into the offense committed allegedly by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, which raises legitimate questions,” the Ombudsman stated.
To read the entire article, click here.

Press Freedom Watchdogs Slam Algeria for Stifling Independent Journalists
July 13, 2017 – The North Africa Post
International media watchdogs criticized Algeria’s repressive measures to intimidate journalists and demanded the immediate release of journalist and fixer Saïd Chitour who has been held in pretrial detention on allegations of spying for over a month.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) released a statement denouncing as “excessive” the pretrial detention of Chitour, and expressing concern over his health condition because he suffers from diabetes.  “There are no grounds for keeping Chitour in pretrial detention,” said RSF, adding that “everyone is innocent until proved guilty and pretrial detention is an exceptional measure that must be justified by clearly stated circumstances, such as a danger of flight or a threat to public order. Neither exists in this case, so Chitour’s detention is excessive.”
Chitour, who worked for BBC and the Washington Post among others, was held in prison ever since the intelligence services arrested him after his landing at Algiers international airport on June 5.  He faces accusations under article 65 of the penal code providing for “life imprisonment for anyone who, with the intention of passing them to a foreign power, gathers intelligence, objects, documents or processes whose compilation and use are liable to harm the nation’s defense or economy.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Report: Ukraine Investigation "Comes up Empty" One Year after Journalist Pavel Sheremet’s Murder
July 13, 2017 – OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project)
A special report published Wednesday urges the Ukrainian government to step up its commitment to investigating the July 2016 murder of Pavel Sheremet, a prominent investigative reporter who was killed in Kiev by an improvised explosive device planted under his car.  "Justice Denied: Ukraine Comes up Empty in Probe of Pavel Sheremet’s Murder," by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), recounts Sheremet’s career spanning his native Belarus and Russia and Ukraine, his final days in Kiev, and the frustratingly meager progress made thus far in the nearly one-year-long investigation into his killing.
Sheremet was killed by a car bomb shortly before 8:00 a.m. on July 20, 2016, while driving to work at Kiev’s Radio Vesti, where he hosted a daily news program.  He was pronounced dead at the scene, in the middle of an intersection about 500 feet south of the apartment he shared with his partner Olena Prytula, while firefighters extinguished the flames that engulfed their Subaru CrossTrek.  Prytula, also a journalist by trade, followed her instincts after hearing the explosion from inside their apartment and started shooting photos before she realized who the victim was.
Despite early promises of a speedy and thorough investigation into Sheremet’s killing from Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, zero suspects have been identified in the case to date, and zero prosecutions have been made.  The new CPJ report breaks down a summary of the investigation – which the organization says has "gone cold" – in a useful infographic based on information provided by the Ukrainian police at a press conference in Kiev on Feb. 8, 2017.  The report also analyzes the three main lines of inquiry being pursued by investigators based on the countries Sheremet primarily covered over the course of his career, and where he had extensive networks of connections – including many enemies.
To read the entire article, click here.

Five Park Rangers Killed in Congo during Rescue of U.S. Journalist
July 16, 2017 – Huffington Post
Five park rangers were killed in a joint operation with the army to rescue an American journalist and three park rangers, who went missing in a wildlife reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said on Sunday.  Gunmen attacked the group late on Friday in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Mambasa territory. Some others in the group, including two Dutch journalists, escaped.  Cosma Wilungula, the head of Congo’s park service, confirmed that the journalist and rangers had been rescued from a group of Mai Mai militia fighters involved in mining gold inside the reserve.
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports, but did not identify the journalist who was rescued because of privacy concerns.  “We are aware of reports that the U.S. citizen reported kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been found safe,” a State Department official said.  “The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.‎”
To read the entire article, click here.

Recent Arrest of Journalist in Sudan Provides Insight into Disintegrating Press Freedom
July 17, 2017 – MediaFile
The recent arrest of Sudanese journalist Amal Habani provides the latest symptom of a repressed media in Sudan.  Habani was arrested this past November when she was accused by a National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) agent of undermining his ability to do his job. Habani had been taking photographs with her phone while covering a trial concerning a group of human rights activists.  According to Africa News, Habani claimed that upon arrest, she was “manhandled and detained by the security agents who had no identification and had accused her of taking pictures of them during the trial.” Habani goes further, saying “A NISS officer slapped me on my face, and I was released after two hours of detention.”
The award-winning journalist had been given a fine of 10,000 Sudanese pounds (US$1,499) or four months in jail for obstructing public officials. Despite generous offers from colleagues to pay the bail, Habani chose to serve the four-month sentence. According to Arab News, Habani’s lawyer, Ahmed Elshukri, planned on filing an appeal against the court’s order.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Habani has been harassed by police and the NISS several times in the past. In 2013, Habani was arrested at a funeral and the year prior, the NISS attempted to ban her from traveling and writing.  Habani’s case is not uncommon in Sudan. The NISS has a reputation for censoring the Sudanese media by either shutting down newspapers, seizing copies of stories or arresting journalists.
To read the entire article, click here.

Russia-Backed Separatists Holding Ukrainian Journalist, Accuse Him of Espionage
July 17, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's east should immediately release Donetsk-based journalist Stanyslav Aseyev, who has been detained by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Aseyev, who has contributed to the Ukrainian service of the U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty under the pseudonym Stanyslav Vasin, went missing on June 2, CPJ reported at the time. He covered daily life in the east of the country.
On July 15, Oleg Kotenko, head of Patriot, a volunteer group that works on the release of political prisoners in Ukraine, told independent broadcaster Hromadske Radio, that the separatists detained Aseyev for his "pro-Ukrainian stance" and for "spreading information about the so-called DNR, which in militants' opinion, is not true." Aseyev's conditions are not good, Kotenko said.
On July 16, Yegor Firsov, Aseyev's friend and a former Ukrainian lawmaker, wrote on his blog in independent daily Ukrainska Pravda that the separatists had charged the journalist with espionage and that if they convict him, they could jail him for up to 14 years, citing written confirmation provided to Aseyev's mother. Firsov also wrote that Aseyev's mother was allowed to see him in detention.
To read the entire article, click here.

State-controlled Polish TV instigated hate against Brussels journalist
July 17, 2017 – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Dorota Bawołek, a respected Brussels journalist, has been the target of hundreds of insulting and threatening messages on social media, after state-controlled Polish TV said she asked the European Commission politically motivated questions with intent “to harm Poland”.
At the Commission’s midday briefing last Thursday (13 July), Dorota Bawołek, Brussels correspondent for Polsat, a private and independent Polish TV channel since 2008, asked the Commission’s spokesperson for a reaction on Poland’s declining democracy.
On that day, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party published a bill, stipulating that he current Supreme Court judges will be forced to retire, with the exception of those indicated by the justice minister, who would also be responsible for selecting candidates to succeed the retired judges.
The bill adds that if the chief justice of the Supreme Court retires, “his duties and powers will be passed on to the court justice designated by the justice minister”. The opposition immediately denounced the tabling of the bill as an “announcement of a coup”.
As Bawołek did not obtain a reaction, she asked a follow-up question, expressing her amazement that on that day, the EU executive was more eager to make statements on the UK, a country leaving the Union, rather than Poland, “a country that is a member, and maybe, if you don’t comment things like that, will follow also and leave the EU”.
State-controlled television TVP, which has become a mouthpiece for PiS, released a video, in which it called Bawołek’s questions “provocations”, adding that the Commission did not take the bait.
It released a commentary by Dominik Zdort, presented as a “publicist”, who said that such questions were purely political, that Bawołek attempted to manipulate the Commission and that the professional standards of Polsat had become “inadmissible”.
To read the entire article, click here.

Nigerian Court Orders Journalist Facing False Reporting Charge to be Detained
July 17, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Nigerian authorities should drop all charges against Luka Binniyat and release the journalist from jail immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A judge ordered the journalist to be detained on charges of "breach of public peace" and false reporting over an article he wrote for the daily, Vanguard, according to court documents seen by CPJ. During an arraignment in the city of Kaduna on July 12, Binniyat pleaded not guilty to both charges, his lawyer, James Kanyip, told CPJ. The lawyer said that Binniyat, who is recovering from an accident, arrived at the court on crutches. At the hearing, the judge said he was feeling unwell and ordered Binniyat to be remanded in custody until July 20 to give the judge time to read the journalist's argument, Kanyip said.
The charges are related to a January 24 article that Binniyat wrote for Vanguard in which he alleged that herdsmen killed five students from the College of Education, according to media reports. Kaduna authorities charged the journalist on March 20 under the state's penal code, according to the court documents.
"Charging a journalist with 'breach of peace' simply for informing the public is unacceptable, and arbitrarily throwing him in prison when he appears for a hearing is outrageous," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Nigerian authorities should immediately release Luka Binniyat and drop all charges against him."
To read the entire article, click here.

Review of Somalia’s Media Law Falls Short
July 18, 2017 – Human Rights Watch
When Somalia’s new minister of information took office in March, he promised to review the country’s restrictive media law, raising hopes of fostering a better environment for journalists and free expression in the country.  Those hopes have largely been dashed. The amended law, approved by the cabinet on July 13, makes some reforms but does little to address the law’s deep flaws. Somalia’s journalists – a grueling and life-threatening profession here – deserve better.
Being a journalist in Somalia is dangerous: at least two journalists were murdered in 2016. Authorities have used various tactics to restrict media coverage, including arbitrary arrests and forced closures of media outlets, threats and, occasionally, criminal charges. The Islamist armed group Al-Shabab also targets journalists for reporting deemed unfavorable. Not surprisingly, journalists often self-censor on key issues of public interest, including security and governance, to stay safe.
While amendments to the law have partially addressed some concerns raised by Somali media organizations – including by reducing the heavy fines imposed on journalists for violating the law’s restrictions, and no longer making a journalism degree a requirement to practice journalism – the law still hands authorities a big stick to keep the media under control.  The law maintains vague and overbroad restrictions, including prohibiting “propaganda against the dignity of a citizen, individuals or government institutions,” and “dissemination of false information.” This leaves lots of room for interpretation by authorities – in response, journalists unclear of where the lines are drawn are likely to self-censor even more.
To read the entire article, click here.

As War on IS Continues, Iraqi Kurdish Journalists Face Suppression
July 18, 2017 – Al-Monitor
Despite the bright picture of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region seen by outsiders, it is in a crisis of free expression. While Western leaders often praise its stability, relative prosperity and democratic institutions, the region — soon to hold a referendum on independence — is not a friendly place for independent-minded media workers and local journalists. US support for Kurdish politicians and soldiers battling the Islamic State (IS) may be inadvertently facilitating a further crackdown on critical voices and a growing authoritarianism.
"First they try to bribe you," said Sherwan Sherwani, a Kurdish journalist, of Kurdish authorities dissatisfied with independent reporting. Sherwani’s magazine, Bashur, had been digging up the dirty pasts of local politicians for several years, and authorities have had enough. To buy his silence, Sherwani had been approached by the Parastin, the secret police organization of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in late 2013. "They said, 'You can have the directorship of an organization, and bring 200 friends with you,'" said Sherwan. He refused the offer, and then the threats began.
In July 2016, a friend in parliament called Sherwani to let him know that an assassination was being plotted against him. This was the only way, Sherwani said, that he was able to avoid death.
To read the entire article, click here.

South Sudan Detains Director of Public Broadcaster for More than a Week
July 18, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
South Sudanese authorities should immediately release Adil Faris Mayat, the director of the country's public broadcaster, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. National Security Service agents arrested Mayat in Juba on July 10, according to media reports. Mayat's wife, Amira Alnahawi, told CPJ that she believes agents arrested her husband because he failed to air a live state of the nation speech by President Salva Kiir on July 9 to mark the country's sixth independence day. CPJ could not determine if authorities have charged Mayat with any crime.
Alfred Taban, chairman of journalists' rights group the Association for Media Development in South Sudan, and six journalists who cover the country and who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal also said that they believe Mayat's arrest is linked to him not broadcasting the speech.  "Which news to air or not air is not a decision for South Sudanese authorities to make or even to influence," said CPJ Africa Program coordinator Angela Quintal in New York. "We call on the government of President Salva Kiir to release Adil Faris Mayat immediately and allow the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation and all news outlets to do their work without political interference or fear of arrest."
To read the entire article, click here.

Arrested Myanmar Journalists Slam Army over Free Speech
July 18, 2017 – Daily Mail (UK)
Three Myanmar journalists who are facing jail for their reporting accused the army on Tuesday of trying to silence the media, as fears grow for free speech.  Irrawaddy reporter Lawi Weng said the military was trying to "threaten" journalists into silence as the trio were remanded in custody for another week at an impromptu hearing.  "I am now in handcuffs because I am a journalist. Is this democracy?" he told reporters outside the courthouse in the northeastern town of Hsipaw, holding up his chained wrists.  "We were detained as an attempt to compromise our beliefs and scare us. But we are not afraid."  Aye Naing, a senior reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma, added: "This is a shame for Myanmar, which is shouting to the world that we are on the path to democracy."
Also appearing in court Tuesday was Pyae Phone Aung from the Democratic Voice of Burma.  They were among seven men arrested three weeks ago as they left a drugs-burning ceremony organised by the Ta'ang National Liberation Army, one of several rebel groups fighting the state.  Five of them have been charged under section one of the draconian Unlawful Associations Act, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.  The legislation was often used against journalists and activists by the military, which ran the country for half a century and remains a powerful force under the newly-elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The democracy icon has faced a growing chorus of international criticism for not doing more to protect journalists, who are facing increasing prosecutions under her leadership.
To read the entire article, click here.

Germany's Merkel Blasts Turkey's Arrest of Rights Activists
July 18, 2017 – Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday blasted Turkey's detention of six human rights activists, including a German, and pledged to work for his release.  One of those remanded in custody on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization was Amnesty International's Turkey director, Idil Eser. Amnesty said truth and justice had become "total strangers".  Eser, the German Peter Steudtner and eight other activists were detained this month while attending a workshop on digital security near Istanbul.
A Turkish prosecutor asked a court on Monday to extend their detention pending trial on suspicion of links to the network of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last year's attempted coup. The court ordered four of the 10 released, the newspaper Hurriyet said.  In unscheduled remarks at a ceremony for athletes, Merkel said the case was another example of innocent people being "caught up in the wheels of the justice system".  She said Steudtner's arrest was absolutely unjustified.  "We declare our solidarity with him and all the others arrested ... the German government will do all it can, on all levels, to secure his release."
The comments were likely to further strain ties between Berlin and Ankara. These are already beset by a host of issues, including Ankara's arrest of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German dual national who is a correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt, on charges of spreading propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting violence.
To read the entire article, click here.

Nigerian Court Orders Journalist Facing False Reporting Charge to be Detained
July 17, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Nigerian authorities should drop all charges against Luka Binniyat and release the journalist from jail immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A judge ordered the journalist to be detained on charges of "breach of public peace" and false reporting over an article he wrote for the daily, Vanguard, according to court documents seen by CPJ. During an arraignment in the city of Kaduna on July 12, Binniyat pleaded not guilty to both charges, his lawyer, James Kanyip, told CPJ. The lawyer said that Binniyat, who is recovering from an accident, arrived at the court on crutches. At the hearing, the judge said he was feeling unwell and ordered Binniyat to be remanded in custody until July 20 to give the judge time to read the journalist's argument, Kanyip said.
The charges are related to a January 24 article that Binniyat wrote for Vanguard in which he alleged that herdsmen killed five students from the College of Education, according to media reports. Kaduna authorities charged the journalist on March 20 under the state's penal code, according to the court documents.
newspaper'seditor, Eze Anaba, told CPJ that Binniyat resigned. "The management is reviewing the whole matter, the story, the court case, and the resignation," Anaba told CPJ.
To read article, click here.

Journalist Interrogated for Interview with Sudan General
July 18, 2017 – Dabanga (Sudan)
A journalist was interrogated by security service agents for several hours about an interview published in El Tayyarnewspaper on Sunday. Maha El Tileb, reporting for El Tayyar, was detained for several hours following the publication of the interview with State Minister and Director of the President's Office, General Taha El Hussein. Members of the Sudanese security service (NISS) demanded her to hand over the audio recording of the interview.  The Sudanese Journalists Network condemned the step and the hours-long interrogation at the NISS premises in Khartoum. A press statement added that Maha received a phone call from a NISS official one day before the summons, asking her if she owned an audio recording of the interview with National Congress Party member Taha El Hussein. 'He summoned her to report to the NISS office the next day when she refused to cooperate.'
Last Thursday, the security apparatus confiscated the print-runs of two newspapers, El Wifag and El Jareeda without an explanation. The service summoned the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Ashraf Abdelaziz, and a journalist of the newspaper, Hanadi El Siddig.  El Siddig was summoned to the security service's office the next day again. The continued summoning may be an attempt to intimidate El Siddig as she has been appointed editor-in-chief of the new Akhbar El Watan newspaper, which has recently obtained a license from the Press and Publications Council.  
To read the entire article, click here.

PA Information Ministry Denounces Israel's Targeting of Journalists at Protests
July 22, 2017 – Ma’an News Agency
The Palestinian Ministry of Information accused Israeli forces of attempting to conceal its acts of “terrorism and suppression” on Palestinians, by targeting journalists who were attempting to cover Israeli forces’ violent assaults on unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on Friday.  Thousands had gathered across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip to pray outdoors in solidarity with a massive protest in occupied East Jerusalem against increasing Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Over 450 Palestinians were injured after the non-violent demonstrations erupted into clashes.
As Israeli forces suppressed some 300 protesters in the city of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank with skunk water, tear gas, and rubber-coated bullets, dozens were injured, including Ma’an TV correspondent Mirna al-Atrash, who was hit was a tear gas canister and lightly injured in the face, the ministry’s statement highlighted.  Ma’an journalist Muhammad Lahham was also among a number of other journalists at the protest in Bethlehem who suffered from tear gas inhalation.
To read the entire article, click here.

Morocco Obstructs Coverage of Rif Protests
July 23, 2017 – IFEX
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has registered many media freedom violations since the start of a wave of protests in Morocco's northern Rif region and accuses the authorities of deliberately obstructing the Moroccan and foreign reporters who have been trying to cover the unrest.  "The situation of Moroccan and foreign journalists covering the events in northern Morocco keeps on getting worse," said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa bureau. "By trying to prevent coverage of the Rif protests, the Moroccan authorities are gradually turning this region into a no-go zone for independent media."  Kacha added: "RSF also calls on the Moroccan authorities to free all the citizen-journalists who have been arrested and to condemn all the physical attacks against media personnel who are just doing their job by covering these demonstrations."
Hamid El Mahdaoui, the editor of the Badil.info news website, was arrested on 20 July while filming a protest in the city of Al-Hoceïma that had been banned by the authorities a few days before. He is due to appear before the local prosecutor in a court in Al-Hoceïma today.
To read the entire article, click here.

Israel Police Violently Throw Journalists Out of Jerusalem's Old City, Temple Mount
July 23, 2017 – Haaretz
Israeli police prevented over a dozen journalists covering the developments around Temple Mount from approaching parts of Jerusalem’s Old City during the weekend and on Sunday.  Those without journalist credentials were free to approach the area off limits to members of the press, which extended from the beginning of Derech Sha'ar Haarayot to the Lions Gate and included the square surrounding it as well as access to the adjacent Temple Mount compound. Dozens of Muslim worshippers were spreading prayer rugs on the ground outside of Temple Mount on Sunday morning and tourists also moved around freely.  During the temporary ban, police officers used violence to eject Haaretz journalists from the site. The police said they are looking into the matter.
Journalists were not allowed to film the new metal gate and security cameras that police erected between the Lions Gate and the Mount. Policemen in the area made it explicitly clear that their orders were only to prevent journalists from entering, and that any moves to cover the situation around the Temple Mount was forbidden. The journalists were restricted to a pedestrian mall a few hundred meters from the Old City, from which it was impossible to see the new gate, the metal detectors, the worshippers or the entrance to the Mount itself. Two checkpoints manned by police officers stood between the journalists and entry to the Old City.
To read the entire article, click here.

Turkey: Opposition Newspaper Journalists Go on Trial in Istanbul
July 24, 2017 –CNN.com
The trial of 17 staff members from Turkey's Cumhuriyet newspaper -- one of the country's last remaining opposition publications -- began on Monday in what many are calling a crucial test of press freedom.  Charged with terror-related offenses in the wake of last year's failed coup, the defendants -- journalists, executives and lawyers -- made their first appearance in court since they were put in pre-trial detention nearly nine months ago. Each faces lengthy prison sentences of up to 43 years if convicted.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that the newspaper aided members of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement -- whom Turkey says was behind the coup attempt -- in addition to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Gulen has denied involvement in the failed 2016 coup.
But rights activists have condemned the trial as "politically motivated," accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of using the coup to muzzle opposition. 
"This case is highly symbolic. Cumhuriyet newspaper is one of the few remaining independent media outlets -- that's why they are on trial," said Johahn Bihr of Reporters Without Borders, outside the hearing. "Today press freedom is on trial. The situation in Turkey has never been as difficult as it is now."
To read the entire article, click here.

Militant Violence Kills 10 Afghan Journalists in First Half of 2017
July 25, 2017 – Voice of America
Ten journalists have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year in militant attacks plotted by the Taliban and Islamic State loyalists, a media monitoring group said.  Violence during the first six months of 2017 also wounded 12 journalists, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) said in a report released Tuesday in Kabul.
The group's head, Najib Sharifi, told reporters it documented 73 cases of violence against journalists, a 35 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2016.
The violence included killing, beating, injury, humiliation, intimidation and detention of journalists, he added.
“Those killed have either been directly targeted by terrorist groups or lost their lives as a result of terrorist attacks,” noted Sharifi.
The media organization says that IS-plotted violence and threats against journalists have particularly increased in eastern Afghanistan, where the terrorist group has a strong presence.
“In this zone, the majority of media organizations and journalists practically live under the threat of the ISKP group,” AJSC warned, using the local acronym for the Syria-based terrorist group.
To read the entire article, click here.

Palestinian Journalists Injured Covering West Bank Protests
July 25, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Israeli authorities should independently and credibly investigate reports that Israeli security forces injured journalists covering protests in the West Bank last weekend, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least six Palestinian journalists were injured while covering protests in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron on July 20 and 21, according to news reports and the journalists' employers.
Protests erupted in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the evening of July 20 over Israeli security forces' installation of metal detectors and turnstiles at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, news reports said. At least three people have been killed in the protests. At least two other journalists were targeted by Israeli security officials on July 18.  "Journalists should be able to cover demonstrations and other events of significant public interest without fear of being attacked by the authorities," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington D.C. "We call on Israeli officials to hold to account any security personnel who commit violence against journalists." To read the entire article, click here.

Philippine Radio Commentator Critically Wounded in Shooting
July 28, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Philippine authorities should thoroughly investigate the shooting of radio commentator Julito Orillaneda, which left the journalist seriously wounded, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.  The owner and operator of the local radio station dxJB FM was shot in the head, neck, face, and arm as he parked in front of his home in Marihatag, on the southern island of Mindanao, on July 26, according to news reports. The shooter escaped on motorcycle driven by an accomplice, the reports said.  Orillaneda was rushed to the nearby Marihatag District Hospital and later transferred to the Butuan City Hospital for further treatment, the reports said. News reports said the reporter remained conscious after the shooting and was in critical condition as of today.
"We call on authorities to leave no stone unturned in identifying and apprehending the assailants who shot and critically wounded radio broadcaster Julito Orillaneda," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "Only bringing the perpetrators of these types of attacks on journalists to justice can end this cycle of violence and impunity."  Senior Inspector Joy Allan Blasco, Marihatag's police chief, said authorities had not identified or apprehended the assailants. Reports did not speculate on a possible motive for the attack. The Philippine News Agency, citing local journalists, said Orillaneda was a hard-hitting commentator known for his critical reports on the local government.
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Turkish Court Frees Seven Journalists, but Others Remain behind Bars
July 28, 2017 – The Guardian (UK)
A court in Istanbul has ordered the release of seven journalists from Turkey’s oldest newspaper, Cumhuriyet, after nine months in prison and preliminary hearings in the country’s largest trial of journalists since last year’s coup attempt.  But the court ordered the continued detention of five other journalists – including the newspaper’s top executive and its most senior correspondents – in a partial defeat for press freedom in a country still reeling from the bloody failed putsch.
The decision followed five days of hearings, in which executives, lawyers and correspondents in one of the last big media outlets in the country critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling party were accused of abetting terrorist groups. The next set of hearings is expected in two months.
Several hundred people gathered outside the Çağlayan court in downtown Istanbul to show solidarity with the imprisoned journalists.  Inside, the lawyers defending Cumhuriyet’s staffers delivered closing arguments in a courtroom crowded with families, journalists and international observers.  The lawyers said the indictments against their clients were baseless and that the accusations would inspire fear in journalists working in Turkey, with one comparing it to the McCarthy era in the US in the 1950s, when people suspected of harbouring sympathies to the Communist party were purged from all walks of life based on flimsy evidence.
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Rossiya Segodnya Agency Offers Condolences over RT Stringer's Death in Syria
July 30, 2017 – Sputnik News (Russia)
Dmitry Kiselev, the director general of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, on Sunday expressed condolences on behalf of the agency over the death of an RT broadcaster's stringer in Syria.  Earlier in the day, the RT's press service reported that Khaled G. Alkhateb, a stringer working with the RT Arabic, was killed in shelling carried out by Daesh (outlawed in Russia) terrorist group in Syria's western province of Homs.
"Our agency expresses its deepest condolences to relatives and colleagues of Khalid. We are proud of his work. The sooner this bloody conflict ends, the less people, including journalists, will die in Syria," Kiselev told Sputnik.  He also noted that the journalist died, defending the truth.  "Politicians often do not want to know the truth, an example of such reluctance was the situation with the US bombing of the Ash Sha’irat base in April, [which happened] after claims that the Syrian army allegedly used chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun. But these politicians did not want to send their people there to check these unfounded accusations, because they understood that their lies will be revealed," Kiselev said.  The deceased RT stringer was in the area of military operations, Kiselev pointed out.  "He also defended such journalism that does not sit on a chair, but shows the true state of things. And journalists like Khalid, when going to dangerous places, do it on their own will, realizing the importance of their work, the importance of letting people know the truth," the Rossiya Segodnya director general said.
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Kurdistan Region Became ‘Worst’ Area for Journalists in Iraq, Says Association
July 30, 2017 – Nalia Media Corporation (Iraq)
The Kurdistan Region has become the “worst and most dangerous” area for journalists in Iraq, the Society for Defending Press Freedom in Iraq said.  The society released a report on Sunday (July 30) regarding violations carried out against journalists in the Kurdistan Region in the last seven months.  The group added the Kurdistan Region has recorded the “highest rates” of attacks and attempts to assassinate, arrest and abuse journalists working in different Kurdish media in the region.
“The region witnessed an increase of targeting the press in the first seven months of 2017,” the report read.  “Violations were distributed between armed targeting, assassination attempts, beatings, raiding media and arrest as well as detention by the security and non-security forces.”  The group further said two journalists were killed and an attempt to assassinate another journalist was recorded from the beginning of this year until July 30. In addition, four others were beaten and humiliated during the period.  Ten journalists were also detained over seven months, the report added. Five teams of journalists were also prevented from covering incidents which happened in the Kurdistan Region, aside from an attack on media as well as lawsuits against two Kurdish channels.
Earlier in April, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, was one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to work in.  In its 2017 World Press Freedom Index for 180 countries, Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq at 158.  Journalists in the Kurdistan Region, according to RSF, have to work in a “very politicized environment in which media are regarded above all as political tools,” while the region itself is facing economic and social tension.
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Armenia: Limited Justice for Police Violence
July 30, 2017 – Human Rights Watch
The Armenian government has failed to ensure full accountability for police violence against largely peaceful protesters and journalists a year ago, Human Rights Watch said today. At the same time the authorities have indicted at least 32 protesters, convicting 21 of them, with 11 sentenced to prison.
On several nights in July 2016, largely peaceful, anti-government protests took place in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. At some protests, the authorities used excessive force, assaulting many demonstrators as well as journalists reporting on the events. Authorities arbitrarily detained many protest leaders and hundreds of participants, pressing unjustified criminal charges against some. No officials have been prosecuted.
“A year after Yerevan’s July protests, victims of police violence are still waiting for justice and accountability,” said Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus director at Human Rights Watch. “The public’s trust in police and the justice system is severely shaken, and an effective accountability process is essential for restoring it.”
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Crackdown aims to 'silence' Palestinian journalists
July 31, 2017 – Al Jazeera
Earlier this month, Jihad Barakat, a journalist with Palestine Today TV, was on his way from the northern West Bank city of Nablus to a village in the Tulkarem area to visit family, when he noticed something unusual at an Israeli military checkpoint.  In contravention of protocol, Israeli soldiers were searching the convoy of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Barakat took out his phone and documented the incident; hours later, he was detained by Palestinian security forces.
Media rights activists and journalists quickly took to social media to voice frustration and demand that Barakat be released. A hashtag "Where is Jihad" was assigned to social media posts condemning his detention, and a protest was held by journalists in front of the prime minister's office. The local journalists' union was contacted to act on his behalf.  Barakat was eventually released on bail, charged with a litany of unusual offences, including panhandling. He faces trial in September and colleagues fear that his detention, as well as other arrests in recent weeks, are an attempt to stifle their work and silence legitimate criticism of the PA.
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Myanmar Detains another Journalist amid Press Freedom Concerns
July 31, 2017 – The Express Tribune (Pakistan)
Police in Myanmar said on Monday they had detained one of the country’s best known journalists, months after a social media clash with firebrand Buddhist monk Wirathu, as concerns rise over freedom of expression.  Swe Win, chief editor of news agency Myanmar Now, was detained at Yangon’s airport on Sunday evening at the request of police in the central city of Mandalay, said Lieutenant Colonel Myint Htwe of Yangon regional police.  “The Mandalay police informed us that Swe Win was trying to run away and to detain him at the airport,” said Myint Htwe. Swe Win – a renowned investigative reporter who has written critically about Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar – was transferred to Mandalay on Monday, he added.
The journalist was expecting to be in court in Mandalay on Wednesday over a Facebook post that cited criticism of Wirathu, the Mandalay monk infamous for fierce anti-Muslim rhetoric, Swe Win’s lawyer said. The arrest brings the number of reporters in detention in Myanmar to five, despite Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi taking power last year amid a transition from full military rule. The military retains control of the police, key ministries and a quarter of lawmakers’ seats.
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