June 2017

days since last accident 182
June 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.

Journalist Seeking Asylum in U.S. Returns to Mexico after Months in Detention Center 'Hell'
June 1, 2017 – San Antonio Current
Journalist Martin Mendez Pineda has decided he'd rather live in Acapulco, Mexico, where he's been attacked by state police and received numerous death threats, than continue waiting in a prison-like detention center while he seeks asylum in the United States. Mendez Pineda has been held in various Texas detention centers since early February, when he originally crossed the Mexico-U.S. border requesting asylum. But after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials denied his second request to be released on parole, Mendez Pineda decided he'd had enough. On May 16, the 26-year-old reporter officially withdrew his request for asylum.
"I felt I had to return after they denied my request for release under parole for the second time," Mendez Pineda told Reporters Without Borders. “When I got their response, I realized I no longer had any hope of getting out. As I couldn’t stand another year in this situation, I took the decision to return, despite the danger that entails, a danger they didn’t really take into account.”
Before crossing into Texas, Mendez Pineda had been an investigative journalist in Acapulco, a city in the violence-riddled Mexican state of Guerrero, where he covered the city government's violent abuse of power. This had made him an enemy of local law enforcement, and soon he and his family were being targeted and threatened by state police. As the list of fellow Mexican journalists killed for their reporting grew, Mendez Pineda decided to seek sanctuary in the United States.
Mendez Pineda was shackled for more than a hundred days in the overcrowded detention center, and quickly became the target of hateful taunts from the guards, according to the Guardian."I live daily the sad reality of maltreatment and discrimination...but know that this suffering may help the better treatment of the undocumented [migrants] and also of all the journalists of Mexico and other countries  in the future,” he wrote in an April 13 statement, where he called the center "hell."
To read the entire article, click here.

Iraqi Journalist Killed in Suicide Bombing
June 1, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Suhaib al-Heeti, a reporter for the independent Asia Satellite Channel in Iraq's western Anbar province, was killed on May 30 in a suicide attack in the northern Anbar city of Heet, according to news reports, his employer, and the Iraq Observatory for Press Freedoms. He was at least the second journalist to be killed while working in Iraq in 2017.
Ruba Gamiyya, senior news producer at Asiasat TV's Beirut office, told CPJ that Al-Heeti was killed covering a candlelight vigil in central Heet for the victims of a truck bomb that exploded near a popular ice cream shop in Baghdad's Karrada district the night before. The journalist was killed when a man detonated explosives strapped to his body at a checkpoint near a school, killing himself, Al-Heeti, and at least 16 other people, according to news reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, media reports said.
"TV journalist Suhaib al-Heeti's death covering a vigil for the victims of another suicide bombing underscores the incredible dangers journalists, like all civilians, face in Iraq," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C.  Al-Heeti covered general news in Anbar province, reporting on teachers' protests, snow storms, and the plight of street children, for example. He also worked as a freelancer for the private satellite channel Al-Fallujah TV, the manager of the broadcaster's Facebook account, who did not identify himself by name, told CPJ.
To read the entire article, click here.

We Ride Together in a First Amendment Lifeboat
June 1, 2017 – Knoxville News Sentinel
Consider the following four incidents, all from the past month. Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs asked Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte about Congressional Budget Office scoring of the Republican health care bill.  Witnesses attest Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and body slammed him.
A reporter for Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, recorded his questioning of state Sen. David Wilson, including the moment when Wilson slapped him.  
Reporter Dan Heyman was handcuffed, arrested and spent seven hours in jail for trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if domestic violence is a pre-existing condition. 
The Federal Communications Commission apologized to CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly after security guards pinned him against a wall and manhandled him out of the building when he tried to ask questions of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly at the end of a news conference.
These incidents occurred in an environment in which President Trump derided the mainstream press as “enemies of the American people,” blasted media as the opposition party, demonized reporters in front of angry crowds and mused about jailing reporters.
Freedom House recently released a report indicating press freedom in 2016 declined to its lowest global point in 13 years.  Only about 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press, defined by the group as “where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist Who Took on Liquor Mafia in Madhya Pradesh Town Shot Dead in Office
June 1, 2017 – MSN.com (Hindustan Times)
A journalist in Madhya Pradesh’s Pipliyamandi was shot dead at his office in a busy market on Wednesday night, a murder his family members said was carried out by local bootleggers he exposed recently.
Kamlesh Jain, 42, was alone in his office at Lovely Chouraha filing stories for the Indore-based Hindi daily that he worked for when two suspects came on a motorcycle, shot him twice at close range and sped away.
Pipliyamandi is a small town, 15 kms from the district headquarters Mandsaur. Police said this is the first time that such an incident has taken place in this town.
Jain’s killing underscores the difficulties journalists face in India, a country that has ranked among the worst in the world for press freedom. 
Wednesday’s murder led to a spontaneous protest with traders raising slogans against the police. DIG Avinash Sharma rushed to Pipliyamandi.
The victim’s brother Manish Jain said that Kamlesh had an altercation with some people involved in illegal liquor trade at a railway crossing four days back and that these people had threatened to kill him. “My brother had given an application to the local police station informing them of the incident, but no action was taken,” Manish alleged.
According to sources, Kamlesh tipped off local police about some local dhaba (restaurant) owners who were selling alcohol illegally. The tip led to one of their vehicles carrying liquor being seized by police.
Pipliyamandi town in-charge Anil Singh Thakur did not confirm the motive and said multiple angles were under investigation.
To read the entire article, click here.

Georgian Journalists Don Black Hoods on TV to Protest Colleague's Arrest
June 7, 2017 – Reuters
A Georgian government minister quit a television interview mid-broadcast after several Georgian journalists wore black, face-covering hoods in protest at the detention of a colleague in neighboring Azerbaijan. Tuesday's protest was done to highlight the plight of Azeri investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was, according to his lawyers, abducted in Georgia and taken to Azerbaijan, where he has been detained for three months by a court. "We start our show with a protest dedicated to the 'evaporation' of our colleague - an Azeri journalist - from the center of Tbilisi and his 'reappearance' in a Baku prison," Georgie Gabunia, host of the political talk show "Archevani" (Choice) on popular opposition channel Rustavi-2, told viewers. "How was such a 'teleportation' possible without any kind of registration at the border?"
The on-air protest prompted Georgia's deputy interior minister, Shalva Khutsishvili, to walk out of an interview he was giving by video link. "Looks like you are leading this (interview) in a wrong direction. I am leaving," he said. One of Mukhtarli's lawyers told Reuters the journalist's arrest was politically motivated - a method of punishing him for publishing articles critical of the Azeri government. Lawyers for the journalist alleged that he had been subject to violence during his abduction and that his captors stuffed 10,000 euros ($11,250) into his pockets before he was taken across the border. Azeri authorities accuse Mukhtarli of smuggling, illegal border crossing and violence against police authority. Georgia's Interior Ministry said an investigation had been launched into Mukhtarli's alleged "unlawful imprisonment".
To read the entire article, click here.

Nigerian Publisher Shot, Second Journalist Badly Beaten
June 7, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Nigerian authorities should swiftly bring to justice all those behind the beating of journalist Charles Otu and the shooting of publisher Samuel Nweze, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Otu, the publisher and editor of biweekly The People's Conscience newspaper and a contributor to Nigeria's daily Guardian newspaper, told CPJ that men abducted him from the street in Abakaliki, beat him in an Ebonyi state office building, and threatened to kill him unless he promised not to criticize the government of the southern Nigerian state. The attack took place on June 2, the same day that two men shot Samuel Nweze, the publisher of the People's Leader tabloid newspaper, in a drive-by shooting, according to news reports.
"I narrowly escaped death," Nweze told the Nigerian news agency NAN. "I was lucky the assailants who came on a motorcycle missed the target...I heard a bang and I felt sharp pains and blood gushing out from my back.'' Otu told CPJ that his office is directly next to Nweze's office, and that he believes the gunmen shot Nweze, who did not answer CPJ's phone calls, in a case of mistaken identity. Otu said that Nweze's newspaper, the People's Leader, was generally not critical of the state government.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist Arrested During D.C. Protest Faces 75 Years in Prison
June 7, 2017 – The Huffington Post
Aaron Cantú, a freelance journalist arrested during Inauguration Day protests in Washington, D.C., has been indicted by a federal grand jury on riot charges and faces up to 75 years in prison if convicted. Cantú, who says he was working as a journalist at the time, was one of 230 people arrested during violent demonstrations held Jan. 20 as President Donald Trump was sworn into office. Six other journalists were among those detained by authorities, all of whom have since had charges against them dropped.
A grand jury indicted Cantú last week on eight felony charges, including inciting a riot, rioting and conspiracy to riot, according to his current employer, the Santa Fe Reporter. The paper published a story in defense of his actions, and the outlet’s editor said it continued to “stand behind him.” “Aaron is an experienced journalist who disclosed this pending case during the hiring process,” said Julie Ann Grimm, editor and publisher of the Santa Fe Reporter. “We stand behind him and look forward to his continued good work in his new home in Santa Fe.” Cantú’s work has been published by The Guardian, Vice News and The Nation, among others.
Earlier this year, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter to acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, who is overseeing the case, questioning the charges and declaring that “being near a newsworthy event is no crime for anyone, reporters included.” “Journalists are not above the law and have no right to incite a riot or engage in acts of assault or vandalism,” the advocacy group’s executive director, Bruce Brown, wrote in February. “They were covering protesters and were therefore in the vicinity when a few of those protesters apparently threw rocks or smashed store windows with hammers.... Journalists routinely run toward the center of any action, so they can better serve the public by reporting an event they personally witnessed, rather than something recounted by bystanders.”
To read the entire article, click here.

FCC Security Denies that Guards Pinned Journalist against a Wall
June 7, 2017 – Ars Technica
Federal Communications Commission security officers have "adamantly denied" an allegation that they pinned a journalist against a wall, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The incident allegedly took place when the journalist tried to ask questions after last month's net neutrality vote. The chairman said the FCC's investigation into the incident revealed no "malicious intent" on the part of security guards, but Pai promised changes to prevent similar confrontations in the future. The reporter who made the allegation stood by his account when contacted by Ars today.
Pai sent a letter last week to two Democratic senators who asked Pai to explain why FCC security personnel reportedly "manhandled, threatened further physical violence, and ejected a respected Washington journalist after a news conference at the FCC headquarters." While Pai acknowledged that FCC security made some mistakes in the incident, he told senators that interviews with the security guards and witnesses did not corroborate all of the allegations made by CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly. Donnelly is chairman of the National Press Club's Press Freedom Team and president of the Military Reporters & Editors Association.
"We are aware that Mr. Donnelly has claimed that he was pinned against the wall of the hallway by the FCC's security personnel," Pai wrote. "Both of the FCC security officers involved in this incident have adamantly denied this claim in interviews about this incident, and none of the five witnesses we have interviewed have corroborated Mr. Donnelly's version of events."
To read the entire article, click here.

Facing Violence, Journalists in Mexico Take the Crisis of Killings into Their Own Hands
June 8, 2017 – teleSUR
As the bodies of slain journalists continue to pile up in Mexico with more than 100 murders of media workers since 2000, members of the press who live and work in Mexico are banding together to address the systemic violence with concrete action. Some 360 journalists and 50 national and international media organizations have decided that protests and petitions alone are not enough to stop the heinous slaughter of media workers as the federal government continues to turn a blind eye. With soaring rates of impunity and a lack of urgency and accountability from authorities, reporters are looking for their own ways to tackle the crisis. 
Under the banner Journalists' Agenda, the new initiative will bring the over 300 journalists together between June 14 and 16 to discuss ways to take the issue of protection into their own hands. 
"Given the context of systemic violence against journalists ... we invite all people interested to participate in building an agenda with short and medium-term goals to protect journalists," reads the Journalists' Agenda wesbite. At the center of the initiative are six roundtables for journalists to discuss a variety oftopics, including risk and attention, combating impunity, strengthening of social organizations, labor rights of journalists, public security reactions and the cost of attacks on journalists. "The aim of each (roundtable) is that they serve to share experiences and define what needs to be done, who should do it and how we are going to organize ourselves to demand that it gets done," the website explains. 
To read the entire article, click here.

‘Burn Her Alive’: US Reporter Tells RT about Death Threats from Venezuela Opposition Protesters
June 8, 2017 – RT (Russia Today)
A US journalist covering mass opposition protests in Venezuela told RT she received numerous death threats during her work on the ground. She says protesters threatened to lynch and burn her alive if she tried to contradict their narrative.  Abby Martin, the host of the Empire Files investigative program on the pan-Latin American TeleSUR TV network, has been reporting on the events of the opposition riots in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
Martin said that what her crew did was “simply reporting on the opposition violence. “We just reported on this and the result of this was a <…> lynch mob, death threats. I’ve never had so many death threats in my life. It [the mob] actually calls ‘Lynch her, Lynch her, burn her alive’.”
Martin said she saw mobs at the protests burn alive those people whom they see as infiltrators. “It’s no small thing to be called an infiltrator. It was extremely scary and dangerous. The second you try to contradict their narrative, they threaten to kill you.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist Shield Law Could Soon Become Reality in Canada
June 8, 2017 – The Toronto Star
The federal Liberal government is prepared to throw its support behind proposed legislation to protect the identity of journalists’ confidential sources, the Star has learned. The government is expected to announce Friday it will back a Conservative senator’s privately sponsored bill that would, for the first time in Canada, provide statutory protection for the identity of journalists’ sources. The bill would make it harder for police and other law enforcement or security agencies to spy on journalists’ communications or to seize documents that could reveal their sources. It would also make it harder for the cops to use whatever information is seized or captured by warranted surveillance.
The Journalistic Sources Protection Act, S-231, was introduced by Sen. Claude Carignan in November after revelations that Montreal police spied on the communications of 10 journalists in Quebec in recent years — a scandal that has prompted a public inquiry in the province. In a major move that could see a new law adopted within a few months, the Liberals will propose a handful of technical amendments to address “legal and policy concerns” with the bill as drafted — changes that a senior government official characterized as “reasonable” and that Carignan said he supports.
To read the entire article, click here.

Kenyan Journalist Threatened and Assaulted
June 8, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Kenyan authorities should credibly investigate and swiftly bring to justice those responsible for attacking and threatening Emmanuel Namisi, a broadcast journalist for the Royal Media group, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Namisi told CPJ that men he identified as bodyguards of Kenneth Lusaka, governor of the western Kenyan county of Bungoma, threatened him and assaulted him at a Bungoma club on the night of June 5. He said the men were angry at a story he had written alleging they played a role in the death of a woman at a political rally three nights prior. "One of the bodyguards came to me and asked why I was doing this story," Namisi told CPJ. "Then they came and started to abuse me."
Namisi told CPJ that the bodyguards accused him of "spoiling" their image, and told him he "should be very careful," reminding him that he was a civilian, and that they were police. Namisi told CPJ that the assault dislocated his leg, for which he sought medical treatment. "Kenyan security officials should credibly investigate the assault on Royal Media journalist Emmanuel Namisi and to show definitively that no one is above the law," CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said from Durban, South Africa. "When attacks on journalists are met with impunity, all journalists are more at risk."
To read the entire article, click here.

Voices from World Press Freedom Day 2017
June 8, 2017 – KLCC.org (Oregon)
In early May three University of Oregon journalism professors and six students, including KLCC's Franziska Monahan, traveled to the other side of the world. They covered UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the UO-UNESCO Crossings Institute.
On World Press Freedom Day, May 3rd, celebrations are held all over the world as a reminder of the crucial role freedom of expression plays in upholding just and inclusive societies. The theme of this year’s conference was “Critical Minds for Critical Times.” It paid special attention to issues such as the harassment and safety of journalists; the evolving roles of social technology in journalism; the rise of populism internationally and especially; the proliferation of fake or “hoax” news throughout the global media landscape. During the week, journalists and other media professionals from around the globe worked together to theorize solutions for these challenges.
World Press Freedom Day is also an occasion to recognize the dangers many journalists face in the name of freedom of expression. Each year, a jury of prominent international media professionals honors a journalist who has made outstanding sacrifices in the defense of press freedom with the Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize. This year’s award was given to Dawit Isaak, an Eritrean-born Swedish journalist who was arrested while working in Eritrea in 2001. His current whereabouts are unknown. Isaak’s daughter, Betlehem Isaak, accepted the award in his place. "He knew that without the basic establishment of human rights, freedom of speech, access to education and health care, no society could flourish, no nation can achieve stability and no people could prosper," Isaak said of her father. "He wanted to give his people an environment where they could speak freely in mutual understanding and respect. And by peaceful means give people the right to determine their own destiny." The last two Guillermo Cano laureates were released from prison within months of receiving the prize.
To read the entire article, click here.

 

Israel Renews Administrative Detention of Activist, Journalist Hassan Safadi
June 8, 2017 – Ma’an News Agency
Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial -- of Hassan Safadi, a Palestinian activist and media coordinator for prisoners’ rights group Addameer, for an additional six months on Thursday, according to a statement by Addameer. Safadi has been held by Israel since May 1, 2016 after being detained at the Allenby Bridge between the occupied West Bank and Jordan, when he was interrogated by the Israeli army for 40 days. Israeli authorities later sentenced the 25-year-old Palestinian to six months of administrative detention, on the same day that his parents paid a 2,500-shekel ($650) bail for his release.
Israeli authorities have renewed Safadi’s administrative detention order twice since it was initially ordered in June 2016 -- once on Dec. 8, 2016, and a second time on Thursday. “Addameer strongly condemns the continued detention of Safadi, which is part of the continued attack on Palestinian journalists and media activists, some of whom are held under administrative detention without charge or trial,” the group said.
In December, Amnesty International condemned Safadi’s detention and demanded his release, along with the 490 other Palestinians also held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons, “unless they are to be charged with recognizable criminal offences and tried fairly and promptly.” The statement added that Israeli authorities must “end their long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders and halt the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Pakistani Journalist Fights Intimidation Attempts of Intelligence Agency
June 9, 2017 – The Wire (India)
A Pakistani journalist is taking on the country’s powerful Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over what he has described as efforts to “harass” and intimidate him in response to his investigative reporting. Taha Siddiqui, a young award-winning journalist, filed a petition under Article 199 of the constitution in court alleging that the FIA had harassed him over the phone. He gave a public account of a call he received from the FIA, which left him worried not only about his own safety but also about that of his confidential sources.
Around 7 pm on Thursday, 18th May 2007, I received a call from an unknown number. The person on the other end asked me if I was Taha Siddiqui, which I confirmed. He went on to introduce himself from the Counter-Terrorism Department of the Federal Investigation Agency and asked me to appear before him at the FIA headquarters for an interrogation.
After the phone call, Siddiqui filed a petition against the FIA to the Islamabad high court, an unprecedented move by a journalist.
Pakistan’s FIA is a border control, counter-intelligence and security agency that reports to the Ministry of Interior of Pakistan, its investigation jurisdiction includes terrorism, smuggling, espionage, federal crimes and under the recently passed cybercrime law it also deals with crimes committed on the internet.
To read the entire article, click here.

Director-General Calls on Russia to Bring the Killers of Journalist Dmitry Popkov to Justice
June 9, 2017 – UNESCO.org
Irina Bokova today condemned the killing of investigative Russian journalist Dmitry Popkov on 24 May in the Russian Federation.
“I condemn the murder of Dmitry Popkov and call on the relevant authorities to bring to trial those responsible for his assassination,” said the Director-General.
Unidentified assailants shot Popkov, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of independent local newspaper Ton-M, in his backyard in the city of Minusinsk in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
To read the entire article, click here.

Charles Otu, Reporter for "The Guardian Nigeria", Attacked by Armed Thugs
June 9, 2017 – IFEX
At about 6pm on June 3, 2017, Mr. Charles Otu, the Ebonyi State correspondent of the Guardian newspaper was accosted at Vanco Junction in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, by armed men suspected to be political thugs who beat him mercilessly with clubs and other weapons. According to the journalist, the thugs who accosted and assaulted him at the Vanco Junction got there in a 16-seater Toyota bus with the inscription of Ekubaraoha Youth Assembly. Mr. Otu said his assailants later drove him to the 'Ebonyi Cabinet Office' where they asked him to sign an undertaking never to write any story against the state government or he would be silenced permanently. He said the thugs thereafter drove him to the Kpirikpiri Divisional Police Headquarters.
Narrating his ordeal further, he said "They accused me of being a threat to the state government and threatened to silence me unless I signed a written undertaking never to write anything against the state government." He said he collapsed at the police station and lost consciousness due to the severe beating they gave him but that he was revived at the emergency ward of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. The Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, Jude Madu, a deputy superintendent of police confirmed the incident, adding that the police have launched an investigation to unravel the motive behind it.
To read the entire article, click here.

Thailand: Body Armour Important When Covering Conflict Zones – Arrested Journalists
June 9, 2017 – Asian Correspondent
When journalists Tony Cheng and Florian Witulski entered Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport last week, they had no idea that they were about to be detained under serious charges. The first details sound familiar: foreign nationals apprehended at one of SE Asia’s busy airports for one of many reoccurring reasons. Cases are often either drug related where an unlucky smuggler fails to get by security, or, suspects are caught at the airport fleeing crimes committed in their home countries. However, in this case, the reporter’s charges are nothing more than carrying body armor plates and gas masks while on the way to cover the war in Mosul, Iraq.
“This is why it is so very important. If I go back to Iraq; I know I can borrow a vest; I know I can borrow a helmet. I don’t know where’s it been. I don’t know what level of protection it affords me, how old it is, or if it fits.” Tony Cheng said on an FCCT panel discussion Wednesday. “But it’s yours. And you know that it’s there. And when you’re throwing yourself into the unknown–those little bits of certainty are very, very important.”
The two reporters were on their way to cover the continuing conflict in Iraq’s infamous Mosul. A region heavily controlled by ISIS and suspect to relentless threats. Under the calamitous conditions presented when working in Mosul, it’s absolutely necessary for correspondents to have protective gear to ensure at least minimal safety to protect themselves from various types of hazards. It’s a no brainer. Protective gear for conflict reporting is a necessity—although apparently the Thai government doesn’t see it that way. Their charges are stipulated under Thailand’s 1987 Arms Control Act, which classifies protective gear as “military weapons” requiring civilians to own a license to possess this type of equipment.
To read the entire article, click here.

Press Bodies, NGOS Urge Yemeni Rebels to Free Kidnapped Journalists
June 9, 2017 – Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and prominent NGOs have called on Yemeni Houthi rebels and their allies to immediately release 10 journalists they have sequestered, some for more than two years now. RWB and nine NGOS on Friday, issued a solemn call for the journalists' release, noting some of those held need medical treatment and this was not being provided adequately. Among the nine NGOs are the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Article 19, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"The 10 journalists must be released immediately and unconditionally, as they are detained solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and their perceived political opinions," the statement said. It added that "pending the journalists' release, the de facto Houthi authorities must ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and are given, without delay, regular access to their families, lawyers and adequate medical treatment." Over the two-year period, RWB said that several of the detainees have developed health problems because of their lengthy confinement.
"All 10 journalists have had illnesses and medical conditions caused or aggravated by their detention conditions or treatment, including abdominal and intestinal pain, hearing problems, hemorrhoids and headaches," Amnesty International has reported after speaking with families of the detainees. "Some have been taken to a hospital outside of the prison for medical treatment but have not been given appropriate medication. Others have been denied medical treatment altogether," RWB added. No charges have been brought against the journalist detainees, and some have not even been questioned over the two-year period until very recently.
Yemen is ranked 160th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom index compiled by RWB.
To read the entire article, click here.

Cataloguing Violence Targeting Journalists in Armenia’s 2017 Elections
June 12, 2017 – Belling Cat (London)
The numerous cases of violence targeting journalists in Armenia during its April 2, 2017, parliamentary elections highlight the failure of the state’s authorities to keep their promise of ensuring that elections would be held on the highest level possible. At least ten journalists of local media outlets were reported to have been subjected to obstruction and physical violence while covering the April 2 elections. A number of Armenian and international media advocacy groups and media organizations have since condemned the attacks, calling on the Armenian authorities to take measures to ensure that those responsible parties were identified and subjected to liability. Despite these calls, impunity continues to prevail, and only a few perpetrators have officially been charged for their actions.
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service was the first to report that their correspondent Sisak Gabrielyan had been attacked by ruling Republican Party (RPA) activists at the election headquarters of RPA candidate Hakob Beglaryan in Yerevan’s Kond district. Gabrielyan was reportedly hit in the face by RPA office workers after having noticed her starting filming them distributing cash among voters. A large number of people, the journalist claimed, would go into the RPA office, located on 15 Rustaveli St., before heading to a nearby polling station to cast ballots. Most of them, he said, would leave the premises with money in their hands.
To read the entire article, click here:

 

Threat to Free Speech
June 13, 2017 – The Nation
Baksheesh Elahi’s murder in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is yet another attack against the journalist fraternity and by extension, free speech in the country. The editor of K2, an Urdu publication, was on his way home when he was riddled with bullets by unknown attackers. The victim’s family claims that he had no enemies, and this is not surprising – journalists are usually killed because of their work and not because of other personal issues.
And he is not the only one; in 2016, Pakistan was declared to be the fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Less than a week ago, Express Tribune journalist Rana Tanveer was run over by a car after he was repeatedly threatened. His crime – reporting on issues of minorities, the Ahmadiyya community in particular. The sentence he was handed out by extremists, from painting hate slurs outside his house that declared him ‘wajib-ul-qatal’ to the eventual attack that nearly cost him his life, have yet to be investigated by the police despite the obvious danger. If the police willingly refuse to protect journalists, state complicity in their deaths cannot be discounted in the attacks over the years.
But even if the police are successful in apprehending those involved in Baksheesh Elahi’s murder or open a case against Rana Tanveer’s attackers, the larger problem of attacks against members of the press in a bid to silence them continues unabated. From state institutions to extremist outfits, the influential and even the wealthy can use their power to threaten and coerce journalists to stop them from doing their duty.
If intimidation does not work in limiting the proliferation of information regarding a specific story, members of the press continuously have to fear for their lives over the work they have produced. The reaction of the police in the Rana Tanveer case however, paints a bleak picture for the future of the profession in Pakistan.
Beyond directly targeting journalists and media houses for reporting the truth, state institutions are not even taking the very tangible threat seriously. Until there is a change in this mindset, more attacks against journalists are to be expected.
To read the entire article, click here:

Kyrgyz Journalist Flees Country after Writing about Hate Speech
June 13, 2017 – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
A journalist has just fled Kyrgyzstan to avoid being arrested, and the Moscow-based website for which he works, which has been posting articles about Central Asia for nearly two decades, has been ordered blocked by a Kyrgyz court. Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security (SCNS) is charging Fergananews journalist Ulughbek Babakulov with inciting ethnic hatred for one of his articles, which the website posted on May 23.
Babakulov and Fergana say they were doing the country's security services a favor by revealing material that was being posted on Facebook that did constitute inciting ethnic hatred. In his article, Babakulov notes there was a fight, involving knives, in the Nooken district of Kyrgyzstan's southern Jalal-Abat Province on May 18. Several people were injured. "It became clear," Babakulov wrote, that "those who were hurt were representatives of the Kyrgyz [people], and the suspects in this were Uzbeks." Kyrgyz-Uzbek relations in southern Kyrgyzstan are a sensitive issue. A very sensitive issue. The interethnic violence between the two peoples in 2010 is rarely discussed publicly, but it is never far from the minds of the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks of southern Kyrgyzstan.
Babakulov, himself Kyrgyz, translated Kyrgyz-language posts on Facebook from Kyrgyz in the Jalal-Abat area after the May 18 fight. As translated by Babakulov, these posts calling for violence against Uzbeks would indeed seem to qualify as inciting ethnic hatred. Posts suggest "exterminating" Uzbeks; "burning them alive," a particularly troublesome call since many people were beaten and set on fire during the 2010 violence; and calls for expelling all ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan. Babakulov said in the article that his purpose for writing it was to alert Kyrgyzstan's law-enforcement agencies to these posts.
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Hamas Detains Palestinian Journalist in Gaza
June 14, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip should immediately release Fouad Jaradeh, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Jaradeh, a reporter for Palestine TV, the official Palestinian Authority broadcaster based in the West Bank, was detained June 8 in Gaza City by authorities from the territory's Hamas-led government, according to news reports.
According to the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, officers from Hamas' Internal Security Branch raided Jaradeh's home the evening of June 8 and confiscated his computer and mobile phone before arresting him. Nabhan Khraishi, the communications officer for the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate, told CPJ that Hamas security officials charged Jaradeh with "communicating with Ramallah," a reference to the Palestinian Authority, which is controlled by Hamas' rival party, Fatah, and is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Khraishi said the journalists' detention was renewed for 15 days today. The Mada Center, a Palestinian press freedom group, said in an emailed statement that the journalist is detained at Qasr al-Hakem, an Interior Security Branch facility.
As a correspondent for Palestine TV in Gaza, Jaradeh's work spanned a range of issues, ranging from interviews with locals about how the isolated territory's deteriorating economy affected their day-to-day lives to conversations with past neighbors of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Hamas representatives did not immediately reply to an email from CPJ seeking comment.
"Fouad Jaradeh's arrest illustrates the pressure that Palestinian journalists face from all sides," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "Hamas authorities should release Fouad Jaradeh immediately and should not deny Palestinians in the West Bank the right to receive news from Gaza."
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist, Congressional Hopeful Is Shot Dead in Honduras
June 15, 2017 – TribLive.com
A Honduran journalist running for a congressional seat was shot to death outside his home Thursday in the Caribbean coast city of La Ceiba, authorities and colleagues reported. Security Minister Julian Pacheco said Victor Funez was intercepted by a helmeted gunman on a motorcycle before dawn as the journalist was about to enter his house in the neighborhood of La Gloria.
Surveillance camera video provided by police shows the attacker shooting from close range at the head of the victim, who falls to the sidewalk. The attacker appears to fire at the body twice more and take the victim's wallet before fleeing. Police said they arrested and were questioning a suspect.
Funez, 36, was better known as “El Masa” and directed the nighttime show “Panorama Nocturno” on the local channel 45 station. Station owner Rodolfo Irias described him as a “great journalist.” “He was beloved by viewers because he carried out intense and frequent campaigns for the benefit of them and the community,” Irias said.
Funez recently won a primary in Atlantida province and was preparing to run in November elections as a congressional candidate for the governing National Party. “This crime will not go unpunished,” Pacheco said at a news conference. Funez is the 70th journalist slain in Honduras since 2001, according to the governmental National Council on Human Rights. About 90 percent of those killings have never been solved.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalists Band Together for Protection in the Border City Juárez
June 16, 2017 – Dallas News
As the number of slain journalists climbs in Mexico, a small group of reporters in this sprawling border city lean on one another to protect themselves and their profession.  The Red de Periodistas de Juárez, the Juárez journalists network, was born out of necessity in 2011 following years of bloodshed and the killing of two colleagues. Their story is a troubling testament to the dangers journalists face.
“We knew that here in Ciudad Juárez you could kill a journalist and nothing happened,” said Luz del Carmen Sosa, a reporter at the Diario de Juárez who covers crime and security issues. Journalists from across Mexico will march Thursday evening in the capital city to demand justice for their murdered colleagues. The protest comes exactly a month after Javier Valdez Cardenas was gunned down in broad daylight in his hometown of Sinaloa. Valdez, 50, was an award-winning journalist, internationally recognized for investigative work that exposed the corruption and complicity between the government and drug cartels. His death, one of six killings of journalists in Mexico this year, left journalists on both sides of the border in shock.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. Reporters without Borders puts the violence on par with Syria and Afghanistan, countries besieged by war.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 40 journalists have been killed since 1992 because of their work. CPJ is investigating another 50 cases to determine the exact motive. At least 13 journalists have disappeared and are presumed dead.
Here in Ciudad Juárez, the defenders of press freedom — like most of those leading the effort to seek justice for crime victims and build civil society — are women.  Sosa is among half a dozen women who banded together to form their own breakaway group because they believed the Juarez press association was not doing enough to pressure the Chihuahua state government to come up with a protocol for protecting journalists.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist Missing in Eastern Ukraine
June 16, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Authorities in eastern Ukraine should do everything possible to locate freelance journalist Stanyslav Aseyev, who has been missing from his home in the city of Donetsk since June 3, according to news reports and his employer. Aseyev contributed on a freelance basis to the Ukrainian service of the U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty under the pseudonym Stanyslav Vasin, RFE/RL representatives told CPJ. He had been expected to visit his mother on June 3 and was due to file his next dispatch for RFE/RL the same day, but did neither, according to press reports. Friends and relatives who looked for him at his apartment that day reported that the door appeared to have been forced, and that a laptop computer was missing.
A friend of Aseyev's, former Ukrainian lawmaker Yegor Firsov, first reported Aseyev's disappearance on his Facebook page, and said he had information through unofficial sources in Ukraine's conflict-ridden east that the journalist was detained by pro-Russia separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR). Separatists have made no statements to confirm or deny this claim.
An unnamed source with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU, by its Ukrainian acronym) told the independent Ukrainian television station Hromadske that the SBU was trying to locate the journalist, and added, "We know, more or less, where" he is detained. Yesterday, Firsov told RFE/RL that Aseyev's mother had stopped responding to phone calls, raising concerns about her wellbeing.
To read the entire article, click here.

Azerbaijan Sentences Journalist to Seven Years in Prison
June 20, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Azerbaijani authorities should immediately release Fikret Faramazoglu, chief editor of the news website Journalistic Research Center, from prison and investigate the journalist's claims that he was severely beaten in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Faramazoglu was sentenced on June 14 to seven years in prison for extortion and banned from working as a journalist for two years after serving his prison term, according to media reports.
Faramazoglu was detained on June 30 last year for allegedly receiving a large amount of money from a restaurant owner whom authorities claimed the journalist extorted, pro-government local media reported at the time. Faramazoglu denied in court that it is his signature on a police report stating that 3,000 manats (US$1,700) was found in his pocket. The journalist told the court he and his family were on a trip when the first incident of alleged extortion took place and requested that he be allowed to call witnesses. The judge denied his request. The judge also dismissed Faramazoglu's request for authorities to investigate the beating, according to reports. "We condemn the jailing of Fikret Faramazoglu and call on Azerbaijani authorities to release him without delay," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "Authorities should thoroughly investigate claims that Faramazoglu was beaten in jail and ensure that those responsible be punished to the full extent of the law."
The journalist's lawyer, Elchin Sadygov, told CPJ that the arrest came soon after Faramazoglu reported that restaurants were allegedly operating as brothels under the protection of law-enforcement agencies. Sadygov told media following the Baku court's verdict that he thinks the case was retaliation for Faramazoglu's reporting.
To read the entire article, click here.

Reporters Face 70 Years in Prison over Anti-Trump March
June 20, 2017 – Al Jazeera
Even when heavily armed riot police closed off a square block and surrounded protesters, media workers and legal observers alike, independent journalist Alexei Wood did not realise he was about to be arrested. "It didn't even cross my mind that was what was happening," the 37-year-old photographer and videographer told Al Jazeera. "I was waiting for an order of dispersal and the mass of people showed no sign of resistance when the police completely surrounded them."
Yet on that day, January 20, protesters and observers say the order to disperse never came, and more than 230 people were arrested during protests against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump.
Like other media workers who travelled to the capital from across the country for Trump's inauguration, Wood was covering the mass protests that gripped the city.
Most of the protests that took place in the city that day passed without violence or mass arrests. Wood, however, was scooped up by police during the anti-fascist bloc's march. The arrests came after Black Bloc anarchists and anti-fascists clashed with police. Officers fired a volley of rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters and launched concussion grenades into the crowd. By the end of the day, the windows of cafes, restaurants and banks had been broken. The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia claims that more than $100,000 in damage was inflicted upon property, cars and buildings.
To read the entire article, click here.

Turkish Journalist Denies Sending Subliminal Message on Eve of Coup
June 21, 2017 – U.S. News & World Report (Reuters)
A prominent Turkish journalist denied on Wednesday that he sent out subliminal messages to coup plotters who tried to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan last year, saying he had been put on trial for a crime which did not exist. Mehmet Altan, an economics professor and journalist, and his brother Ahmet were detained in September and charged with giving coded messages in a television talk show a day before the abortive July 15 military coup, according to state media. The brothers both face potential life sentences if convicted in their trial, which opened this week. They have denied the charges, saying it was ridiculous to interpret their comments in the program - during which Mehmet Altan talked about the long history of military involvement in Turkish politics - as incitement to overthrow the government.
"If Rousseau were alive today and had shared his views on TV, he would be taken into custody for giving subliminal messages," Altan told the court, referring to enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
"There were no subliminal messages on that TV program...I have been detained for a non-existent message, over a non-existent crime," he said according to a copy of his defense statement posted online.
The government blames followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the coup, and has waged a crackdown on suspected Gulen supporters since then. Some 150,000 police, soldiers, judges and civil servants have been sacked or suspended, drawing criticism from rights groups and Western allies who fear an attempt to silence dissent. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested. Turkish officials reject the criticism, saying the extent of the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat to the Turkish state in the wake of the coup attempt, when soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets, bombing parliament and other key buildings in an attempt to seize power.
To read the entire article, click here.

Serbia: Journalists Attacked during Vučić's Inauguration
June 21, 2017 - Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso
Last June 14th, the European Parliament adopted a resolution asking the Serbian government to "publicly and firmly condemn all attacks against journalists and the media, ensure effective investigations, and bring those responsible to justice". The day after, Aleksandar Vučić condemned the attacks on journalists that happened during his inauguration ceremony as President of the Republic. However, his statements – and those of his party's officials – failed to convince the Serbian public of the sincerity of this position. On the day of the inauguration, on May 31st, some individuals physically mistreated six journalists, in front of the police, preventing them from doing their job. It turned out later that they were part of the security service of Vučić's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). These agents, without displaying the identification badges prescribed by the law, were in charge of ensuring the safety of Vučić's supporters, gathered in front of the Parliament building.
However, the crowd was not just formed by Vučić's supporters – activists of the movement "Against dictatorship" and members of some opposition parties were also there. A journalist from the daily Danas, realizing that some men were attacking one of the demonstrators, tried to film the scene, but a man – probably a member of the "security" – grabbed her by the shoulders and took her away.
To read the entire article, click here.

2 Dutch journalists remain in captivity in Colombia
June 21, 2017 – The Washington Post
Two Dutch journalists believed to have been kidnapped by leftist rebels in a volatile region of northeastern Colombia remained in captivity Wednesday as authorities vowed to secure their safe return. In a Facebook post, the show the journalists work for identified them as Eugenio Follender and Derk Bolt. Bolt hosts the television show called Spoorloos (Without a Trace), which attempts to help people find their long-lost blood relatives.
The journalists were reporting in El Tarra on Monday when they were captured by members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, according to the Colombian military. ELN leaders, who have been negotiating a peace accord with the government since earlier this year, tweeted that they were looking into the report and hoped to “help clarify” the situation. By late Tuesday, the rebel group said it had still been unable to verify whether any of its members were among those responsible for the kidnapping. The ELN added nonetheless that in a region so deeply afflicted by Colombia’s armed conflict that unfamiliar people are sometimes temporarily detained as a precautionary safety measure and that it would be “natural for any insurgent force.”
Meanwhile, officials and advocates called for their immediate release. “Colombian authorities should do their utmost to locate the journalists and bring them to safety,” said Carlos Lauria, Americas’ director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “All sides in the Colombian conflict must respect the internationally recognized status of journalists as civilians.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Mosul Blast Kills French and Kurdish Journalists, Injures Others
June 21, 2017 – IFEX (Canada)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply saddened to learn that an explosive device killed French journalist Stephan Villeneuve and Iraqi Kurdish journalist Bakhtiar Haddad while they were covering Iraqi counter-terrorist operations in the Ras Al-Jadah district of Mosul, in northern Iraq, yesterday. Employed by #5bis Productions, Villeneuve was a very experienced video-reporter who had covered wars all over the world. Haddad, who worked for many French media outlets, briefly found a refuge at the "House of Journalists" in Paris in 2008. He returned to France last year for treatment in Lyon to a hand injury caused by a sniper shot while reporting in Fallujah.
RSF shares the concern of the family and friends of Véronique Robert, another French video-reporter who was badly injured by the same explosion. She, Villeneuve and Haddad were all on assignment in Mosul for the France 2 TV channel's current affairs programme Envoyé Spécial.  They were accompanying Iraqi army forces in areas held by Islamic State in the old town, on the west bank of the River Tigris. Samuel Forey, a freelance journalist who was with them, was slightly injured and was evacuated to Baghdad. He has been covering the battle to retake Mosul for various media including Figaro, Télérama and Inrocks.  Immediately after the explosion, all three received initial medical attention from US military medical units based in Al-Qayyara, south of Mosul. [Ms. Robert died on June 24th.]
"Iraq is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "In 2015 and 2016, it was one of the three countries where the most journalists were killed in the course of their work. War is obviously dangerous but every death or injury is a victim too many. No one should have to pay such a high price just for reporting the news."  A total of 28 professional and non-professional journalists have been killed in Iraq since the start of 2014 (including Stephan Villeneuve and Bakhtiar Haddad). According to RSF's tally, three journalists have been killed since the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State began in October 2016. Many journalists have also been wounded in the course of covering the clashes between Islamic State and the Iraqi army and its allies.
To read the entire article, click here.

News Crews Attacked in Two Separate Incidents in Pakistan
June 21, 2017 - Committee to Protect Journalists
Pakistani authorities should ensure the safety of journalists and investigate two separate incidents in which members of the press were attacked and had equipment damaged, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. In the first incident, guards at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad yesterday beat at least nine journalists and media workers, according to news reports. On the same day, students at Madressah Haqqania, an Islamic school in Islamabad, assaulted a news crew from Din News, broke their camera, and damaged their van, according to reports. "Pakistani authorities must emphasize journalist safety by investigating and prosecuting the offenders in these incidents to make it clear that attackers will not be allowed to get away with impunity," said Asia CPJ Program Coordinator Steven Butler in Washington D.C. "Attacking journalists is unacceptable."
In the attack in Faisalabad, university guards kicked and beat several journalists and media workers, including Samaa TV reporters Yousaf Cheema and Mudasir Nazir, their cameraman Qadeer, and driver Irshad; Neo TV reporter Waqas Sheraz; Aaj TV journalist Raheel Asghar; Dunya TV reporter Shehroz Ebadi; Metro TV cameraman named in reports only as Javeed; and Express TV cameraman Usman, according to reports. A video posted by Samaa TV shows men kicking and punching one of the station's employees on the ground. The driver, Irshad, and the unnamed cameramen were taken to a hospital for treatment, according to reports. Cheema told the Express Tribune the guards attacked the journalists and damaged their vehicle after the news crews requested permission to report from inside the university grounds. The journalists were covering a story on the university allegedly expelling students over Facebook posts that criticized the management, according to the Express Tribune.
To read the entire article, click here.

Azerbaijani RFE/RL Journalist Detained, Barred from Leaving Country
June 22, 2017 – Democracy & Freedom Watch
A journalist at Radio Free Europe’s now closed office in Azerbaijan was detained on Thursday and told that he cannot leave the country. Kamran Mahmudov, a former producer for RFE/RL, was detained at the border on the way into Georgia and taken to the police station in the nearby city of Gazakh. He was released after a few hours but told that he cannot leave Azerbaijan. The journalist was not subject to a search, Azerbaijani police said to Kavkaz-Uzel, but was on the list of persons who are not allowed to leave the country.
In the past, Makhmudov worked for Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani office. After it was forced to close by authorities in 2014, he worked for some time at the Internet TV Kanal-13. Recently, he collaborated with independent Internet TV Toplum.tv. Khadija Ismayil, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist who currently works with Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, wrote on her Facebook page that the only reason for why Mahmudov’s arrest was his work as a journalist and government critic. “He is an outspoken journalist. Otherwise, there is no reason for his arrest,” Ismayil wrote. She described working together with Makhmudov for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. “We worked together for several years in After Work, a radio show on RFE/RL Azerbaijani. I was editor/presenter, he was producer/presenter. After the closure of Radio Free Europe’s Baku studio, Kamran was running a one-man-show on different platforms, interviewing people about current affairs.”
Earlier, in May, it sparked outrage that another Azerbaijani journalist, Afgan Mukhtarli, was abducted by unknown men in Tbilisi and later turned up in Azerbaijan.
To read the entire article, click here.

Reporter Seeks Justice for 'White Van' Torture in Sri Lanka
June 24, 2017 – ABC News
The sight of a white van still haunts Poddala Jayantha, a Sri Lankan journalist exiled in the U.S.  Eight years after he was abducted in his home country, he says he saw only a pair of hands pulling him inside the vehicle where he was tortured for hours. He had broken bones in both his legs, fingers smashed, body burnt, beard and hair cut and stuffed inside his mouth. A group of tricycle taxi drivers found him dumped by the side of a deserted road and took him to a hospital.
The decades-long civil war has ended, but the suspects in Jayantha's ordeal are still at large. On a visit back to Sri Lanka, Jayantha is now pressing his case for justice but it's far from clear he'll be getting it anytime soon.
Jayantha, 52, was the president of the Working Journalists' Association of Sri Lanka, the largest media organization in the country, and spoke against suppression of the media and organized protests at a time when doing so was considered dangerous. Government forces were closing in on Tamil Tiger rebels who sought to carve out their own state for minority Tamils; advocating accountability, transparency and human rights meant taking a personal risk.
Jayantha doesn't know who snatched him. But he said he had angered Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, one of the most powerful officials in his brother's administration with the title of secretary to the minister of defense, by arguing against Rajapaksa's criticism of the media. Jayantha said he was openly warned of dire consequences of challenging such a formidable figure. Rajapaksa has been implicated in most other cases where journalists had been targeted, but has repeatedly denied any role in violence against the media.
To read the entire article, click here.

Reporter's Body Found in Mexico, Marking Seventh Journalist Murder This Year
June 26, 2017 – The Guardian (US)
The body of a missing Mexican reporter has been found in the western state of Michoacán, bringing to seven the number of journalists murdered in the country this year. Salvador Adame, director of the local television station 6TV, was abducted 18 May in the city of Nueva Italia, some 400km west of Mexico City in a region known as Tierra Caliente, or the Hot Lands. State officials said on Monday that Adame’s burnt remains had been located on 14 June near Nuevo Italia, and were identified with DNA testing.
Over the past decade, Michoacán – and especially the Tierra Caliente region – has seen horrific levels of violence between organized crime groups and the security forces. It was one of the first states to be targeted by the government’s militarized war on drugs, and more recently became the setting for a new conflict between the cartels and vigilante groups – which in turn were often co-opted by the federal government or the criminals they purported to oppose.
Adame’s family and friends told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he avoided reporting on drug cartels, but he did cover local politics, often critically. Local police detained Adame and his wife in 2016 for covering a protest outside city hall. The harassment of journalists by public officials is common in Mexico, according to press freedom groups. At least four of the reporters killed this year were murdered in direct retaliation for their work, according to the CPJ, making Mexico most dangerous country in the hemisphere for media workers.
To read the entire article, click here.

 

Sick Nobel Laureate Freed
June 27, 2017 – The Standard (Hong Kong)
China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, his former lawyer said yesterday -- worrying supporters who pleaded for his unconditional release. Liu, who has about three years of his 11-year sentence still to serve, was diagnosed on May 23 and was released days later, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said. Mo said yesterday that the news came from Liu's younger brother Liu Xiaoxuan several days ago.
The 61-year-old democracy campaigner was being treated at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
"He has no special plans. He is just receiving medical treatment for his illness," Mo said. The writer was sentenced in 2009 for subversion after spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms. He was awarded the Nobel Prize a year later and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo. Supporters voiced concerns about his health and criticized the way he has been treated by Chinese authorities. Mo also said prisoners would be eligible for medical parole if the prison could not provide them with proper treatment. Shang Baojun, another former lawyer of Liu, told Voice of America that Liu had finished all necessary processes for compassionate release and was sent to the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang. Asked about Liu's parole, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing: "I am not aware of the situation you're talking about."
Liu, who took part in the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989, was one of the authors of the so-called Charter 08 which was publicized in 2008, demanding political reforms in China including separation of powers and independent judiciary. He was arrested for drafting the charter, and was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. Liu was jailed in Jinzhou prison in Liaoning Province and his wife, Liu Xia, also was put under house arrest.
To read the entire article, click here.

A Shocking Decision
June 27, 2017 – The Asian Age (New Delhi)
In a shocking move, the Karnataka Assembly has sent two journalists to jail and fined them, accusing them of publishing a series of defamatory articles against the Speaker and some MLAs, including a member of the House privileges committee, which recommended the punishment. The Speaker was the complainant as well as chairman of the committee ruling on the privilege motion and the authority ordering a House vote. The Editors’ Guild has quite rightly expressed strong disapproval of such “gross misuse” of power as this clearly violates the fundamental right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. It is distressing to note both ends of the political spectrum were involved as a BJP MLA raised the issue along with a Congress member in the House last week, and the Speaker too had varied roles to play in this matter, wearing different hats.
Every time a journalist is targeted for doing his/her job, it is freedom of the press that is assailed. The fourth estate is a pillar of civil society with a watchdog role, and is often at odds with people in power due to the nature of disclosures and the object of criticism — involving the duties of government officials, legislators or just any offender. The tenor of criticism and exposés may vary or even hurt, as in tabloid journalism. The legislature is, however, bound by tradition to hand over the process of trial and judgment to a “third umpire” — the judiciary. The chief minister, who also holds charge of information, can’t wash his hands off this despicable decision, which signals to the world the persecution of journalists in Karnataka.
To read the entire article, click here.

Iran Imprisons Journalist for Reporting on Judiciary Corruption Allegations
June 28, 2017 – Al Arabiya English
Prominent Iranian reformist journalist, Isa Saharkhiz, was sentenced to six months by a court in Tehran, sources told Al Arabiya. Saharkhiz was the director of publications during the era of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami. He was sentenced to prison for criticizing the corruption files of the Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who is accused of possessing 63 personal bank accounts that generate millions in interest benefits of financial belonging to citizens who have cases in court.
The verdict comes after he was released on April 25, after more than a year and a half in prison for "spreading lies in favor of enemies" because of his articles criticizing the regime. Saharkhiz lawyer said: "This is a political accusation and an open court must be set up in the presence of a jury, but the court issued its verdict,” reported Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
On March 12, Issa Saharkhiz was beaten while in Evin prison, north of Tehran, by security personnel and was taken to the hospital where he suffered heart problems from a hunger strike. Saharkhiz was director general of publications at the Iranian Ministry of Culture under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami was also jailed for four years for participating in the "Green Intifada" in 2009 against former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was released two years ago.
To read the entire article, click here.

Fighting Back against Prolific Online Harassment in the Philippines
June 29, 2017 – The Conservation
In the past decade, more than 800 journalists have been killed in the course of their work according to UNESCO, while hundreds more have been assaulted, imprisoned or harassed. The nature of the threat is changing as the virtual world spills into the physical. The experiences of Filipino journalist Maria Ressa show how reporters now face targeted online harassment campaigns designed to discredit and silence them.
Maria Ressa is a former CNN war correspondent but none of her experiences in the field prepared her for the destructive campaign of gendered online harassment that’s been directed at her since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. “I’ve been called ugly, a dog, a snake, threatened with rape and murder,” she says. How many times has she received online death threats? She’s lost count. “Gosh, there have been so many!”
A journalist with more than 30 years’ experience, Ressa is the founding CEO and executive editor of the social media-powered news organisation Rappler, based in the Philippines. In addition to being threatened with rape and murder, she’s been the subject of hashtag campaigns like #ArrestMariaRessa and #BringHerToTheSenate, designed to whip online mobs into attack mode, discredit both Ressa and Rappler, and chill their reporting. Every journalist in the country reporting independently on the Duterte presidency is subjected to rampant and highly coordinated online abuse, she says.  Especially if they’re female.
“It began a spiral of silence. Anyone who was critical or asked questions about extrajudicial killings was attacked, brutally attacked. The women got it worst,” she says. “And we’ve realised that the system is set up to silence dissent - designed to make journalists docile. We’re not supposed to be asking hard questions, and we’re certainly not supposed to be critical.” This onslaught represents a real threat to the psychological, digital, and even physical safety of journalists, she adds. But she refuses to be cowed by online armies of “super trolls”, whom she believes are part of a campaign to destabilise democracy in the Philippines. She admits that the constant attacks do make her think twice about doing stories that will be lightning rods for attacks. “But then I go and do the story even harder! I just refuse to let intimidation win.”
To read the entire article, click here.

Pakistani Journalist Arrested under Cyber Crime Law
June 30, 2017 – Business Insider (Reuters)
Pakistan authorities have arrested a journalist under a new electronic crime law aimed at combating terrorism and preventing blasphemy but which critics say is used to suppress political dissent. The journalist, Zafarullah Achakzai, a reporter for the Daily Qudrat newspaper in Quetta city, was produced before a magistrate on Wednesday and remanded in police custody under the cyber law, an official from the police's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said. He is one of the first reporters to be charged under the electronic crime law, which was introduced in August to the objections of media freedom and human rights activists.
Achakzai's father, Naimatullah Achakzai, said his son was detained on Sunday by officers from the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force in overall charge of security in Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital.
"Some 50 people came to our home at 6 a.m. and kicked down the door," Achakzai said, adding that police filed a case against his son under the cyber crime law on Wednesday. Police had shown him the filing, he said. "We weren't allowed to talk to him or meet him," he said, adding he believed is son was arrested over social media posts. The elder Achakzai said he believed his son was in trouble because his social media activity. The son posted a comment on Facebook after a suicide bombing killed 13 in Quetta this month, in which he questioned why the Frontier Corps had responsibility for policing the city.
To read the entire article, click here.