August 2017

days since last accident 181
August 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.

China Jails Protest Blogger, Researcher for Four Years on Public Order Charges
August 3, 2017 – Radio Free Asia
A Chinese citizen journalist who meticulously recorded details of public protests and other 'mass incidents' was jailed for four years on Thursday by a court in the southwestern province of Yunnan on public order charges.  Lu Yuyu, who recently refused food and water in protest at alleged mistreatment in a police-run detention center, was handed the sentence by the Dali People's Court following his June 23 trial on charges of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," in connection with his work publicizing protests in China.
Lu's defense attorney Xiao Yunyang said the sentence was "unreasonable."  "We have already appealed this for him," Xiao told RFA. "This should have been a not guilty case, but the prosecution recommended a sentence of between three and five years, so the court gave him four years."  Asked if the court's judgment contained any reasons for the heavy sentence, Xiao said: "No, it didn't. They wouldn't write that."
A friend of Lu's who asked to remain anonymous said the case had been conducted in a very low-key manner, and that he had been unable to find out when the sentencing would take place.  "I got to Dali [on Wednesday], but I wasn't able to find out [from the authorities] when the hearing was," the friend said. "I learned from somebody else that the he had already been sentenced."
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalists Detained, Harassed, Beaten Covering Congo Protests
August 3, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo should cease harassing and detaining journalists and should allow them to cover protests and other events of public interest without interference, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Security forces harassed, detained, or beat at least 18 journalists across the country on July 31 as they covered anti-government protests, according to media reports and Congolese press freedom advocates. Security forces released all of the journalists by the end of the day, but deleted many of the journalists' photographs and recordings first. Security forces arrested more than 100 people in the nationwide protests demanding that President Joseph Kabila leave office by the end of the year, according to media reports.
"Detaining journalists and deleting their photographs and recordings is a crude attempt at censoring news of protests and sends a chilling message to the press in the Democratic Republic of Congo," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Journalists must be permitted to report freely, without fear of being arrested or harassed by security services."
To read the entire article, click here.

Thai Journalist Accused of Sedition Says Charge Creates 'Chilling Effect'
August 5, 2017 – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
The European Court of Human Rights has issued an extraordinary order barring the transfer of a journalist in Russia to the tightly controlled Central Asian county of Uzbekistan, the journalist's defense lawyer said in a statement on Facebook.  Attorney Kirill Koroteyev wrote on August 4 that the Strasbourg court approved a request freezing the deportation order against Ali Feruz, a Russian-born journalist for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, pending the resolution of his appeal to the court.  Koroteyev told the Interfax news agency that the court gave Feruz until the end of September to submit his completed complaint for consideration.  Interfax reported that the Russian Justice Ministry notified "the relevant Russian state bodies" of the court decision shortly after receiving notice from the court on August 4.
Tatyana Glushkova, a lawyer for Novaya Gazeta, told the website Ovdinfo.org that the case should take "several months or half a year.  During that entire period, it is forbidden to send Ali to Uzbekistan," Glushkova said.  Glushkova also said that the Moscow City Court was scheduled to hear an appeal against the deportation order on August 7.
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Reporter Shot and Killed in the Philippines
August 7, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
A Filipino journalist was shot and killed today while riding a motorcycle in the town of President Quirino, on the southern island of Mindanao, news reports said. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the killing and called on Philippine authorities to identify the assailants and swiftly bring them to justice.
Leonardo Diaz, a columnist at the local Sapol News newspaper and volunteer reporter at Radio Mindanao-Cotabato, was shot multiple times near the town's Kalanawi II village at around 9 a.m., the reports said. Senior Police Inspector Joan Resurrecion said Diaz died on the spot, the reports said. Two companions who were with Diaz were injured and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, reports said. News reports gave conflicting accounts on whether there were one or two assailants, who fled the scene by motorcycle.
"Authorities must quickly apprehend the perpetrators and determine the motive behind the murder of journalist Leonardo Diaz," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. "Until President Rodrigo Duterte shows he is serious about protecting journalists, these types of brazen killings will continue in an unbroken cycle of impunity."
To read the entire article, click here.

Amid Tensions ahead of Kenyan Vote, Journalists Face Violence and Threats
August 7, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
When a fight broke out during a political rally for Kenya's Orange Democratic Movement in Kakamega county on May 4, Shaban Makokha was taking pictures for his newspaper, the Daily Nation. Makokha told CPJ that when police arrived to break up the fight, they demanded that he stop taking pictures, even after he identified himself as a journalist. He said that he was beaten by the officers and detained for two hours.
Makokha's experience is not unusual among journalists covering the run up to Kenya's general elections, which are scheduled for tomorrow. Eight Kenyan journalists with whom CPJ spoke say they have been assaulted, intimidated, or threatened since April while covering election campaigns. Authorities in recent months have also imposed restrictions on reporting and social media use. "Being harassed is becoming like a normal thing," said Makokha.
Makokha's attack was the third time within a month that journalists were harassed or threatened at Orange Democratic Movement and Jubilee rallies and meetings in Kakamega county. Erick Oduor, secretary-general of Kenya Union of Journalists, told CPJ he has received at least two reports per week of journalist harassment over the past few months, and said that he thinks many more cases go unreported.
An August 3 press statement from six media rights groups cited the failure to investigate and prosecute attacks on the press as one of the challenges facing journalists in Kenya. In Makokha's case, Peter Kattam, the commanding officer of the Mumias police division, told CPJ that the incident has been forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for advice.
To read the entire article, click here.

Uzbek Journalist at Risk of Deportation Allegedly Tortured in Russia
August 7, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Russian authorities should credibly investigate allegations that bailiffs tortured Uzbek journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov, and should not deport him to Uzbekistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A court in Moscow is scheduled to hear the journalist's appeal of the order to deport him tomorrow, according to media reports.  Moscow police arrested Nurmatov, a contributor to the independent Russian daily newspaper Novaya Gazeta betterknown by his pen name, Ali Feruz, near Novaya Gazeta'soffice in Moscow on August 1, on immigration charges, according to media reports.The same day, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow ruled that the journalist had violated Russian immigration laws and ordered his deportation, whereupon the journalist tried to commit suicide in the courtroom by grabbing a pen from his lawyer and trying to gouge his wrists, according to Novaya Gazeta and media reports.
The newspaper reported that bailiffs beat, insulted, and shocked Nurmatov while bringing him to a detention center for foreign nationals in a Moscow suburb. Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, who visited Nurmatov in the detention center on August 5, reported that the journalist had bruises on his back, was unable to eat for three days, and has suffered from hypertension since the beating. The Russian Federal Bailiffs Service did not respond to CPJ's phone calls requesting comment.
To read the entire article, click here.

Egypt Extends Detention of Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Hussein
August 14, 2017 – Al Jazeera
A court in Egypt has extended the detention, without charge, of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein for another 45 days.  Egyptian authorities announced the seventh extension on Thursday since Hussein was arrested in December last year.  Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was stopped, questioned and arrested by authorities on December 20, after travelling to Cairo for a holiday.
Five days after his initial arrest, Egypt's interior ministry accused him of "disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state's reputation".  Since then, he has been detained for 237 days, suffering mistreatment and being denied his legal rights.  Al Jazeera has rejected the allegations against him and urges his unconditional release.  "Al Jazeera Media Network rejects all the baseless allegations against Hussein, and condemns the unfair detention, in addition to obtaining false confessions by force. Furthermore, the network holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for Hussein’s safety and well-being," the network had said in a previous statement.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist Attacked in Kosovo Links Beating to His Work
August 17, 2017 – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
An investigative journalist in Kosovo says he was assaulted in the capital, Pristina, in an attack he believes is related to his efforts to expose high-level corruption.  Parim Olluri, the editor of the online newspaper Insajderi (Insider), told RFE/RL that he was beaten by three people in an attack near his home on August 16.
He said that he sustained light injuries and that he and his girlfriend were treated at a hospital after the attack.  “The attackers didn’t say a word. I didn’t recognize them. That made me believe that this was orchestrated by someone" other than the assailants, Olluri said.  The police have not commented.
In recent months, Olluri has been reporting on suspected corruption involving government officials, politicians, and former senior officers of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the guerrilla force that fought in the 1998-99 insurgency to throw off Serbian rule.  His investigations have covered controversial tenders at the national and local level.  Olluri said that he has often received threats after publishing articles about cases of potential corruption. He said that he has reported such threats to the authorities, but that the culprits have not been identified or prosecuted.  "We are facing difficulties, and we haven’t seen a case where people who threatened journalists got punished. This has encouraged certain individuals to think that they can easily vent their anger at someone and prevent someone from writing,” he said. But he told RFE/RL that Insajderi will continue to seek to expose corruption.
To read the entire article, click here.

Mexican Radio Journalist Survives Stabbing in Puebla
August 16, 2017 – Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
A Mexican radio journalist in the state of Puebla is recovering after an attack on his life.  On Aug. 15, Fredy Morales Salas was stabbed fifteen times and his throat was cut by intruders at his home in Venustiano Carranza in the Sierra Norte of Puebla near the state of Veracruz.  Morales Salas is a reporter for radio program Enlace Serrano and an inspector of the Ajengibre community in Venustiano Carranza, according to La Jornada de Oriente. His home also serves as his office and newsroom.  According to Diario Cambio, Morales Salas reported on his program about the robbery of fuel, but stopped because of the risks.  However, La Jornada said his family members denied that he covered themes related to robbery of fossil fuels. They said the attack could be related to reports about municipal authorities in the region.
The State Prosecutor opened an investigation into the case and asked the State Public Security Secretariat to implement surveillance measures for Morales Salas and to provide him protection during transfers, according to the General Secretariat of Government in Puebla (SGG for its acronym in Spanish).  Secretary General of the Government, Diódoro Carrasco Altamirano, confirmed that a protection protocol was activated, according to Diario Cambio. The publication added that the SGG activated the protocol of coordination between the State and the Federation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.  The newly created Commission for Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Puebla posted on Twitter that it was in contact with Morales.
To read the entire article, click here.

In Pakistan, Press Safety Hubs Provide Support and Training for Journalists at Risk
August 17, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
When a criminal gang sent threatening messages to Ghulam Mustafa, the reporter said his only option was to stop working for the Pakistani station Geo News. Mustafa acknowledges that laying low for nearly three years was the right decision to ensure his safety, but he said, "Professionally, it was strange that I was not working. I was very frustrated, I lived in tension for many years."
Fortunately, for journalists in Pakistan today who face attacks and threats, a network of safety hubs has been set up so they don't have to face the same tough decision of giving up reporting for their own protection. Mustafa uses his experience of dealing with threats to help colleagues through his role as the Karachi regional manager for the Pakistan Press Clubs Safety Hubs.
The safety hubs, which were set up by Iqbal Khattak, director of the local press freedom group Freedom Network Pakistan, and members of the media community in 2015, are an attempt by journalists to provide protection for each other. Journalism is a dangerous business in Pakistan, and reporters there are at risk of attack or even death from militant groups, gangs, political parties, and even law enforcement and security agencies. Since 1992, 60 journalists have been killed there in relation to their work, CPJ research shows.
To read the entire article, click here.

Kenyan Journalists Harassed, Detained Reporting on Election Violence
August 17, 2017 - Committee to Protect Journalists
Authorities in Kenya should credibly investigate incidents of harassment against journalists covering the aftermath of August 8's disputed elections and should reform Kenya's Firearms Act to lower the barriers on journalists' ability to wear protective gear, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In the week following Kenya's national election, CPJ spoke with 10 journalists who said they were assaulted or harassed in the course of their reporting. As CPJ has documented, journalists were also targeted for attack and intimidation during the pre-election campaign period. Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday said he would contest incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory at the Supreme Court, according to press reports.  "Journalists in Kenya must be permitted to report without fear of violence or hindrance from security forces or anyone else," CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said from New York. "Kenyan authorities should make sure that these cases are credibly investigated to make clear that journalists cannot be harassed with impunity and that the public has a right to information from a wide variety of sources."
On August 12, Kenya Television Network (KTN) journalist Duncan Khaemba was reporting on violent post-election protests in Nairobi's Kibera slum when he was arrested for allegedly possessing a helmet and body armor without a proper license, according to police documents seen by CPJ and Khaemba. Police told CPJ that the charges were dropped on August 15.
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Beloved Yemeni Activist Abducted by Government Security
August 18, 2017 – WCAI (capeandislands.org) (Massachusetts NPR)
You've seen and heard Hisham al-Omeisy. The friendly Yemeni observer who has told news services around the world about conditions in his war-ravaged country was abducted by three carloads of armed men in Sanaa on Monday afternoon. He is being held at the government's National Security Bureau in the Yemeni capital.  His family cautioned reporters, many of whom count Omeisy as a friend as well as a source, to remain silent while negotiations were conducted through back channels. The family lifted its embargo today.
Omeisy may be the most famous Yemeni in the Western world, thanks to his active Twitter account (he has nearly 24,000 followers) and his frequent appearances on TV and radio around the globe.
Independent journalist Iona Craig said that she and other reporters had remained silent about the situation all week, at the family's request. But Craig, who lived in Sanaa and is a close friend of Omeisy, is relieved to be able to talk openly about his abduction now. "The National Security Bureau where Hisham is being held — I don't think anybody has ever come out of there and said they've had a pleasant experience. And that's the really troubling thing about thinking about him now being in prison."
To read the entire article, click here.

Human Rights Groups Demand Release of Nigerian Journalist Jailed in Cameroon
August 18, 2017 – TheCable.ng (Nigeria)
Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and civil society groups have demanded the release of Ahmed Abba, a Nigerian journalist jailed in Cameroon “for reporting Boko Haram activities”.  Abba, a Radio France Internationale correspondent in Cameroon, was given a ten-year jail term in April 2017 by the Cameroonian government.  In a statement jointly issued on Thursday, the groups, numbering 36, condemned Abba’s “unjust” trial.  They have embarked on a campaign to step up “public and political pressure” on the Cameroonian authorities, “who should never have arrested Abba”.  RSF also said it is setting up a committee to bring together well-known figures from around the world and especially Africa.
“The committee has decided to begin online by creating a Facebook page in which we will share the messages of his supporters,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, head of RSF’s Africa desk. “This is just the first step. The campaign will grow in strength if the authorities do not free Ahmed Abba.”  The support committee includes several regional and international non-governmental organisations that defend journalists and human rights, such as Africtivistes (a pro-democracy coalition of African cyber-activists), Amnesty International, journalist in danger, (JED), the International Federation of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists, which has named Abba as one of the winners of its 2017 International Press Freedom Award.
To read the entire article, click here.

Police Arrest Suspects in Beating of Journalist in Odesa Oblast
August 27, 2017 – Kyiv Post (Ukraine)
Police detained on Aug. 26 three young men, suspected of beating journalist Roman Varshanidze in Odesa Oblast.
Varshanidze, who is expected to survive the attack, is the chief editor of Naddnistrianska Pravda web newspaper in Ovidiopol, a town in Odesa Oblast some 500 kilometers south of Kyiv.  Varshanidze was attacked late on Aug. 25 when he was driving home.
In a video posted on his newspaper’s website, he said that he had seen wooden boards with nails lying across the road. After the journalist got out of his car to remove them, two masked men armed with iron bats attacked him.  “They started hitting me in my head and in my back,” he said, adding that he tried to fight back.  Varshanidze said he was saved by his neighbor who had stopped his car by the attackers and made them run away.
The journalist added that before leaving, one of the attackers accidentally dropped the keys from his car, which had his name and car number indicated on them. This evidence led police to find the attackers quickly.
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Congolese Authorities Arresting and Assaulting Journalists, Reports CPJ
August 28, 2017 – The Citizen (South Africa)
Security forces arrested Jean Pierre Tshibitshabu in Lubumbashi on July 31 as he tried to document events.  Tshibitshabu, a reporter for the independent broadcaster Radio Television KADEKAS, is due to appear in a Lubumbashi court, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on Tuesday on charges of “incitement and provocation”.  The charges against Tshibiitshabu relate to July protests he was covering calling for elections to be held in the DRC, according to the journalist’s lawyer, David Ilunga Sheria, and the Congolese press freedom advocacy organisation Journalistes en Danger.
Security forces arrested Tshibitshabu in Lubumbashi on July 31 as he tried to document events. On the day of his arrest, police confiscated his phone and seized about 30,000 Congolese francs (US$19) as well as US$20 in cash.  However, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the DRC authorities to drop all charges against Tshibitshabu and simultaneously investigate claims that he was assaulted in custody after he was arrested.  “Congolese authorities should immediately release Jean Pierre Tshibitshabu, drop all charges against the journalist, and take action against those who attacked him in prison,” said CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal. 
To read the entire article, click here.

International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances: States that Make Journalists Disappear
August 28, 2017 – Los Alamos Daily Post
On the eve of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances Aug. 30, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals that a growing number of states are finding new ways to make troublesome journalists disappear.  Dawit Isaak, Jean Bigirimana, Akram Raslan and Guy-André Kiefferare all journalists who suddenly went missing, leaving their loved ones in a never-ending state of anxiety. All were the victims of “enforced disappearance,” a practice in which governments are directly or indirectly implicated.  It is governments, individuals, or groups acting with the state’s support or acquiescence who arrest, abduct, detain and then conceal the fate of the disruptive journalist – the voice that must be silenced. Although discreetly perpetrated with complete impunity by more and more regimes, this multiform crime has nonetheless been recognized since 2002 as a crime against humanity.
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Two Salvadoran News Websites Threatened for their Reporting
August 28, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Salvadoran authorities must conduct a swift and credible investigation of escalating online and physical threats against journalists at two digital news outlets and enact sufficient measures to ensure the journalists' safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.  Beginning on August 22, El Faro and Revista Factum, two digital news outlets specializing in investigative journalism, began receiving direct threats on social media networks including Twitter and Facebook, according to news reports. The threats identified journalists by name and included photos. Journalists at the two outlets told CPJ they believed the threats were in response to an article published on Revista Factum's website that same day about an elite anti-crime unit's alleged involvement in criminal activity including three extrajudicial killings, sexual assault, and extortion. Howard Cotto, head of the Salvadoran National Police, and Vice President Óscar Ortiz told Factum at the time that they were aware of reports of illegal activity by police officers and promised to open an investigation.
One threatening tweet said Factum and El Faro journalists would "end up like Christian Poveda," a French-Spanish journalist killed by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in 2009. Another shared a photo of a soldier allegedly killed by gang members, with the caption "Revista Factum and El Faro write in favor of this." The accounts responsible for the threats often share content supporting security forces and celebrating violence against alleged thieves and gang members.
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Ukraine Preparing to Deport Russian Journalist for 'Propaganda'August 30, 2017 – Reuters
Ukraine’s state security service (SBU) will deport a Russian journalist whom Kiev accuses of spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday, days after barring two Spanish journalists from the country.  Ukraine and Russia are at loggerheads over a Russian-backed separatist war in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people in three years. Kiev accuses Moscow of sending troops and heavy weapons to the region, which Russia denies.
“The Russian propagandist Anna Kurbatova will be forcibly returned to Russia,” said Olena Gitlyanska, the SBU spokeswoman, in a Facebook post.  “At the moment, the necessary documents are being processed for her official deportation. It will be the same with anyone who allows themselves to discredit Ukraine.”
Russia’s main state TV station Channel One said Kurbatova had been grabbed by unknown assailants near her home, bundled into a car, and driven away.  The Russian Foreign Ministry called the move a “deliberate provocation” by the Ukrainian security service and nationalist radicals.
The move was condemned by a representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the conflict in eastern Ukraine and counts both Ukraine and Russia as members.
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North Korea Sentences Two South Korean Journalists to Death over a Book Review
August 31, 2017 – Newsweek
North Korea’s Central Court has sentenced two South Korean journalists and two media executives to death for reviewing a book that outlines a sprawling underground capitalist economy in the secretive Communist state.  In an article on North Korean state media outlet KCNA, a spokesperson for the court said that the book—originally published in English and since translated into Korean—“insulted the dignity” of North Korea.
It declared that journalists Son Hyo Rim and Yang Ji Ho—who work for South Korean newspapers Dong-A Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo—and Kim Jae Ho and Pang Sang Hun, who serve as director general of the two titles respectively, had received a death sentence by the Central Court of the DPRK.  "The criminals hold no right to appeal and the execution will be carried out any moment and at any place without going through any additional procedures as soon as the objects are confirmed," the spokesperson said.
While North Korea singled out the conservative Dong-A and Chosun newspapers, they weren’t the only publications that reviewed the book, which was released in South Korea earlier this month.
To read the entire article, click here.

Another Citizen-Journalist Held for Covering Rif Protests
August 31, 2017 – Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrest of Abdelkebir Al Hor, the founder and editor of the independent news website Rassdmaroc, who is the fourth citizen-journalist to be prosecuted since the start of a wave of protests in Morocco’s northern Rif region.  Arrested in Marrakesh on 5 August, Al Hor, the founder and editor of Rassdmaroc, was transferred to Casablanca, where he spent five days in police custody before being taken to Rabat for an initial hearing before a judge who specializes in terrorist cases.  Charged with “condoning terrorism,” “inciting disobedience” and “insulting state authority,” he is now in preventive detention pending the conclusion of the judicial investigation.
His family told RSF that he was arrested above all because of his many articles about the so-called “Al Hirak” protest movement in the Rif region and the city of Al-Hoceima in particular.  His lawyer told RSF that Al Hor had done nothing in the course of his journalistic activities to justify the “extremely grave” charges, which carry a possible ten-year jail sentence.  “Covering and commenting on a protest movement is not a crime,” RSF said. “We point out that citizen-journalism is protected by the UN Human Rights Committee’s recent interpretation of article 19 (on freedom of expression and opinion) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “We therefore call for the immediate release of Abdelkebir Al Hor and all the other citizen-journalists and media assistants who are being arbitrarily detained for covering the protests in the Rif region.”
To read the entire article, click here.