10 Most Urgent – April 2021

This month’s list of the 10 most pressing cases of press freedom abuses around the world, as identified by the One Free Press Coalition, focuses on cases of journalists who have faced retaliation in relation to posts online and on social media.

1. Kabir Kishore (Bangladesh): Cartoonist allegedly subjected to severe physical abuse while held behind bars. Now released on bail, he faces serious health issues and charges under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act.

2. Lu Yuyu (China): Chinese journalist faces continued harassment since his release from prison: police invading his home, forcing him to relocate and demanding he shut down his Twitter account.

(Lu Yuyu/Credit: Lu Yuyu)

(Lu Yuyu/Credit: Lu Yuyu)

3. Hopewell Chin’ono (Zimbabwe): Journalist has faced repeated arrests and harassment from authorities in the past year for his reporting, and potentially faces years behind bars on charges of “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State” for a tweet about alleged police abuse.

(Hopewell Chin’ono/Credit: Frank Chikowore)

(Hopewell Chin’ono/Credit: Frank Chikowore)

4. Elena Solovyova (Russia): Russian freelance reporter doxxed by anonymous Telegram channel in attempt to harass her for her work.

(Elena Solovyova/Credit: Natalia Sevets-Yermolina)

(Elena Solovyova/Credit: Natalia Sevets-Yermolina)

5. Otabek Sattoriy (Uzbekistan): Uzbek blogger covering corruption detained and charged with extortion, and has had his Telegram channel taken down.

(Otabek Sattoriy/Credit: Otabek Sattoriy)

(Otabek Sattoriy/Credit: Otabek Sattoriy)

6. Mohammad Mosaed (Iran): Online reporter forced to flee Iran and seek exile as he faces over four years in prison on charges related to social media posts critical of the government.

(Mahammad Mosaed/Credit: Farid Kamran Nia)

(Mahammad Mosaed/Credit: Farid Kamran Nia)

7. Ricardo Noblat (Brazil): Brazilian authorities have repeatedly threatened criminal investigations against political news journalist in recent years for re-sharing social media posts critical of the government and of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

8. Arzu Geybulla (Turkey/Azerbaijan): Azerbaijani journalist living in Turkey was targeted in a virulent online harassment campaign, forcing her to temporarily go offline, following the publication of a piece accusing her of disrespecting victims of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. 

9. Basma Mostafa (Egypt): Egyptian journalist detained and held in 2020 on charges of spreading false news, misusing social media and joining a terrorist organization. Currently free, she still faces charges and has experienced continual judicial harassment.

10. Rana Ayyub (India): Indian journalist has faced years of harassment in relation to her ongoing reporting and commentary on taboo subjects, with recent abuse amplified by the ongoing farmer’s protests in India.

(Rana Ayyub/Credit: Marie Claire South Africa)

(Rana Ayyub/Credit: Marie Claire South Africa)

Turkish journalist’s murder trial verdict “leaves bitter taste”

Although an Istanbul court on March 26 convicted 27 defendants, mostly members of the state security forces or intelligence officials, for their role in Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink’s murder in 2007, Reporters Without Borders insists that justice has not yet been fully rendered and says everyone connected with this crime must be tried in court.

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Myanmar’s military junta eliminates independent media

Reporters Without Borders calls for the restoration of media pluralism and unrestricted Internet access in Myanmar, where the military, in the weeks since staging a coup d’état on February 1, have reasserted full control over news and information – engineering the disappearance of the last independent newspapers and imposing tight curbs on online access.

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WAN-IFRA condemns Colombian government’s sabotage of inter-American court hearing on journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima

WAN-IFRA has denounced the Colombian government’s walkout during the first day of a virtual public hearing at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that was due to determine the level of state responsibility for the 2000 abduction, rape, and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima.

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International Press Institute partners in South Asia highlight hostile environment for women journalists

The International Press Institute recently launched the first-ever cross-border collaboration project between media organizations in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal. As part of this innovative effort “Covering and investigating attacks against journalists in South Asia: a Cross-Border cooperation”, IPI’s media partners have documented the hostile environment and attacks faced by women journalists in the region.

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Groundbreaking RSF complaint holds Crown Prince and other Saudi officials responsible for Khashoggi murder and persecution of journalists as crimes against humanity

Reporters without Borders filed a criminal complaint with the German Public Prosecutor General targeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and other high-ranking Saudi officials responsible for crimes against humanity. The complaint reveals the widespread and systematic nature of the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, in particular the arbitrary detention of 34 journalists and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.

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Reporters Committee, Knight Institute urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to ensure FOIA compliance

Citing long-standing concerns about the federal government’s handling of public records requests, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to follow through on the Biden administration’s stated commitment to transparency and take swift and decisive action to ensure compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

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ICYMI: When the Web Goes Dark: State Control & the Internet

In March, the Aspen Institute's Aspen Digital program hosted experts in human rights, technology, and cyber access to discuss the implications of blocking freedom of information, and what can be done about it.

Watch here

#FreeAustinTice bracelets available in The Washington Post Store

Help bring attention to the case of detained American journalist and Marine veteran Austin Tice by wearing a #FreeAustinTice bracelet from The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership. Available free at www.wapo.st/tice

Press Freedom Reads

Mexican press freedom dispute erupts as Amlo attacks US and domestic critics [The Guardian]

Turkish Court Rules Government Restricted Media Freedom [Balkan Insight]

Malaysia ‘fake news’ law a threat to press freedom [International Press Institute]

Vietnam: Journalists and media watchdogs fear increased persecution [International Press Institute]

An online assault on a female journalist in the Philippines is a worldwide warning [The Washington Post]

Events

April 23 at 11AM EDT -- Cancel (Harassment) Culture: Fighting Online Violence. Women journalists face online violence simply for doing their job – and the problem is growing. On April 21 at 11am EDT, join the IWMF and The Washington Post's Press Freedom Partnership for a conversation on the impact of online violence on press freedom. The New York Times' Kara Swisher will speak with 2020 IWMF Courage in Journalism Awardee Jessikka Aro about Aro's experience with severe online harassment from Russian trolls, and how this type of abuse endangers women's voices in the global news media.

May 3 at 10AM EDT -- National Press Club to highlight three major cases on World Press Freedom Day.  The National Press Club will host a virtual event on May 3 – World Press Freedom Day - highlighting the cases of three journalists who need our help: Maria Ressa, Austin Tice and Emilio Gutierrez-Soto. Attendees will experience a virtual platform that looks and feels just like a visit to the National Press Club and can navigate between three main event dedicated to the three journalists.