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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Index on Censorship: journalists under 'unprecedented' attack

Journalists are facing an “unprecedented” wave of attacks around the world with increased hostility to the media leading to assaults on individuals as well as press freedom, according to a new report
A series of crackdowns on media workers and news outlets in Europe as well as elsewhere has confirmed 2016 as one of the most dangerous times to be a journalist, according to the latest figures compiled by Index on Censorship.
The study found 406 verified reports of violence, threats or violations throughout European Union member states and neighbouring countries including Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in the three months to the end of September.
Melody Patry, senior advocacy officer at Index, said the year so far had been striking for the increase in reports as well as range of attacks, from threats to media freedom to attacks leading to death. “The attacks are unprecedented in both scope and scale.”
With a marked increase in attacks in Europe, long considered a bastion of press freedom, the latest research does not reflect increased violence in Asia or the US, which has seen an increase in assaults and abuse during a highly charged US election during which reporters were put in pens by President-elect Donald Trump
Hostility to the media is increasing globally,” said Patry. “When the credibility and legitimacy of media outlets starts to be questioned it can easily spread and the sentiment easily becomes one of distrust.”
As well as four murders, the Index report verified 54 incidents of physical assault, 107 arrests, 150 detentions and 112 reports of intimidation, which includes psychological abuse, sexual harassment, trolling or cyberbullying and defamation. The work of journalists was censored or altered 29 times and media professionals were blocked from covering a story in 89 cases.
Those campaigning to protect journalists suggest that the most extreme forms of violence have proliferated because of a feeling of impunity. Dunja Mijatović, an expert on media law and regulation and representative for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said: “With nine out of every 10 murders of journalists never solved, the vicious cycle of impunity still prevails. It has to be broken.”
Two journalists were killed in Ukraine: Pavel Sheremet, a journalist working for the online investigative newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, was killed in a car explosion, and Alexander Shchetinin, founder of news agency Novy Region, was shot in the head in his apartment in Kiev. In Russia, Andrey Nazarenko, a cameraman for state TV channel Russia-1, was found dead in his apartment in Moscow with two bullet wounds.
In Turkey, soldiers shot and killed Mustafa Cambaz, a photographer, during the coup attempt on Turkey’s democratically elected government in July. Following the failed coup, Turkish authorities forced more than 2,500 journalists out of their jobs, arrested and prosecuted 98 under trumped-up criminal charges, detained 133 and seized or shut down 133 media outlets, according to Index.
The report’s 19% rise in the number of verified incidents in the third quarter compared with the previous three months is likely to represent an underreporting of the extent of the problem. Several attacks were reported under one case and there was also underreporting in some of the worst countries.
Patry said journalists in countries known as beacons of press freedom, such as the UK and France, feel “guilty” reporting threats. “There’s a real sense that it’s part of the job, that they should accept it and anyway it’s not as bad as it is in Azerbaijan.”
Among anti-press freedom laws introduced recently are the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK, or so-called snooper’s charter, which legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services and allows the authorities to in effective identify journalists’ anonymous sources.
In France, the National Assembly passed an amendment where journalists would be subject to up to seven years’ imprisonment for protecting sources.
Just over a week after his election a group of 18 major journalism associations published an open letter to Trumpasking that the new administration take steps to protect freedom of the press in the United States. Index now wants to extend its mapping exercise to the US.
Recent attacks range from the death of David Gilkey, a photojournalist with National Public Radio, alongside his Afghan translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, in an ambush in Afghanistan in June, to the attack on Kyle Ludowitz, a photojournalist who was left with a fractured cheekbone after being attacked at an anti-Trump protest in California.
The Mapping Media Freedom project – run by the European Federation of Journalists, Index on Censorship and Reporters Without Borders and part funded by the European commission – has recorded more than 2,400 incidents threatening media freedom from its launch in May 2014. Launched amid concern over rising attacks on the media, Patry said this year has proved that it is “needed more than ever”.
Heidi Hemmat was an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on business fraud for KDVR.
In February 2015, her investigation led to fraud charges against a local business owner. According to Raw Story, Muhammed Murib of AAAA TV Electronics Repair and Vacuum started harassing and threatening Hemmat.
Then it got worse. In a blog post revealing what happened, Hemmat says she got a call from Murib's therapist—under an exception to HIPAA laws that allows health providers to violate patient privacy when the patient "presents a serious and imminent threat of harm."
Hemmat says her boss at KDVR balked at the cost of providing security for her, saying, "If he was going to kill you, he would have done it by now."
Hemmat took out restraining orders against Murib, who was required to wear an ankle monitor. "But my sense of safety was gone—and the way I viewed my job forever changed," Hemmat writes. "I couldn’t keep ambushing people who did bad things to other people...My physical and mental health were unraveling."
Meanwhile, Hemmat says her boss treated her like she was "overreacting" and characterized Murib's actions as a "temper tantrum."
Finally, Hemmat quit. But despite the end of her journalism career and fear for her own life, Hemmat says she has found a reason to be thankful in her husband and young children.

Politkovskaya, cinque condanne. Ma chi è il mandante? JUNE 9, 2014

At least 257 journalists have been jailed around the world this year, a press advocacy group reported on Monday, the most since it began a detailed annual census of imprisonments in 1990.
The group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, attributed the increase largely to a surge of imprisonments in Turkey after the failed military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July.
At least 81 journalists — almost a third of the total — were incarcerated by the Turkish authorities in relation to their work, the group said in announcing the 2016 figures, “the highest number in any one country at any time.”
Among those imprisoned were Mehmet Baransu, a former columnist and correspondent for the daily newspaper Taraf, who was accused of obtaining secret documents, insulting the president and membership in a terrorist organization. He is facing a maximum sentence of 75 years.
The committee also cited an Oct. 31 raid on the offices of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest secularist daily newspaper, where at least a dozen journalists were detained on accusations of producing propaganda for outlawed Kurdish separatists and a banned organization run by Fethullah Gulen, a cleric and political rival of Mr. Erdogan’s.
Mr. Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, has been accused by Turkish investigators of fomenting the attempted coup against Mr. Erdogan, a charge that Mr. Gulen has denied. The Turkish government has said it wants the United States to extradite him.
The 257 total for 2016 shattered the previous global record of 232 journalists imprisoned in 2012. Last year, 199 journalists were jailed, the group said.
After Turkey, the biggest jailers of journalists were China, where at least 38 had been incarcerated as of Dec. 1; Egypt, with 25; Eritrea, with 16; and Ethiopia, with 14.
For the first time since 2008, Iran was not among the top five jailers, the committee said, counting eight journalists in Iranian prisons compared with 19 a year earlier.
The group attributed the decline partly to the release of many of those who had been sentenced after a 2009 crackdown following a disputed presidential election.

Nonetheless, the Iranian authorities are still imprisoning journalists for their work. The group cited the example of Keyvan Karimi, a filmmaker who was sentenced in 2015 to six years in prison and 223 lashes for a documentary about political graffiti

Record Number of Journalists Jailed in 2016, Press Advocacy Group Says   ntinue reading the main story

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