Assange Hit with US Espionage Charges

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has become the first person charged under the US Espionage Act who is not a government leaker, indicted this week under 17 counts for publishing classified information. Alarmed press freedom groups warn that the action in effect criminalizes actions that investigative journalists do on a daily basis. The charges are "a direct threat to news gathering, journalists, and news organizations who do that for the public benefit," said Gabe Rottman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union called the indictments an "extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment." And the Committee to Project Journalists warned that the move "strikes at the heart of the First Amendment and puts all journalists in extreme danger."

Source: Buzzfeed

Posted on: May 25, 2019

Reuters Reporters Freed in Myanmar

Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, are now free. The two Reuters reporters spent more than 500 days behind bars after they were convicted to seven years in prison for breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. Before their arrest, the pair had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians. Throughout their imprisonment, Reuters as well as press freedom and human rights advocates campaigned for their release. They were freed May 7 as part of a presidential amnesty for 6,520 prisoners. “I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” Wa Lone told reporters as he left prison.

Source: Reuters

Posted on: May 7, 2019

This Year’s World Press Freedom Day Tackles Disinformation

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day (#WPFD2019), a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom with events around the world by its sponsor UNESCO and others. The theme for this 26th edition is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” On this occasion, UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay said: "Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truths."

Source: UNESCO

Posted on: May 3, 2019

Report: Europe Press Freedom In Peril

Press freedom in Europe is more fragile now than anytime since the Cold War, according to a new report by the Council of Europe. Journalists increasingly face obstruction, hostility and violence, says the report by partner organisations of the Council's Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists. Among the key problems: impunity protects those behind violent attacks on journalists; legal protections have been weakened; public service media is being undermined; attacks on freelance journalists are up; and the space to hold the powerful to account has been diminished. Urgent actions backed by a determined show of political will are required, the report finds.

Source: Article 19

Posted on: February 15, 2019

OSCE: Harassment of Ismayilova Must End

The Organization for Security and Cooperation, OSCE, this week called for an end to the continued harassment of award-winning investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan. In the latest of years of harassment and arrests, a Baku court has ordered Ismayilova to pay 23,000 Euro in back taxes allegedly owed by her former employer, Radio Free Europe (RFE). For reporting on corruption among Azerbaijan's ruling elite, she has been repeatedly detained, smeared by government-friendly media, accused of treason, tax evasion and theft and and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison based on fabricated charges.

Source: OCCRP

Posted on: December 26, 2018

Nicaragua Media Under Major Assault

The press in Nicaragua is under sustained assault by the embattled government of Daniel Ortega. Also targeted are human rights and watchdog NGOs. The regime has now banned nine NGOs, including GIJN member El Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación, (CINCO), arrested and beaten journalists, shut down a popular TV station and expelled international human rights observers.

Source: IREX, NYT

Posted on: December 24, 2018

Assange Case Raises Press Freedom Fears

The disclosure this week that US prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Wikileaks' Julian Assange could set a dangerous precedent undermining press freedoms. Details remain unclear, but much depends on how Assange will be treated. Although not traditional journalists, what WikiLeaks does can be hard to legally separate from what traditional news groups routinely do -- receiving and publishing classified information -- "exactly what journalists do all the time,” noted Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Source: New York Times

Posted on: November 17, 2018

US J Schools Condemn Trump Press Attacks

An unusual rebuke by the leaders of 10 leading American journalism schools is condemning the Trump Administration's war on the news media. The White House's recent revocation of the press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta, in particular, has gone too far, they wrote. "Although gratuitous, harsh and insulting reprimands directed at reporters and news organizations that pose inconvenient questions are routine under this administration," says the statement, "the Acosta incident crosses an important line regarding First Amendment protections and press freedom."

Source: UC Berkeley

Posted on: November 16, 2018

Myanmar Sentences Reuters Pair to 7 Years

In a case watched worldwide, a Myanmar court on Monday sentenced two Reuters correspondents to seven years in prison for violating that country's archaic Official Secrets Act. The two men, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were detained in December 2017 while investigating the mass killing of a Rohingya villagers. The case has been widely denounced as harassment by press freedom groups and the UN. "The United Nations has consistently called for the release of the Reuters journalists and urged the authorities to respect their right to pursue freedom of expression and information," said Knut Ostby, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.

Source: CNN

Posted on: September 3, 2018

Nepal Criminal Code Trashes Press Freedom

A new Nepal criminal code that came into effect August 17 threatens to severely restrict press freedom in that Himalayan country, according to GIJN member Center for Investigative Journalism, Nepal and Media Action Nepal. The new laws criminalize such journalistic activity as recording and listening to conversations, disclosing private information even on public figures, photographing people without consent, and satirizing "that disrespects an individual." The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for immediate revision of the code, which it brands "a giant step backward for press freedom."

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

Posted on: August 21, 2018