Latest threats to media freedom

 

Pressure by a Political Party to Replace a Member of the Public Broadcaster's Supervisory Board

Update: 28 Jun 2017 Resolved
Year 16 Mar 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , Index Alert level Level 2
16 Mar 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state RSF , Index Level 2

On 22 February 2017, the parliamentary fraction of Oleh Lyashko's Radical Party sent a letter to the National Broadcasting Council, requesting to replace the member it previously appointed to the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company, Vyacheslav Kozak, by another one, Valentyna Rudenko. The parliamentary fraction did not refer to any legal ground to do so. Members of the Supervisory Board and Mr Kozak's relatives say he is under pressure to sign a letter of «voluntary resignation». The Article 10 of the Law on the Public Broadcasting Service provides an exhaustive list of possible legal grounds for the revocation of Supervisory Board members and bans any revocation based on other grounds. Its Article 8 also prevents Supervisory Board members from «performing assignments for a political party». The members of the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine issued a statement on 14 March, denouncing political interferences into their work.

Resolved On 28 June 2017, following consideration of the response of the Ukrainian authorities, the partner organisations of the Platform declared this case to be "resolved”, concluding that it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

New 27 Jun 2017 : Response of the Ukrainian authorities

Follow-ups

20 Mar 2017 : Independence of the Supervisory Board of the public broadcaster is of crucial importance for the reform of public broadcasting

Italian Journalist Risks Being Jailed for Thirty Months for Libel

Update: 27 Jun 2017 State replied
Year 19 May 2017 Country Italy Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ , Index Alert level Level 2
19 May 2017 Italy E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , Index Level 2

Gabriele Carchidi, editor in chief of the online newspaper iacchite.com, has been sentenced by a court in Cosenza, in the Calabrian region of southern Italy, to a total of 30 months in prison without suspension of sentence in four libel cases between September 2016 and May 2017. The latest conviction, handed down on 10 May 2017, resulted from a lawsuit brought by the mayor of Cosenza, Mario Occhiuto, concerning references to the mayor on Facebook. The other convictions relate to reports by the journalist about the behaviour of senior carabinieri officers, mayor Occhiuto and a Cosenza magistrate, respectively. Gabriele Carchidi is free while he awaits the result of his appeals to the Appeal court against these four verdicts. Media reports say he also faces the possibility of being tried and receiving further custodial sentences as a result of more than 60 other pending defamation lawsuits against him, mostly brought by politicians, police, magistrates and other public figures.

State replies

New 27 Jun 2017 : Reply from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Journalist Assaulted and Left with Concussion after Investigation in North Ossetia

No reply yet
Year 27 Jun 2017 Country Russian Federation Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner Index Alert level Level 1
27 Jun 2017 Russian Federation A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state Index Level 1
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Pyotr Pliev, a correspondent for state newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta in North Ossetia, was assaulted by an unknown person in Vladikavkaz, on 21 June 2017. According to witnesses, a young man came out of a car, quickly approached Pliev on the street, hit him in the head and then left in a car. Pliev lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion. He stated he thought the assault was connected to his professional activities. Shortly before the assault, Pliev published an investigation in Rossiskaya Gazeta into the case of the local North Ossetian businessman Murat Kisiev who reportedly built three distilleries on a local pasture. Pliev also criticised the head of the local municipality who refused to meet with inhabitants to address the problem. At the end of the article, which was published two days before the assault, Pliev wrote that he received threats: “The businessman told me that if I don't stop poking my nose into something that is not my business I will get into trouble, big time." The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of North Ossetia said it had started a police investigation following the assault.

Azerbaijani Chief Editor of News Website Sentenced to Seven Years on Extortion Charges

No reply yet
Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner CPJ , Index Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State CPJ , Index Level 1
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Fikret Faramazoglu, chief editor of the news website Journalistic Research Center, was sentenced on June 14, 2017 to seven years in prison on extortion charges. The judge also ruled to ban Faramazoglu from working as a journalist for two years after serving his prison term. Faramazoglu and his lawyer told the court the journalist was severely beaten in detention and lost several teeth as a result. Faramazoglu was first detained on June 30, 2016 for allegedly receiving a large amount of money from a restaurant owner whom authorities claimed the journalist extorted. The journalist and his lawyer say the money was planted in his pocket. Faramazoglu also 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. 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. Sadygov said Faramazoglu will appeal the verdict. In 2006 Faramazoglu, then chief editor of the Baku-based opposition weekly 24 Saat, was found guilty of libel and sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term, which was considered by media freedom organisations as a retaliation for his articles on alleged corruption in Azerbaijani law enforcement.

Ukrainian Journalist Missing in Donbass

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Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 1
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Ukrainian journalist Stanyslav Aseev went missing in the Donbass region on 3 June 2017. Since then, the journalist has not been answering phone calls, his apartment in Donetsk has been ransacked and his professional laptop has gone missing, his family and friends told the media. They fear the journalist has been detained by representatives of the so called “Ministry of State Security” of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic". Reports said that Aseev went missing on the day he was expected to send material to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which showed life in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and never arrived. Aseev has been working under the pen name of Stanyslav Vasin since 2014 and has been reporting from Donetsk for Radio Svoboda, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Ukrayinska Pravda and Ukrainian Week. On 20 June, representatives from the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) expressed their deep concern for the safety and fate of Stanyslav Aseev and called for his immediate release.

Exiled Journalist Abducted, Detained and Faces Charges in Azerbaijan

Update: 20 Jun 2017 No reply yet
Year 02 Jun 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
02 Jun 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Level 1
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Freelance Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was reported missing in Tbilisi, Georgia on the evening of 29 May 2017 by his wife Leyla Mustafayeva. Eurasianet reported that Mustafayeva said that her husband last called her when he was just a few blocks away from their home, but he never showed up. The Georgian police stated on 30 May that a search was underway for the journalist, but later, the independent Azeri news agency Turan reported that the Azerbaijani border service department detained Mukhtarli. Independent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova confirmed that Mukhtarli was kidnapped from his neighbourhood where he was forced into a car, his hands were tied and he was beaten. Mukhtarli sustained serious injuries. His lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists: “He was beaten, has a broken nose, bruises all over his head and right eye, his rib may be broken.” He was then taken across the border into Azerbaijan by car without his passport. Mukhtarli is being charged with trespassing, smuggling and resistance to law-enforcement (violations of Articles 318.1, 206.1 and 315.2 of the criminal code), his lawyer confirmed. The Azerbaijani police also claim Mukhtarli was in possession of 10,000 EUR during the police search. Mukhtarli, who has contributed to various independent outlets, including Meydan TV, fled to Georgia from Azerbaijan in 2015, after receiving threats over his investigative reporting on corruption in the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. Afgan Mukhtarli is now in pre-trial detention.

Follow-ups

New 20 Jun 2017 : Volodymyr Ariev, PACE General Rapporteur on Media Freedom and the Safety of Journalists, calls for release of Afqan Mukhtarli
06 Jun 2017 : Boriss Cilevics and Kerstin Lundgren, co-rapporteurs of the PACE, urge Georgian authorities to fully investigate abduction of Afqan Mukhtarli
02 Jun 2017 : Commissioner for Human Rights "appalled by what happened to Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist, who has reportedly been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, where he is now facing prosecution for illegal crossing of the border and smuggling".

Threat of Closure of the Public Broadcast Media Service

Update: 16 Jun 2017 No reply yet
Year 18 Apr 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
18 Apr 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 2
No reply yet

The Radio and Television of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BHRT) is facing possible shut down due to the absence of an agreed plan for sustainable funding of public media service. The BHRT, which is marred in financial difficulties including debts to staff and to service providers such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), has been operating a heavily reduced service since June 2016, only broadcasting sports competitions and reruns of old programmes. The EBU reportedly has launched a lawsuit for payment of debts accumulated to unsustainable amounts and placed BHRT under sanction 3, stopping its services to the public broadcaster. BHRT is now under heightened risk of closure.

Follow-ups

New 16 Jun 2017 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights says that greater efforts are needed to enhance social cohesion and media freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 Apr 2017 : OSCE Freedom of the Media Representative says that shutdown of public broadcaster in Bosnia and Herzegovina is neither a solution nor an option

Editor-in-Chief of Cumhuriyet Detained, Accused of Terrorist Propaganda

Update: 15 Jun 2017 No reply yet
Year 16 May 2017 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
16 May 2017 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 1
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On 12 May 2017, Oğuz Güven, editor-in-chief of the online edition of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, was detained as part of a criminal investigation led by the Bureau of Press Offences of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul. On 15 May, Güven appeared before a judge, who ordered that he be held in pre-trial detention, on “propaganda for a terrorist organisation” and “defamation against a person’s memory” charges. Both charges against the journalist are solely based on the title of a news report published and tweeted by Cumhuriyet on an online account about the accidental death of a prosecutor. During the hearing, the journalist repeated that the controversial tweet (“the prosecutor who sought the first warrants against FETÖ was cut apart by a truck”) was only visible during 55 seconds, was immediately corrected (“the prosecutor lost life in a serious car accident”) and is one of the 300 tweets per day written by the journalist, that he cannot be suspected of doing anything to support any terrorist organisation. Oğuz Güven is the 12th Cumhuriyet professional arrested by the Turkish authorities on charges of supporting two illegal organisations (PKK and FETÖ) based on opinions and articles published by the newspaper. Akin Atalay was arrested on 13 November 2016, Murat Sabuncu, Hakan Karasinir, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Güray Öz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Önder Celik, Turhan Günay and Kadri Gürsel were arrested on 15 November 2016, Ahmet Şık was arrested on 29 December 2016.

Updates

New 15 Jun 2017 : On 14 June 2017, after 30 days of imprisonment, Oğuz Güven was released pending trial. His next hearing is scheduled to take place on September 14, 2017.

Two Media Outlets and Four Journalists Sued by Judge

No reply yet
Year 15 Jun 2017 Country Albania Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
15 Jun 2017 Albania E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state Index , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2
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Gjin Gjoni, a judge for a court of appeals in Tirana, and his wife filed a lawsuit against four journalists and two media outlets on 9 June, 2017 for their reports over his criminal investigations and his family's declared assets. They have filed charges against Balkan Investigation Reporting Network (BIRN) along with their journalist Besar Likmeta and Aleksandra Bogdani and Shqiptarja newspaper, along with their journalists Adriatic Doci and Elton Qyno. The judge reported that their media coverage has caused reputational damage and pain. Gjoni and his wife are asking for 7 million Lek (54, 000 EUR) in compensation from Balkan Investigation Reporting Network, BIRN in Tirana and two of their journalists; They are asking for 4 million Lek (30,000 EUR) from Shqiptarja newspaper and from two of their journalists. BIRN Albania declared that they "stand by the article and are ready to face all the claims in the court." The Union of Albanian Journalists also condemned the lawsuit: “The Union of Albania Journalists has been informed of the judicial assault launched by the member of the High Council of Justice, Gjin Gjoni, against several journalists and respective media, with the legal pretense that his image has been tainted,” the Union said in a statement.

Journalist Zehra Doğan Arrested and Charged with "Membership of an Illegal Organisation"

Update: 14 Jun 2017 No reply yet
Year 25 Jul 2016 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
25 Jul 2016 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Level 1
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Zehra Doğan, JINHA editor (women's news agency) and a painter, was arrested by the police in Mardin, south-east of Turkey, on 22 July. She was taken to the Nusaybin police office the day after. According to reports, the authorities accused her of "being a member of the terrorist organisation PKK". The police presented Doğan 's paintings, along with her news reports and her social media posts, as evidence of this membership. The reason cited for the decision to detain her was a testimony by a confidential witness who reportedly claimed that Zehra had worked alongside DİHA reporter Bilal Gülden, also reporting from Nusaybin. Doğan was sent to the court which ordered her pre-trial detention and was transferred to Mardin Women's Prison.

Updates

New 14 Jun 2017 : After losing her final appeal (2 June 2017), Zehra Doğan was arrested on 12 June 2017 and sent to Diyarbakır Prison.
02 Mar 2017 : In March 2017, the court ruled that Ms Doğan be acquitted of the crime of "being a member of a terrorist organisation" but sentenced her for "propagandising for a terrorist organization" to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days in prison for her social media postings.
06 Dec 2016 : On 6 December 2016, Zehra Doğan was released pending trial.
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