IN 2017

Latest threats to media freedom

 

Criminal Case Opened against Turan Independent News Agency in Azerbaijan

No reply yet
Year 21 Aug 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
21 Aug 2017 Azerbaijan E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
No reply yet

On 7 August 2017, Azerbaijan's tax authorities opened a criminal investigation against Turan, an independent news agency. Turan is accused of under-declaring profits since 2014 and faces a fine of over 37,000 manat (18,000 euros) in back taxes and other charges. The agency denies the allegations and has referred the matter to a Baku economic administrative court. They believe the proceedings are part of a government-orchestrated campaign to limit the organisation's critical reporting. They have faced similar allegations in the past, and an audit conducted previously demonstrated that they were complying with their tax obligations. Although Turan agreed to cooperate with the authorities and to provide them with the requested financial documentation, Turan’s office was raided by tax officers on 16 August. The following day, the authorities announced that they had extended period covered by their investigation and requested the agency's financial records since 2010. Turan is considered by many media freedom organisations as one of the last remaining independent media outlets in Azerbaijan.

Ukrainian Journalist Missing in Donbass

Update: 16 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 1

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.

Updates

New 19 Jul 2017 : On July 15, it was reported to independent broadcaster Hromadske Radio that Aseev has been detained by separatists. Yegor Firsov, a friend of Aseev and a former Ukrainian lawmaker, stated that the separatists have charged the journalist with espionage and that, if convicted, Aseev could be jailed for up to 14 years.

State replies

New 16 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

New 28 Jul 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls for immediate release of detained Donetsk journalist Stanislav Aseev.

Ukraine Bans 38 European Journalists and Bloggers over “National Interest, Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity"

Update: 11 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 17 Sep 2015 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
17 Sep 2015 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree banning up to 388 people, including at least 38 international journalists and bloggers from the country for one year. The President’s decree, which was signed yesterday 16 September 2015 and published on the presidential website, names 388 people who are accused of “representing an actual or potential threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The decree claims that the ban targets people involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The 31 journalists and seven bloggers named on the list are nationals of Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Rebublic of Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The original list included three BBC media staff members - Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, producer Emma Wells and cameraman Anton Chicherov - who were later removed from the ban list, media reported.

Updates

30 May 2016 : On 27 May 2016, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a presidential decree, enacting a decision of the National Security and Defence Council resolution of 20 May 2016, lifting sanctions on 29 foreign journalists. At the same time, the list has been updated to include 19 media executives of the Russian Federation broadcasters.

State replies

New 11 Aug 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on Ukraine's sanctions against media
17 Sep 2015 : Statement by the Commissioner for Human Rights

Russian Journalist Aleksander Sokolov Held in Detention since July 2015

Update: 11 Aug 2017 No reply yet
Year 20 Jan 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
20 Jan 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State RSF , AEJ , Index Level 1
No reply yet

Aleksander Sokolov, a Russian journalist who was working for the RBC Media Group at the time of his arrest, has been held in detention since July 2015. Human Rights groups and media freedom organisations declared the journalist to be a political prisoner. Sokolov was arrested while he was helping to create a website for a group called “For Responsible Government” (IGPR “ZOV”), accused to revive an association banned in 2010 for extremism, “People’s Will Army”. The group IGPR “ZOV” was campaigning for a referendum to amend the Russian constitution so that politicians could be held accountable under criminal law. Sokolov was initially charged for publishing “extremist content” and trying to “destabilize the government.” The second of these charges was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence and the main charge was changed to “organizing a terrorist group”. Sokolov is the author of a thesis on public funds embezzlement and is an expert on these issues. His last article was about the embezzlement of public funds in the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome. His claims have been corroborated by the Russian Court of Accounts in December 2015, when it announced the discovery of “financial irregularities” in connection with this project and gave an estimate for the amount embezzled that was close to Sokolov’s own figure – around 93 billion roubles (1.27 billion euros).

Updates

New 11 Aug 2017 : On 10 August 2017 Aleksander Sokolov was sentenced by a Moscow court to three and a half years imprisonment on extremism charges.

Threat of Closure of the Public Broadcast Media Service

Update: 10 Aug 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.

Updates

New 10 Aug 2017 : In August 2017, the Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT) signed a deal with electric company Elektroprivreda – JP EP, establishing from that month onwards the collection of TV license fees through electricity bills. The agreement will be offered to other domestic electric companies as well, thus filling the gap that was left by the expiration in 2016 of the previous model for collecting the license fee.

Follow-ups

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

Turkish-Swedish Journalist Detained at Airport Following Request by Turkey

No reply yet
Year 09 Aug 2017 Country Spain Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI Alert level Level 1
09 Aug 2017 Spain B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI Level 1
No reply yet

Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçın, who also holds a Swedish passport, was detained by passport police at the El Prat airport in Barcelona on 3 August 2017, where he was vacationing. Police reported to Spanish news agency EFE that he was held by police following Interpol order, Turkish news website Diken reported. The next day he was arrested on charges of “insulting the Turkish president” and “terror propaganda” for an article he wrote for Odak magazine. A group of Swedish journalists have condemned the detention in an open letter, asking the Swedish Government to intervene. Yalçın has lived in Sweden since 1984.

Novaya Gazeta Correspondent to be Deported

No reply yet
Year 08 Aug 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
08 Aug 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
No reply yet

Journalist for independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Khudoberdi Nurmatov, also known as Ali Feruz, was detained by police on 1 August 2017 and is now set to be deported back to Uzbekistan, his native country following a decision of the Basmannyi district court in Moscow. Nurmatov said a police officer stopped him on the street asking for his documents and then ordered him to get into the police car. At the station, officers filed out papers stating that he violated immigration laws. Nurmatov was also fined 5000 rubles (80 euros). Nurmatov has been based in Russia since 2011 after fleeing Uzbekistan where he was allegedly detained and tortured by officers from the National Security service for refusing to secretly collaborate with them. In May 2016 and in February 2017, Russia refused to grant the journalist temporary asylum. Friends and supporters are worried that he could be abducted by Uzbekistan security forces. Human Rights organizations documented several cases of Uzbek citizens who had been seeking asylum or had been granted refugee status have gone missing in Moscow in recent years only to reappear some time later in Uzbek jails. Nurmatov wrote articles on Uzbek domestic policy and the conditions in which Central Asian immigrants live in Moscow. Human Rights organisations believe that sending Khudoberdi Nurmatov back to Uzbekistan would put him in great danger as his journalistic activities and defence of human rights expose him to the worst in a country where torture is systematically used. According to the journalist's lawyer Daniil Khaimovich, Nurmatov attempted to commit suicide in a hallway at the court house. Before trying to cut his wrists the journalist told his lawyer "I would rather die than return to Uzbekistan". He was later taken to a deportation centre in Moscow. He was allegedly beaten during his transfer to the deportation centre and sustained significant injuries.

Updates

New 08 Aug 2017 : A Moscow City Court ruled on 8 August 2017 that Nurmatov cannot be deported until the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) examines his complaints. The ECHR issued an interim measure on 4 August barring his transfer to Uzbekistan for the duration of the proceedings before the Court. Interim measures are urgent measures which, in accordance with the established practice of the European Court of Human Rights, apply only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage (http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/PD_interim_measures_intro_ENG.pdf).

Follow-ups

08 Aug 2017 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media closely following appeal against deportation of journalist Ali Feruz with hope for a positive outcome.
08 Aug 2017 : Commissioner for Human Rights calls "on the Russian authorities to release Mr Nurmatov from the temporary detention facility and to ensure that he is provided with all the necessary procedural safeguards in the context of the administrative proceedings in question".

French Journalist Detained at Iraq Border, Arrested on Terror Charges

Update: 05 Aug 2017 No reply yet
Year 03 Aug 2017 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
03 Aug 2017 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
No reply yet

French journalist Loup Bureau was arrested in Şırnak on charges of assisting a terror organisation on 2 August 2017.The journalist was first detained on 26 July at the Habur crossing, where he was crossing into Turkey from Iraq. Authorities have said the French journalist was arrested on charges of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.” He was placed in Şırnak Prison and a gag order was imposed on his case. BBC Turkish reported that the journalist visited Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, and returned two weeks ago to Turkey, where he was detained under a prosecutorial warrant. An academic thesis he wrote on the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia force in Syria, and some of the photographs he had taken were used as evidence.

Follow-ups

New 07 Aug 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative addressed the Turkish authorities demanding immediate release of French journalist Loup Bureau and to drop charges.

NGO TV Presenter Detained and Allegedly Mistreated

No reply yet
Year 04 Aug 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
04 Aug 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
No reply yet

Aleksandr Batmanov, a presenter at NGO TV, an online TV channel based in Volgograd, was detained by police, on suspicion of theft from a grocery story on 7 July, 2017. NGO TV has reported that Batmanov was detained on that night after refusing to go to the police station, arguing that the charges against him were absurd. According to NGO TV, Batmanov was held at the station with no food or water over the weekend. In an attempt to escape from the police station, he broke both of his legs. The channel reported that it was only after Batmanov sustained injuries that the police sought a court order for his arrest. According to a police report, Batmanov is being held at the medical correction facility №15 of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Volgograd region. Batmanov’s colleagues believe that his detention is linked to his work as a journalist, specifically, an investigation into corruption surrounding the construction of the Volgograd-Arena stadium and a report on the distribution of government grants to local NGOs. The founder of NGO TV Temur Kobaliya, who was reporting on Batmanov detention, later said he had temporarily left the country fearing persecution from the authorities. He went to Tbilisi, Georgia, Radio Svoboda reported, quoting him saying: "to minimise the risks, I finally decided to leave. If the police wanted a normal dialogue, they should have summoned me or called. I am not hiding”. Kobaliya, who is also the head of Volgograd human rights council, has been pressured by the authorities before. In November Kobaliya’s apartment was searched while he was travelling abroad.

France Legalises Mass Surveillance of its Citizens

Update: 03 Aug 2017 State replied
Year 06 May 2015 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
06 May 2015 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 5 May 2015, the French National Assembly voted on the surveillance bill which gives the Prime Minister the power to massively monitor the French population without judicial control. The bill, adopted under an accelerated procedure, was met with opposition from a number of civil and professional organizations (the journalists’ unions SNJ and SNJ-CGT, the European Federation of Journalists, the Human Rights League, Amnesty International, two Unions of Magistrates, the Union of Lawyers, the Defender of Rights, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties ...). The text legalizes the practice by the intelligence services, of a particularly broad and intrusive surveillance on the privacy of citizens, with no real counter-power, and for purposes unrelated to terrorism. This law definitively compromises the protection of journalists' sources and it is an obvious deterrent to whistleblowers.

Updates

05 Oct 2015 : On 3 October 2015, the Law on Surveillance entered into force, after the Official Journal published the Presidential decree, appointing the members of the National Commission for the Intelligence Techniques. On the same day, 180 journalists of the legal press association announced that they were appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the law has wide implications for civil liberties and asking the Court to strike down the sweeping powers the law gives to intelligence agencies.
22 May 2015 : Journalists respond to the French Authorities on the Draft Law on Intelligence

State replies

12 May 2015 : Reply by the French authorities

Follow-ups

New 03 Aug 2017 : The European Court of Human Rights decided to communicate to the French Government several applications lodged by journalists and lawyers which concern the French Intelligence Act of 24 July 2015. On 27 April and 4 July 2017, the Court put questions to the parties under Articles 8 (right to respect for private life and correspondence), 10 (freedom of expression) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention.
20 May 2015 : The Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the French Senate on surveillance bill
06 May 2015 : Press Release from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
13 Apr 2015 : Statement by Commissioner of Human Rights
Disclaimer    
Follow-ups to alerts Follow-ups to alerts
Twitter feed Twitter feed
Partners Partners
Thematic Factsheets Thematic Factsheets




   Contact us
follow us follow us