Media freedom alerts

 

FSB Detains Independent Journalists in Svetogorsk

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Year 20 Mar 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , Article 19 , CPJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
20 Mar 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , Article 19 , CPJ , RSF Level 1
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On 7 March, 2017 officers from the Russian Security Service (FSB) detained journalists for the Moscow-based independent news magazine Snob-Igor Zalyubovin, a reporter, and Vladimir Yarotsky, a photographer- in the building where the journalists had rented an apartment to report on the daily life in the city of Svetogorsk, Snob said in a statement. The article was planned as a response to Svetogorsk's Mayor's claim that there were no homosexuals in the city, and that it was a "city without sin," according to press reports. FSB officers took Zalyubovin and Yarotsky to a nearby detention centre, where they were charged with crossing into a border zone without permission. They were later released and ordered to leave Svetogorsk, according to their employer. It was the second time in as many days that journalists were detained and prevented from reporting from the city. Yevgeniya Zobnina, a correspondent for the Moscow-based independent television channel Dozhd TV, traveled with rights activists to the city on March 6, also to follow up on the Mayor's claims, according to press reports. Zobnina planned to report on a meeting the activists sought with the Mayor, Dozhd TV reported. Instead, FSB agents took Zobnina and the four activists to a local police station for questioning. The officers asked the journalist why she was doing the report, and for whom, before issuing the group a warning for crossing into a border zone without permission and releasing them, Dozhd TV reported. On 7 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists made a statement saying Russian security services should stop harassing and obstructing journalists and should allow them to work unimpeded. Svetogorsk is a town of 15,000 people, located roughly 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg and one kilometer away from the border with Finland. To visit requires either a Schengen visa to enter via Finland, an invitation from a local resident, or a special permit from the FSB, according to 2014 legislation. On 7 March 2017, Snob’s editor-in-chief, Yegor Mostovshikov, told the news website Meduza that his outlet did not apply for a permit from the FSB “because it takes up to 30 days to get it.”

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

Update: 20 Mar 2017 No reply yet
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
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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.

Follow-ups

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

French Journalist at the Origin of LuxLeaks Revelations Charged in Luxembourg

Update: 16 Mar 2017 State replied
Year 24 Apr 2015 Country Luxembourg Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 2
24 Apr 2015 Luxembourg E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Level 2

On 23 April 2015, a judge indicted the French journalist Edouard Perrin, who had revealed the first elements of financial scandal LuxLeaks, in May 2012, on the public channel France 2. Edouard Perrin is accused as the alleged co-author of theft, breach of confidentiality, violation of professional secrecy, violation of trade secrecy, money laundering and fraudulent access to the automated data processing system, according to the prosecutor of Luxembourg. The justice suspects Edouard Perrin of being co-author of offenses committed by one of the former employees of the audit firm PWC. A number of documents that, to a large extend, allowed the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to reveal in November 2014 the scandal of hundreds of pre-tax agreements concluded by Luxembourg tax authorities with many international private companies were sourced from PWC. The European Federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists denounced these actions, saying they were part of actions to intimidate and were disproportionate with regard to the legitimate public interest to disclose tax avoidance practices in Luxembourg.

Updates

New 16 Mar 2017 : On 15 March 2017, the Court of Appeal of Luxembourg reduced the sentence of two “Luxleaks” whistleblowers and confirmed the acquittal of the investigative reporter Edouard Perrin.
01 Jul 2016 : On 29 June 2016, a Court in Luxembourg acquitted journalist Edouard Perrin, who had revealed the first elements of financial scandal LuxLeaks, in May 2012, of all charges. The two whistleblowers, former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet received 12 (+ 1.500 EUR suspended fine) and 9 (+1.000 EUR suspended fine) suspended sentences respectively for leaking documents from the auditing firm. Appeal procedure was announced by the two whistleblowers. Media organisations and associations of journalists condemned the verdict, as having a chilling effect on whistleblowers as journalistic sources and asked for a strong legal protection of whistleblowers at the European level.
27 Apr 2016 : French journalist Edouard Perrin, a reporter for Cash Investigation programme on France 2 channel, appeared in court on 26 April 2016 for accusations that he was heavily involved in leak of documents that revealed the Luxleaks scandal, which uncovered tax evasion of large companies. He is being accused by the financial firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of manipulating whistleblower Raphaël Halet to leak documents and of having played "an active part in the perpetration" of infractions that the latter together with a former PwC colleague, Antoine Deltour, are also being accused of: domestic theft, disclosure of business secrets, violation of professional secret and money laundering. Perrin revealed the Luxleaks scandal in May 2012 on the Cash Investigation programme, but the full scandal broke in November 2014, where tax optimisation practises of big firms such as Apple, Ikea and Pepsi were exposed. Deltour, who has kept a low profile and is now working as a civil servant in Nancy in the Lorraine region of eastern France, contacted journalist and co-defendant Edouard Perrin in 2012. Deltour had asked that the journalist to withhold PwC’s name in his exposé, and not to publish any of the document. However, Cash Investigation went ahead and published the details, which were eventually passed on to the New York-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. PwC sued after the airing of the programme on France 2.

State replies

27 Jul 2016 : Reply from the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
24 Jun 2015 : Letter from the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (in French)

Follow-ups

28 Apr 2015 : OSCE Representative on the Freedom of Media: Journalists should not face criminal charges for their work

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TV Journalist Eni Shehu Attacked by the Director of the National Theatre

Update: 16 Mar 2017 Resolved
Year 18 Jan 2016 Country Albania Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
18 Jan 2016 Albania A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2

The Association of Professional Journalists in Albania and the Union of Journalists of Albania condemn the reported attack by Hervin Çuli, the director of the National Theater, on television journalist Eni Shehu on 15 January 2016. The unprovoked attack occurred during the premiere of a play at the National Theater, which the victim and other journalists were invited to attend. Shehu, who suffered minor injuries during the attack, reported the incident to the police. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Association of Professional Journalists in Albania and the Union of Journalists of Albania condemning the attack of a television journalist.

Resolved Taking into account the thorough investigations and response of the Albanian authorities to this case, on 16 March 2017, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

Three Media Staff Assaulted at Pegida Rally

Update: 16 Mar 2017 Resolved
Year 26 Oct 2015 Country Germany Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
26 Oct 2015 Germany A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 25 October 2015, two journalists and a media worker were assaulted in Dresden while covering a large rally held by Pegida, a right-wing movement which is also anti-immigration in Germany. The rally was held to mark Pegida’s first anniversary. Jaafar Abdul Karim, a journalist for German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, was surrounded by demonstrators who yelled racial slurs at him and blocked his camera. One demonstrator also hit him. The German Journalists' Association (DJV) reported that the demonstrator who assaulted Karim was not arrested by police because other demonstrators claimed there were no witnesses and that Karim was lying. Another reporter, cameraman Jose Sequeira for Russian TV station Ruptly, had his equipment thrown to the ground by demonstrators, who then attacked him and hit him on the back and the neck. Equipment from German public radio station Deutschlandradio was damaged and one of their employees was assaulted by a drunk protester, who accused the media of bias against Pegida.

Resolved The investigation has yet to be completed. On the basis of a criminal complaint filed by Deutsche Welle, this matter is being dealt with by the state security department of the Dresden District Police headquarters, working on behalf of the Dresden Public Prosecution Office. On 16 March 2017, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

12 Nov 2015 : Response of the German Government (Ministry of the Interior of the Free State of Saxony)

Polish Law on Public Service Broadcasting Removes Guarantees of Independence

Update: 15 Mar 2017 State replied
Year 04 Jan 2016 Country Poland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
04 Jan 2016 Poland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

The law on Public Service Media governance which has been hurriedly adopted by the Polish parliament proposes the removal of guarantees for the independence of public service TV (TVP) and Radio (PR), in breach of Council of Europe norms and of the mandate given by the Polish constitution to the independent broadcasting authority (KRRiT) to uphold the broad public interest in broadcasting. The legislation gives a government minister exclusive powers to appoint and dismiss all members of the Supervisory and Management Boards of TVP and PR, making them wholly dependent on the goodwill and favour of the government The proposed arrangements represent a shift to direct government control over the strategic and editorial stance of the public broadcasters which is wholly unacceptable in a genuine democracy. The fundamental and drastic changes proposed were put before parliament to be voted on without the necessary inclusive public debate and in spite of strong objections by the KRRiT and many concerned bodies in Poland and abroad. The Polish government's plans directly contradict the commitments made by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its 2012 Declaration on Public Service Media Governance; that Declaration stated that PSM must remain independent of political or economic interference, and should be accountable and transparent as they have the obligation to serve the public in all its diversity. The organisations submitting this Alert call on the Polish ruling party to abandon the proposed legislation at once.

Updates

07 Jan 2016 : On the 7 January 2016, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, signed the act on public service media governance into a law.

State replies

New 15 Mar 2017 : Reply from the Government of Poland

Follow-ups

15 Jun 2016 : Addressing the reform of public service media which is currently underway, the Commissioner urged the Polish authorities to introduce safeguards to guarantee the independence of public service media from political influence.
15 Jun 2016 : The Secretary General welcomes the constructive dialogue with the Polish authorities on the public media legislation.
07 Jun 2016 : Expert dialogue between the Polish Government and the Council of Europe : conclusions published
16 Feb 2016 : Upon return of his visit to Poland, Coe Commissioner for Human rights expresses concerns at the adoption in December 2015 of transitional legislation in the field of public service media, pending the adoption of a wider reform in this area, expected before the summer 2016.
14 Jan 2016 : CoE Secretary General mentions changes to the Polish Radio and Television Broadcasting Act in his address to the Committee of Ministers
06 Jan 2016 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative urges Poland’s government to withdraw proposed changes to the selection of management in public service broadcasters
05 Jan 2016 : Coe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland expresses his particular concern with regard to the new Polish law on public service broadcasting and the impact it may have on the integrity and independence of public service media.
05 Jan 2016 : Call by the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights on Polish President not to sign new Media Law

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Journalists Arrested in Major Clampdown following Failed Coup in Turkey

Update: 14 Mar 2017 No reply yet
Year 27 Jul 2016 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , Index , IPI Alert level Level 1
27 Jul 2016 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , Index , IPI Level 1
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On 25 July 2016, The Turkish anti-terrorism Prosecutor Irfan Fidan has today issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists in the wake of the failed coup against President Erdoğan. According to Anatolian News Agency, the journalists targeted are: Abdullah Abdulkadiroğlu, Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Dönmez, Ali Akkuş, Arda Akın, Nazlı Ilıcak, Bayram Kaya, Bilal Şahin, Bülent Ceyhan, Bülent Mumay, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cevheri Güven, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Ercan Gün, Erkan Akkuş, Ertuğrul Erbaş, Fatih Akalan, Fatih Yağmur, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Haşim Söylemez, Hüseyin Aydın, İbrahim Balta, Kamil Maman, Kerim Gün, Levent Kenez, Mahmut Hazar, Mehmet Gündem, Metin Yıkar, Muhammed Fatih Uğur, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mürsel Genç, Selahattin Sevi, Seyid Kılıç, Turan Görüryılmaz, Ufuk Şanlı, Ufuk Emin Köroğlu, Yakup Sağlam and Yakup Çetin. Among those targeted by the warrants was prominent journalist and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak who was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticising ministers caught up in a corruption scandal, NTV and CNN-Turk reported. On 27 July 2016, journalist Nuriye Akman was taken into custody. On 27 July 2016, Istanbul prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 47 former executives and columnists of Zaman newspaper. Those named in the warrants include the following former columnists and executives : Osman Nuri Öztürk, Ali Akbulut, Bülent Keneş, Mehmet Kamış, Hüseyin Döğme, Süleyman Sargın, Veysel Ayhan, Şeref Yılmaz, Mehmet Akif Afşar, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Alaattin Güner, Faruk Kardıç, Metin Tamer Gökçeoğlu, Faruk Akkan, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Sevgi Akarçeşme, Ali Ünal, Mustafa Ünal, Zeki Önal, Hilmi Yavuz, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu, Ali Bulaç, Bülent Korucu, İhsan Duran Dağı, Nuriye Ural, Hamit Çiçek, Adil Gülçek, Hamit Bilici, Şenol Kahraman, Melih Kılıç, Nevzat Güner, Mehmet Özdemir, Fevzi Yazıcı, Sedat Yetişkin, Oktay Vızvız, Abdullah Katırcıoğlu, Behçet Akyar, Murat Avcıoğlu, Yüksel Durgut, Zafer Özsoy, Cuma Kaya, Hakan Taşdelen, Osman Nuri Arslan, and Ömer Karakaş. On the same day, Zaman daily columnist, Şahin Alpay, has been detained after police raided his house in the early morning hours. Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, who used to work for Zaman and Today’s Zaman and currently reports for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, was taken by police from her home early on that day too. She has reported in detail about issues concerning the Turkey armed forces, their financial assets, and shortcomings in terms of transparency and accountability. She has suffered for several years from poor health and has need of assured access to medical attention.

Updates

26 Oct 2016 : As of 26 October 2016, the list of detained journalists was updated, adding the following 24 journalists, arrested under State of emergency as part of the coup investigation: Abdullah Özyurt, Ahmet Yavaş, Ayşenur Parıldak, Aytekin Gezici, Aziz İstegün, Bayram Parlak, Cumali Önal, Gültekin Avcı, Eda Şanlı, Halil İbrahim Mert, İbrahim Karayeğen, Kenan Baş, Lokman Erdoğan, Mehmet Kuru, Murat Aksoy, Nurullah Kaya, Nuri Durna, Olgun Matur, Osman Yakut, Özkan Mayda, Tuncer Çetinkaya, Vahit Yazgan, Vedat Demir and Yalçın Güler. Most of them were former Zaman journalists and executives. Additionally, 12 journalists, arrested during the State of emergency outside the coup probe, were also added to the list of detained journalists: Ali Aşikar, Erdem Mühirci, Hülya Karakaya , İlker İlkan, Mehmet Anıl, Mehmet Arslan , Necmiye Alpay, Nizamettin Yılmaz, Rabia Özkaya, Selahattin Koyuncu , Şirin Çoban and Zeynel Abidin Bulut.
18 Oct 2016 : As of 18 October 2016, 35 of the 89 journalists targeted by one of the 2 mass warrants issued after the coup attempt have been arrested : Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Nazlı Ilıcak, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Ercan Gün, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Haşim Söylemez, Hüseyin Aydın, İbrahim Balta, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, and Yakup Çetin - Şeref Yılmaz, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Alaattin Güner, Faruk Akkan, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Ünal, Mustafa Ünal, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Mehmet Özdemir, Fevzi Yazıcı, Murat Avcıoğlu, , Zafer Özsoy, Cuma Kaya, and Hakan Taşdelen. On Oct 12, former Taraf and Zaman columnists Lalezar Sariibrahimoglu and Nuriye (Akman) Ural were released from prison pending trial. An Istanbul Criminal Court decided that there were sufficient grounds for suspecting that both were members of the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure, or FETÖ/PDY, but also indicated that the case against them would be subject to further assessment to ascertain whether it could be shown to be strong enough to proceed. On that basis they were released from custody on appeal with certain legal controls. Both are banned from travelling abroad. To date, ten journalists have been released: Arda Akın, Bülent Mumay, Mehmet Gündem, and Yakup Sağlam -Zeki Önal, Hilmi Yavuz, Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu (Lale Kemal), İhsan Duran Dağı, Nuriye (Akman) Ural and Osman Nuri Arslan.
12 Aug 2016 : As of 12 August 2016, IFJ/EFJ indicates that 74 journalists and media workers were in detention following the 15 July failed coup in Turkey.
26 Jul 2016 : In the early morning of 26 July 2016, journalist and former parliamentarian Nazlı Ilıcak, one of the 42 journalists named in the arrest warrants as part of the post-coup attempt crackdown operations, was detained in the Bodrum district of the Aegean province of Muğla. According to Turkish media reports, six other journalists appearing on the list were also detained: Yakup Sağlam, İbrahim Balta, Seyit Kılıç, Bayram Kaya, Cihan Acar and Hanım Büşra Erdal.

Follow-ups

New 14 Mar 2017 : Opinion of the Venice Commission on the Measures provided in the recent Emergency Decree Laws with respect to Freedom of the Media
New 15 Feb 2017 : Human Rights Commissioner : Urgent measures are needed to restore freedom of expression in Turkey

Albanian Journalist Elvi Fundo Attacked in Tirana

Update: 14 Mar 2017 State replied
Year 10 Mar 2017 Country Albania Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
10 Mar 2017 Albania A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Level 1

On 8 March 2017, Elvi Fundo, director of Citynews.al online portal and Radio Best, was beaten up by unidentified assailants near the train station in Tirana. He was later sent to the hospital. He declared to Balkan Insight, the news portal of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network: : “Two individuals attacked me near my office at 10.30 am, causing injuries (…) I don’t believe it’s a political attack but the work of criminals financed by corrupt media clans tied to drug-trafficking.” Albanian politicians, including the Prime minister Edi Rama, as well as the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) and OSCE representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, condemned the attack.

State replies

New 14 Mar 2017 : Response of the Albanian authorities

Follow-ups

10 Mar 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative condemns beating of journalist in Albania, urges quick investigation

Norwegian Journalist Denied Entry to Russia

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Year 13 Mar 2017 Country Russian Federation Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
13 Mar 2017 Russian Federation E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Level 2
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On 8 March 2017, editor of the Barents Observer Thomas Nilsen was refused entry to Russia despite being in possession of valid travel documents and accreditation to report in the country. The Barents Observer is an independent and journalist-owned newspaper based in Norway covering developments in the European and Russian Arctic. It produces all its content in both English and Russian. Nilsen was travelling to Murmansk with a delegation from the Danish Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, but was stopped at the border crossing in Borisoglebsk. He was informed by border guards that he would be denied entry and that his five year multi-entry visa would be cancelled for reasons of state security. He was not given a reason why he was now considered to be a security threat nor was he given access to a process that would allow him to have legal recourse to that decision.

Journalists from Macedonian A1 TV Attacked While Covering Demonstration.

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Year 08 Mar 2017 Country "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
08 Mar 2017 "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state RSF , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2
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Two journalists from A1 TV in Macedonia, Aleksandar Todevski and camera operator Vladimir Zhelchevski, were beaten on 28 February 2017 in Skopje while covering demonstrations in front of the parliament and have been taken to hospital following the attack. The police have questioned 12 persons following the attack but nobody was detained or charged yet. There has been an unprecedented series of attacks against journalists these past few days after VMRO's leader Nikola Gruevski described his opponents as traitors. Journalists Borjan Jovanovski from Novatv was verbally attacked and spat on by a teenager, which incident was filmed and posted on social media ; Ana Petrusheva from BIRN was harassed on Twitter and her home address was posted well.

Mehman Huseynov Sentenced to Two Years on Defamation Charges

Update: 07 Mar 2017 No reply yet
Year 10 Jan 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
10 Jan 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 1
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On 9 January 2017, Mehman Huseynov, a blogger and journalist, was detained in Central Baku by plain clothed police officers and held incommunicado overnight. Mehman has reported that while in police custody, police placed a sack over his head and used force against him. On 10 January, he was taken to Nasimi District Court, where he was tried on charges of disobeying the police (Article 535.1 of the Administrative Offences Code), which carries a sentence of up to 30 days in jail. The Court released him; however, he was fined 200 AZN (approx. 100 EUR). Huseynov is well known for his investigative journalism, focused on corruption among the Azerbaijani elite. Most recently, he had posted pictures online of luxury properties, which he said were owned by government officials. He has long been subject to pressure by the authorities, and has been under a travel ban for several years.

Updates

New 03 Mar 2017 : On 3 March 2017, Mehman Huseynov was sentenced to two years in prison on defamation charges (article 147.2 of the Criminal Code – defamation regarding a very serious crime) by the Surakhani district court. He was arrested in the courtroom. Nasimi district police chief filed the defamation charges against Huseynov, claiming the blogger lied when he stated following his release in January that he had been beaten by the police, demanding that he stopped his blogging activities. Mehman Huseynov is the first person to be convicted for slander in Azerbaijan.

Follow-ups

New 07 Mar 2017 : OSCE Freedom of Media Representative and Human Rights chief call for release of blogger and human rights activist in Azerbaijan
New 03 Mar 2017 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights calls the two-year sentence against Mehman Huseynov in defamation case "appalling".
11 Jan 2017 : CoE Human Rights Commissioner expresses his worries at reported ill-treatment, arrest, fine of blogger Mehman Huseynov.

Republika Srpska President’s Office Bars Access for Selected Media

Update: 07 Mar 2017 No reply yet Progress
Year 23 Jan 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
23 Jan 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
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On 18 January 2017, a TV news team from N1 Television was prevented by officials from attending and reporting on a press conference in Banja Luka by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik. The reason given was that N1 did not have accreditation to enter the Palace of RS, the press conference venue. N1 TV was also removed from the mailing list of the President’s office, meaning that the company no longer receives any official notices, information or permission to access locations as necessary to report on the activities of the RS President. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalists Association (BHJA) and Free Media Help Line denounced these actions as unreasonable discrimination against a media enterprise which is known for its critical coverage. Beta news agency’s correspondent Ljiljana Kovacevic and employees of BN Television have also suffered bans which have blocked those news organisations from being able to report freely on the activities of Mr Dodik.

Progress In February 2017, the Presidency of the Republika Srpska re-approved access for journalists of BN Television. The case of Ljiljana Kovacevic from Beta news agency, denied accreditation and access since 2012, remains outstanding. Two requests for information on her case remain without reply.

Israeli-Russian Blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to Be Tried in Azerbaijan

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Year 07 Mar 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner CPJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Mar 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State CPJ , AEJ , Index Level 1
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Aleksandr Lapshin, an Israeli-Russian travel blogger, was detained in Minsk, Belarus, on 15 December 2016, at the request from Azerbaijan and extradited to Baku on 7 February 2017. Lapshin faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison on charges of illegally crossing Azerbaijan's state borders during his April 2011, October 2012, and June 2016 visits to Nagorno-Karabakh, and for making "anti-state calls to the public" and criticizing Azerbaijani policies. Currently, Alexander Lapshin is in the Kurdakhani Pre-trial Detention Centre of the Baku Investigative Prison Nr 1.

Georgian TV Channel Rustavi 2 Faces Crippling Court Measures in Civil Case

Update: 06 Mar 2017 State replied
Year 25 Aug 2015 Country Georgia Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
25 Aug 2015 Georgia E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 5 August 2015, the Tbilisi City Court issued an order freezing the assets of the country’s largest private media outlet, the television channel Rustavi 2, as an interim measure pending a verdict. The court order concerns a civil lawsuit lodged by Kibar Khalvashi, a local businessman, to recover shares he claims he was forced to give up in 2006. According to the Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ), between 2004 and 2012, Rustavi 2 changed owners approximately 20 times, often in controversial deals involving people with close links to ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. The TV channel, which is now the only major channel perceived to be close to the opposition, is facing excessive legal threats: over a hundred journalists may lose their jobs and news programs may be suspended. The court decision, based on an ownership dispute, is disproportionate and may negatively affect media pluralism in Georgia. The journalists’ organisations call on the Georgian authorities to ensure a transparent and fair process in handling the case, without any interference from politically affiliated groups.

Updates

New 03 Mar 2017 : On 2 March 2017, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in favour of the former co-owner of Rustavi 2 TV, ordering a change in ownership.
01 Dec 2016 : On 10 June 2016, Tbilisi’s Appeals Court upheld a City Court ruling over the transfer of the ownership of the TV station to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. Rustavi’s current owners appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. On 21 November 2016, the three judges of the Supreme Court decided to hand the Rustavi 2 ownership case to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court.

State replies

24 Sep 2015 : Response of the Georgian Government

Follow-ups

New 06 Mar 2017 : On 3 March 2017, the European Court of Human Rights suspended, under Rule 39 (interim measures), Georgia's Supreme Court’s decision to transfer ownership of Rustavi 2 TV.
New 03 Mar 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls the Surpeme Court 's decision a "disappointing move and huge blow to media pluralism in Georgia".

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Twelve Years of Impunity in the Case of the Murder of Elmar Huseynov

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Year 03 Mar 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category D. Impunity Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI Alert level Level 1
03 Mar 2017 Azerbaijan D. Impunity State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI Level 1
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On 2 March 2005, Elmar Huseynov, an Azerbaijani journalist working for Monitor magazine, was gunned down in front of his apartment in Baku following a planned attack. The journalist had received many threats related to his work before the killing actually took place. In April 2005, Azerbaijani investigators announced the identification of six Georgian suspects related to this murder, which was requalified from "premeditated murder" to an "act of terrorism" aiming to destabilise the country. Although President Ilham Aliyev promised to find and to punish the mastermind behind the murder of the journalist, twelve years later, the authorities have not been able to bring anyone to justice for this case.

"Die Welt" correspondent in Turkey Deniz Yücel detained

Update: 02 Mar 2017 No reply yet
Year 24 Feb 2017 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
24 Feb 2017 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 1
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Germany daily Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel was taken into custody in Istanbul on 14 February 2017. Mr Yücel, who holds both German and Turkish citizenship, is accused by Turkish authorities of being a member of a terrorist organisation, spreading propaganda and misusing information, charges refuted by the defendant as well as media organisations. The journalist had reported – like six other journalists working for national news outlets detained at the end of December 2016 – on emails that the hacker collective RedHack had acquired from the private email account of Turkey's Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is President Erdoğan's son-in-law. The emails allegedly revealed media outlets' control and the use of fake Twitter accounts to influence the public in favour of the ruling AK party.

Updates

New 28 Feb 2017 : On 27 February 2017, Deniz Yücel was arrested after an Istanbul court ordered him to be jailed pending trial.

Follow-ups

New 02 Mar 2017 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media calls on Turkey to decriminalize journalistic work following arrest of Die Welt journalist

Crimea’s Prosecution Opens Criminal Probe against Journalist Mykola Semena

Update: 02 Mar 2017 State replied
Year 22 Apr 2016 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner CPJ , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
22 Apr 2016 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State CPJ , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On 19 April 2016, FSB agents in the Russia-annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea raided and searched the house of journalist Mykola Semena (freelancer with Krym.Realii - RFE/RL's Crimea service), confiscated his reporting equipment, and briefly detained him for interrogation in connection to a criminal probe on charges of making calls to separatism. The charges stem from an article published by Krym.Realii under a pseudonym; Semena denied any wrongdoing. According to his lawyer, FSB told Semena that he is the main suspect in the case and that he is banned from leaving the region for the period of investigation. If convicted, Semena faces up to five years in prison. On 19 April 2016, Crimea's Chief Prosecutor, Natalia Poklonskaya announced that an unnamed journalist with Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities) was under FSB investigation in connection with an article published by the news website, which she said had quoted Ukrainian activists' calls to isolate the Crimean peninsula and to conduct military action to wrest the region from Russian control. On the same day, Poklonskaya's office said in a statement that she was overseeing the case against an unnamed Krym.Realii reporter, and that the prosecutors were looking to ban the website in Crimea arguing that their review of the publications showed that the news outlet is allegedly aiming to "discredit the actions of the Russian Federation on the territory of Crimea, incite inter-ethnic hatred, and make calls to extremism." Mykola Semena was detained on 19 April and later released on bail, with travel restrictions, according to his lawyer. Based on the lawyer’s statement, CPJ concluded that Crimea prosecutors are overseeing the probe against Semena. This is at least the second time since the annexation of Crimea that the Russian authorities in Crimea have investigated a journalist on separatism charges. In March 2015, FSB agents raided the house of the parents of journalist Anna Andriyevskaya, telling her family that she was being sought on charges of making public calls for Crimean independence in a November 2014 article.

Updates

New 02 Mar 2017 : On 28 February 2017, Simferopol’s Zheleznodorozhny District Court announced that the trial against Mykola Semena will begin on 20 March 2017.
07 Dec 2016 : On 7 December 2016, Semena’s lawyers Emil Kuberdinov and Andrei Sabinin said their client has received the final written charges from the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea: Semena is charged with spreading "calls for undermining Russian territorial integrity via mass media." He could be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted.
02 Sep 2016 : On 2 September, IFJ/EFJ launched an appeal, urging Russia to let a Ukrainian journalist return to Kiev for urgent treatment

State replies

New 22 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

New Albanian anti-corruption law threatens media freedom

Update: 01 Mar 2017 Resolved
Year 22 Aug 2016 Country Albania Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
22 Aug 2016 Albania E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Level 2

As part of the judicial reform, the Albanian Parliament has drafted a law, officially aiming to fight corruption, that will threaten freedom of speech and media freedom, says the Association of professional journalists (APJ). The article 13 of the draft legislation regulating “the organisation and functioning of institution to encounter corruption and organised crime" states that "any inappropriate influence on the work of the special prosecutors or their actions on specific issues through the public authorities or the media, or any other form of pressure that impacts on the independence of prosecutors, is prohibited and punished by the law." Journalists’ associations in Albania have expressed concerns that the wording might limit their right to free speech and impose censorship. Under the provision, any journalist or media organisation reporting on the case pursued by the authorities could be accused of violating the law and could face up to three years in prison.

Resolved Taking into account the modifications to the anti-corruption law, as adopted by the Albanian Parliament in October 2016 and which subsequently entered into force, that clarified the article 13, amending its ambiguous provisions, on 1 March 2017, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

State replies

New 28 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Albania

German Intelligence Agency (BND) Spied on at least 50 Foreign Journalists

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Year 28 Feb 2017 Country Germany Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI Alert level Level 2
28 Feb 2017 Germany E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State RSF , AEJ , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI Level 2
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Der Spiegel reported last week that the German foreign intelligence agency (BND) spied on at least 50 telephone and fax numbers or email addresses of journalists or newsrooms worldwide from 1999 onwards. According to documents seen by Spiegel, among the targets were the British BBC in Afghanistan and London, the New York Times in Afghanistan, as well as mobile and satellite telephones of the news agency Reuters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Der Spiegel doesn't mention on what the journalists were working and how long the surveillance lasted. The German Bundestag has passed the new BND law in October last year which doesn't include exemptions for foreign journalists. The bill allows, for example, the BND to place a foreign journalist under surveillance if the newspaper receives confidential information that the German authorities regards as sensitive.

Russian Police Raid Journalist’s Home

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Year 28 Feb 2017 Country Russian Federation Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
28 Feb 2017 Russian Federation C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2
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On 28 February 2017, the home of Russian journalist and long-time human rights campaigner Zoya Svetova was raided in Moscow for over 4 hours. Her lawyer Anna Stavitskaya reported that 10 plain clothed investigators and 2 representatives of the Federal Security Bureau entered the property after 11am, and searched her computer, personal papers and books. Investigators prohibited anyone inside the flat from using their phones, including journalists who had arrived at the scene. According to Stavitskaya, the search was linked to the first YUKOS case, a criminal case launched in 2003 against the biggest oil company in Russia, for alleged tax evasion. Stavitskaya stated that Russian law enforcement agencies believe the proceeds of Yukos tax evasion are now being used to fund organisations and individuals, including Svetova. Svetova is a columnist for the Moscow Times and has been recognised for her work by both Amnesty International and the Russian Union of Journalists.

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