Latest threats to media freedom

 

Ongoing Impunity in the Case of Killed Journalists Andrea Rocchelli, Alexei Mironov and Wounded Photographer William Roguelon

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Year 24 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category D. Impunity Source of threat Unknown Partner RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
24 May 2017 Ukraine D. Impunity Unknown RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
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On 24 May 2014, on the Sloviansk southern front, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon, who eventually managed to return to France. These three experienced reporters were in civilian dress and were travelling in a civilian taxi. They had press accreditation and had crossed ten checkpoints prior to the attack. Their presence was known and they could not be mistaken for military personnel or parties to the conflict. An investigation was launched in Ukraine, which concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack. However many evidences and testimonies were not taken into account : William Roguelon, as well as other key witnesses, were never heard, the ballistic test did not manage to draw any useful conclusion. A complaint has been filed also by William Roguelon in France, and by the Rocchelli family in Italy, where there has been considerable progress in the investigation. Three years have passed since the date journalists were killed and the Ukrainian, French and Italian authorities cannot let this case go unpunished. They must collaborate and take all appropriate action so as the authors of this attack against journalists do not remain unpunished.

Ukraine Blocks Russian Social Networks and Expands Economic Sanctions Against Russian Companies

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Year 23 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
23 May 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
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On 15 May 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued Presidential Decree 133 which imposes sanctions on 1228 individuals and 468 legal entities based in Russia, the occupied Crimea, and non-government controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Among the entities affected are some of the largest Russian-owned Internet companies and social networks, including Yandex, Mail.ru, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. According to the decree, Ukrainian internet service providers will be required to block access to these sites for a period of three years. The websites blocked by the Presidential decree are in the top ten most popular websites in Ukraine. According to statistics provided by SimilarWeb, 17.55% of unique visits to VKontakte and 15.15% to Odnoklassniki come from within Ukraine. Yandex.ua, a search provider and e-mail client and the fifth largest website in Ukraine, received 215 million visits over the past six months. The statistics also show that more than 50% of Ukrainians use Vkontakte. The decree also lists and updates the sanctions, asset freezes and broadcast bans imposed on the Russian TV channels and adds the Russian-based RBC TV to the sanctions list. A number of human rights organisations called the decree a disproportionate measure restricting access to information but Ukrainian officials have defended the measure as a matter of national security, given that the country is a victim of disinformation, propaganda campaigns and cyber-attacks, which use the data on Ukrainian users stored on the Russian social networks.

Croatian Journalist Mladen Mirković Attacked by Požega Mayor

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Year 22 May 2017 Country Croatia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Alert level Level 2
22 May 2017 Croatia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Level 2
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Mladen Mirković, a journalist of the Croatian local website 034portal.hr, was attacked by the Požega Mayor Vedran Neferović on 12 May 2017. The attack happened after the mayor invited him to a meeting in his office. He wanted to know who had written some articles published on the website the journalist is working for. According to the journalist, the major started to shout at him and became aggressive, threatening to kill him and everybody working for the website. He then pushed the journalist against the wall and smacked his head against it. He threw him out of the office while kicking him and continued to do so as he pushed him towards the stairs, reported Mirković. People in the hall witnessed the attack and some administration employees asked the mayor to stop. The Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) reported the incident to the police on the journalist’s behalf and called for an investigation into this issue.

Italian Journalist Risks Being Jailed for Thirty Months for Libel

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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
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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.

Judicial Harassment Against Opposition Journalists in Turkey

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Year 18 May 2017 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Alert level Level 1
18 May 2017 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ Level 1
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New media reports stress the critical situation of the young (27 year old) female Turkish journalist and law student Aysenur Parildak, arrested over 9 months ago, and released by court order on 2 May 2017 and immediately re-arrested on the same day on new charges related to the same facts (being a correspondent for the Zaman newspaper). Similarly in mid-April 2017, 12 journalists (Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Oğuz Usluer, Atilla Taş, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan, Seyit Kılıç and Yetkin Yıldız) who were arrested on 30 August 2016 for being members of an illegal terrorist organisation were released by a court in Istanbul and immediately re-arrested on charges of “trying to topple the constitutional order and the Turkish government” based on the same facts. In April 2017, in the city of Nusaybin, the female journalist Meltem Oktay, who is working for DIHA news agency was detained for reporting under the state of emergency, was released by a court decision in Mardin and re-arrested immediately on charges of “doing propaganda” by another court in Edirne, Also in the same month in the city of Antalya, 5 detained journalists (out of 8) were released by a court and then re-arrested immediately by another court decision on other charges based on the same facts. In some of these cases, even those judges ordering the release of journalists were prosecuted and suspended for taking these decisions, which raises questions about access to a fair trial for detained journalists.

Czech President Says He Wishes to "Liquidate" Journalists

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Year 16 May 2017 Country Czech Republic Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
16 May 2017 Czech Republic E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Index , EFJ/IFJ , IPI , RSF Level 2
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During a press conference held in China on 14 May 2017, Czech President Miloš Zeman joked to Russian President Vladimir Putin that there were too many journalists and that they should be "liquidated", broadcasting station Radio Praha reported. Putin reacted with a smile and indicated that such measures were not required but that the number of journalists could be "reduced", Radio Praha reported. Their conversation was captured by a television microphone and posted on social media. On Sunday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek expressed a strong objection to what Zeman’s office later claimed was a “joke”, suggesting that such remarks were inappropriate with Mr Putin or anyone else. The president's spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, described Mr Zeman's remarks as a mere witticism or bon mot, Radio Praha reported.

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

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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.

Opposition and Independent News Websites Blocked

Update: 15 May 2017 No reply yet
Year 11 Apr 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Index , Article 19 Alert level Level 2
11 Apr 2017 Azerbaijan E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Index , Article 19 Level 2
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On 27 March 2017, three websites had their access blocked in Azerbaijan, independent news platform contact.az reported. Meydan TV, Azadliq Qezeti and the local service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty all became inaccessible inside the country. According to independent sources, Azerbaijan Saadi (Azerbaijan Hour) had also been inaccessible for the past week. Azerbaijan Hour is a YouTube video channel, managed by editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper, Azadliq, who is currently living in exile.

Updates

New 15 May 2017 : Court orders block to websites of RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, Azadliq, Meydan TV & 2 other Internet TV.
New 28 Apr 2017 : A district court in Baku began on 27 April 2017 hearing a lawsuit that seeks to compel internet service providers to block access to the sites. The lawsuit was filed by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications, and High Technology.

Attack on Office of Kathimerini in Thessaloniki

Update: 12 May 2017 State replied
Year 26 Apr 2017 Country Greece Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
26 Apr 2017 Greece A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 2

Unidentified assailants attacked the office of Kathimerini, a Greek daily, in Thessaloniki on 24 April 2017. Approximately ten masked people stormed the office, threw green paint all over the place and spread leaflets with the message “ A good story is a stone to a journalist’s head,” written on them. The administrative staff who was in the office at the time of the attack called the police after the intruders ignored her pleas to stop and leave. They left before the police arrived.

State replies

New 12 May 2017 : Response from the Greek authorities

Hungarian Journalist Júlia Halász attacked and violently expelled from Fidesz’s public meeting in Budapest

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Year 12 May 2017 Country Hungary Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
12 May 2017 Hungary A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Level 2
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Júlia Halász, a reporter for the Hungarian 444.hu website, was violently expelled from a public forum organised by the ruling party Fidesz party held at Saint Imre (Saint Emeric) Secondary School in Budapest on 4 May 2017. Halász had started editing her report when she was approached by three men, believed to be bodyguards of the country’s economy minister Mihály Varga and defence minister István Simicskó, who told her to leave claiming she could not film the event without registration. Halász later returned to the room and took some photos with her cell phone, but had to leave again to take a phone call in the corridor. She was followed by László Szabó, the Fidesz’s deputy chief of staff in the district and the organiser of the meeting, who, according to the journalist, aggressively tried to take her out of the building when she finished her call. He accused her of filming the event and snatched her the cell phone which he refused to return and deleted photos from the telephone while pushing the journalist around and refusing to let her back in the room to retrieve her equipment. Halász started yelling for help, but László Szabó grabbed her by the arm and dragged her outside the building where he continued to threaten her and other Fidesz’s supporters attacked her, as well. The police was called by one school’s employee but, upon their arrival, Szabó had left the venue by the back door and nobody at the Fidesz’s event was willing to identify him as the man who had attacked Halász. The journalist said that Economy minister, Mihály Varga, later tried to mitigate the incident by promising that Ms. Halász’s equipment would be returned and offering to make himself available to her for an exclusive interview.

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