Latest threats to media freedom

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Armenian journalists injured in police violence against media journalists covering street demonstrations

Update : 09 Dec 2016
Date of entry 30 Jul 2016 Country Armenia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by AEJ , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
30 Jul 2016 Armenia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State AEJ , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1

On the evening of Friday 29 July, at least ten journalists suffered burns, bruises or other injuries after being hit by police stun grenades or beaten in Yerevan while covering a demonstration by supporters of an armed group which stormed and occupied a police station in the Erebuni district two weeks ago. One policeman was reported killed and others injured during the seizure of the police facility. The media workers injured in the latest clashes include three journalists of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenian service, and journalists or camera operators of CivilNet and A1+ TV, according to local media reports. The director of RFE/RL’s Armenian broadcasting service claimed that unidentified plainclothes police officers targeted and attacked the station’s three journalists with batons, smashed their equipment and tore off their press badges, forcing them to abandon a live broadcast from the spot. A journalist and cameraman of A1+ alleged that they were forcibly removed from their company vehicles, beaten, and also had their press badges violently torn off. The armed occupiers of the police station, who have identified themselves as belonging to the anti-government Sasna Tsrer group, earlier held negotiations with government representatives and released a number of hostages. They had reportedly also been permitted some days ago to speak with a group of journalists about their political demands. An Armenian police spokesman was reported as saying that prompt investigations would be conducted into the reports of violence against journalists. The media concerned expect those investigations to include a number of suspected plainclothes police who used excessive force against them. The latest assaults against media workers follow several previous cases of beatings, harassment, destruction of recording equipment and obstruction against journalists in the same part of Yerevan since 18 July , as journalists have reported on the on-going standoff as well as public demonstrations in the vicinity of the occupied police station.

State replies

New 09 Dec 2016 : Reply from the Armenian authorities

Bosnia and Herzegovina : Blogger Flees Country after Receiving Death Threats

Date of entry 09 Dec 2016 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by Index , CPJ , RSF Alert level Level 3
09 Dec 2016 Bosnia and Herzegovina C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State Index , CPJ , RSF Level 3

On 20 November 2016, Slobodan Vaskovic, a well-known blogger and journalist from Banja Luka, announced he had left Bosnia and Herzegovina fearing for his life. “I realised that my life might be in danger and I was forced to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina until further notice,” Vaskovic wrote on his blog. Vaskovic also wrote that a high ranking police officer warned him that his life was in danger, which prompted him to immediately leave the country. The journalist was known as an outspoken critic of the government of Republika Srpska (RS), underlining that it was not the first time Vaskovic said he had received death threats. Dragan Lukac, RS Interior minister, told the press that the police had no knowledge of death threats made to Vaskovic. Vaskovic started to receive death threats via social media after reporting on 2 October local elections and publishing video clips allegedly showing RS President Milorad Dodik ordering his ministers not to communicate with any mayors from opposition parties. Vaskovic also published a video on his blog where Dodik can be seen saying the party has a "black book" of all the people that have represented a problem to them.

Cyprus: Police reporter's car set on fire

Date of entry 09 Dec 2016 Country Cyprus Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Submitted by Index , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
09 Dec 2016 Cyprus C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown Index , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

A car belonging to Dina Kleanthous, a police and crime reporter for the website Reporter Online, was set on fire on 19 September 2016 in the middle of the night outside her home. The Union of Cyprus Journalists issued a statement denouncing the attack against the journalist and calling on the authorities to ensure journalists’ safety in the country. According to the statement, Kleanthous had been receiving threats related to her reporting. Kleanthous told police that the act was likely related to her professional activities. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović condemned the incident. “This blatant attempt to coerce a journalist who is reporting on news of public interest is simply unacceptable”, said Mijatović. The media and journalists organisations call on the authorities to fully investigate this incident and to bring to justice those responsible, in order to guarantee the journalists safety and freedom of expression in the country.

Russian Journalist Expelled from Latvia

Update : 09 Dec 2016
Date of entry 26 Oct 2016 Country Latvia Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
26 Oct 2016 Latvia C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On 21 October 2016, an executive producer with Rossiya Segodnya news agency was deported from Latvia despite being in possession of valid travel documents. Ella Taranova had travelled to Jūrmala, 35 km west of Riga, to take part in the annual Baltic Forum to discuss EU-Russia relations. She arrived with other Russian journalists and passed through the border without any trouble. She has a valid Schengen visa. Representatives of the border service then came to the conference venue and reportedly told her that she has been on a blacklist since August 2014 and must leave the country. Taranova was not given a reason for her inclusion on the list and subsequent deportation nor did she have access to a process that would allow her to have legal recourse to that decision.

State replies

New 09 Dec 2016 : Reply from the government of Latvia

Follow-ups

26 Oct 2016 : OSCE Representative concerned about Latvian authorities’ decision to deport Russian journalist

Slovakia’s Prime Minister uses Offensive Language towards Journalists at a Press Conference

Update : 09 Dec 2016
Date of entry 25 Nov 2016 Country Slovak Republic Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Submitted by AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
25 Nov 2016 Slovak Republic E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 23 November 2016, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico, directed derogatory and insulting language towards journalists at a press conference, saying, “Some of you are dirty, anti-Slovak prostitutes…You don’t inform, you fight with the government’. The prime minister was responding to questions about allegations that his government may have broken fair public procurement rules in granting contracts related to the country’s presidency of the EU, which runs from July 2016 to the end of the year. Media freedom organisations and associations of journalists described the verbal attack of the Prime Minister as a “dangerous precedent for continued denigration of the work of journalists in public, which could pose a threat to freedom of expression and of the press in Slovakia” and called on the Prime Minister to apologise “fully, publicly, and unequivocally” for his words and for any offence caused, and to pledge to show respect for the necessary work done by journalists and NGOs to inform the public in a democratic society.

State replies

New 09 Dec 2016 : Reply from the government of the Slovak Republic

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

29 Nov 2016 : Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 13 April 2016 at the 1253rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies
29 Nov 2016 : Factsheet on the protection of one’s reputation (Relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights & Other relevant Council of Europe instruments)

Turkey: Attack on Yeni Cag Daily Building

Date of entry 09 Dec 2016 Country Turkey Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Submitted by EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
09 Dec 2016 Turkey C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ Level 1

An attack was carried out on the headquarters of Yeni Çağ daily on 8 December 2016. A statement issued by the right-wing daily newspaper, which is known with its affiliation with the opposition wing in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said “a group of 30 people attacked our daily’s headquarter building in İstanbul. The aggressors entered inside the building and caused material damage. The aggressors stated to wear masks ran away from the scene”. The attack caused heavy damages to the material and the building of the newspaper. Coming to the building following the incident, Turkish police maintained a security cordon on the street where the building is situated.

Azerbaijani Journalist Ikram Rahimov Sentenced to One Year in Jail on Libel Charges

Date of entry 08 Dec 2016 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
08 Dec 2016 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 1

On 25 November 2016, Sumgayit City Court sentenced Ikram Rahimov, Editor-in-Chief of online news website realliq.info, along with another individual, Rahman Novruzov, to one year in jail. Both men were convicted under Article 147.2 (libel that involves accusing someone of a serious or especially serious crime) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.The conviction followed a criminal investigation into libel, launched against both persons after Rahimov published an online article about bribery and tax evasion by local authorities, based on information provided by Novruzov. After being convicted, Rahimov was transferred to the Sumqayit Police Department, where he was held incommunicado and allegedly subjected to torture for three days. According to Rahimov’s lawyer, the police demanded that Rahimov apologise on camera to one of the individuals mentioned in the article for which he was convicted. After Rahimov refused to do so, they allegedly tortured him and subjected him to cruel and degrading treatment, resulting in Rahimov incurring a head injury. Rahimov was then transferred to a Detention Facility, where his lawyer met with him on 30 November 2016. Rahimov’s lawyer plans to appeal to the Prosecutor General’s Office regarding the torture allegations.

Freelance journalist and fixer Jovo Martinovic in custody since October 2015

Update : 07 Dec 2016
Date of entry 13 Apr 2016 Country Montenegro Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by RSF Alert level Level 1
13 Apr 2016 Montenegro B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State RSF Level 1

Mr. Jovo Martinovic worked as a non-exclusive part-time fixer for a French documentary film “The Route of the Kalashnikov”, aired in France on Canal+ on 4 January 2016. The film examines the illegal flow of weapons from Balkans. Part of Mr. Martinovic job involved helping trace underground weapons networks and included interacting with members of these criminal groups in the Balkans. Mr. Martinovic was arrested on 22 October 2015 in relation to this assignment. He is accused of being a member of a criminal organization and of trafficking drug. The arrest warrant was issued by High court in Podgorica after the request of the Special State Prosecutor's office. On 12 April 2016, he still was in custody, waiting for his indictment and trial. Mr. Martinovic has worked with several international media outlets including The Economist (UK), the Financial Times (UK) and M6 (France).

State replies

New 07 Dec 2016 : Reply from Montenegro provided by the Ministry of Justice

Judge Attempts to Censor "Footballleaks" Inquiry

Date of entry 06 Dec 2016 Country Spain Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Submitted by EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
06 Dec 2016 Spain C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 2

Madrid Judge Arturo Zamarriego has sought the cooperation of justice systems across Europe in his request to prohibit any publications about the international journalistic inquiry named “Footballleaks” concerning severe tax evasion in professional football. The request targets the twelve media outlets which are members of the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) consortium. After seven months of investigation and having analysed 18.6 million documents, journalists from the German daily newspaper “Der Spiegel” and their colleagues from the European Investigative Collaborations consortium (of which “El Mundo” is a member), uncovered the widest tax evasion scandal in the history of European professional football, publishing it in their editions of 2nd December 2016. The daily newspaper “El Mundo” announced Judge Arturo Zamarriego’s decision to ban the publishing of the results of the Footballleaks inquiry, going as far as threatening the director of the newspaper, Pedro G. Cuartango, with a five year prison sentence. Judicial proceedings were initiated on 29th November 2016 by the law firm Senn Ferrero Asociados Sport & Entertainment, which is known for having advised many stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo on fiscal matters. “El Mundo” refused to give in to pressure by lodging a complaint and by publishing, as planned, the first part of the inquiry on 3rd December 2016. On the 5th December, it was revealed that the request for a ban on publishing was not only applicable to “El Mundo” but to all of the media partners of the consortium. The judge considers that the revelations of the consortium constitute an invasion of the private nature of the communications of the complainants (article 197.1 of the Spanish criminal code). Zamarriego has suggested that the information about personal and fiscal data used by the consortium may have been acquired through illegal means, which the consortium denies. The judge ordered “the prohibition of the publication of confidential data of a personal, financial or legal nature […] of the clients of Senn Ferrero".

Follow-ups

06 Dec 2016 : OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media says in a statement: "Court ruling in Spain ordering El Mundo newspaper not to publish story is a threat to investigative journalism"

Car of Croatian Journalists' Association President Appears to Have Been Deliberately Sabotaged

Update : 02 Dec 2016
Date of entry 03 Nov 2016 Country Croatia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Submitted by EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Alert level Level 1
03 Nov 2016 Croatia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , CPJ , Index Level 1

On 27 October 2016, the President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Saša Leković, escaped a potentially serious road accident after his car appeared to have been tampered with. He was driving on a motorway when his car started shaking and swerving. He was able to stop the car and found out that the right front wheel was twisted and two screws had been half-sawed. This event follows many threats against the CJA president and other CJA members and editors. According to the CJA, Saša Leković has been the constant target of certain online portals and of hate speech campaigns, with a number of comments openly calling for his murder since his election as a president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association in 2015.

State replies

New 02 Dec 2016 : Reply from the Republic of Croatia
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