Media freedom alerts

 

Novaya Gazeta Correspondent to be Deported

Update: 15 Feb 2018 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 , RSF Alert level Level 1
08 Aug 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 1
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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. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

New 15 Feb 2018 : On 15 February 2018, Ali Feruz was on his way to a third country after a Moscow court allowed him to travel to any country outside his native Uzbekistan.
New 09 Feb 2018 : On 9 February 2018, the Moscow Basmanny Court ruled that Ali Feruz has the right to file an application requesting to leave Russia for a third country.
New 02 Feb 2018 : On 2 February 2018, a Moscow court allowed Novaya Gazeta’s journalist Ali Feruz to leave Russia.
New 24 Jan 2018 : On 24 January 2018 Russia’s Supreme Court partially accepted Nurmatov's appeal, cancelling his deportation order and ruling that his case must be sent back to the Moscow City Court for revision.
22 Nov 2017 : On 21 November 2017, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow fined Nurmatov for "illegal work" in Russia and ordered his deportation. His deportation however remains suspended following the issuing of an interim measure by the European Court of Human Rights.The deportation process will remain halted while his case is reviewed by the ECHR.
23 Oct 2017 : On 20 October 2017, a Moscow district court turned down Nurmatov's claim against the Russian Interior Ministry’s immigration department for refusing to grant him asylum.
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

New 27 Jan 2018 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir welcomes Russian Supreme Court decision as positive step, calls for release of Ali Feruz.
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".

New Proposed Law Set to Increase the Power to Surveil Foreign Journalists

Update: 14 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 08 Jul 2016 Country Germany Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
08 Jul 2016 Germany E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State RSF , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

A prospective draft was signed off by the Government on 28 June 2016 and will be read in Parliament on 8 July 2016. The new proposed legislation could allow the foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) to increase their power to surveil foreign journalists abroad. According to the German branch of Reporters without Borders (Reporter ohne Grenzen), the law makes protection from surveillance dependent upon nationality. German citizens would not be subject to surveillance, EU citizens could be to some extent, but citizens from other countries would be at risk whenever Germany’s “capacity to act” needs to be safeguarded or if “insights into foreign and security policy may be of relevance”. Managing director of Reporter ohne Grenzen, Christian Mihr, said “up until now, each BND law contains an explicit exception for journalists from surveillance regulations. The new BND law, however, does not include any such provisions.”

Updates

New 14 Feb 2018 : Journalists, trade unions and rights groups have lodged a constitutional complaint against the BND law arguing that it is unconstitutional as it allows for the "virtually unrestricted" monitoring of foreign reporters.
21 Oct 2016 : On 21 October 2016, Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, approved the reform bill on the country’s main intelligence agency (BND).

State replies

Follow-ups

12 Jul 2016 : Surveillance amendments in new law in Germany pose a threat to media freedom, OSCE Representative says. She asks Bundestag to reconsider bill.

Greek Sport Journalist Aris Asvestas Assaulted for Second Time

No reply yet
Year 14 Feb 2018 Country Greece Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
14 Feb 2018 Greece A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ Level 1
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Journalist Aris Asvestas, sport editor at Sport FM in Athens, was attacked by unidentified assailants on his way home after presenting his programme on 27 January 2018. The attack happened outside a mini market where Asvestas had stopped to buy cigarettes. He was riding a motorbike and, as soon as he removed his helmet, he was set upon by two unknown men who brutally attacked him. The journalist was briefly hospitalised for medical treatment but allowed to return home. This was the second attack against Aris Asvestas after another incident on 3 September 2012 when he was also attacked outside his home by unknown assailants as he was returning home late from his work at the radio station. His attackers struck when he removed his helmet and hit him with an iron object. No one has been arrested in connection with these incidents.

Injunction Prohibiting Media from Reporting on the Financial Dealings of Iceland Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson

Update: 12 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 18 Oct 2017 Country Iceland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
18 Oct 2017 Iceland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

The District Commissioner of Reykjavík issued an injunction on 16 October 2017 against media outlets Stundin and Reykjavík Media, prohibiting them from doing any future reporting on the financial dealings of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and his family with Glitnir bank just before the economic collapse of Iceland in October 2008. The case has drawn sharp criticism from the Journalists’ Union of Iceland and Stundin’s editor considering that the injunction goes against press freedom and freedom of expression in Iceland. The editor of Stundin has learned of the injunction when their offices received a visit from representatives of the District Commissioner and Glitnir demanding to delete all previous reporting that they had done on the Prime Minister’s time as an MP, to hand over all documentation that contributed to this reporting, and to cease all future reporting on the subject referring to concerns on the confidentiality of financial information.

State replies

New 12 Feb 2018 : Response from the Icelandic authorities

Follow-ups

19 Oct 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative concerned about ban on reporting about Icelandic bank

France 2 TV channel sued in a Commercial Court by the Bolloré Group

Update: 12 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 27 Jul 2016 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
27 Jul 2016 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On 22 July 2016, the Bolloré Group announced that it would seek a settlement of 50 million euros in damages from France 2 before the Paris Commercial Court as a result of the rebroadcasting on 21 July of the programme “Complément d'enquête” (Further investigation) that covered Vincent Bolloré and the group's activities in Africa. Broadcast for the first time on 7 April, the TV investigative report had displeased the businessman who accused France 2 of fabricating false testimonies. Particularly contentious is the part of the investigation filmed in Cameroon, on a palm oil plantation. In this part, an employee, described as a miner, denounces his working conditions. In a statement, the Group declared that the programme was "damaging to its commercial interests" and that the broadcasting of the TV investigative report was characteristic of " a demonstrated willingness to harm." The amount of damages sought and the recourse to a the Commercial Court – as opposed to a court of civil justice - are previously unseen. These litigation lawsuits could be aiming to serve as a deterrent to journalists and the media to dissuade them from investigating the activities of Vincent Bolloré and the Group Bolloré.

State replies

Journalist Attacked in Paris by Members or Supporters of the Jewish Defense League

Update: 12 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 12 Nov 2015 Country France Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
12 Nov 2015 France A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On 22 October 2015, David Perrotin, journalist at Buzzfeed France, was attacked by around ten militants participating in a rally against the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Agence France Presse (AFP). The meeting was organised, among others, by the Jewish Defense League (JDL). In the early evening, David Perrotin came to the headquarters of the AFP, Place de la Bourse in Paris, to follow the event. After having discovered the presence of the reporter, activists decided to attack him. "Around ten young people, obviously members or supporters of the JDL, approached him wearing masks and hoods" says the editor of BuzzFeed France, Cécile Dehesdin. "Ten youngsters insulted him before chasing him and then beating him." Following police intervention, the journalist was sheltered in the headquarters of the AFP, which was protected by a row of policemen. David Perrotin filed charges against X the next day.

State replies

Follow-ups

12 Nov 2015 : OSCE Representative raises concern over attack of Buzzfeed journalist and threats to storm AFP offices in France, welcomes swift police action

Around Ten Journalists from France Télévisions Assaulted by Residents

Update: 12 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 12 Nov 2015 Country France Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
12 Nov 2015 France A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 9 November 2015, around ten journalists working for public channels France 2 Bordeaux and France 3 Aquitaine were attacked by residents while following members of the Bird Protection League (LPO) during an operation against chaffinch poaching in the Landes. The journalists, as well as members of the LPO, were insulted and assaulted. A photo journalist from France 2 Bordeaux was jostled; his camera was stolen and hidden in a home of one of the residents. Tires were punctures on vehicles owned by the two channels. The altercation, lasting about fifteen minutes, required police intervention, during which the camera was returned to the journalist. The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) confirmed that "France 2 correspondents filed a complaint against assaults and threats, illicit "confiscation" of the camera, as well as vehicle damage".

State replies

The Weekly Challenges Convicted for Publishing an Article on the Financial Difficulties of an International Group

No reply yet
Year 09 Feb 2018 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
09 Feb 2018 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 2
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On 25 January 2018, the business weekly Challenges was condemned by the Paris Commercial Court to remove an article published on its website which covered the consequences of the financial difficulties of the French company Conforama. The article was published on 10 January 2018 and is titled "Exclusive: Conforama reportedly placed under an ad hoc mandate". Conforama attacked Challenges in summary proceedings on 16 January 2018, citing the Commercial Code to claim that the article had tarnished its reputation. Challenges pleaded "the right to information of the public on a subject of general interest" and claimed that “any decision to the contrary would amount to “illegal censorship in a democracy." In its judgment, the court ruled that "the contentious information cannot be considered as information of the public on a subject of general interest, given that Challenges magazine is addressing an educated audience from the economic and business world, which is demonstrated by the lack of dissemination of this information in the television, radio and written media that are targeting the widest possible public”. The weekly has appealed against the court's ruling.

Programme Cancellation and Dismissal Threats Within the French Channel Canal+

Update: 09 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 12 Nov 2015 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 2
12 Nov 2015 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 2

On 23 September 2015, the collective "Informing is not a crime,"Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM), Association of Albert Londres Prize, “editorial watchdogs” from 13 media companies, the National Union of Journalists (SNJ ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published an open letter for the Superior Council of the French Audiovisual (CSA) on the eve of the hearing of Vincent Bolloré, Chairman of the Vivendi Supervisory Board. Vincent Bolloré is a majority shareholder of the Vivendi Group and owner of the Canal+ television group. The signatories of the open letter believe that the "principle of the media editorial independence was trampled on many occasions by the main shareholder of Canal+ Group, Vincent Bolloré." Two documentaries of Canal+, one devoted to Crédit Mutuel and the other to Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, have been cancelled for no apparent reason. A report on the Olympic of Marseille for the show "Enquêtes de foot" has been removed from the website. A documentary on BNP Paribas, validated by the Investigative Committee of Canal+, seems to be currently frozen. After expressing concerns about the editorial independence of the channel, two members of the Editorial Board (Deputy Editor of the magazine “Special Investigations”, Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, and Director of “Zapping”, Patrick Menais) were called to "a preliminary interview of a possible dismissal". This procedure was suspended at the last moment.

Updates

10 May 2017 : On 10 May 2017, the 2016 dismissal for "gross misconduct" of Patrick Menais, former director of "Zapping" on Canal +, was nullified by the Minister of Labour.

State replies

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Journalists Victims of Police Violence During Demonstrations

Update: 09 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 03 Jun 2016 Country France Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
03 Jun 2016 France A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index Level 1

An upsurge in police violence against journalists has been observed since mid-May during demonstrations against the new labour laws. On 17 May, Joël Labat, cameraman, was the target of a teargas grenade shot at close range. On 26 May, an independent photographer was seriously wounded at the end of a demonstration in the vicinity of the Court of Vincennes, hit in the head by a sting grenade. On 31 May, in Rennes, a photographer was forced under threat to wipe his equipment clean of images. On 2 June in Rennes, the forces of order were violent with four journalists and damaged their equipment: Vincent Feuray, an independent photographer, Jérémie Verchère, photographic journalist and Bruno Van Wassenhove, a cameraman for the television channel, France 3, were beaten with truncheons. A reporter from the private television channel M6, was also thrown to the ground. These journalists could all be clearly identified (Press cards, helmets and branded cameras). They claim to have been deliberately attacked by the police.

State replies

French Satellite Provider under Pressure to Remove Kurdish Med Nûçe TV

Update: 08 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 03 Oct 2016 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
03 Oct 2016 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Eutelsat SA, the French satellite provider hosting over 6000 televisions channels, has notified its intention “to remove immediately” Med Nûçe TV, a Kurdish language television channel broadcasting from Belgium, from its transponder because “the content is not in line with public order directives of the terms between us as well as with the laws which regulate TV distribution in Europe and surrounding countries”. According to EFJ sources, Eutelsat SA has been put under pressure by RTÜK (Turkish Radio Television Supreme Council) to remove the signal of Med Nûçe TV considered as a pro-PKK television channel by Turkish authorities. It follows on the banning by Türksat, at the request of the Turkish government, of around 20 TV channels and radio stations under the state of emergency.

Updates

07 Jun 2017 : Eutelsat, following on a request received from the Turkish Radio Television Supreme Council, has notified on 14 April 2017 its intention to remove the signals of Channel News, Ronahi TV and Sterk TV, three television channels broadcasting from EU countries to Kurdish-speaking audience from its transponder because “the content in which statements are made by the leaders of the terrorist organisation called as PKK/KCK”. In an urgent notice sent to the Slovenian service provider STN, Eutelsat writes "you shall stop any transmission within one hour of request of Eutelsat (...) we hereby officially request that you remove the television channels 'Sterk TV and Ronahi TV' from the multiplex you operate in accordance with our agreement".
22 Nov 2016 : On 14 November 2016, the Paris Commercial Court ordered Eutelsat to re-establish the broadcasting of the TV channel Med Nûçe.
18 Nov 2016 : On 14 November 2016, the Paris Commercial Court condemned Eutelsat SA for removing the signal of Newroz TV, on 11 October 2016. The French satellite operator was ordered "to re-establish the broadcasting of programmes" under a penalty of 10.000 € per day of delay.
11 Oct 2016 : On 11 October 2016, Eutelsat removed the signal of Newroz TV, a Kurdish language television channel broadcasting from Sweden, after receiving a direct request from the Turkish Radio Television Supreme Council. Newroz TV is accused by the Turkish authorities of spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). It is the second Kurdish TV channel to be dropped by Eutelsat in one week. On 3 October, the signal of Med Nûçe TV was also removed and the channel was no longer accessible to viewers.
03 Oct 2016 : On 3 October 2016, Eutelsat removed the signal of Med Nûçe TV and the channel is no longer accessible to viewers.

State replies

French Journalists and Magistrates Subject to Death Threats

Update: 08 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 07 Apr 2017 Country France Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner RSF , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Apr 2017 France A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Non-state RSF , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1

On 6 April 2017, French independent newspapers 'Le Canard Enchainé' and 'Mediapart' received death threat letters accompanied with a 22 calibre long rifle bullet from a group called "Epuration 2J". Posted from Marseille, those letters are intended to warn journalists of both newspapers : "Vigilance and protection don't last Ad Vitam... This day/We will be there/For you/or/one of your relatives". The anonymous letter addressed to Mediapart shows a coffin marked with the letters E-P, recalling the initials of the newspaper's founder Edwy Plenel, and the sentence "Judges and journalists all the same". A similar letter was sent to 'Le Canard Enchainé' and four magistrates. According to Mediapart, Eliane Houlette, chief of the national financial prosecutor's office and three judges in charge of the investigation on the "Fillon" case (french presidential candidate) were targeted. The public prosecutor's office in Paris launched an inquiry for "death threats".

State replies

French Journalists Victims of Phone Harassment

Update: 07 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 25 Jun 2015 Country France Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
25 Jun 2015 France C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 16, 17, 18 June 2015, French journalists Pierre Haski, founder of the information website Rue89, Denis Sieffert, Director of the weekly magazine Politis, and Daniel Schneidermann, founder of the website Arrêt sur Images, were victims of a harassment campaign targeting their private lives. In all three cases, a hacker took control of their private telephone lines and made telephone calls to the police requesting their intervention at the homes of the targeted journalists on the basis of wholly fabricated personal dramatic incidents. According to the targeted journalists, the alleged perpetrator of those actions is the Zionist Franco-Israeli hacker Grégory Chelli, alias Ulcan, who lives in Ashdod, in Israel. A judicial inquiry is already underway concerning Ulcan who is suspected of having caused the premature death of Rue89 journalist Benoît Le Corre’s father, in August 2014. The father of Benoît Le Corre died as a result of a heart attack shortly after receiving a phone call informing him about the death of his son. The Paris Prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary inquiry into the attacks on Mr. Haski, Mr Sieffert and Mr Schneidermann. The IFJ and the EFJ call on authorities to open judicial proceedings against and to bring to an end the impunity apparently enjoyed by the perpetrator or perpetrators of those harassment operations.

State replies

The State of Emergency Permits a Ban on Journalists Covering Public Events

Update: 07 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 20 May 2016 Country France Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
20 May 2016 France E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

Under the Act of 20 November 2015 promulgating the state of emergency in France, journalists can be subject to travel restrictions which prevent them from covering certain public events. Thus, on Monday 16 May 2016, the photographer NnoMan received a prefectural order prohibiting him from covering an event on 17 May against the bill on labour laws in Paris. This decision was justified by the Prefecture of Police of Paris by the presence of the journalist “on a number of occasions, in particular during the demonstrations against police violence and the labour law reform bill," which escalated "into a serious disturbance of public order" according to the decree. On Tuesday 17 May, following multiple reactions from professional organisations and the civil society, the ban was lifted and the journalist was able to cover the event. The Prefecture was reported "to have ignored he was a journalist." Several French journalists' unions denounce the provision of the law on state of emergency that legally allows prefects to "prohibit the stay in all or part of the administrative division".

State replies

Front National Refuses to Grant Accreditations to Mediapart and Quotidien on the Occasion of the Party’s "Presidential Congress”

Update: 07 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 09 Feb 2017 Country France Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
09 Feb 2017 France C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 31 January 2017, the accreditation requests submitted by Mediapart, an online information website, and le Quotidien news show, broadcast by the television channel TMC, on the occasion of the "Presidential Congress" of Marine Le Pen, which were held in Lyon on 4 and 5 February 2017, were turned down by the Front National. The Front National regularly refuses access to its events to these two media, accusing them of "militant" coverage. The Quotidien team was also prevented from doing its job on 1 February 2017, while Marine Le Pen was heading to the Salon des Entrepreneurs in Paris. The journalists were violently sidelined by security officers. The journalist Paul Larrouturou, who was accredited, had just asked a question to Marine Le Pen about accusations regarding fictitious jobs in the European Parliament targeting her party.

State replies

Expulsion of Two Russian Journalists from Latvia

Update: 02 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 05 Jan 2018 Country Latvia Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
05 Jan 2018 Latvia E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 4 January 2018, the journalist Olga Kurlaeva, who works for the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company VGTRK, was reportedly detained by Latvian law enforcement representatives and deported from the country. According to VGTRK, Olga Kurlaeva has been accused of representing a threat to Latvia’s national security. Two days previously, on 2 January 2018, her husband Anatoliy Kurlaev, who works for the Russian TVC State-owned television channel, was also deported from Latvia.

State replies

New 07 Feb 2018 : Response of the Republic of Latvia

Follow-ups

05 Jan 2018 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media expresses concern regarding expulsion of Russian journalist Olga Kurlaeva from Latvia

Poland: New Bill Could Ban Journalists from Historical Debate

Update: 06 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 01 Feb 2018 Country Poland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , AEJ Alert level Level 2
01 Feb 2018 Poland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , AEJ Level 2

On 1 February 2018 the Polish Senate approved an amendment to the National Remembrance Institute Act (NRIA), introducing criminal liability for ‘publicly ascribing responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish People or State for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich’, as well as for ‘grossly reducing the responsibility of the actual perpetrators of these crimes.’ This act is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years. The authors of the bill state its aim as counteracting the phrase “Polish concentration camps”, used by non-Polish commentators to describe Nazi concentration camps on the territory of Poland, during the occupation of Poland during the Second World War. While the Bill includes an exception for artistic or scientific expression, it does not clearly state how artistic or scientific activity would be defined. There is a risk the legislation could affect media freedom, particularly with regard to journalists engaged in debates about Poland’s history. The Bill also introduces vague provisions on civil liability for ‘infringement of the good name of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Nation’, in violation of international standards, which do not permit restrictions on freedom of expression made in order to protect “the state” or its symbols from insult or criticism. The amendments based on existing provisions in the Civil Code aimed at the "Protection of Personal Interests" (Articles 23-24). The amendments would enable the National Remembrance Institute or a non-governmental organisation to bring a claim against an individual. Remedies could include a retraction of the statement and/or compensation. Compensation would be awarded to the State Treasury, and the amount awarded at the discretion of the courts, opening up the possibility of very large fines, that could cripple independent outlets. The bill is now awaiting approval by the Polish President.

State replies

New 06 Feb 2018 : Response of the Government of Poland

Follow-ups

New 02 Feb 2018 : New law on World War II crimes in Poland can threaten freedom of expression, says OSCE Representative Désir.

Strana Editor-in-Chief Flees, Seeks Asylum in Austria after Receiving Death Threats

No reply yet
Year 06 Feb 2018 Country Ukraine Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
06 Feb 2018 Ukraine C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown Index , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ Level 1
No reply yet

The editor-in-chief of news website Strana.ua, Igor Guzhva, fled Ukraine on 31 January 2018 after receiving death threats and is now seeking asylum in Austria. In a statement published by Strana, Guzhva said that he decided to flee after Ukrainian law enforcement agencies ignored several requests to investigate the threats against him. He said other Strana journalists had also received threats. Guzhva said in his statement that he was able to leave Ukraine after a court order preventing him from leaving the country expired on 6 January. In his open letter to the president of Ukraine, Guzhva said that since the website's first day of activity the editorial staff had been subjected to "unprecedented pressure from the authorities." He recalled that five criminal cases have been files against him, including extortion charges. In June, the country's National Security Service (SBU) searched Strana's Kiev office and briefly arrested Guzhva for allegedly demanding a 10,000 USD bribe in exchange for not publishing reportedly compromising materials on a politician. Speaking to CPJ after being released on bail, Guzhva denied all charges and called the case a "witch hunt" against him. He said the Ukrainian authorities "want to close [Strana] and put me in jail." Guzhva is set to retain his position as editor-in-chief of the website and continue to lead the editorial board from abroad.

Poland Opens Investigation over Article Critical of Constitutional Tribunal President

Update: 05 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 12 Jan 2018 Country Poland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ Alert level Level 2
12 Jan 2018 Poland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ Level 2

The Warsaw regional prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal investigation against a journalist in a case alleging “a public insult or humiliation against a constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland”. The case concerns an article in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper published on 20 October 2017 in which Wojciech Czuchnowski alleged that the head of the Constitutional Tribunal works for the country’s security services with the aim of ensuring that the court serves the interests of Poland’s current political leadership. Last year Czuchnowski was harshly criticised by the National Prosecutor’s Office for a publication in Gazeta Wyborcza in which he allegedly insulted the country’s chief prosecutor. The prosecutor demanded a public apology and the payment of a donation of 15,000 euro to a charitable foundation. Gazeta Wyborcza refused to apologise or make the payment and the case has so far not been pursued by the National Prosecutor’s Office. The offence in the present case carries a fine or a maximum prison term of two years. The investigation was initiated after Julia Przyłębska, the president of the Tribunal, reported the article to the Prosecutor’s Office in November 2017. Gazeta Wyborcza was formally notified of the opening of the investigation on 10 January 2018.

State replies

New 05 Feb 2018 : Reply from the Polish authorities

UK Draft Bill on Surveillance Threatens Protection of Journalists' Sources

Update: 01 Feb 2018 State replied
Year 16 Nov 2015 Country United Kingdom Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 Alert level Level 2
16 Nov 2015 United Kingdom E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 Level 2

On November 2015, a draft bill on surveillance was introduced to the British Parliament by Theresa May, Home Secretary of the UK. Designed to reinforce the investigative powers of the police and intelligence services, the text grants to police forces, tax inspectors and other public servants the power to access data related to communications’ traffic (including internet communications) without prior judicial review. Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative for Media freedom said: “The proposed bill provides for a wide expanse of surveillance activities that could fundamentally alter the way the state protects the freedom to seek, receive and impart information. (…) Any legislation that allows government snooping must be narrowly drawn and include guarantees, as a basic pre-condition for investigative journalism”. Journalists of the Guardian daily called for the revision of the draft bill nicknamed ‘snooper’s charter’ : “If sources understand they can be identified in this way they will be reluctant to risk dismissal (or possibly prosecution) to pass on information”.

Updates

New 01 Feb 2018 : On 30 January 2018, Appeal Court judges ruled the mass digital surveillance regime foreseen by the Investigatory Powers Act illegal. According to the judges, this regime lacked adequate safeguards around accessing personal data, including the absence of “prior review by a court or independent administrative authority”.
29 Nov 2016 : On 29 November 2016 the Investigatory Powers Bill received Royal Assent, thus officially becoming law.
18 Nov 2016 : On 17 November 2016, the House of Lords has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill. The House of Lords' agreement to the text means that it just awaits Royal Assent to become law.
07 Mar 2016 : The UK Government introduced proposals to Parliament, revising the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The Parliament is expected to review the re-drafted Bill and pass the final version by the end of 2016, when the current legislation governing surveillance laws expires.

State replies

15 Dec 2015 : Response of the United Kingdom Government

Follow-ups

18 Nov 2016 : OSCE Representative warns of negative consequences for investigative journalism when Investigative Powers Bill becomes law in the United Kingdom
17 May 2016 : Commissioner publishes Memorandum on surveillance in the UK
10 Nov 2015 : OSCE media freedom representative urges caution and further consideration of new Investigatory Powers Bill in the United Kingdom

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October

Factsheet on detention with a view to expel, return, transfer or extradite a person to another country