Media freedom alerts

 

French Journalist at the Origin of LuxLeaks Revelations Charged in Luxembourg

Update: 11 Jan 2018 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 11 Jan 2018 : On 11 January 2018 the Luxembourg Court of Cassation annulled the suspended prison sentence against Antoine Deltour. The Court rejected Raphaël Halet`s appeal.
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

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

Journalist Shot in Southern Russia

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Year 31 Dec 2017 Country Russian Federation Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner CPJ Alert level Level 1
31 Dec 2017 Russian Federation A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown CPJ Level 1
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On 21 December 2017, Vyacheslav Prudnikov, who contributes to the independent regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel from the town of Krasny Sulin in Russia's southern Rostov region, was shot with a weapon during a meeting with a local official, media reported. Prudnikov told the local news website Don News that he had been meeting a municipal official, who the journalist referred to as Dmitry N. per the official's request, when a vehicle stopped nearby. A man got out of the vehicle and opened fire on him, yelling, "You criticize local authorities too much, we'll kill you," Prudnikov told Don News from a local hospital where he was receiving treatment. The journalist said the shooter and Dmitry N. "disappeared" when another car passed the scene. Prudnikov told Don News he did not recognize the shooter. Prudnikov has covered social and human rights issues in Krasny Sulin and nearby districts for Kavkazsky Uzel and other local outlets. His recent reports focused on miners' protests against alleged mismanagement by municipal authorities. According to Don News, Prudnikov was wounded in the elbow when he covered his head during the shooting. Doctors found an additional bullet in his body, and performed surgery to remove it, the site reported without specifying where this bullet was located.

Follow-ups

31 Dec 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative condemns attack on journalist in Russia, calls for speedy and effective investigation.

Two Ukrainian Journalists Sentenced to 9 Years’ Imprisonment for Assisting Separatism

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Year 31 Dec 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
31 Dec 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ Level 1
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On 28 September 2017 the Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Vasylets and cameraman Yevhen Timonin were sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment, after being found guilty of assisting separatism by a district court in Zhytomyr. The prosecution ruled that Vasylets and Timonin helped to rebroadcast content from the separatist Novorossiya TV on YouTube. This sentence includes the two years they had spent in jail since the beginning of the case in 2015. It was read out in absence of the defendants, since Vasylets was removed from the courtroom after criticising the court’s ruling. Currently in detention under this alert (2): Dmytro Vasylets and Yevhen Timonin. Alert : 2 detentions

NGO TV Presenter Detained and Allegedly Mistreated

Update: 28 Dec 2017 No reply yet
Year 04 Aug 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
04 Aug 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , Article 19 , EFJ/IFJ , RSF Level 1
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Aleksandr Batmanov, a presenter at NGO TV, an online TV channel based in Volgograd, was detained by police, on suspicion of theft from a grocery story on 7 July, 2017. NGO TV has reported that Batmanov was detained on that night after refusing to go to the police station, arguing that the charges against him were absurd. According to NGO TV, Batmanov was held at the station with no food or water over the weekend. In an attempt to escape from the police station, he broke both of his legs. The channel reported that it was only after Batmanov sustained injuries that the police sought a court order for his arrest. According to a police report, Batmanov is being held at the medical correction facility №15 of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Volgograd region. Batmanov’s colleagues believe that his detention is linked to his work as a journalist, specifically, an investigation into corruption surrounding the construction of the Volgograd-Arena stadium and a report on the distribution of government grants to local NGOs. The founder of NGO TV Temur Kobaliya, who was reporting on Batmanov detention, later said he had temporarily left the country fearing persecution from the authorities. He went to Tbilisi, Georgia, Radio Svoboda reported, quoting him saying: "to minimise the risks, I finally decided to leave. If the police wanted a normal dialogue, they should have summoned me or called. I am not hiding”. Kobaliya, who is also the head of Volgograd human rights council, has been pressured by the authorities before. In November Kobaliya’s apartment was searched while he was travelling abroad. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

New 28 Dec 2017 : On 28 December 2017, responding to the request of the defense, Batmanov’s case was returned to the first instance court to eliminate procedural violations.
17 Oct 2017 : On 17 October 2017 a first instance court sentenced Alexander Batmanov to two years and a month of a strict-regime colony for theft.

Russian Journalists Deported from Ukraine

Update: 26 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 31 Aug 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
31 Aug 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 30 August 2017, the spokesperson of the Ukrainian State Security Service (SBU), Olena Gitlyanska, reported that Russia's Channel One journalist Anna Kurbatova is accused of spreading anti-Ukrainian propaganda and will be deported to the Russian Federation. “The Russian propagandist Anna Kurbatova will be forcibly returned to Russia,” wrote Olena Gitlayanska in a Facebook post on Wednesday 30 August. ”At the moment, the necessary documents are being processed for her official deportation. It will be the same with anyone who allows themselves to discredit Ukraine.” Anna Kurbatova was deported and banned from entering Ukraine for three years. On 14 August 2017, Tamara Nersesyan, another Russian journalist working for the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), was deported from Ukraine. The SBU decided to bar her from entering Ukraine for three years, according to journalist Nersesyan, because of her reporting, which, officials told the journalists, inflamed the conflict in eastern Ukraine and posed a threat to Ukrainian security and territorial integrity. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, called on Ukraine not to arrest and deport journalists from other OSCE participating States.

State replies

New 26 Dec 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

31 Aug 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative calls on Ukraine to respect the work of foreign journalists

Journalist Viacheslav Veremii Killed in Kyiv

Update: 22 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 02 Apr 2015 Country Ukraine Category D. Impunity Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
02 Apr 2015 Ukraine D. Impunity State EFJ/IFJ Level 1

In February 2014, Viacheslav Veremii, a journalist for Vesti newspaper died of wounds he sustained in an attack allegedly perpetrated by the” tityshki”, a group of youths suspected of working with the security forces under the former regime in Ukraine, according to the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, an IFJ affiliate. The Union said that Veremii was shot and fatally wounded in the stomach. He was admitted to hospital on 18 February 2014 and later died.

Updates

New 22 Dec 2017 : On 22 December 2017 a district court in Kyiv convicted one of the main attackers and organizers of the assault on Vyacheslav Veremii and sentenced him on hooliganism charges to four years suspended sentence with a probation period of two years.

State replies

15 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Russian Journalist Aleksander Sokolov Held in Detention since July 2015

Update: 21 Dec 2017 No reply yet
Year 20 Jan 2017 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner RSF , AEJ , Index Alert level Level 1
20 Jan 2017 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State RSF , AEJ , Index Level 1
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Aleksander Sokolov, a Russian journalist who was working for the RBC Media Group at the time of his arrest, has been held in detention since July 2015. Human Rights groups and media freedom organisations declared the journalist to be a political prisoner. Sokolov was arrested while he was helping to create a website for a group called “For Responsible Government” (IGPR “ZOV”), accused to revive an association banned in 2010 for extremism, “People’s Will Army”. The group IGPR “ZOV” was campaigning for a referendum to amend the Russian constitution so that politicians could be held accountable under criminal law. Sokolov was initially charged for publishing “extremist content” and trying to “destabilize the government.” The second of these charges was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence and the main charge was changed to “organizing a terrorist group”. Sokolov is the author of a thesis on public funds embezzlement and is an expert on these issues. His last article was about the embezzlement of public funds in the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome. His claims have been corroborated by the Russian Court of Accounts in December 2015, when it announced the discovery of “financial irregularities” in connection with this project and gave an estimate for the amount embezzled that was close to Sokolov’s own figure – around 93 billion roubles (1.27 billion euros). Alert : 1 detention

Updates

New 21 Dec 2017 : On 21 December 2017, the Moscow Court of Appeal upheld Sokolov` sentence to three and a half years of detention.
11 Aug 2017 : On 10 August 2017 Aleksander Sokolov was sentenced by a Moscow court to three and a half years imprisonment on extremism charges.

Crimea’s Prosecution Opens Criminal Probe against Journalist Mykola Semena

Update: 20 Dec 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 20 Dec 2017 : On 18 December 2017 the top Court in Crimea upheld the verdict against Semena, confirming his conviction on charges of separatism.The Court also shortened from three years to two the period of time during which the journalist is barred from undertaking “public activities”.
22 Sep 2017 : On 22 September 2017, the Court handed Mykola Semena a 2.5 years suspended sentence on a charge of separatism and barred him from “public activities” for three years. Semena's lawyer said he would appeal the ruling.
10 May 2017 : On 10 May 2017, the trial of Mykola Semena has resumed in Simferopol.
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

22 Feb 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

26 Sep 2017 : General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Media Freedom and the Safety of Journalists calls for the conviction of Crimean journalist Mykola Semena to be annulled
22 Sep 2017 : OSCE Media Freedom Representative takes note of release of Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena from house arrest, but condemns his conviction.

BBC and The Guardian Taken to Court over Paradise Papers

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Year 20 Dec 2017 Country United Kingdom Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index Alert level Level 2
20 Dec 2017 United Kingdom E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index Level 2
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The main company involved in the Paradise Papers scandal, the law firm Appleby, has initiated legal proceedings against the BBC and The Guardian for the release of the papers, citing a breach of confidentiality. The Paradise Papers, released by the two British news organisations alongside 94 other news organisations worldwide, showed how hundreds of politicians, multinationals, celebrities and individuals with a high net worth use complex structures to avoid paying higher taxes. Appleby, the offshore law firm in Bermuda, was heavily implicated in the papers. Appleby has since initiated breach of confidentiality proceedings against the two British news organisations. The law firm is seeking damages for the disclosure of what it says are confidential legal documents. The BBC and The Guardian have responded to the legal action, saying that they will defend their role in the Paradise Papers, against the claim by Appleby. The general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Britain, Michelle Stanistreet, said that the legal action taken by Appleby is "an outrageous and cynical manoeuvre that should be condemned internationally".

Opposition and Independent News Websites Blocked

Update: 19 Dec 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

19 Dec 2017 : On 19 December 2017, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the ruling to block access to RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, Azadliq, Meydan TV & 2 other Internet TVs.
15 May 2017 : Court orders block to websites of RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, Azadliq, Meydan TV & 2 other Internet TV.
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.

Follow-ups

26 Sep 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights recalls that any restrictions on access to Internet content should be based on a clear and predictable framework affording guarantee of judicial oversight to prevent possible abuses.

Bosnia and Herzegovina : Blogger Flees Country after Receiving Death Threats

Update: 19 Dec 2017 Resolved
Year 21 Nov 2016 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , CPJ , RSF Alert level Level 2
21 Nov 2016 Bosnia and Herzegovina C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State Index , CPJ , RSF Level 2

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.

Resolved On 19 December 2017, following the journalist’s return to Banja Luka and his decision not to press charges, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

29 Nov 2016 : On 29 November 2016 Slobodan Vaskovic returned to Banja Luka. He decided not to report the incident to the police.

Government Plan to Strongly Reduce Funding for Public Service Broadcasting

Update: 18 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 20 Sep 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU Alert level Level 2
20 Sep 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU Level 2

The 2018 state budget, soon under discussion at Ukrainian Parliament, envisages for the public broadcaster around half of the budget defined in the Law on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine. The provisional budget of the public broadcaster, UA:PBC, for 2018 will be around 1,5 billion UAH (around 45-49 million EUR), which is one of the smallest budgets in Europe in comparison with other broadcasters, such as Poland, Romania, Croatia, having few times higher budgets, but covering smaller areas and communities. The Management Board of UA:PBC published on 18 September 2017 an official statement expressing its concern about possible under-funding of UA:PBC which could affect not only broadcaster's ability to fulfill its remit, but moreover could affect its independence, especially in the eve of the election campaign. Several professional organisations, including the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) called on Ukrainian Government to ensure appropriate funding for the public broadcaster in line with the Ukrainian Law and with European standards, as provided in Council of Europe Recommendation 1878 (2009) on Funding of public service broadcasting and EBU's principles for stable, accountable, fair and independent funding.

State replies

18 Dec 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

20 Sep 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

20 Sep 2017 : Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

Azerbaijani Director of Internet Television Re-arrested

Update: 18 Dec 2017 No reply yet
Year 30 Jun 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
30 Jun 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
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Aziz Orujov, director of internet television Kanal 13, was re-arrested on 1 June 2017 in Azerbaijan. On 2 May he was found guilty by court of committing an administrative offence - disobedience to a lawful order by police officer - and sentenced for 30 days. On 1 June, two hours before his expected release, he was taken to the Serious Crimes Investigation Department, then charged with illegal entrepreneurship with large income and abuse of official power. The judge has ordered the journalist's pre-trial detention for four months. After Ojurov's arrest, searches have been conducted in his apartment and in the office of Kanal 13. Computers, electronic carriers and documents were confiscated. Orujov's wife said that she is concerned about Ojurov's health because he suffers from chronic diseases. Media reported that the case against Ojurov is connected with his professional activities. Kanal 13 produces programmes on social and economic topics, presenting, among other things, positions of independent experts and opposition politicians. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

18 Dec 2017 : On 15 December 2017 the Baku Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Aziz Orujov to 6 years for illegal business and misappropriation of funds.

Follow-ups

18 Dec 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative calls on Azerbaijan authorities to end restrictive measures detrimental to journalists’ freedom and safety

Mehman Huseynov Sentenced to Two Years on Defamation Charges

Update: 18 Dec 2017 No reply yet
Year 10 Jan 2017 Country Azerbaijan 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
10 Jan 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , AEJ , 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. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

18 Dec 2017 : On 15 December 2017 the Baku Court of Appeals upheld the verdict against Huseynov, confirming his two year sentence for libel.
29 Sep 2017 : On 29 September 2017 the Supreme Court of Baku partially granted Mehman Huseynov`s appeal, sending the case back to the Court of Appeals.
12 Apr 2017 : On 12 April 2017, the Court of Appeals upheld the two years sentence against Mehman Huseynov.
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

07 Mar 2017 : OSCE Freedom of Media Representative and Human Rights chief call for release of blogger and human rights activist in Azerbaijan
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.

Uzbek Journalist on Interpol List Detained

Update: 18 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 02 Oct 2017 Country Ukraine Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Index , EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 1
02 Oct 2017 Ukraine B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Index , EFJ/IFJ Level 1

On 25 September 2017, a Kyiv court approved a 40-day detention period for Narzullo Okhunjonov, who has been living in exile since 2013. Authorities detained Okhunjonov under an international arrest warrant on 20 September, when he arrived in Ukraine with his family from Turkey to seek political asylum. The authorities noted that his name was on an Interpol list. Uzbekistan filed the international warrant for Okhunjonov on a fraud charge. The journalist, who left Uzbekistan to avoid politically motivated persecution for his reporting, denies the charges. Okhunjonov writes critically, in Uzbek and Russian, from exile for sites including BBC Uzbek about Uzbekistan's authoritarian government, particularly on the the late President Islam Karimov. The journalist arrived in Kyiv from Turkey with his wife and five children. His family is currently in the capital of Ukraine.

Updates

19 Oct 2017 : On 5 October 2017, Narzullo Okhunjonov was released from the detention center by a decision of the Kyiv prosecutor’s office.

State replies

18 Dec 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Polish Journalist Receives Death Threats After Public Polish TV Classifies Her Remarks As “Harmful to Poland”

Update: 18 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 18 Jul 2017 Country Poland Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Alert level Level 1
18 Jul 2017 Poland C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , RSF Level 1

Dorota Bawolek, a Polish journalist working in Brussels for Polish private TV channel Polsat TV, was targeted by hundreds of hateful messages on social media after the Polish public TV station TVP reproached her of having asked the European Commission an “upsetting” question on Thursday 13 July 2017. That Thursday, during the daily press conference of the European Commission in Brussels, Dorota Bawolek asked for explications on the state of democracy in Poland. On that same day, the Polish Parliament had adopted a draft law that would weaken the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and of the Supreme Court in particular. Noticing that the Commission was more inclined to comment on the issues concerning the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, Dorota Bawolek burst out: “You`d rather talk about a country that is leaving the European Union than about one that is still a member and that, if you refuse to commentate on what is happening, will also be at risk of leaving”. Following her remarks, TVP broadcast a report equating Dorota Bawolek`s attitude to “provocation”. The segment was then widely shared on social media, where the journalist was called a “traitor”, a “prostitute” and an “anti-Polish manipulator”, with some going as far as suggesting “shaving her head” or “hanging her”. Polsat TV has been called a “traitor of the Polish nation”. Some internet users have called for its immediate closure and for the establishment of a list of “traitors”. Faced with this outpouring of hate, the Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, expressed his indignation: “These are completely unacceptable threats, we have a duty of care toward all journalists accredited to the European Union”.

State replies

Journalists Targeted by Protesters in northern Cyprus

Update: 14 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 11 Oct 2017 Country Cyprus Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
11 Oct 2017 Cyprus C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

According to Basin-Sen (press workers’ trade union), on 9 October 2017 taxi drivers union (Birleşik Taksiciler Birliği) in northern Cyprus organised several public demonstrations where journalists and media workers covering the events were systematically targeted and threatened by protesters. The journalists have been exposed to verbal abuse, strong language and assaulted by the taxi drivers all day long. Police forces did not intervene when journalists were under attack, yet they only warned the journalists to stay away from the protestors.

Additional Information

State replies

14 Dec 2017 : Response from the Cypriot authorities

Italian Newspaper La Repubblica's Headquarters Attacked by Forza Nuova Supporters

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Year 14 Dec 2017 Country Italy Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
14 Dec 2017 Italy C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2
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On 6 December 2017 in the afternoon, the Italian far-right party Forza Nuova attacked the headquarters of left-wing newspaper La Repubblica and declared "war" against its publisher. Around twelve Forza Nuova supporters threw flares at the office of Repubblica, its publisher L’Espresso Group and the weekly magazine of the same name. They carried a banner which said “Boycott L’Espresso and Repubblica”. Nobody was reported injured. The attack came after the paper and publisher had expressed support for a proposed legislation to accelerate citizenship for immigrants’ children born in Italy. As a response, Forza Nuova stated on its Facebook page that it was "declaring war" on La Repubblica and L'Espresso, accusing them of "carrying out a genocide of the Italian people" by supporting the citizenship legislation. Interior Minister Minnitti visited La Repubblica on the same day in a show of solidarity and called the attack unacceptable. The Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI) has also publicly condemned the threats, calling on journalists to continue their work despite fascist groups’ reaction, and urging an urgent response from the government and authorities, condemning fascist attacks and threats to journalists.

Investigative Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia Killed by Car Bomb

Update: 06 Dec 2017 State replied
Year 17 Oct 2017 Country Malta Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 1
17 Oct 2017 Malta A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Unknown EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 1

Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has been murdered on 16 October 2017, around 3pm, by a car bomb in the town of Bidnija, near her family home. Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was known for her investigative journalism and her blog 'Running Commentary', which was one of the most widely read websites in Malta. In 2016, she was named by Politico as one of the “28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe”, after being the first to break news of Maltese politicians’ involvement in the Panama Papers scandal. The journalist had been sued many times for her blog posts in which she revealed several alleged corruption scandals involving Maltese politicians. In February 2017, her bank accounts were frozen and libel suits were filed against her by Maltese Economy Minister and his consultant, following a report revealing that both men visited a brothel during an official trip in Germany. According to media report, Daphne Caruana Galizia had filed a police report 15 days before her death saying she was being threatened.

Updates

06 Dec 2017 : On 4 December 2017 the Maltese police arrested ten suspects over the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. On 5 December, three of them were charged with the journalist`s murder, as well as with criminal use of explosives, being involved in organised crime, and criminal conspiracy.

State replies

17 Oct 2017 : Reply of the Maltese authorities

Follow-ups

17 Oct 2017 : Shocked by the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Commissioner for Human Rights calls on authorities to thoroughly investigate the case.
17 Oct 2017 : CoE Secretary General appalled by the brutal death of Maltese journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, in a car bombing, calls for a thorough investigation to find those responsible for her death.
17 Oct 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative outraged by killing of prominent journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, urges thorough investigation'

Six Journalists Detained Without Explanation

Update: 06 Dec 2017 No reply yet
Year 10 Jan 2017 Country Turkey Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
10 Jan 2017 Turkey B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 1
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Journalists and media workers Tunca Öğreten (freelance), Mahir Kanaat (BirGün daily), Ömer Celik (DIHA news director), Metin Yoksa (DIHA correspondent), Eray Saygin (Yolculuk daily) and Derya Okatan (ETHA) have been detained by Turkish authorities on 25 December 2016 at 04:30 from their homes in Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakır. Derya Okatan (ETHA) is on hunger strike against “state of emergency rulings” since 25 December and Ömer Celik (DIHA) was allegedly beaten during his arrest. Under the state of emergency, Turkish authorities have extended the detention period from 4 to 30 days and lawyers have no access to journalists for more than 5 days. No official reason has been given for these arrests and the journalists claim that they are being badly treated in detention.

Updates

06 Dec 2017 : On 6 December 2017 Tunca Öğreten and Mahir Kanaat were released on probation.The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 3 April 2018.
25 Oct 2017 : On 24 October 2017, the 29th Istanbul Court for severe crimes issued an interim judgement after the first hearing of the six journalists' trial. The court ruled to release Ömer Çelik. Öğreten and Kanaat are to remain in detention on remand. The journalists are charged with "being a member of an armed terrorist organisation", "propagandising for a terrorist organisation", "blocking, damaging information system" and "altering or destroying data".
18 Jan 2017 : On 18 January 2017, three of the six journalists were arrested (Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat and Ömer Celik). The other three were released under judiciary control (Metin Yoksa, Eray Saygin and Derya Okatan).

Follow-ups

01 Oct 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights recalls that any restrictions on access to Internet content should be based on a clear and predictable framework affording guarantee of judicial oversight to prevent possible abuses.
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OCTOBER 2017 Factsheet on detention with a view to expel, return, transfer or extradite a person to another country