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18 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Jan 2019 Turkey

Turkey Deports Dutch Journalist without Explanation

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ IPI
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ IPI
On 17 January 2019, the journalist Ans Boersma, Turkey correspondent for the Dutch financial paper Het Financieele Dagblad, was deported from Turkey. Ms Boersma was apprehended by Turkish police the day before, following her visit to the migration office to renew her residence permit as a foreign correspondent. Nine days before her arrest, she had received her accreditation and press card from the Turkish authorities for the year 2019. Ms Boersman was detained in a police office in Bakırköy for over five hours, before being transferred to another police station close to Atatürk airport, where she spent the night.
The police told the journalist that she was posing a threat to Turkey’s national security without any formal explanation or evidence. She has not even been provided with any legal document confirming her deportation.
Thomas Bruning, General Secretary of the Dutch union of journalists (NVJ) strongly condemned the deportation and said : “Turkey shows its dark side again with the deportation of our Dutch colleague Ans Boersma. It’s another sad example of the grim situation for journalists in Turkey, with dozens of journalists behind bars. We ask the European Union and the Dutch government to take action.” According to a statement put out by Het Financieele Dagblad, Boersma suspects she was deported because she had a relationship until 2015 with a Syrian man who was arrested for alleged links to al-Nusra Front.
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16 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 16 Jan 2019 Malta

Cyber Attack Against Maltese Online News Platform

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 14 January 2019, the Shift News, an independent Maltese online news platform, experienced a vicious cyber attack aimed at taking the site down, following the publication of a series of investigative stories on controversial hospitals deal. The case referred to the buying agreement through which Steward Healthcare acquired Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) and a concession over three public hospitals worth millions per year for one euro. The attack started after the publication of the third story in the series, on Monday morning, showing how the hidden owners of Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) funded the €5 million purchase of Technoline and then awarded themselves exclusivity of supply. Since then the site has being targeted by a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, which essentially involves flooding a website server with traffic from multiple sources until the site crashes. Such attacks are designed to take websites and servers offline at critical times. According to the Shift News, these attacks are often politically motivated.
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15 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 26 Nov 2018 France

Repeated Attacks on Journalists by the 'Yellow Vest' Protestors

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ RSF
The French journalists unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT Journalistes denounce the multiplication of attacks on journalists during the "Yellow Vest" protests in several French cities. Since 17 November 2018, the insults or threats by some "yellow vests" against journalists have become commonplace during demonstrations and on social networks. Several journalists were also victims of physical assaults. TV news outlets had to take special measures to protect their reporters. On Saturday, 24 November, uninhibited violence was unleashed against several television crews who were covering the demonstrations. In Besançon, on 17 November, journalists from the BIP community radio were subjected to racist insults. One of them was hit in the face. Suffering from a broken bone, he filed a complaint. In Montpellier, on 18 November, several television reporters were attacked by dozens of protesters. Protesters spat in the face of a freelance journalist who collaborates with several television channels, including BFM TV. In Toulouse, on 24 November, the BFM TV and CNews teams were called "collaborators", and were also the target of spitting and threats. These journalists escaped an attempted lynching, on the Capitol Square, conducted by a hundred people, without the intervention of police. In Béziers, on 24 November, journalists from the regional public channel France 3 Occitanie were severely assaulted. A group of about 300 ‘yellow vests’ also attacked the office of newspaper Midi Libre. A journalist was beaten and the door handle of the local newspaper agency was broken when protesters attempted to break into the premises. Five journalists from CNEWS and BFMTV lodged complaints on grounds of "aggravated violence", "death threats" and "attempted gang assault" following protests held on 24 and 25 November.
Updates
New 15 Jan 2019
On 12 January 2019, several journalists were heckled or assaulted while covering "yellow vests" demonstrations in France. On the night of Friday 11 to Saturday 12 January, about thirty “yellow vests” blocked the Valenciennes storage house of the regional daily newspaper "La Voix du Nord", preventing the distribution of 20,000 newspapers on Saturday morning. About fifty "yellow vests", some hooded, blocked the printing center of the regional newspaper "Yonne Républicaine" in Auxerre. They gathered in front of the printing center shortly before midnight, preventing the delivery trucks from leaving. The blockade hindered distribution of some editions of "Le Journal du Center" and "La République du Centre" regional dailies. Near Angouleme, the regional daily "La Charente libre" could be published only thanks to police protection. About 70 “yellow vests” had gathered in front of the newspaper headquarters. They tried to block the distribution of the daily newspaper, accused of being "a pack of hacks on the government’s payroll". On Saturday in Rouen, a security guard who accompanied two journalists from the LCI news channel was beaten while on the ground. His nose got broken. A complaint was filed. In Paris, a team of LCI journalists was also attacked by some demonstrators and a journalist was thrown to the ground before the intervention of other protesters intervened to protect her. In Toulon, two video journalists working for the Agence France Presse (AFP) received threats while filming clashes before eventually taking shelter in a restaurant. In Marseille, a video journalist from public TV channel France 3 and two photographers were insulted and prevented from working. In Toulouse, a journalist from the regional daily "La dépêche du Midi", insulted and threatened with rape by hooded "yellow vests", filed a complaint on Sunday 13 January. Sheltered in her car, she heard protesters shout "We'll get you out and rape you," reported on Twitter Lionel Laparade, one of the newspaper editors in chief. In Pau, a freelance journalist from the local media "C L'Info Pau", Franck Paillanave, was hit while reporting live. "Yellow vests" surrounded, showered him with insults, and then beat him. He said on Sunday that he would also file a complaint.
Follow-ups
28 Nov 2018
New Recent attacks against journalists while covering protests are unacceptable. Journalists must be able to work, and inform the citizens on public demonstrations, safely.
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15 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 13 Apr 2016 Montenegro

Freelance Journalist and Fixer Jovo Martinovic Tried for “Being a Member of a Criminal Organization”

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
Partner RSF EFJ/IFJ
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).
Updates
New 15 Jan 2019
On 15 January 2019, the Higher Court in Podgorica sentenced Jovo Martinovic to 1.5 years in prison for alleged “drug trafficking and membership in a criminal organisation”. The journalist rejected the charges which he considers politically motivated. The verdict was condemned by international media freedom organisations and organisations of journalists. Jovo Martinovic announced that he would appeal the verdict.
09 Jan 2017
On 5 January 2017, journalist Jovo Martinović was released pending trial. The Court ordered Martinović to check in with police twice a month, and confiscated his passport. As a consequence, the alert was changed to level 2.
State replies
07 Dec 2016
Reply from Montenegro provided by the Ministry of Justice
Follow-ups
09 Jan 2017
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomes release of Montenegrin journalist and calls for conclusion of his case
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14 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 14 Jan 2019 Turkey

Turkish News Portal OdaTV Threatened with Violence "Like the Charlie Hebdo Attack"

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner AEJ EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner AEJ EFJ/IFJ
A Turkish religious official employed by Diyanet, the government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, has been accused of inciting violent reprisals against the staff of the odaTV news portal by publicly condemning critics of Islamic teaching and invoking the 2015 massacre of journalists in the attack on the staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in 2015. Senior journalists at odaTV say they received new online threat in the days following the utterances of Ahmet Altıok, a religious official or mufti who interprets Islamic law. In an interview with the İlke News Agency (İLKHA) published on 29 December 2018, Altıok verbally attacked odaTV over its critical reporting about the teaching of the doctrines of Islam in Turkish schools, including the concept of jihad. Altıok reportedly said he believed that ‘those who ridicule Muslims… will again be convicted in the eyes and hearts of society’. Senior journalists at odaTV said the mufti’s words amounted to an open death threat. They have filed a criminal complaint with police and called on the Turkish Justice and Interior Ministries, as well as Diyanet, to prevent the use of such inflammatory language by public officials and to ensure the safety of those working for odaTV. Similar demands have been made urgently by Turkish opposition politicians as well as by international organisations that work to protect journalists against all forms of attacks and threats.
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14 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 21 Dec 2018 Croatia

Journalist Ivan Žada Subjected to Threats

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
During October 2018, Croatian journalist Ivan Žada has been the target of threats on two occasions by Ivan Đakić, son of Josip Đakić, a Member of Parliament from Croatia's ruling conservative HDZ party, allegedly because of the journalist's writings about the MP. The threat was first made verbally in public in a café bar in the town of Virovitica, where Ivan Đakić declared that he planned to hire a hitman to physically assault Žada. The second threat was made on Đakić's Facebook wall. In several posts, Ivan Đakić accused the journalist of "writting nonsense, filthy and stupid things" about his father and that he was ready “to stay in prison for life if needed” for him. He also warned the journalist “to think it over“. Ivan Žada reported the threats and the County State Attorney started an investigation.
State replies
14 Jan 2019
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11 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 30 Mar 2015 Azerbaijan

Trumped-up Charges to Silence an Investigative Journalist in Azerbaijan

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a leading figure in the battle for press freedom in Azerbaijan, was arrested on 5 December 2014 on a trumped-up charge of inciting a former colleague to commit suicide. Her preventive detention has been routinely extended ever since and on 13 February 2015, she was additionally charged with large-scale embezzlement, illegal trading, tax evasion and abuse of authority. The new charges follow a 26 December 2014 raid on the Baku bureau of Radio Azadliq (the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), which Ismayilova ran until just over four years ago. Radio Azadliq was closed and placed under seal after being searched.
RWB calls these charges frivolous and considers that Khadija Ismayilova's arrest is merely a punishment for her brave journalistic activities. An award-winning journalist, she is well known for deep investigations into the corruption at the highest levels of government. Ismayilova's arrest was condemned by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe President Anne Brasseur, the US Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, RSF, the IFJ, the EFJ, Index on Censorship, the CPJ and many others. For most of these organisations, the arrest of Ismailova is nothing but intimidation, part of an ongoing campaign aimed at silencing free and critical voices in Azerbaijan.
Updates
New 15 Jan 2019
On 10 January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered its judgment in one of the cases filed by Khadija Imsayilova (as the target of a systematic smear campaign comprising threats, intimidations and gross violations of her privacy designed to prevent her from pursuing her journalistic work). The ECHR found violations of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights by Azerbaijan in respect of these intrusions into the journalist's private life.
07 Feb 2018
On 30 January 2018, the Baku Court of Appeal refused to lift a travel ban on Khadija İsmayilova.
10 Aug 2016
On 8 August 2016, the Court for Serious Crimes ordered Khadija Ismayilova's suspended term to be shortened to 2 years and 3 months:
25 May 2016
On 25 May 2016, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court has ordered to release Khadija Ismayilova from custody after reducing her prison sentence from 7.5 years to a suspended term of 3.5 years.
25 Nov 2015
On 25 November 2015, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the court of first instance, sentencing Khadija Ismayilova to a 7.5 year prison term.
03 Sep 2015
On 1 September 2015, a Baku court sentenced Khadija Ismayilova to 7 and a half years in prison on charges of misappropriation and embezzlement, illegal business dealings, tax evasion and abuse of power. In her closing statement, Ms Ismayilova denounced the case against her as politically motivated with the aim of ending her investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government. The AEJ, Article 19, EFJ/IFJ and Reporters Without Borders jointly denounce the verdict and sentence against Khadiya Ismayilova as based on fabricated evidence and legally unsound. They call for the verdict to be reversed, for the case against Ismayilova to be dismissed, and for her immediate and unconditional release.
21 Aug 2015
Khadija Ismayilova's hearing began in Baku on 7th August, and culminated in a request on 21st August by the State Prosecutor to sentence her to 9 years in prison. The judge has adjourned the case until 26th August, when a verdict is likely to be delivered. The State Prosecutor's request to condemn Ismayilova to 9 years' imprisonment is a gross violation of human rights, given the lack of due process in the case and the absence of any credible evidence presented by the prosecution. Ismayilova has accused the court of rushing through her trial and not giving her sufficient chance to respond to the charges. Only some representatives of foreign embassies were allowed to attend the trial; and no independent media or civil society were present. The IFJ, the EFJ, ARTICLE 19, and AEJ urge the Azerbaijan authorities to reject the Prosecutor’s request and immediately free Khadija Ismayilova.
State replies
01 Jun 2015
Reply by the Government of Azerbaijan
Follow-ups
25 May 2016
Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
21 Jan 2016
CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Khadija Ismayilova
01 Sep 2015
PACE President deplores Khadija Ismayilova sentence in Azerbaijan
01 Sep 2015
Statement by the Spokesperson of Secretary General Jagland on the verdict in the case of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan
21 Aug 2015
Statement of the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
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09 Jan 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 24 Sep 2018 Croatia

President of the Croatia Journalists’ Association Threatened with Dismissal

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
On 12 September, journalist Hrvoje Zovko, president of the Croatia Journalists' Association (CJA), decided to resign as deputy editor-in-chief of public TV channel HTV4. Hrvoje Zovko has been a journalist and an editor for public TV HRT for 20 years. Zovko explained in a statement the reasons for his move, citing pressure, censorship and unprofessional choices of topics. On 13 September, Zovko's editor-in-chief, Katarina Perisa Cakarun, accepted his resignation, while criticizing his trade union involvement as chairman of CJA. On 14 September, the management of HRT decided to launch a dismissal procedure against the journalist, on the basis of a report by Katarina Perisa Cakarun. CJA called on the management of HRT to stop the dismissal procedure, which is seen by CJA as an act of retaliation against Zovko, and an act of intimidation against all HRT journalists affiliated to CJA.
Updates
New 09 Jan 2019
The management of the Croatian Radio-Television HRT filed a lawsuit for alleged criminal offences against its honour and reputation by the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND/CJA), its President Hrvoje Zovko and the President of the HND/CJA Branch at HRT, Sanja Mikleušević Pavić. HRT claims a financial compensation of 500,000 kunas (67,000 EUR). The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety asked the HRT to withdraw the filed lawsuits as soon as possible and to stop pressuring HND/CJA, and harassing representatives of the journalists’ association.
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09 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 09 Jan 2019 Turkey

Journalist Pelin Ünker Sentenced to Jail for Writing on "Paradise Papers"

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index
On 8 January, 2019, a court in Istanbul sentenced journalist Pelin Ünker to 13 months and 15 days in prison, along with an additional fine. The sentence, along with a fine of 8,600 Turkish lira (€1,370) was imposed for "insulting and slandering a public official." Ünker's report appeared in Turkey's secular, left-leaning Cumhuriyet newspaper, for which she no longer works. Former Turkish Prime minister Binali Yıldırım and his two sons sued Ünker in November 2017 over a report about his sons' alleged ties to five offshore companies in Malta. Pelin Ünker, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was found guilty of “defamation and insult” for writing about companies in Malta owned by Binali Yıldırım and his sons. The journalist was not immediately jailed and is still able to appeal which is what she will do pointing out that the Yıldırım family had admitted that articles about their Maltese businesses were accurate. Binali Yıldırım is currently the speaker of the Turkish Parliament and is set to run as candidate for mayor of Istanbul for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
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08 Jan 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 02 Jul 2018 Turkey

Journalist and Former MP Eren Erdem Detained for his Work as Editor-in-chief

1 Journalist in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ
A former Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker and professional journalist Eren Erdem was arrested on June 29, 2018 over terrorism charges.Mr Erdem was detained in Ankara after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a warrant. He was brought to Istanbul by the police where he was arrested by the 35th Heavy Penal Court. The journalist and former member of the parliament was on trial over his work during his time as the editor-in-chief of Karşı newspaper. The prosecutor accused Erdem in the indictment for “aiding a terrorist organization without being a member,” “revealing the identity of a secret witness,” and “violating the confidentiality of a criminal investigation." Erdem, who is charged with links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), could be jailed from 9.5 years to 22 years, the indictment says. Turkish media reported on June 29 that Erdem was detained over suspicions that he would flee the country, a claim denied multiple times by Mr Erdem and reported by media outlets.
Updates
New 08 Jan 2019
On 7 January 2019, Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office objected to the verdict of release given for Eren Erdem on the same day by the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court. Following a Court decision, Eren Erdem was re-arrested on 8 January.
New 07 Jan 2019
On 7 January 2019, a Turkish court released former CHP lawmaker and journalist Eren Erdem pending trial.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (1):

Eren Erdem
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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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