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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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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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