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18 Apr 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Apr 2019 Russian Federation

Russian Draft Legislation Would Ban Distribution of Foreign Print Media Without Government Permission

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner CPJ AEJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ RSF
On 2 April 2019, deputies in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, considered amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses that would levy fines on individuals and companies for distributing print media from foreign outlets without permission from Russia's state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, according to an official statement from the Duma and media reports. For the amendments to become law, they must pass two more readings in the Duma and be approved by the parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, and then signed by President Vladimir Putin. Under the proposed amendments, Roskomnadzor would have the authority to seize all print media distributed without permission and penalize companies, such as newsstands, with up to 30,000 rubles (416 €) for the unauthorized distribution of media, according to the Duma statement. Individuals who disseminate unauthorized foreign print media would face fines of up to 1,500 rubles (20 €), while fines for public officials could reach up to 3,000 (41 €), according to the Duma.
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18 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Apr 2019 Albania

Albania: Journalists and Photographers Injured by Police During Anti-Government Protests

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ RSF
On 13 April 2019, Albanian police fired tear gas into a crowd during a demonstration in the capital, Tirana, affecting several journalists, according to news reports and video footage of the protest. Eliza Gjediku, a reporter for local TV station Tema TV, was incapacitated by the tear gas and was sent to a local hospital for treatment, according to her employer. The Associated Press reported that "a few journalists" were affected by tear gas. Arben Dajci, a freelance photographer, was hit on the head by a metal baton that he alleged was swung by a police officer, according to local English-language news website Exit. On the night of the protest, Exit published a photo of Dajci with a head injury allegedly caused by police. CPJ's emailed questions to the director of communications of the Albanian government did not immediately receive a response. Protests have been ongoing in Albania since mid-February, with the opposition demanding that the current government resign and hold early parliamentary elections, according to the AP.
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18 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Apr 2019 Italy

Italy: Journalist Valentino Gonzato Assaulted, Robbed while Reporting in Park

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ
On 2 April 2019, Valentino Gonzato, an Italian reporter with the daily newspaper Il Giornale di Vicenza, was assaulted by a group of seven people while reporting in Fornaci Park in Vicenza, a city in Northern Italy, according to his employer. The group threatened the reporter, spat on him, and punched and kicked him, according to Il Giornale di Vicenza; members of the group also stole his phone. The paper reported that Gonzato suffered injuries and was taken to a local emergency room. It did not specify the extent of his injuries. According to regional news website Il Gazettino, police intervened in the assault and arrested seven people. The police also recovered Gonzato's phone, the website reported. CPJ emailed questions about the investigation to the local police in Vicenza but did not receive a reply. CPJ's emailed request for comment to Il Giornale di Vicenza also did not receive a response. According to Il Giornale di Vicenza, Gonzato was documenting the presence of drug dealers and tent encampments in the park when he was attacked.
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18 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 18 Apr 2019 Bulgaria

Bulgaria: Journalists Injured by Police During Protest

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner CPJ AEJ
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ AEJ
On 12 April 2019, at least two journalists were injured while covering clashes between police and protesters in Gabrovo, a town in central Bulgaria, according to local media reports. Veselin Tsvetanov, a reporter, and Daniel Stefanov, a cameraman, who both work for Bulgarian internet broadcaster Radio 999, reported that they had been hit by the police while they covered a demonstration, according to those media reports. Stefanov told Radio 999's affiliated TV station, TV 999, that that he was hit by a police baton above his left eye and required four stitches, according to a transcript of the interview by Bulgarian news website dir.bg. Tsvetanov was also hit on the head but did not require medical attention, according to Stefanov. CPJ emailed questions to the press center of the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior, but did not immediately receive a response. The Gabrovo police chief resigned on 12 April after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov criticised the police for mishandling the protests, according to the Bulgarian News Agency, the country's public news agency.
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17 Apr 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 17 Apr 2019 United Kingdom

Proposals for Online Harms Regulation Risk Impacting Media Freedom

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Index AEJ
No state reply yet
Partner Index AEJ
Proposed new and wide-ranging legislation in the UK government’s “Online Harms White Paper” released on 8 April has raised concerns about media freedom. Proposed measures include a new legal duty of care to address a wide range of “harms” (not limited to illegal material or activities) with the possibility of large fines and potentially criminal liability for senior managers. Companies of all sizes, including social media companies, public discussion forums, non-profit organisations, file sharing sites and cloud hosting providers are included (for example, a blog and comments would be included). Media and campaigning organisations have raised concerns about the risks of direct and indirect interference with media freedom, such as prior restraint for comments sections and potential removal of "harmful" news stories online.
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15 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 12 Sep 2018 Turkey

Austrian Journalist Max Zirngast Detained in Turkey

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index IPI
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index IPI
Austrian journalist Max Zirngast has been detained on early hours of 11 September 2018 at his apartment in Ankara by anti-terror authorities. According to some media reports, he would be detained on "terror propaganda" charges. Allegations may be related to his political publications and involvement in civil activism against the Turkish government. He was arrested along with two other Turkish citizens.

Max Zirngast, a political science student at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), has been contributing to left-wing publications such as Austrian magazine re:volt, US left-wing publication Jacobin, Turkish socialist monthly Toplumsal Özgürlük. He was publishing content often critical to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He has been politically active in the election campaign of pro-kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party).
Updates
New 15 Apr 2019
Max Zirngast’s first hearing took place on 11 April 2019. Judicial control measure to sign weekly attendance at police station is lifted, travel ban remained. Hearing adjourned to 11 Sept 2019.
04 Jan 2019
On 25 December 2018, Austrian freelance journalist Max Zirngast has been released but is still under prosecution with a travel ban.
Follow-ups
12 Sep 2018
OSCE Representative strongly condemns detention of Austrian journalist Max Zirngast and urge authorities to immediately release him.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (0):

Max Zirngast
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15 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yetProgress
Alert created on: 10 Jan 2017 Azerbaijan

Mehman Huseynov Sentenced to Two Years on Defamation Charges

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner Article 19 AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index IPI PEN RSF
No state reply yet
Partner Article 19 AEJ CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index IPI PEN RSF
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.
Updates
New 15 Apr 2019
On 12 April 2019, the authorities of Azerbaijan lifted the travel ban of Mehman Hüseynov, allowing him to leave the country and attend an OSCE conference on media freedom in Vienna.
10 Apr 2019
On 9 April 2019, Mehman Huseynov was informed that he was banned from leaving the country, according to the order of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan.
04 Mar 2019
Mehman Huseynov was released from prison on 2 March 2019 after fully serving a two-year prison sentence.
22 Jan 2019
On 22 January 2019, the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan announced that the new criminal case against Mehman Huseynov, regarding his alleged attack on a warden, has been discontinued. This follows the statement of the President of Azerbaijan, who issued a recommendation to the prosecution “to ensure the fairness and objectivity of the investigation”, taking into account the family situation and the youth of the defendant.
02 Jan 2019
On 26 December 2018, two months before his supposed end of sentence, new charges were brought against Mehman Huseynov. He was accused of beating a prison employee and placed in a punishment cell. In protest, he went on a dry hunger strike. On 30 December, Mr. Huseynov was transferred to Baku pre-trial centre. Due to his critical health state, a doctor was called in, who administered injections. The Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety addressed an appeal to the international community to “condemn another flagrant repressive act and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mehman Huseynov”
28 Aug 2018
On 14 August 2018, Mehman Huseynov asked for a conditional detention, a request that was rejected by the Garadargsky District Court on 24 August.
28 Jun 2018
On 25 June 2018, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court rejected the second appeal by Mehman Huseynov, upholding his prison sentence for defamation.
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 Jan 2019
PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Azerbaijan call upon authorities to review Mehman Huseynov’s case
07 Jan 2019
Commissioner calls on the authorities of Azerbaijan to drop charges against Mehman Huseynov
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.
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15 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 15 Apr 2019 Azerbaijan

Anar Mammadov Gets Suspended Prison Sentence

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner RPT
No state reply yet
Partner RPT
N/A
On 18 March 2019, Anar Mammadov, the editor of the Criminal.az website, was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison with a two-year probation period. The Baku Court for Serious Crimes found Mammadov guilty of making public calls against the state, abuse of professional duties and forgery. Mammadov insisted that his website reposted only articles by other sources and agencies. The investigation of the Mammadov's case began in 2018 after the Prosecutor-General’s Office accused him of distributing false information regarding the attack against the mayor of Ganca, and a massive power outage following the explosion at a thermal power station in Mingacevir. During the two-year probation period, the journalist is banned from changing his place of residence and leaving the country.
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15 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 15 Apr 2019 Russian Federation

Blood Feud Declared By Official Against Blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner RPT
No state reply yet
Partner RPT
A popular Russian blogger, Tumso Abdurakhmanov, was called “an enemy to me and my brothers” by the Speaker of Chechen parliament, Magomed Daudov. Daudov, a close ally of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, declared a blood feud against Abdurakhmanov after the blogger published a video on his popular YouTube channel, calling Akhmat Kadyrov “a traitor” of the Chechen people. Abdurakhmanov believes that the blood feud declared against him is nothing less than a death threat. On 12 March, in his Instagram Live broadcast, Daudov vowed to track down Abdurakhmanov and retaliate, using the Chechen term for "blood feud." Daudov’s recording was translated into Russian and reported on the same day by several Russian news outlets. Abdurakhmanov fled Chechnya in 2015 after the Chechen authorities accused Abdurakhmanov of having links with the "Islamic State" (IS), banned in Russia by the court. A criminal case was initiated against him under the article of "participation in illegal armed formations (IAFs) outside the country". Abdurakhmanov is presently in hiding in Poland facing deportation. Despite strong opposition from human rights activists, Abdurakhmanov's first asylum application was rejected. He's currently awaiting the decision on his second application. Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unaware of the threat made by Daudov and that there is “no such thing” as blood feuds in Russian law.
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15 Apr 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 24 Feb 2017 Turkey

"Die Welt" Correspondent in Turkey Deniz Yücel Detained

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 AEJ CPJ Index IPI RSF
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ Article 19 AEJ CPJ Index IPI RSF
Germany daily Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel was taken into custody in Istanbul on 14 February 2017. Mr Yücel, who holds both German and Turkish citizenship, is accused by Turkish authorities of being a member of a terrorist organisation, spreading propaganda and misusing information, charges refuted by the defendant as well as media organisations. The journalist had reported – like six other journalists working for national news outlets detained at the end of December 2016 – on emails that the hacker collective RedHack had acquired from the private email account of Turkey's Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is President Erdoğan's son-in-law. The emails allegedly revealed media outlets' control and the use of fake Twitter accounts to influence the public in favour of the ruling AK party.
Updates
New 15 Apr 2019
On April 11-hearing, court adjourned the next hearing to 16 July, allowing Deniz Yücel's defense statement to be heard in a Berlin rogatory court on 10 May 2019.
26 Sep 2018
On 25 September 2018, the Istanbul 17th Heavy Penal Court rejected Deniz Yücel’s request for compensation for his year-long imprisonment in Turkey.
16 Feb 2018
On 16 February 2018, a criminal court in Istanbul ordered the release of Deniz Yücel pending trial. On the same day, prosecutors presented an indictment seeking up to 18 years in jail for the journalist on charges of "spreading terrorist propaganda" and "stirring enmity".
30 Mar 2017
On 30 March 2017, following the rejection of the appeal, Yücel’s lawyers filed a complaint at the Constitutional Court.
28 Feb 2017
On 27 February 2017, Deniz Yücel was arrested after an Istanbul court ordered him to be jailed pending trial. His lawyers have appealed against his detention.
Follow-ups
16 Feb 2018
OSCE Media freedom representative welcomes the release of Deniz Yücel, adding that all charges against him should be dropped.
19 Oct 2017
On 10 October 2017, the Commissioner for human rights intervened before the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning the detention of journalists and freedom of expression in Turkey
02 Mar 2017
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media calls on Turkey to decriminalize journalistic work following arrest of Die Welt journalist
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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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Follow-ups to alerts Follow-ups to alerts

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”.

19 January 2018