IN 2017

Latest threats to media freedom


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

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Year 18 Oct 2017 Country Iceland Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
18 Oct 2017 Iceland E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ Level 2
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The District Commissioner of Reykjavík issued an injunction on 16 October 2017 against media outlets Stundin and Reykjavík Media, prohibiting them from doing any future reporting on the financial dealings of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and his family with Glitnir bank just before the economic collapse of Iceland in October 2008. The case has drawn sharp criticism from the Journalists’ Union of Iceland and Stundin’s editor considering that the injunction goes against press freedom and freedom of expression in Iceland. The editor of Stundin has learned of the injunction when their offices received a visit from representatives of the District Commissioner and Glitnir demanding to delete all previous reporting that they had done on the Prime Minister’s time as an MP, to hand over all documentation that contributed to this reporting, and to cease all future reporting on the subject referring to concerns on the confidentiality of financial information.

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia killed by car bomb

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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 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.

State replies

New 17 Oct 2017 : Reply of the Maltese authorities


New 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.
New 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.
New 17 Oct 2017 : OSCE media freedom representative outraged by killing of prominent journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, urges thorough investigation'

Ukrainian Journalist Held on ‘Spying‘ Allegations

Update: 16 Oct 2017 No reply yet
Year 03 Oct 2016 Country Russian Federation Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
03 Oct 2016 Russian Federation B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
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The authorities in Russia arrested Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko who is believed to be currently detained in the Lefortovo prison in Moscow, according to human rights organisations. Media reports in Russia said that the 47-year-old Paris correspondent for the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform since 2010 was arrested on his arrival in Russia and was charged with spying, a charge that the agency has strongly refuted. The journalist’s family had been without news of him for two days, after he left Paris for a private visit to Moscow during his leave. Suchchenko reportedly complained that he had been put under psychological pressure and was not allowed to contact his wife to inform her about his arrest. Alert : 1 detention


16 Oct 2017 : Between November 2016 and September 2017, Courts extended several times the pre-trial detention term of Roman Sushchenko. The last extension runs until 30 November 2017.
30 Nov 2016 : On 28 November 2016, the Lefortovo District Court ordered to extend the pre-trial detention of Mr Sushchenko until 30 January 2017

Bulgarian investigative journalist's car set on fire following warnings about TV reports

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Year 16 Oct 2017 Country Bulgaria Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat Unknown Partner AEJ , CPJ Alert level Level 2
16 Oct 2017 Bulgaria C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Unknown AEJ , CPJ Level 2
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On 4 October 2017, a car belonging to Zornitsa Akmanova, a reporter for the TV programme ‘Lords of the Air’, was set on fire in the central Bulgarian town Karlovo. The ‘Lords of the Air’ programme sets out to expose and confront cases of fraud and other dishonest business practices. On the following day, the owner of a local car garage, Plamen Dimitrov, was arrested in connection with the attack on Ms Akmanova’s car. Just a few hours before the arson, the local authorities had closed down Mr Dimitrov’s garage business. Police intervention was prompted by high-profile TV reports by Ms Akmanova alleging Mr Dimitrov’s involvement in a number of acts of fraud against clients. Ms Akmanova has stated that she had previously received several threats warning her to stop reporting on Mr Dimitrov’s activities. On 9 October, Mr Dimitrov was released on bail after being charged on a single count of fraud against a client. No charges have been brought in connection with the burning of Ms Akmanova’s car or the threats she has received. Bulgarian media report that following a number of previous claims made by local people against Mr Dimitrov, three local prosecutors have dropped the investigations on account of his reported relationship with a senior official in the Karlovo municipality. Subsequently those cases were re-directed to the regional prosecutors in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, but prosecutors there have also declined to carry out investigations against the garage owner. The destruction of Zornitsa Akmanova’s car follows threats and acts of violence against other journalists working for ‘Lords of the Air’. In the recent past another reporter for the progamme, Eva Veselinova, was physically assaulted while filming an investigation into alleged fraudulent practices at a construction company. A third reporter, Dimitar Varbanov, received threats related to his investigations of the activities of a local businessman.

Physical Attack Against Journalist Drago Miljuš

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Year 13 Oct 2017 Country Croatia Category A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
13 Oct 2017 Croatia A. Attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
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On 11 October 2017, portal journalist Drago Miljuš was standing at the public facility outside police lines covering the police intervention at the Obojena svijetlost beach in Split (Croatia). The intervention was related to a suicide bomber who, unfortunately, came through with his intention. One of the policemen present started driving Miljuš off, first verbally and then by pushing him away. The policeman threw Miljuš mobile phone into the sea. He was joined by a special police force officer who hit the journalist in the head, knocking him down and splitting his lips. After the incident, Miljuš requested medical assistance at the hospital where his lips were stitched. Split police department announced that it has opened an investigation into this incident and will inform the public about its findings.

License for UK Community Radio Station Revoked

Update: 12 Oct 2017 State replied
Year 28 Jul 2017 Country United Kingdom Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 Alert level Level 2
28 Jul 2017 United Kingdom E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 Level 2

On 27 July 2017, Ofcom, the UK regulatory authority for audiovisual media, revoked the community radio licence held by Iman FM, due to "extremely serious breaches of the Broadcasting Code, after [Iman FM] aired material likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder". The decision is related to the broadcast of a series of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American radical Muslim cleric. Ofcom launched an investigation into the station, following a complaint from a member of the public at the beginning of July. The radio station's service was suspended on 4 July; and on 27 July, Ofcom issued a decision stating that it will not be reinstated. According to Ofcom's decision, the breach of the Broadcasting Code was particularly serious: the broadcast lectures are clearly extremist, coming from a known figure identified as a terrorist by the United States. Ofcom stated that Iman FM had demonstrated "a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic requirements of compliance in broadcasting", and that a failure to revoke the license would "put listeners and the general public at risk." Ofcom further noted that, although there is no evidence that Iman FM intended to incite crime, the station's failure to fully listen to or check the source of materials that it broadcast "fell substantially below the standards expected of a responsible broadcaster, including one that is run by a team of volunteers." Iman FM has admitted it made a mistake broadcasting the lectures and has issued an apology for it. Freedom of expression groups have raised concerns that Ofcom's decision is disproportionate.

State replies

New 12 Oct 2017 : Response from the United Kingdom Government

Far-right Militants Threatened Novosti Newspaper During Protest

Update: 11 Oct 2017 State replied
Year 19 Sep 2017 Country Croatia Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat Non-state Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
19 Sep 2017 Croatia E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Non-state EFJ/IFJ Level 2

On 2 September 2017, members of the far-right Autochthonous Croatian Party of Right (A-HSP) gathered in front of weekly Novosti’s office in central Zagreb and burned a copy of the magazine, which is published by the Serb National Council in Croatia. According to the Western Balkans Regional Platform for Advocacy of Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, A-HSP accused Novosti journalists of spreading hate against Croatians and called on the Croatian government to stop funding the magazine. During the incident, Novosti journalists also faced repeated hate speech through social media and threats - including death threats - according to Novosti editor Nikola Bajto, who said in an interview to Novi list newspaper that the A-HSP threatened Novosti journalists that "they will end up like Charlie Hebdo".

State replies

New 11 Oct 2017 : Response from the Croatian authorities

Threats from Politicians towards Bulgarian TV Journalist Viktor Nikolaev

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Year 11 Oct 2017 Country Bulgaria Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
11 Oct 2017 Bulgaria C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , EBU , Index , RSF Level 2
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Viktor Nikolaev, journalist at NOVA TV, was threatened by an MP for ruling party GERB, Anton Todorov, and Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Simeonov during live broadcast of his TV morning show, on 6 October 2017. Todorov and Simeonov threatened the journalist that he would lose his job if he continued to ask inconvenient questions about the purchase of fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force. The threat immediately raised a wave of concern among journalists in Bulgaria. Both politicians consider this incident as misrepresentation of their words. However, the same day MP Todorov apologised in a Facebook post. He resigned from Parliament on 9 October. On the contrary, Simeonov considered the accusations as slander and asked Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National TV and NOVA TV for an apology otherwise the case will be taken to court. According to him, the media organized a scandalous campaign against him. The Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ) called on Simeonov to resign.

WSJ Journalist Ayla Albayrak Sentenced to Prison by Turkish court

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Year 11 Oct 2017 Country Turkey Category C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ Alert level Level 2
11 Oct 2017 Turkey C. Harassment and intimidation of journalists State EFJ/IFJ Level 2
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On 10 October 2017, a Turkish court sentenced Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak to two years and one month in prison, declaring her guilty of engaging in terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization through one of her articles. Ms. Albayrak, who is currently in New York, has announced her intention to appeal the decision. Turkish legal actions against Ms. Albayrak began after the publication on 19 August 2015, on the WSJ's website of her article “Urban Warfare Escalates in Turkey’s Kurdish-Majority Southeast.” The article and accompanying video reported on the state of a conflict in Silopi, Turkey, between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. It included interviews with the local mayor and residents, a Turkish government official, as well as a representative of an organization Turkey says is the youth unit of the PKK. In November of the same year, Ms. Albayrak, who has dual Finnish and Turkish citizenship, received a written order on her door to visit her local police station in Istanbul where she was notified she was under investigation for spreading terrorist propaganda. Ms. Albayrak said in a statement included in the court documents that the original article didn’t include any praise for the group, but rather provided a balanced and objective view of urban warfare that had gripped areas of Turkey’s southeast at the time.

Journalists Targeted by Protesters in Northern Cyprus

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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
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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.

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