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16 Aug 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 14 Jun 2019 Slovak Republic

Mass Surveillance Operation on Slovak Journalists

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner IPI AEJ RSF
Partner IPI AEJ RSF
Slovak media in April revealed the existence of a massive surveillance operation on journalists conducted between March 2017 and February 2018 by a former intelligence agent, Peter Tóth, on behalf of Marian Kočner, the disgraced businessman charged with ordering the murders of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. The leading Slovak daily SME today published reports that a small, organised group worked with Tóth to gather information to be used by Kočner apparently to discredit journalists, including those working for SME, Aktuality.sk, Trend and Denník N. The group closely monitored the targets’ personal lives and daily activities, going so far as to monitor journalists as they picked up their children from kindergarden. SME also said members of the group sat in a parked car every day in front of the newspaper’s office to follow one of its journalists, Adam Valček. Media also reported that the surveillance team obtained extensive access to official police databases, collecting private data on journalists ranging from vehicle license plates to tax information. According to reports, information about Kuciak obtained through the surveillance operation was used by the individuals suspected of carrying out the double murder in February 2018.
State replies
16 Aug 2019
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14 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 29 Apr 2019 Austria

Austrian News Anchor Targeted in Intimidation Campaign

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner IPI EBU
Partner IPI EBU
Armin Wolf, a prominent anchor on the Austrian public broadcaster’s main evening news programme ZiB2, received a series of verbal attacks during and following an interview with a representative of Austria’s right-wing FPÖ party, which currently governs the country at the federal level in coalition with the centre-right People’s Party (ÖVP). In the interview, Wolf pressed the representative, MEP Harald Vilimsky, on recent scandals involving extremist statements by party members, including a poem on migration in which the FPÖ vice mayor of the town of Braunau compared people to rats. During the interview, after Wolf drew parallels between a poster by a youth wing of the party and Nazi-era imagery, Vilimsky warned Wolf that his line of questioning “will not remain without consequences” and accused the anchor of deliberately seeking to damage the party. Vilimsky later said he would fire Wolf were he ORF’s director. In the days that followed, FPÖ officials have repeatedly attacked Wolf, with one official, a Vienna city councilwoman, comparing Wolf to a judge on the Nazi-era People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof), which sentenced thousands of political opponents to death following show trials. In an interview on Sunday, the FPÖ-nominated chair of ORF’s board, Norbert Steger, said that if he were Wolf, “I would take a sabbatical, travel around the world on the taxpayers’ dime and reinvent myself”, leading observers to fear an attempt to remove Wolf. Wolf was named Austria’s journalist of the year in 2018.
State replies
14 Aug 2019
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14 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 14 Aug 2019 Russian Federation

Roskomnadzor Requests the Take-down of Information about Moscow Protests

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ Index
On 11 August 2019, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor published a statement requesting Google to prevent its video-sharing service Youtube from disseminating information on the recent protests in Moscow. The statement aims to prevent the "advertising for unauthorised demonstrations" and declares that the Russian Federation would consider a failure to respond an “interference in its sovereign affairs” and a “hostile influence and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”. Without disclosing possible measures, Roskomnadzor explains that the Russian Federation would have the right to retaliate if Google does not stop its push notifications and other advertising.

“According to available information, several entities possessing YouTube channels have bought advertising instruments [such as push notifications] with the aim of disseminating information about unsanctioned [illegal] mass events, including those aimed at disrupting regional and federal elections,” the agency writes on its website.

Government authorities of the Russian Federation have also accused the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) and the government of the United States of America of encouraging the Moscow protests.

There have been three Saturday protests in Moscow since the end of July 2019, after the electoral authorities had rejected several opposition candidates from running in the elections to the city council, which are due in September. The first two protests were not authorised by the public authorities. Several YouTube channels broadcasted the protests live, reaching out for thousands of users. The requested take-down could ban access to this information.
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13 Aug 2019 Lvl. 1
State replied
Alert created on: 22 Jul 2019 Germany

WDR Journalist Georg Restle Receives Death Threat After Criticising Right-Wing Party AfD

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ
After a critical comment on the German right wing party "Alternative für Deutschland" (AfD), investigative journalist Georg Restle became victime of online harassment culminating in a death threat received by letter. On 11 July 2019, Restle had described the AfD as the "parliamentary arm of a right-wing extremist movement" in a commentary at the news broadcast "Tagesthemen". He was referring to the "Identitäre Bewegung", an organisation recently classified as a "right-wing extremist movement" by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In the statement, he demands the AfD to be classified as right-wing extremist, too. As a reaction to the commentary, Restle faced harsh criticism on social media and from the AfD itself. Party leader Jörg Meuthen called Restle an "enemy of democracy" and freedom of expression during a speech in Cottbus. His employer, the public service broadcaster "Westdeutscher Rundfunk" (WDR) has filed a criminal complaint.
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12 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 12 Aug 2019 Russian Federation

Russian Journalist Mikhail Romanov Found Guilty of “Abuse of Freedom of Information” and “Fake News"

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner CPJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ Index
On 25 July 2019, Mikhail Romanov, a correspondent with the weekly “Yakutsk Vecherniy”, was found guilty by the City Court of Yakutsk in the Sakha Republic, Russian Federation, on charges of “abuse of freedom of information by publishing fake news that poses a threat to the public”, and fined 30,000 rubles (€408.15), according to news reports. Romanov intends to appeal the sentence.

It is the first time authorities charged a journalist under the provision in the administrative code that pertains to “fake news”, according to the Russian Union of Journalists, a local press freedom group. The charges stemmed from an April 2019 article by Romanov detailing claims that Federal Security Service agents had tortured academic and activist Anton Ammosov, in which Romanov referenced “Big Brother” from George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”, according to “The Moscow Times”. The Court ruled that Romanov’s article was “fake news” under section 9, paragraph 13.15 of the Administrative Code, “Kommersant” reported.
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08 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
State repliedProgress
Alert created on: 07 Nov 2017 France

Journalist Nadia Daam Harassed and Target of Death Threats on Social Network

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ INSI RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ INSI RSF
The journalist Nadia Daam is being subjected to a hate campaign on the internet following the broadcast of her programme on Europe 1 radio, on 1 November 2017. She denounced the sabotage by members of the platform Jeuxvideo.com’s forum "Blabla 18-25" of a telephone line "anti-relou" (anti-bullies/harassers), which was opened to help female victims of street harassment. Nadia Daam described the forum as "a non-recyclable rubbish bin".

Since then, the journalist has been the victim of attacks on her electronic accounts, received insults of a pornographic nature, death threats, threats of rape, and hate speech on social networks. According to Europe 1, an individual also tried to break into her home in the middle of the night.

Europe 1 announced that it has filed a complaint at a police station in the 8th arrondissement of Paris for "threat of crime against persons".
Progress
11 Jun 2019: On 21 March 2019, the Rennes criminal court found a philosophy student guilty of threats of crime and sentenced him to five months in prison suspended and €2,500 in damages. Three other persons identified by the investigation remain to be tried.   Article from Le Monde (in French): "Prison avec sursis pour un étudiant qui avait harcelé la journaliste Nadia Daam"
Updates
13 Jul 2018
On 6 July 2018, a third man who called upon the announcement of the judgment to "avenge our fallen brothers" was found guilty by the Bobigny Criminal Court of crime threats and death threats and sentenced to six months of suspended prison, 180 hours of community service, an obligation to find a job or training, and €5,000 in damages.
06 Jul 2018
On 3 July 2018, the Paris Criminal Court found two men guilty of crime threats and sentenced each to six months of suspended prison and €2,000 euros in damages.
State replies
08 Aug 2019
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07 Aug 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 29 Jul 2019 Russian Federation

Journalists Beaten and Detained at Protests in Moscow

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner Index CPJ EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner Index CPJ EFJ/IFJ
On 27 July 2019, Moscow police violently dispersed thousands of protesters who had taken to the streets in support of free and fair elections. Police used batons and fists to beat those who attended the protests; at least five journalists were reportedly injured in the crackdown. Evgeny Feldman, a photographer for Meduza, suffered a broken nose after a policeman hit and damaged his camera. Cameraman Alexandr Soloukhin also suffered a broken nose as a result of police violence. Balaram Usov, editor of the student magazine DOKHA, was hospitalised for his injuries; he was reported to have suffered a hand injury after being pushed against a door and a head injury after being struck in the head by a police baton. Photographer Valery Tenevoy was reportedly detained at the protest before being taken to a police van where he was beaten. Reporter Elena Sheveleva of RBC was also reported to have been assaulted while covering the protests. Ilya Azar, a reporter with Novaya Gazeta, was detained at the protest despite presenting his press card to the police.

Police also targeted journalists who were reporting on the protests from their newsrooms. Police detained broadcast host, Vladimir Milov, after they broke into the studio of the Navalny Live channel, and Editor-in-chief, Aleksandra Perepelova, was presented with a summons for questioning after they broke into the TV channel “Rain”. Perepelova was summoned as a witness for under article 141 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ("obstructing the work of election commissions").
Updates
New 07 Aug 2019
On 3 August 2019, as 1,500 people took to the streets of Moscow to protest the disqualification of several opposition candidates from local elections, Police arrested and detained more than 600 protesters and eight reporting journalists. Vladimir Romensky, a reporter with the broadcaster “Dozhd”, was arrested at Pushkin Square when he gave a branded microphone to his colleague, he said. Policemen searched his backpack and found his accreditation and editorial assignment. He was taken to a police van, released shortly afterwards, then arrested again and driven to a police station. Elena Vanina, a reporter with the business newspaper “Vedomosti”, was also arrested at Pushkin Square. She was driven to a police station. Nikita Pavlyuk-Pavlyuchenko, a reporter with “Snob Media”, was arrested at the protests, despite repeated attempts to show his accreditation documents. “Mediazona” reporter Anastasia Yasenitskaya said she was also briefly detained despite showing a press-card. Among other detainees were Dutch journalist Joos Bosman, “MBH-Media” reporters Alexandra Semenova and Alexey Stepanov, and “Baza” reporter Petr Koronaev. All were released without charge.
Follow-ups
07 Aug 2019
New The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights recommends that the Russian authorities ensure that human rights are respected in the context of policing of assemblies.
31 Jul 2019
New OSCE Representative expresses concern about obstruction to journalists’ activities at Moscow demonstration, calls for respect of media’s role during public events.
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07 Aug 2019 Lvl. 1
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 07 Aug 2019 Turkey

Court Imposes Access Block on News Portals and Social Media

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ Index IPI
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ Index IPI
On 16 July 2019, the 3rd Peace Judge at Ankara, Hasan Demirtaş, ordered the blocking of access to 136 internet resources, including “bianet” and “Gazete Fersude” news portals, under Article 8/A of the Internet Act relating to grounds of "national security". The ban targets 15 websites and dozens of social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest. It prevents access to at least 200,000 news stories on “bianet”, which has been broadcasting since November 2000. The main journalists' organisations in Turkey (TGS, TGC, DISK Press, CGD) have criticized the order as being unlawful and arbitrary.
Follow-ups
07 Aug 2019
New OSCE Media Freedom Representative raises concern and calls to end blocking of Bianet and other social media and news sites in Turkey
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05 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 05 Aug 2019 France

Journalists Banned from Covering the Evacuation of Amazon France's Headquarters

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ
On 2 July 2019 at around 5 p.m., around ten journalists, including Rémy Buisine (Brut), Matthieu Jublin (LCI), and Alfred de Montesquiou (freelancer), were expelled from Amazon France's offices in Clichy by the Gendarmerie, along with the environmental activists who occupied the premises. Without explanation, the gendarmes escorted the journalists to the Clichy-City Hall metro station. Subsequently, law enforcement prevented journalists from approaching Amazon's offices, while many people were walking by and many vehicles were driving on the street without being stopped or even checked.
The Paris Prefecture de police explained that the civil authority in charge of the law enforcement system had set up an exclusion zone to ensure performance of the various law enforcement missions required. The Prefecture did not explain why the exclusion measure had been applied only to journalists. Journalists denounced the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of the intervention.
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02 Aug 2019 Lvl. 2
No state reply yet
Alert created on: 02 Aug 2019 Ukraine

Brutal Attack on the Ukrainian National News Agency Ukrinform

Source of threatNon-state
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ Index
No state reply yet
Partner EFJ/IFJ CPJ Index
On 30 July 2019, about a dozen men dressed in T-shirts with the inscription "Tradition and Order" broke into the press center of the Ukrinform news agency in Kyiv during a press conference of parliamentary candidates. They damaged the door to the press-hall and damaged the equipment and furniture. They pushed and hit Ukrinform staff members. They also threw eggs at, and poured water on, an independent candidate from the town of Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine, Andrey Aksyonov, accusing him of being close to the Kremlin authorities. The other candidate, Serhiy Korshukov, from the European Solidarity party, was not attacked. The two candidates had been speaking about alleged vote-rigging in the recent parliamentary elections. Two media workers of Ukrinform’s technical department and the head of the press center were injured. The whole event was broadcast live on the Ukrinform Youtube channel. Two attackers were taken to the police department for a questioning. Kiev police started a criminal investigation into the incident. The organisation "Tradition and Order" is classified as "radical nationalist" by Human Rights Watch. It is known for its attacks on Ukrainian Roma, LGBT persons and human rights activists.
Follow-ups
02 Aug 2019
New OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media condemns attack on press center of Ukrinform news agency and calls on the authorities to fully investigate the incident.
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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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