On November 1, 2019 the Coalition launched the ninth monthly "10 Most Urgent" list (ranked in order of urgency), calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.
In support of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (November 2), which UNESCO is observing with the launch of a #KeepTruthAlive campaign, this month’s list draws attention to four cases where journalists’ killers have not been held to account.
No answers or justice one year after violent murder inside Saudi consulate. No independent criminal investigation has come in 13 months without answers in the brazen killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Pressured by recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the Kingdom’s crown prince spoke out in September denying any role in the murder but did claim responsibility for the “mistake” on behalf of consulate workers in Istanbul. Yet, findings from the UN and CIA point to his involvement. Stateside, President Donald Trump blew a Congressional deadline to release intelligence reports under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.
Investigation initiated two after reporter’s murder in Malta. October 16 marked two years since Panama Papers investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car-bomb blast in Malta. In September the Maltese government announced the establishment of a public inquiry, calling on investigators to ensure the process is fully independent and impartial. Three men are currently in detention in relation to the killing; however, the perpetrators, including the masterminds, have yet to be brought to justice and no trial dates have been announced.
Egyptian journalist imprisoned and tortured. On October 13 security officers arrested Esraa Abdel Fattah, a reporter and social media coordinator for banned news website Tahrir News and one of at least seven journalists detained in Egypt amid anti-government protests that began in mid-September. The next day Abdel Fattah announced on social media she would begin a hunger strike to protest abuse while in custody; officials had taken her to an undisclosed location, beat her, hung her from handcuffs for hours, and choked her while demanding she give up her cellphone password.
Tanzanian authorities withholding information about missing journalist. Come November 21, two years will have passed in the disappearance of freelance journalist Azory Gwanda, who had been investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania. The government has failed to conduct a credible investigation or disclose information. In July, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said Gwanda had “disappeared and died” but then backtracked amid requests for clarification.
Trial idling in murder case of Mexico City correspondent. Trial is ongoing—with the next court date undetermined—for the suspected killer of La Jornada correspondent Miroslava Breach Velducea, who was murdered in March 2017 in connection to her reporting on links between politicians and organized crime. The Mexico City newspaper reported that a note reading “for being a snitch” was found at the scene. With five confirmed deaths this year, Mexico ranks as the deadliest country for the profession.
Suspects at large in shooting death of Indian editor. Two police officers and Shujaat Bukhari, the founder and editor of Rising Kashmir newspaper, were shot and killed by several unidentified individuals outside Bukhari’s office in June 2018. He had recently written a piece for India’s Scroll news website, welcoming the government’s suspension of military operations against alleged terrorists during the month of Ramadan—and had approached a former chief official for “increased security.” Police identified four suspects, one who was later killed in a shootout; subsequent updates have stagnated.
Uzbek blogger held in detention and psychiatric care. For the past month, Uzbek authorities have kept blogger Nafosat Olloshukurova in a Khorezm regional psychiatric center, following 10 days of detention on charges of petty hooliganism and participating in unauthorized assemblies. Her family has not seen or been able to contact her since September 23. She had been documenting journalist and poet Mahmud Rajabov’s march to the capital Tashkent to petition for dropping a criminal case against him.
8. Mahmoud Hussein (Egypt)
Journalist’s pre-trial detention repeatedly extended in Egypt. Mahmoud Hussein, a journalist working with Al Jazeera, has spent more than 1,000 days in pre-trial detention in Cairo’s Tora Prison Complex since his December 2016 arrest on anti-state and false news charges. His detention, which was initially pegged for 15 days, has been repeatedly renewed every 45 days and stems from a 2016 documentary about conscription in Egypt, which the government claims uses fake footage and aims to incite chaos.
Pending trial could carry life sentence for Nigerian publisher. Eight days after his August 22 arrest in Lagos, Nigerian federal authorities charged Agba Jalingo, publisher of privately owned online news outlet CrossRiverWatch, with disturbance of public peace and treason for writings and social media posts about Governor Benedict Ayade. Courts are granting witnesses anonymity in closed testimony, calling into question the possibility of a fair trial. A guilty verdict for treason could sentence Jalingo to life in prison, while disturbance could carry up to three years.
Fines and unequal punishment exacted upon Chadian newspaper leaders. Martin Inoua Doulguet, director of Salam Info newspaper, is imprisoned awaiting a date to appeal his three-year sentence commenced in September following criminal charges of conspiracy and defamation brought by a former Chad government health official. The director of Le Moustik newspaper was found guilty of the same but received no jail time, while both are subjected to fines: each to pay one million Central African francs ($1,675) to the state and joint responsibility for 20 million francs ($33,514) in plaintiff damages.
On October 1, 2019 the Coalition launched the eighth monthly "10 Most Urgent" list (ranked in order of urgency), calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.
One year without resolution in high-profile, brazen Khashoggi killing. As of October 2, one year has passed without justice or resolution for the death of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered inside Istanbul’s Saudi consulate. The U.S. executive branch and UN have not gotten involved, despite a congressional call for investigation and CIA findings pointing blame at Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
Diabetic journalist on hunger strike in Azerbaijan prison. In September, journalist Afgan Mukhtarli with Type 2 diabetes went on a hunger strike in protest of Azerbaijan prison conditions. His six-year prison sentence began in January 2018, after authorities abducted the reporter in Georgia and charged him with illegally crossing the border and carrying contraband. He had been living in exile in Georgia since 2014 due to death threats in relation to his investigative reporting on corruption.
Urgent medical attention needed for Bahrain blogger serving life sentence. Jaw Central Prison has continuously denied critical medical treatment (as well as prescriptions, toiletries and hygienic products) for Abduljalil Alsingace, who suffers daily chest pain and was sentenced in June 2011 to life imprisonment for “plotting to topple the monarchy.” One of several high-profile government critics arrested for pro-reform protests, Alsingace had written critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination and repression of the political opposition on his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling).
Imprisoned Iranian reporter suffers epilepsy and deteriorating health. Last month Iranian authorities allowed Marzieh Amiri a hospital visit to monitor epilepsy, after she had been denied proper medical attention in the months since her arrest for covering May Day demonstrations for Tehran-based newspaper Shargh Daily. Family members were not allowed contact during the medical care and were responsible for the bill. In August, Tehran sentenced Amiri to 10 and a half years in prison and 148 lashes for charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public order.”
Kyrgyz journalist’s health worsens after nine years in prison. In addition to his deteriorating health and limited access to medication, Azimjon Askarov’s letters home from prison have noted punishment for detainees after visiting days. The ethnic Uzbek award-winning journalist has served nine years of a life sentence for reporting on human rights violations. In July, a Kyrgyz court ruled to uphold the term despite persistent international condemnation.
Imminent court date for Venezuelan photographer jailed one year without trial. Freelance photographer Jesús Medina has an October 3 court appearance, after serving more than a year in the Ramo Verde military prison pre-trial. Venezuela has charged him with criminal association and inciting hate. Medina has faced harassment previously while reporting.
7. Austin Tice (Syria)
No answers after seven years in case of U.S. freelancer detained in Syria. Seven years ago, American freelance journalist Austin Tice was taken captive in Syria. The Georgetown University law student had spent the summer of 2012 reporting on civilian life during the country’s escalating conflict and was detained at a checkpoint outside Damascus. Tice’s family and the U.S. government have stated that he is alive despite there being no claim of responsibility for his captivity.
8. Mahmoud Hussein (Egypt)
Nearly three years of imprisonment sans trial for Egyptian Al Jazeera journalist. For more than 1,000 days, Mahmoud Hussein has served pre-trial detention in Cairo’s Tora Prison Complex. The journalist was arrested on December 23, 2016 on anti-state and false news charges, following an Al Jazeera documentary about conscription in Egypt. The jail time has been repeatedly renewed every 45 days, according to the local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and a social media post from Al Jazeera director Yasser Abu Hilalah.
Almost two years of uncertainty regarding Tanzanian journalist’s condition. A freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, Azory Gwanda has been missing since November 21, 2017. The government has failed to conduct a credible investigation or disclose what it knows. On July 10, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.
Personal matters cited as reason for Moroccan reporter’s arrest. Moroccan authorities are employing journalists’ personal information as grounds for arrest, as in the case of Hajar Raissouni, a reporter for independent news website Akhbar al-Youm. She was taken into custody on August 31 while leaving her doctor’s office with her fiancé, charged with sex outside of marriage and illegal abortion. She then endured questioning about her political writing and connection to a newspaper colleague.
On August 1, 2019 the Coalition launched the sixth monthly "10 Most Urgent" list (ranked in order of urgency), calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.
1. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Stonewalling continues after new UN report implicates Saudi prince for journalist’s murder. Months after his brazen killing, and despite findings from the UN and the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.
2. Azory Gwanda (Tanzania): Tanzanian official claims missing journalist is dead—then backtracks. Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, has been missing since November 21, 2017, and the government has failed to conduct an investigation or disclose what it knows. On July 10, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.
3. Juan Pardinas (Mexico): Mexican newspaper editor targeted with death threats for criticizing new president. Mexican media organizations and journalists have recently reported a sharp increase in threats and online harassment over critical reporting of the López Obrador administration. Juan Pardinas, the editor-in-chief of Mexican newspaper Reforma, received a barrage of online harassment and threats after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the newspaper in April. López Obrador acknowledged the threats against Pardinas and said that his government had offered protective measures to the journalist.
4. Paul Chouta (Cameroon): Journalist in maximum security prison blocked from seeing family. Cameroon Web reporter Paul Chouta was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. Chouta’s editor said he suspects the case was in retaliation for critical reporting. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison.
5. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): Kyrgyz court upholds life sentence for documenting human rights abuses. Award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek, has spent nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite persistent international condemnation and calls for his release, a Kyrgyz court that had reviewed his case in light of new legislation ruled to uphold his life sentence on July 30.
6. Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak (Turkey): Turkish journalist faces 30 years in solitary confinement. Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak, a commentator for opposition newspaper Özgür Düşünce and Can Erzincan TV, was arrested in 2016 and sentenced in February 2018 to life without parole for trying to overturn the constitution through her journalism. In a separate trial in January, she was sentenced to an additional five years for revealing state secrets. In Turkey, which has been the top jailer of journalists three years in a row, life sentences without parole equate to 30 years in solitary confinement, with limited visits.
7. Marzieh Amiri (Iran): Imprisoned journalist denied healthcare after covering May Day demonstrations. Iranian authorities arrested Marzieh Amiri, an economics reporter at Tehran-based newspaper Shargh Daily, as she covered May Day demonstrations, and her family has had limited contact with her since. Authorities have accused Amiri of committing crimes against national security without giving further details.
8. Jones Abiri (Nigeria): Journalist re-arrested on terrorism and cybercrime charges. Jones Abiri, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Source, is behind bars on charges under Nigeria’s cybercrimes act, anti-sabotage act, and terrorism prevention act for crimes allegedly carried out in 2016. The charges are the same ones that a court threw out after he was held without access to his family or a lawyer from 2016 to 2018.
9. Aasif Sultan (India): Journalist imprisoned one year without due process for covering conflict. Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, will have been imprisoned one year on August 27, arrested in 2018 and months later charged with “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists.” He has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal his sources by police. Sultan continues to be denied due process, with ongoing delays in his hearings.
10. Truong Duy Nhat (Vietnam): Blogger who disappeared in Thailand imprisoned in Vietnam. Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese reporter with Radio Free Asia, went missing in January in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had applied for refugee status. In March, his daughter learned he was jailed without charge in a Hanoi detention center. Nhat was previously sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 in connection to his critical reporting on the government.
On May 1, 2019 the One Free Press Coalition launched the third monthly "10 Most Urgent" list, calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth. (not ranked in a specific order)
One Free Press Coalition has published a list of 10 most urgent cases calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.
1. Miroslava Breach Velducea (Mexico): Murdered for reporting on corruption and politics. In March 2017, La Jornada correspondent Miroslava Breach Velducea was murdered in the state of Chihuahua in connection to her reporting on links between politicians and organized crime. Prior to her death, she had received threats on at least three occasions for her reporting. Currently there is one suspect in custody, and the next hearing is expected to take place in a few months.
2. Maria Ressa and Rappler (The Philippines): Arrest and legal threats for critical media outlet and its editor. National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler on February 13 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler faces separate retaliatory tax charges. On March 28, authorities in the Philippines issued arrest warrants against Rappler editors and executives, including Ressa, for violating laws barring foreign ownership of media. CPJ and First Look Media are partners in a legal defense fund for journalists, of which Ressa and Rappler are the first recipients.
3. Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam): Journalist accused of spreading propaganda. After a one-day trial, Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state.” She produced a number of videos critical of authorities on topics like toxic environmental spills and government corruption.
4. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): A life sentence for documenting human rights abuses. Award-winning Kyrgyz journalist Azimjon Askarov has spent nearly nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite international condemnation, Kyrgyz authorities have upheld his sentence.
5. Rana Ayyub (India): When reporting leads to escalating online threats. The independent Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has spent her career covering taboo subjects, including violence against lower-caste groups and minorities in India. Because of her work, Ayyub has faced a wave of harassment on social media, including pornographic videos with her face photoshopped in them and the publication of her address and personal phone number.
6. Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau (Nicaragua): Nicaraguan journalists detained amid media crackdown. In December, Nicaraguan police raided TV station 100% Noticias and arrested station director Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, its news director. Both journalists are being held on charges of “inciting hate and violence” and have been denied consistent access to legal services.
7. Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan): Newspaper editor in South Sudan, lives under constant threat. As editor of the Juba Monitor, Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres in spite of arrest threats and constant censorship of herself and her colleagues.
8. Amade Abubacar (Mozambique): Mozambican journalist held in detention without trial. Radio journalist Amade Abubacar was arrested in January while photographing families fleeing militant attacks in northern Cabo Delgado province, and was detained incommunicado in a military facility. He has since been moved to a jail far from home. There are no signs he will be released any time soon as he continues to be held in detention without trial.
9. Claudia Duque (Colombia): Human rights defender endures attacks in Colombia where impunity remains 98.81%. The veteran investigative reporter has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture, and exile. Courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing Claudia and her daughter. As of January, all the detainees were released. The IWMF awarded Duque the Courage in Journalism Award in 2010.
10. Osman Mirghani (Sudan): Independent journalist detained, health deteriorating. Sudanese authorities arrested Mirghani, editor in chief of the independent Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, in February. Authorities did not make public what charges he was held on, and his health deteriorated in prison. He was released on March 29. Prior to his arrest, Mirghani had been reporting on ongoing protests in Sudan.
On March 15, 2019 the Coalition launched the first monthly "10 Most Urgent" list, calling attention to the most pressing cases of journalists under attack for pursuing the truth. (not ranked in a specific order)
1. Maria Ressa and Rappler (Philippines): Arrest and legal threats for the critical media outlet and its editor. National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler on February 13 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler faces separate retaliatory tax charges. CPJ and First Look Media are partners in a legal defense fund for journalists, of which Ressa and Rappler are the first recipients.
2. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Justice denied for murdered Saudi journalist. Nearly five months after his brutal murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, and despite findings from the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent UN criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.
3. Eman Al Nafjan (Saudi Arabia): Women’s rights blogger imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Al Nafjan, founder of the Saudiwoman's Weblog, was sent to prison in relation to her reporting on elections, human rights activists, and the fight for women to have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. She is one of at least 16 Saudi journalists behind bars, according to CPJ’s most recent census of imprisoned journalists.
4. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar): Reuters reporters imprisoned under the official secrets act. Following their investigation into a security force massacre of Rohingya men and boys in western Rakhine State, the pair were convicted under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years each in prison even though a policeman testified they had been entrapped. Their appeal was rejected in January; a final appeal is pending.
5. Claudia Duque (Colombia): Human rights defender endures attacks in Columbia where impunity remains 98.81%. The veteran investigative reporter has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture and has been exiled. Courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing Claudia and her daughter. As of January 2019, all the detainees were released. The IWMF awarded Duque with the Courage Award in 2010.
6. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed (Mauritania): Blogger languishes in jail for commentary on religion. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed was arrested in 2014 for an article he wrote criticizing the Mauritanian caste system and initially faced a death sentence. The apostasy charges have been dropped, but he still remains behind bars, with limited contact with his family and the outside world.
7. Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan): Newspaper editor in South Sudan, lives under constant threat. As editor of the Juba Monitor, Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres in spite of arrest threats and constant censorship of her and her colleagues.
8. Pelin Unker (Turkey): Paradise Papers reporting leads to jail sentence for Turkish reporter. Pelin Unker wrote a piece as part of the Paradise Papers corruption investigation in 2017, revealing offshore holdings of the family of then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. As retribution, authorities charged and sentenced her to 13 months for insulting the prime minister.
9. Thomas Awah Junior (Cameroon): Journalist jailed on anti-state and false news charges. Thomas Awah Junior, a correspondent for privately owned Afrik 2 Radio and publisher of Aghem Messenger monthly magazine, was arrested while interviewing protesters and is serving an 11-year sentence in Cameroon on anti-state and false news charges. CPJ has written to President Paul Biya requesting that he be released on humanitarian grounds.
10. Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam): Journalist accused of spreading propaganda. After a one-day trial, Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of "spreading propaganda against the state." She produced a number of videos critical of authorities on topics like toxic environmental spills and government corruption.
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