Free Press

Thursday, 16 October 2008 19:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its concern about the state of health of journalist Mohammad Hassin Falahieh Zadeh who has been on hunger strike since 5 October, taking only sugared water.

The worldwide press freedom organisation joins his family and his lawyer in calling on him to end his fast, in Section 350 of Evin jail, Teheran.

The journalist, who works for the Arabic-language service of Iranian state-run radio and television al-Alam was arrested in November 2006 and was sentenced on 29 April 2007 to three years for "espionage".

He was also fined an amount equivalent to double his income from his journalist work. He also contributed to several Arab media, the Lebanese daily al-Mostaqbal, Abu Dhabi TV and Dubai radio.

Thursday, 16 October 2008 19:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday's imprisonment of Magaly Medina, the host of a celebrity gossip show on privately-owned national television station ATV, after she was sentenced by a Lima criminal court to five months in prison for defaming Peruvian soccer star Paolo Guerrero. 

The organisation regards the sentence as totally inappropriate and calls for the decriminalization of press offences.

"It is not our job to say whether we think Guerrero was defamed, although this seems to have been so," Reporters Without Borders said. "But we think it is very dangerous that a prison sentence was passed in this case, especially as it is extremely rare in a country such as Peru, and that it was implemented although Medina filed an appeal, which normally suspends execution of the sentence."

The press freedom organisation added: "Imprisonment in a defamation case not only fails to redress the damage but can also end up harming the plaintiff's reputation. This dangerous and inappropriate prison sentence runs counter to the tendency in countries that belong to the Organisation of American States to decriminalize press offences. We hope Peru will amend its legislation accordingly and that Medina will be quickly released."

Sunday, 05 October 2008 19:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporters Without Borders today called on the international community to launch a new call for justice to be done on the eve of the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, of the bi-weekly Novaya Gazeta and a specialist in the Caucasus region.

The campaigning journalist was gunned down at her apartment building in Moscow on 7 October 2006.

The man heading the investigation, Petros Garibian confirmed in a special report today in her newspaper, which has carried out its own inquiry, that a trial will open in the next few weeks before a military court, since one of the accused, Pavel Riaguzov, is an officer in the Russian secret services (FSB).


Echoing fears voiced by the journalist's son, Ilya Politkovskiy, at a conference held by Reporters Without Borders in Paris on 3 October 2008, Garibian has said there is a risk that the trial will be held behind closed doors because of the sensitivity of documents to be produced. He said it would be a trial before a jury.

The head of the investigation also said that only three people would be on trial and that neither the instigator(s) nor the alleged gunman - Rustam Makhmudov, who reportedly worked as an informer for Pavel Riaguzov - will be in the dock.


Tuesday, 16 September 2008 19:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its deep concern about an upsurge in fatwas (religious decrees) calling for the murder of journalists in the Arab and Muslim world.

In the latest case, a high-ranking Saudi official, Sheikh Saleh al-Luhidan, president of the superior council of jurisprudence, issued a fatwa on 12 September 2008 calling for the murder of owners of Arabic satellite television stations for spreading "depravity".

"From Nigeria to Pakistan, and via Saudi Arabia, many journalists have been targeted by religious officials in recent years after writing articles or broadcasting programmes viewed as "blasphemous" and "anti-Islamic", the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"These fatwas constitute calls for murder that endanger the lives of journalists who are already working in conditions made more difficult by the delicate political context in which they have to operate. We urge religious officials to show moderation so that no irreparable steps are taken. The highest Islamic authorities should publicly condemn such fatwas", it added.The religious dignitary in the Saudi case played down his comments a few days later, in the face of an outcry prompted by his statements, but still without backing down on the validity of his edict.

Wednesday, 03 September 2008 19:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Iran - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the six-month prison sentences which a Tehran court has passed on four cyber-feminists - Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and Nahid Keshavarz - on charges of "publishing information against the government" under article 500 of the Islamic criminal code.

The four, who are still free pending the outcome of their appeals, were prosecuted for writing articles for two online newspapers that defend women's rights in Iran - Zanestan ("Women's City - and Tagir Bary Barbary ("Change for Equality" -

"These four journalists post their articles online because their magazines have been censored," Reporters Without Borders said. "They are the victims of persecution by the authorities, who repeatedly summon to them to court for interrogation about their activities. They are the victims of discriminatory measures. We call on the government to drop these proceedings against them."

Under article 500 of the Islamic Republic's criminal code, "anyone who undertakes any form of propaganda against the state will be sentenced to between three months and one year in prison." Nobel peace prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who is acting for the cyber-feminists, says they plan to appeal.


Tuesday, 05 August 2008 20:00 Editorial Dept - Free Press

Syria - Reporters Without Borders called on the Syrian government today to release jailed online journalist Habib Saleh, who was arrested in a market in the northwestern town of Tartous on 6 May. He appeared in court in Damascus on 4 August accused of writing articles that "weakened national feeling" and "incited civil and religious warfare," under articles 285 and 289 of the criminal law.

"We did not know where Saleh was being held after his arrest, so we are relieved to learn he is still alive," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "But we strongly condemn his arrest and detention. All he has done is exercise his right to speak up freely, but unfortunately people in Syria are frequently thrown in prison for posting material online."

It also called for the release of four other jailed cyber-dissidents - Firas Saad, Tariq Biassi, Kareem Arabji and Hammam Haddad.

Saleh admitted in court he had written the articles but denied all the charges against him. He is also accused of "belonging to a secret organisation" and libelling the country's president.



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