Free Press

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporter Wrote About Protests Over Electricity Shortages - Saudi authorities should overturn a sentence of 50 lashes and two months in prison for a journalist who wrote about public anger over electricity cuts, Human Rights Watch said today.

On October 26, 2010, the General Court in Qubba in northern Saudi Arabia imposed the sentence on Fahd al-Jukhaidib, Qubba correspondent for Al-Jazira, a daily national newspaper. He was charged with "incitement to gather in front of the electricity company" for reporting that citizens had been gathering to protest. He has appealed the verdict and remains at liberty.

"King Abdullah has encouraged citizens to voice their legitimate concerns," said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. "But apparently those who do can expect a public lashing and a prison term."

Al-Jukhaidib's article describing the difficulties Qubba residents were experiencing as a result of frequent power cuts was published in Al-Jazira on September 7, 2008. The article, "Qubba Residents Gather to Demand Electricity," did not include a call for action but described the protest and the protesters' concerns:

Sunday, 21 November 2010 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Military court sentences blogger to six months in prison

Reporters Without Borders condemns the six-month jail sentence that a military court imposed on blogger Ahmed Hassan Basiouny on 29 November on charges of disseminating defence secrets online and “disclosing information relating to the Egyptian armed forces.”

Basiouny was arrested for creating a Facebook page in 2009 that provided advice and information for young people thinking of enlisting in the Egyptian army.

Parliamentary elections – foretaste of next year’s presidential election?

The authorities meanwhile deployed an entire arsenal of measures and practices designed to silence dissent and reinforce their control over the media before the first round of the parliamentary elections held on 28 November, despite the government’s declared intention to organize a free and transparent election.

Thursday, 21 October 2010 00:00 Columnist Association of Pakistan Editorial Dept - Free Press

The Secretary General Columnist Association of Pakistan Muhammad Akram Khan Faridi called on the authorities in Kuwait to intervene over a violent attack by some members of the ruling family in Kuwait who have been accused of attacking Scope TV, a private television station at the weekend following a controversial broadcast that some family members considered insulting.

"This was a disgraceful show of intolerance that led to mob violence against media," Muhammad Akram Khan Faridi ,CAP Secretary General, . "Provoking violent confrontation is no way to deal with arguments over media content. It is undemocratic and a denial of the value of dialogue and mutual understanding in dealing with media."

The CAP says that its ongoing efforts with its affiliate in the region to set up self- regulation and accountability structures for media should ensure that no one feels the need to take the law in their own hand.

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

In a “disgraceful” act of censorship, the Chinese authorities have deployed major technical and human resources to prevent the Chinese public from learning that the jailed dissident intellectual Liu Xiaobo has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Reporters Without Borders said.

TV and radio stations, newspapers and websites have completely ignored what is an historic news item for China. The Propaganda Department issued an order to all the Chinese media forbidding them to report the Nobel Committee’s decision.

This frenzied censorship and propaganda effort confirms the importance of Liu’s peaceful struggle for free expression in China. Overwhelmed by the hopes raised by Liu’s Nobel, the authorities have responded in time-honoured fashion with a news blackout. It is an insult to the universality of the Nobel Peace Prize.

No report about Liu is to be seen on the home pages of the leading Chinese news websites such as Sina or Sohu. Some results referring to Liu’s Nobel can be obtained on the Baidu search engine, but access to the actual web pages is usually blocked. The government television station CCTV said nothing about Liu and instead opened its evening news programme with a report about rain in Hainan Island.

Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

As millions of Pakistanis continue to suffer from the flooding that has hit a fifth of the country, journalists’ organisations and media support groups are stepping up their efforts to help news media and journalists in the affected areas.

Reporters Without Borders has provided financial support to three independent newspapers – Shamal, Salam and Chand – in one of the worst-hit areas, the Swat valley, where the electricity supply was cut off 29 July, including in Mingora, the base of the valley’s leading media.

To be able print issues and satisfy the population’s vital need for news and information, these newspapers have had to use generators that consume a lot of fuel. This has resulted in a major increase in their production costs.

“Keeping the presses going with a generator is expensive but publishing the newspapers and continuing our work of reporting the news is more important,” Shamal editor Ghulam Farooq told Reporters Without Borders. “As provincial newspapers, we get less advertising than national ones and yet our production costs have increased in August,” he added. “Reporters Without Borders is the first organisation to give us support,” Salam editor Qasim Yousafzai said.

Monday, 16 August 2010 00:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of three newspapers in the past few days and the imposition of a jail sentence on another journalist in the government’s continuing crackdown on the media.

The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, the censorship arm of the ministry of culture and Islamic orientation, has suspended the business daily Asia and withdrawn the licences of the weeklies Sepidar and Parastoo, while Badrolsadat Mofidi, the secretary-general of the Association of Iranian Journalists, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Asia’s suspension was announced on 17 August by Mohammed Ali Ramin, deputy minister of culture and Islamic orientation, who said it was for “publishing images contrary to public virtues.” The case has been sent to the justice ministry for judicial investigation. In reality, the newspaper has been closed for criticising the government’s economic policies and the heavy involvement of the Revolutionary Guards in the economy. It is its third suspension since its launch in 2002.

Several of Asia’s journalists have been jailed since its creation. When it was suspended in July 2003 at the behest of then Tehran prosecutor general Sayeed Mortazavi for “anti-government publicity” after publishing a photo of Maryam Radjavi of the banned People’s Mujahideen, editor Iraj Jamshidi was arrested and held for several months.


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