Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

A group of journalists hold a banner reading "Justice"during a demonstration at the courthouse in Istanbul on March 15, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

  • A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work
  • The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa

Turkey remains the world’s worst offender against press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday, with at least 68 journalists imprisoned for anti-state charges.

Turkey has previously said its crackdown is justified because of an attempted coup to overthrow the government in 2016.

The report said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work, including two Reuters reporters whose imprisonment in Myanmar has drawn international criticism.

There were 251 journalists jailed for doing their jobs as of Dec. 1, the CPJ said in an annual study. For the third consecutive year, more than half are in Turkey, China and Egypt, where authorities have accused reporters of anti-governmental activities.

“It looks like a trend now,” the report’s author, Elana Beiser, said in an interview. “It looks like the new normal.”

The number of journalists imprisoned on charges of “false news” rose to 28, up from 21 last year and nine in 2016, according to the CPJ, a U.S.-based nonprofit that promotes press freedom.

The report criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for frequently characterizing negative media coverage as “fake news,” a phrase that is also used by leaders against their critics in countries like the Philippines and Turkey.

In Egypt, at least 25 journalists are in prison. Authorities say this is to limit dissent are directed at militants trying to undermine the state.

Meanwhile, when asked about journalists being jailed, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “Legal measures are not taken because of these suspects’ or criminals’ professions. This is unrelated.”

The overall number of jailed journalists is down eight percent from last year’s record high of 272, the CPJ said.

The total does not take into account journalists who have disappeared or are being held by non-state actors. The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa, including several held by Houthis in Yemen.

(With Reuters)


Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

Members of the Tripoli Protection Force, an alliance of militias from the capital city, patrol an area south of the Libyan capital on January 18, 2019, during clashes with the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

  • Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said

BENGHAZI, Libya: A freelance journalist who contributed to The Associated Press and other news organizations was killed Saturday in the Libyan capital, a colleague said.
Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was in his 30s, was hit by shrapnel while accompanying a militia patrolling the Qaser Bin Ghashir area south of Tripoli, said Hamza Turkia, also a freelance journalist.
The militia came under attack by another armed group, said Turkia. He said there was gunfire, and that a missile was also fired.
Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said.
A new round of fighting between rival militias erupted earlier this week, killing 13 people and wounding more than 50, according to the Libyan Health Ministry.
The clashes shattered a UN-brokered cease-fire reached in September. A bout of violence last year killed nearly 100 people.
The fighting between militias allied with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli and an armed group from a nearby town underscores Libya’s lingering lawlessness since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The energy-rich North African nation is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, each of which is backed by an array of militias.