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

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)


US police shove, make AP journalists stop covering protest

Updated 03 June 2020

US police shove, make AP journalists stop covering protest

  • The video shows more than a half-dozen officers confronting the journalists as they filmed and took photographs of police
  • Bumsted and Wong said officers shoved them, separating them from each other and pushing them toward Bumsted’s car

NEW YORK: New York City police officers surrounded, shoved and yelled expletives at two Associated Press journalists covering protests Tuesday in the latest aggression against members of the media during a week of unrest around the country.
Portions of the incident were captured on video by videojournalist Robert Bumsted, who was working with photographer Maye-E Wong to document the protests in lower Manhattan over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The video shows more than a half-dozen officers confronting the journalists as they filmed and took photographs of police ordering protesters to leave the area near Fulton and Broadway shortly after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect.
An officer, using an expletive, orders them to go home. Bumsted is heard on video explaining the press are considered “essential workers” and are allowed to be on the streets. An officer responds “I don’t give a s— -.” Another tells Bumsted “get the f— — out of here you piece of s— -.”
Bumsted and Wong said officers shoved them, separating them from each other and pushing them toward Bumsted’s car, which was parked nearby. At one point Bumsted said he was pinned against his car. He is heard on video telling the officer that Wong has his keys and he needs them to leave the area. Officers then allowed Wong to approach and the two got in the vehicle and left.

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Both journalists were wearing AP identification and identified themselves as media.
“They didn’t care,” Wong said. “They were just shoving me.”
NYPD officials said they would “review this as soon as possible.”
Journalists have faced aggressive police and protesters during demonstrations across the US over the killing of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Police in Louisville, Kentucky, apologized after an officer fired what appeared to be pepper bullets at a TV news crew, and a journalist in Minneapolis was shot by a rubber bullet.
Journalists have faced other risks while covering the unrest, in addition to dealing with aggression from police. In South Carolina, a television news reporter was hit in the head by a thrown rock and outside the White House, a Fox News reporter was chased and pummeled by protesters. Someone grabbed the reporter’s microphone and threw it at his back, and a Fox News photographer’s camera was smashed.
In Atlanta, demonstrators who fought with police and set cars on fire also broke windows and scrawled obscene graffiti at CNN headquarters.
AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton criticized the officers’ actions Tuesday, which occurred as thousands of people in New York were defying a curfew put in place following several nights of violence and destruction. Journalists covering the story are exempt from the curfew.
“The role of journalists is to report the news on behalf of the public,” Easton said. “It is unacceptable and deeply troubling when journalists are harassed simply for doing their job.”