April 11, 2021

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Press campaign issues April list of journalists facing abuse

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One Free Press Coalition (OFPC) has launched its monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom abuses around the world, focusing on cases of journalists who have faced harassment for publishing content online and on social media.

Each month, the coalition, which comprises prominent news organisations and publishers, including Al Jazeera Media Network, brings to the public’s attention the 10 most urgent cases of journalists whose freedoms are being suppressed or who are seeking justice.

Through the years, the campaign has highlighted what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist killed inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, as well as Mahmoud Hussein, an Al Jazeera journalist who was held with no formal charges in Egypt since December 2016. He was released earlier this year.

Citing the importance of online and social media, the OFPC in its April report said that in many countries, “particularly those with repressive media environments, social media provides one of the few avenues for journalists to publish critical reporting.”

Citing the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the report said: “Dozens of journalists around the world have been subjected to spyware attacks from state actors, threatening a journalist’s personal information, sources and even their own physical safety.”

“Of the 274 journalists behind bars in 2020, 79 percent report and publish on the internet, and 58 percent are considered internet reporters. Online harassment is another increasingly concerning threat to press freedom,” it added.

Here is the full OFPC list for April:

1. Kabir Kishore, Bangladesh

Bangladeshi cartoonist Kabir Kishore, who faces serious health issues, was allegedly subjected to severe physical abuse while in detention, according to the report. He was jailed under the Digital Security Act (DSA) and charged with carrying out anti-state activities and spreading rumours. Critics say DSA stifles freedom of expression.

2. Lu Yuyu, China

Chinese journalist Lu Yuyu has faced continued harassment since his release from prison, said the report, citing police storming his home and demanding he shut down his Twitter account.

3. Hopewell Chin’ono, Zimbabwe

Award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono potentially faces years in detention for a tweet about alleged police abuse. He has already been subject to repeated arrests and harassment from authorities in recent years, according to the report.

4. Elena Solovyova, Russia

Russian freelance journalist Elena Solovyova was reportedly doxxed by an anonymous Telegram channel in an attempt to harass her for her work, said the report. Merriam Webster dictionary defines doxing as an act of publicly identifying or publishing private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge.

5. Otabek Sattoriy, Uzbekistan

Uzbek blogger Otabek Sattoriy was detained and charged with extortion over his work reporting on corruption. His Telegram channel was also taken down.

6. Mohammad Mosaed, Iran

Online reporter Mohammad Mosaed was forced to flee Iran and seek exile. He faces more than four years in prison on charges related to social media posts critical of the Iranian government.

7. Ricardo Noblat, Brazil

Brazilian journalist Ricardo Noblat has repeatedly been threatened by authorities for re-sharing social media posts critical of the government and of President Jair Bolsonaro, according to the report.

8. Arzu Geybulla, Turkey/Azerbaijan

Arzu Geybulla is an Azerbaijani journalist living in Turkey who focuses on human rights and press freedom in Azerbaijan. She was targeted in an online harassment campaign over her reporting on the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict.

9. Basma Mostafa, Egypt

Egyptian journalist Basma Mostafa was detained in 2020 and has since been held in prison on charges of spreading false news, misusing social media and joining a terrorist organisation. Despite being released, she still faces charges and has experienced continual judicial harassment, said the report.

10. Rana Ayyub, India

Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has reported on taboo subjects including the ongoing farmer’s protests in India. She has faced years of harassment over her reporting and has recently been subject to amplified abuse, said the report.

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