[Politech] Internet fuels rise in number of jailed journalists: 1 in 3 are Web-based [fs]

Declan McCullagh declan at well.com
Thu Dec 7 09:35:09 PST 2006

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: CPJ: Internet fuels rise in number of jailed journalists
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 10:26:34 -0500
From: CPJ_Asia <CPJ_Asia at cpj.org>


Committee to Protect Journalists

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA     Phone: (212) 465b1004
 Fax: (212) 465b9568     Web: www.cpj.org     E-Mail: media at cpj.org

Contact:   Abi Wright

Telephone:  (212) 465-1004 ext. 105

http://www.cpj.org <http://www.cpj.org/>

e-mail: info at cpj.org <mailto:info at cpj.org>

Internet fuels rise in number of jailed journalists

More held without charge or due process, CPJ census also finds

New York, December 7, 2006bThe number of journalists jailed worldwide
for their work increased for the second consecutive year, and one in
three is now an Internet blogger, online editor, or Web-based reporter,
according to a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ's annual worldwide census found 134 journalists imprisoned on
December 1, an increase of nine from the 2005 tally. China, Cuba,
Eritrea, and Ethiopia are the top four jailers among the 24 nations who
imprison journalists. Detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist
<http://www.cpj.org/attacks06/pages06/imprison_06.html> are posted on
CPJbs Web site.

Print reporters, editors, and photographers continue to make up the
largest professional category, with 67 cases in 2006, but Internet
journalists are a growing segment of the census and now constitute the
second largest category, with 49 cases. The number of imprisoned
journalists whose work appeared primarily on the Web, via e-mail, or in
another electronic form has increased each year since CPJ recorded the
first jailed Internet writer in its 1997 census. The 2006 figure is the
highest number of Internet journalists CPJ has ever tallied in its
annual survey. The roster of jailed Internet journalists includes
Chinabs bcitizenb reporters, the independent Cuban writers who file
reports for overseas Web sites,
<http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2006/DA_fall_06/prisoner/watson.html>  and
the U.S. video blogger Joshua Wolf who refused to hand over footage to a
grand jury.

bWebre at a crucial juncture in the fight for press freedom because
authoritarian states have made the Internet a major front in their
effort to control information,b CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
bChina is challenging the notion that the Internet is impossible to
control or censor, and if it succeeds there will be far-ranging
implications, not only for the medium but for press freedom all over the

Over all, bantistateb allegations such as subversion, divulging state
secrets, and acting against the interests of the state are the most
common charges used to imprison journalists worldwide. Eighty-four
journalists are jailed under these charges, many by the Chinese, Cuban,
and Ethiopian governments.

But CPJ also found an increasing number of journalists held without any
charge or trial at all. Twenty imprisoned journalists, or 15 percent,
have been denied even the most basic elements of due process, CPJ found.
Eritrea, which accounts for more than half of these cases, keeps
journalists in secret locations and withholds basic information about
their well-being. The United States has imprisoned two journalists
without charge or trial: Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein,
<http://www.cpj.org/protests/06ltrs/americas/usa07nov06pl.html>  now
held for eight months in Iraq without due process; and Al-Jazeera
cameraman Sami al-Haj,
jailed five years and now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

bIn Cuba and in China, journalists are often jailed after summary trials
and held in miserable conditions far from their families. But the
cruelty and injustice of imprisonment is compounded where there is zero
due process and journalists slip into oblivion. In Eritrea, the worst
abuser in this regard, there is no check on authority and it is unclear
whether some jailed journalists are even alive,b Simon added.

For the eighth consecutive year, China is the world's leading jailer of
journalists, with 31 imprisoned. About three-quarters of the cases in
China were brought under vague bantistateb laws; 19 cases involve
Internet journalists. Chinabs list includes Shi Tao, an internationally
recognized journalist <http://www.cpj.org/awards05/shi_tao.html>
serving a 10-year sentence for posting notes online detailing propaganda
department instructions on how to cover the anniversary of the Tiananmen
Square crackdown. The government declared the instructions a bstate

Cuba ranked second, with 24 reporters, writers, and editors behind bars,
most of them jailed in the country's massive March 2003 crackdown on
dissidents and the independent press. Nearly all of those on Cubabs list
had filed news and commentary to overseas Web sites. These journalists
used phone lines and faxes, not computers, to transmit their reports;
once posted, their articles were seen across the world but almost never
in Cuba, where the government heavily restricts Internet access.

Eritrea is the leader among African countries, with 23 journalists in
prison. These prisoners are being held incommunicado, and their
well-being is a growing source of concern. A non-bylined report,
circulated on several Web sites in August and deemed by CPJ sources to
be generally credible, claimed that three of the journalists may have
died. CPJ and other international organizations have urgently sought
information from Asmara,
<http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/eritrea15sept06na.html> but the
government has refused to provide basic facts about the journalistsb
whereabouts, their health, or whether they are still alive.

Neighboring Ethiopia has imprisoned 18 journalists, most of whom are
being tried for treason after being swept up by authorities in a
November 2005 crackdown on dissent. A CPJ investigation in April
found no basis for the governmentbs treason charges. Burma, which is
holding seven journalists, is fifth among nations, followed by Uzbekistan,
which is holding five journalists. The United States, Azerbaijan, and
Burundi are seventh on the list of nations, each having jailed three

Here are other trends and details that emerged in CPJ's analysis:

*	In about 10 percent of cases, governments used a variety of charges
unrelated to journalism to retaliate against critical writers, editors,
and photojournalists. Such charges ranged from property damage and
regulatory violations to drug possession and association with
extremists. In the cases included in this census, CPJ has determined
that the charges were most likely lodged in reprisal for the
journalistbs work.

*	Spreading ethnic or religious bhatredb was the next most common
charge used to imprison journalists worldwide. Such charges were lodged in
about four percent of cases.

*	Criminal defamation charges were filed in about three percent of
cases, a slight decline from the rate recorded in recent years. A
growing number of nations, particularly in Western Europe, have moved to
decriminalize defamation and insult.

*	Violations of censorship rules account for another three percent of
cases. Burma, for example, jailed two journalists in March for violating
prohibitions on photographing or filming the countrybs new capital,

*	The longest-serving journalists in CPJ's census were Chen Renjie and
Lin Youping, who were jailed in China in July 1983 for publishing a
pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report). Codefendant Chen Biling was
later executed.

CPJ believes that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their
jobs. The organization has sent letters expressing its serious concerns
to each country that has imprisoned a journalist. In addition, CPJ sent
requests during the year to Eritrean and U.S. officials seeking details
in the cases in which journalists were held without publicly disclosed

CPJ's list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at midnight on December
1, 2006. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and
released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found at
www.cpj.org <http://www.cpj.org/> . Journalists remain on CPJbs list
until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they
have been released or have died in custody.

Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities,
including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are not included
on the imprisoned list. Their cases are classified as "missing" or
"abducted." Details of these cases are also available on CPJ's Web site.

CPJ is a New Yorkbbased, independent, nonprofit organization that works
to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit
www.cpj.org <http://www.cpj.org/> .

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