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International Press Institute: Israel releases some journalists; others remain in detention

The International Press Institute (IPI) has an update on the journalists detained after the Israeli seizure of activists aboard the Gaza flotilla:

Israel on Wednesday deported hundreds of activists, and a number of foreign journalists, who had been detained after a Gaza-bound flotilla they were aboard was stormed on Tuesday in an operation that left nine people dead. However, several journalists remained in custody at 15:30 CET.

Full story at this link…

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freemedia.at: Over 300,000 at Italian press freedom protest

“A press freedom protest organised by the National Federation of the Italian Press, in the Italian capital Rome on Saturday, and which according to the organisers drew over 300,000 participants, was on the same day criticised by Italian public broadcaster Rai 1,” reports the International Press Institute.

Full story at this link…

Related:

This week Italy’s Constitutional Court has overturned a law granting prime minister Silvio Berlusconi immunity from prosecution while in office.

Berlusconi’s lawyers have sued La Repubblica for allegedly defaming the prime minister by repeating its questions about his private life and political aspirations each day (Journalism.co.uk).

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Detainment of Reuters cameraman still unexplained – one year on

September 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Press freedom and ethics

Over a year has passed since Ibrahim Jassam, cameraman for global news agency Reuters, was arrested without charge by the US military and still no one, not Jassam, his family nor Reuters knows exactly what he has been imprisoned for.

Jassam, who was cleared for release last November by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), has only been told that the accusations have something to do with ‘activities with insurgents,’ a reference to the Sunni Islamist groups – one of which is Al Qaeda. Reuters states that Jassam is a Shi’ite Muslim.

Although cleared by the CCCI, a year on Jassam is still being detained by the US army, which under a special security agreement claims they are entitled to hold Jassam for as long as they need. The US military also claims that it is ‘not bound’ to provide evidence for Jassam’s detention and that the reason it has  kept him so long past his agreed release date is that he represents a ‘threat to Iraq security and stability’.

As also reported by the International Press Institute, David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters said the situation was ‘unacceptable’. “In a year of trying to get specifics, we’ve heard only vague and undefined accusations.”

Lt. Col. Pat Johnson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Iraq said: “Though we appreciate the decision of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in the Ibrahim Jassam case, their decision does not negate the intelligence information that currently lists him as a threat to Iraqi security and stability.”

The US Military claims that all high security threat detainees will go before an Iraqi judge in December 2009, where the evidence against Jassam will finally be aired.

Reuters and others argue that this treatment of a journalist within a war zone is exactly against the US’s advocacy of press freedom around the world, and see Jassam’s continued detention as going against the security pact, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, made between the US and Iraqi forces.

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A reminder of the ‘perils of reporting’ in Pakistan

On Monday, Shamshad TV reporter, Janullah Hashimzada, was killed in Pakistan.

The murder of the Afghan journalist is a reminder of the very real threat that faces journalists in the region, said the International Press Institute.

Janullah Hashimzada was travelling by mini-bus near the Pakistani town of Jamrud in the Khyber tribal district when the vehicle was intercepted. Assailants fired at Janullah, killing him and seriously injuring his colleague Ali Khan. No one has claimed responsibility for the killing so far.

“Hashimzada was murdered in cold blood because he dared to exercise the profession of journalist, and knew too much,” said IPI director, David Dadge. “His death underscores the perils of reporting from such a dangerous part of the world for journalists.”

Other casualties this year include:

  • Muhammad Imran, a trainee cameraman with Express TV and Saleem Tahir Awan, a freelance reporter with the local dailies Eitedal and Apna Akhbar, were both killed on January 4, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the Government Polytechnic College in Dera Ismail Khan in the Northwest Frontier Province.
  • Musa Khankhel, a reporter for Geo TV and the English-language newspaper The News, was shot dead on February 18,  while on assignment covering a peace march led by Muslim cleric Sufi Muhammad in the Swat valley.
  • Sadiq Bacha Khan, Aaj TV correspondent was gunned down, on August 17 in broad daylight in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan.

103 cases of ‘intimidation or threats’ against journalists were recorded from May 2008 through May 2009, according to a report by the Pakistani media research group Intermedia. Numbers of deaths vary according to the source: while Intermedia reports 15 in the last year, IPI’s Death Watch said that 11 journalists have been killed in the last two years.

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The @press_freedom timeline – tracking threats to journalism around the globe

In December, Journalism.co.uk launched a page, and subsequently a Twitter service (@press_freedom), to track violations of freedom of expression around the world.

This week we’ve added a few more sources to the Dipity timeline. Headlines from the Index on Censorship, Global Voices Online and Global Voices Advocacy and the International Journalists’ Network will now be included, along with those from the original organisations – Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, the Frontline Blog, and ourselves.

Visit the page here: http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/533032.php and please re-tweet it to raise awareness for the ill-treatment of fellow journalists and bloggers around the world, prevented from doing their job. Finally please do get in touch with suggestions for the page, or potential stories for Journalism.co.uk: judith at journalism.co.uk or laura at journalism.co.uk.

Recent press freedom updates:

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I.P.I: Mexican authorities need to act immediately to ‘stem systematic killing of reporters’

The International Press Institute, based in Vienna, has called upon the Mexican authorities to ‘act immediately to stem the systematic killing of reporters’ following the murder of radio journalist Juan Daniel Martínez Gil near Acapulco July 27.

At least three other journalists have been killed this year in Mexico alone, the organisation reports.

“Some critical journalists who ‘disappear’ in Mexico are never found – they are presumed to have been kidnapped and possibly murdered.”

Full release at this link…

More details about the brutal murder reported by the Associated Press at this link.

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