Tag Archives: political

WSJ: Chinese blogger conference cancelled due to pressure from authorities

An annual blogging conference in Shanghai was cancelled over the weekend due to pressure from the authorities, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The Chinese Blogger Conference reportedly normally attracts online commentators, digital artists and entrepreneurs, many of whom are said to be critical of government censorship. The decision to cancel is “the latest sign of tightening limits in China on free expression” WSJ reports.

This year, organizers waited until four days ahead of the two-day conference’s planned start on Saturday to announce the venue, an office building in Shanghai’s Xuhui District, near Shanghai Jiaotong University. But the planned hosts reneged late last week owing to pressure from authorities not to let their venue be used for the conference, according to one of the organizers.

Read WSJ’s full report here.

Iranian blogger jailed for 19 years

An Iranian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to almost 20 years in prison and a five-year ban on working in politics or journalism upon his release, after being accused of managing an “obscene website” by Iranian authorities.

Hossein Derakhshan, who has dual citizenship in Iran and Canada and reportedly previously studied in London, was convicted yesterday of “collaborating with hostile governments, committing blasphemy and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and managing an obscene website”, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

Reporting on the ruling, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the sentence was the longest to have ever been made against a blogger in the country.

He is the victim of political rivalry within the government and the case against him was fabricated. We urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intercede personally in order to obtain his release without delay.

Derakhshan defended the Islamic Revolution’s principles, supported Ahmadinejad’s policies and returned to Iran from Canada after being assured by people close to the president that he would not be arrested. Canada and the rest of the international community must press for this harsh sentence to be quashed and for Derakhshan to be freed at once.

Derakhshan can appeal the decision, according to reports. A petition has been launched calling for his release.

Newspaper Society: New law for family court will cause ‘regime of secrecy’

The Newspaper Society has presented a submission to the House of Commons’ Justice Select Committee, claiming that reporting restrictions within the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 that aim to protect privacy within family court proceedings will result in a “regime of secrecy”.

The select committee announced it would carry out an inquiry into confidentiality and openness in family courts – partly in light of the new legislation and invited submissions from interested parties. In its submission the Newspaper Society claims the Act will place more restrictions on the press and not allow for greater public confidence in the system:

The NS says that although the media warmly supported the previous government’s aim of increasing openness and transparency and improving public confidence in the family justice system, its conclusion, regretfully, is that the Act will not achieve this.

(…) The NS points out that the Act’s effect is apparently to make it a contempt of court to publish any article referring to family proceedings, even if derived entirely from material already in the public domain and even if the parties were not identified, if the publication was not derived from an “authorised news report”.

Reporting on its submission the Newspaper Society added that the complexity of the Act may also deter press coverage altogether, concluding:

[T]hat the intention of increased transparency has been lost in the Act’s drafting, that the aim of achieving privacy for the families has been conflated into a renewed regime of secrecy which – if the relevant provisions in the Act are brought into force unamended – will not only fail to deliver the desired public accountability but will represent a major reduction in what can now be lawfully published, and will actually further reduce public debate and discussion of the family justice system.

US source protection bill amended to exclude WikiLeaks

The furore surrounding WikiLeaks continues this week, as US Senators reportedly working on a “media-shields” legislation to protect journalists from revealing sources are making amendments to ensure no such protection can be afforded to the whistleblowing site.

According to a report by the NYTimes.com, senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein are drafting the amendment to outline that the bill’s protections would “extend only to traditional news-gathering activities and not to websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents”.

Quoting Schumer in a statement he claims the amendments will ensure there is no chance of the law ever being used to protect websites like WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks should not be spared in any way from the fullest prosecution possible under the law. Our bill already includes safeguards when a leak impacts national security, and it would never grant protection to a website like this one, but we will take this extra step to remove even a scintilla of doubt.

According to the NYTimes.com report, the new bill would require a person to “exhaust all other means” of getting the names they desire before they could take a journalist to court. But they add the amendment may be unecessary due to the method by which the website sources and stores its information.

According to WikiLeaks, the website uses a technology which makes it impossible to trace the source of documents that are submitted to it. So even if the organisation were compelled to disclose a source, it is not clear that it would be able to do so

See the full report here…

Also in WikiLeaks news, the Washington Post reports that the Broadcasting Board of Governors have ordered that the Voice of America “may proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents”. This follows claims that IT personnel at the International Broadcasting Bureau told VOA journalists not to read or email the material on government computers.

The matter was added to the agenda at Friday’s gathering of the new board, which passed a unanimous resolution in closed session that “authorized the Director of the Voice of America to proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents available on the WikiLeaks website in a manner that is consistent with the VOA Charter and the BBG’s statutory mission, and to balance this effort with due consideration for the laws and executive orders” on using classified information.

See the full post here…