IFEX Communiqué Vol 20, No 35 | 7 September 2011
IFEX Communiqué Vol 20, No 35 | 7 September 2011
FREE EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT
1. INTERNATIONAL: IFEX MEMBERS REGRET WIKILEAKS'S DECISION TO RELEASE ALL CABLES UNREDACTED
IFEX member Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has temporarily suspended its WikiLeaks mirror site following WikiLeaks's decision to publish its full archive of 251,000 U.S. diplomatic cables without redactions, citing concerns for the safety of confidential sources whose names have now been made public.
RSF said in a statement dated 1 September that the organisation took the decision to suspend the site while the protection of sources "is in question." The mirror site was set up last December as "a gesture of support" when the Wikileaks site was under attack.
RSF said it has "neither the technical, human nor financial resources to check each cable" which has now been published, and, therefore, has to "play it safe."
"On the one hand, some of the new cables have reportedly not been redacted and show the names of informants in various countries including Israel, Jordan, Iran and Afghanistan.
"While it has not been demonstrated that lives have so far been put in danger by these revelations, the repercussions they could have for informants, such as dismissal, physical attacks and other reprisals, cannot be neglected," said RSF.
Index on Censorship, which supports the principle behind whistleblower initiatives such as WikiLeaks, also regretted the publication of the unredacted cables.
John Kampfner of Index on Censorship commented, "Sites such as WikiLeaks will continue to emerge, and will have an important role to play. But they should be operated with a great duty of care, both to whistleblowers and to individuals who may find themselves in danger after irresponsible leaks of diplomatic, intelligence or other material."
Early this year Index expressed its concern to WikiLeaks over reports that unredacted documents had been made available to the Belarusian dictatorship, and that WikiLeaks lacked the background knowledge to properly spot risk to individuals who were named in confidential documents.
While ARTICLE 19 agreed that media organisations - including WikiLeaks - have an obligation to protect their sources, it said the work of WikiLeaks is still valuable - "even with the leak."
"The most recent disclosures have created a new interest, unleashing new disclosures that are in the public interest," said ARTICLE 19.
A search for IFEX in the cables reveals six matches, including a complaint made by Tunisia's Deputy Foreign Minister for the Americas and Asia, Saida Chtioui, to the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, Gordon Gray, about "the many 'insulting' things about Tunisia IFEX wrote that appeared in the press."
Despite the suspension, RSF will continue to post information on its WikiLeaks page about the release of cables relating to media freedom and about developments concerning the WikiLeaks site.
WikiLeaks published the entire cache of leaked cables last week after it was revealed encrypted files containing the unredacted cables were available online through the file sharing network BitTorrent. Only 20,000 of the cables had been published prior - through five media partners - the "Guardian", "The New York Times", "El País", "Der Spiegel" and "Le Monde" - who worked with WikiLeaks to carefully select and redact documents.
WikiLeaks blamed the "Guardian" for the security breach, claiming its investigations editor David Leigh "negligently" disclosed the passwords to the encrypted cache in a book published earlier this year.
The "Guardian" strongly denied responsibility. It said while the password was published in a book in February, it was only ever intended to be a temporary password which would expire within hours.
Index's Rohan Jayasekera noted that the process of publishing secret documents is "not technical at all, but about protective, supportive, sustaining relationships between people who give and receive information in secret."
"The current over-reliance on encryption fails to take into account human fallibility... The true successor to WikiLeaks will find that protecting the people that provide the information that gives their work a point adds up to more than just lines of code," he added.
- WikiLeaks - Don't shoot the messenger, say IFEX members:
IFEX members speak out on WikiLeaks:
on the web:
- Reporters Without Borders temporarily suspends its WikiLeaks mirror site (RSF):
Index on Censorship response to WikiLeaks cables release
WikiLeaks whistleblowers need care as well as attention
WikiLeaks publishes full cache of unredacted cables
Cablegate's cables: Full-text search:
1. RUSSIA: RETIRED POLICE OFFICER CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH POLITKOVSKAYA'S MURDER
Five years after journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building, retired police officer Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov has been charged for spearheading the criminal group that carried out her murder, report the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Convicted criminal Lom-Ali Gaitukayev was also named for organising the slaying.
As a special correspondent for "Novaya Gazeta", Politkovskaya was a ferocious critic of the Kremlin's corruption and its war in Chechnya. She was internationally recognised for her investigative reports on human rights abuses in Chechnya and was threatened, jailed, forced into exile and poisoned during her seven years covering the conflict. She was murdered on 7 October 2006.
According to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, an unidentified person set up a contract with Gaitukayev in July 2006 to kill Politkovskaya. Gaitukayev then created a gang that included his nephews - brothers Rustam, Dzhabrail, and Ibragim Makhmudov - along with Pavlyuchenkov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former police officer with the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organised Crime.
At the time, Pavlyuchenkov was head of surveillance at Moscow's Main Internal Affairs Directorate and had the journalist followed to determine her schedule and travel routes in Moscow. He shared this information with the gang and passed the murder weapon from Gaitukayev to the suspected gunman, Rustam Makhmudov. He also planned the logistics of the crime and assigned tasks to the other accomplices, says a statement from the Investigative Committee. Pavlyuchenkov was arrested on 24 August and charged on 2 September.
"When not only low-level executors but the suspected organisers and the suspected gunman are on trial, then we can have a serious prosecution that could lead to the finding of the mastermind," Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of "Novaya Gazeta", told the local press.
It is a widely suspected that the government may have been involved in Politkovskaya's murder, say news reports.
RSF and CPJ are urging the Investigative Committee not to restrict blame to a few people but to go after the masterminds and their accomplices as it continues its investigation.
stories on ifex.org:
- Retired police official charged in Politkovskaya murder:
New suspect detained in Anna Politkovskaya's slaying:
on the web:
- Retired police officer arrested on suspicion of organising Politkovskaya murder (RSF):
Retired police officer arrested in Russia (Spiegel Online
2. SUDAN / SOUTH SUDAN: GOVERNMENTS NOT DELIVERING ON PROMISES OF MEDIA FREEDOM
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomed President Omar al-Bashir's promise to free all jailed journalists detained in Sudan - but are wondering if he will actually deliver. Meanwhile, two months after independence, the media environment in South Sudan is undeveloped and ill-equipped, says ARTICLE 19.
Bashir's announcement was made on 27 August at a dinner with local journalists who had requested pardons for their colleagues to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was followed the next day by the release of Jafaar al-Subki, a reporter for the private daily "Al-Sahafa", who had been held incommunicado since November 2010, reports CPJ.
No official pardon has been made by the government, leaving unclear which journalists might be freed and which would remain in prison.
At least seven others are still being detained without charge, say RSF and CPJ, some of whom work for the outlawed Radio Dabanga. All are believed to have reported on Darfur, a highly sensitive topic for the government.
In November, after a wave of arrests, the government shut down Radio Dabanga's office in Khartoum and banned the station. The station, broadcasting from the Netherlands, is an independent radio channel that still reports news and information about Darfur.
RSF says that seven Radio Dabanga employees who have been detained since October 2010 have been accused of divulging state secrets, undermining the constitutional system, calling for resistance and inciting sedition. Those crimes are punishable with the death penalty.
IFEX members have frequently reported on Sudan's continuous attacks on press freedom - from targeting individual journalists and publications with trumped-up criminal charges and contrived legal proceedings to confiscating newspapers. On 4 September, security forces confiscated issues of "Al-Maydan", the bi-weekly paper of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), as well as the daily "Al-Jarida", report Index on Censorship and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
Index on Censorship reports that the Sudanese National Assembly is considering introducing more restrictive press laws and measures that would further suffocate freedom of expression. For instance, Sudan's ruling party is contemplating enforcing pre-publication censorship, by which security officers screen newspapers for items that they deem inappropriate so they can be removed before the paper goes for printing.
Meanwhile, the new state of South Sudan, overwhelmed by its development needs, has failed to understand that "independent media can protect people and promote sustainable development," explained Henry Maina of ARTICLE 19.
Since the birth of South Sudan on 9 July, President Salva Kiir Mayardit has begun his rule without a comprehensive media and information policy, says Maina. Instead, the government has given priority to health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and security. This neglect of journalists comes from there being little understanding of how the media could play a vital role in developing the country, giving voice to citizens who were previously silenced, says Maina.
In fact, security officers have applied Sudan's 2004 Press Council Act to the new country - for example, arresting and prosecuting the editor-in-chief of the Juba-based "Citizen" newspaper, Nhial Bol, under the act.
Maina reports that the President cannot mobilise South Sudanese citizens to help develop the country without support of local and national media. "Citizens must be clearly informed to be able to assist the government in developing key policies and immediate priorities for the young nation," he says. "This puts clear a case for the development of a sustainable public media-television, radio and Internet-based media."
ARTICLE 19 urges the President to immediately pass the Right to Information Bill, the Public Service Broadcasting Bill and the Broadcasting Frequency Management Bill.
stories on ifex.org:
- RSF calls for release of all imprisoned journalists in wake of president's announcement
Security services seize copies of "Al-Jarida"
on the web:
- Sudan's new press laws will threaten free speech (Index on Censorship):
Sudan secured its position amongst the countries most
hostile to journalistic freedoms (ANHRI):
Media in an independent South Sudan (ARTICLE 19):
3. SOMALIA / MALAYSIA: MALAYSIAN JOURNALIST KILLED BY AU FORCES
A Malaysian journalist was killed and another wounded after African Union (AU) forces fired on a Malaysian humanitarian convoy in Mogadishu on 2 September, report the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd, 39, was accompanying the Putera 1Malaysia Club on an aid mission when he was fatally shot in the chest at a busy intersection. Working for Malaysia's national Bernama TV, he was there to report on the mission's work. A second camera operator, Aji Saregar, 27, working for Malaysia's TV3, was hit in the right hand by gunfire; he has since returned to Malaysia, says CPJ.
The African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) said it was conducting an investigation of the incident in conjunction with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.
Meanwhile, organisers of the aid mission have been criticised for not providing bulletproof vests or helmets to the news team, said IFJ. As well, the vehicle they were travelling in did not have any signage identifying them as media.
IFJ and NUSOJ have called on media employers to ensure the safety of media workers in conflict areas. "It is simply unacceptable for an employer to send a media worker to Somalia, which is known as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, without proper training and equipment," said IFJ.
Recent violence against the press in other areas of Somalia has included targeted bomb attacks, report NUSOJ and CPJ. Last month, in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, a grenade attack against a private radio station, Radio Daljir, in the city of Galkayo, resulted in a security guard being injured and the station damaged. The reason behind the attack was unclear, according to local reports. In May, an unexploded bomb was found outside the station's gate. Last September, 25-year-old Radio Daljir journalist Abdullahi Omar was stabbed after he left the station.
Related stories on
- Journalist killed, another wounded in Mogadishu:
NUSOJ condemns bomb attack on radio station:
on the web:
- Malaysian cameraman's death reinforces need for safety protocols (IFJ):
4. MEXICO: TWO WOMEN JOURNALISTS FOUND STRANGLED IN MEXICO CITY
Two women journalists were found dead in a park in eastern Mexico City on 1 September, their bodies naked with their hands and feet tied, with signs of strangulation and at least one gunshot wound, report ARTICLE 19, Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS) and other IFEX members.
The authorities identified the bodies as journalist Marcela Yarce Viveros, one of the founders of the political magazine "Contralínea", and Rocío González Trápaga, a freelance journalist and former reporter for Televisa.
According to ARTICLE 19, Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Ángel Mancera said that robbery could have been the motive. González was the owner of a currency exchange kiosk in the Mexico City airport, and apparently made a large money withdrawal the day before her body was found.
Yarce was in charge of public relations for the magazine and she was not doing journalistic work and had not received previous threats, according to Miguel Badillo, editor of the independent publication. The magazine, however, had been the target of intimidation threats in the past and lawsuits for its reporting on corruption.
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is asking that nothing be ruled out before investigating the motives. "We have gathered sufficient experience in these last few years to feel that there should be no pre-judgment of any action against a journalist until exhaustive and conclusive investigations are carried out," IAPA said.
According to ARTICLE 19, this is the first time there has been a reported killing of a journalist in Mexico City since November 2006 - around the same time the offensive against drug trafficking started.
This crime brings the total number of journalists killed in Mexico to 80 since 2000, six of which were against women, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF). Mexico leads Latin America as the most dangerous country in the region for journalists. Eight journalists have been killed in Mexico in 2011, says ARTICLE 19.
Related stories on
- Two journalists killed in Mexico City:
5. INTERNATIONAL / AWARDS AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES: GOLDEN PEN OF FREEDOM AWARD OPEN FOR NOMINATIONS
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is inviting nominations for the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the annual prize which honours an individual or group for outstanding action in the cause of press freedom. Hurry: the deadline for nominations is 16 September 2011.
Past laureates include Dawit Isaak, the Eritrean writer, poet and publisher currently jailed by Eritrean authorities; and Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, an Iranian journalist and political analyst who was imprisoned following Iran's disputed presidential election in June 2009.
Please send your nominations to Alison Meston at alison.meston (@) wan-ifra.org by 16 September 2011. Provide your name and contact details, plus the name of the nominee and a brief statement as to why you are nominating them.
For more information on the Golden Pen of Freedom,