Media Tracker lists the challenges and achievements of the journalists and media organisations worldwide. Here’s a list of journalism at risk stories in the recent month. We would like to thank international media protection organisation and news outlets for their content.
- Tatyana Felgengauer, Deputy editor in chief and anchor, Ekho Moskyv radio station was stabbed in the throat on 23 October at the radio station in Moscow. The well-known journalist is not in critical condition and is said to be stable.
Reports said that the attacker used a gas which was sprayed in a face of security guards before entering Ekho Moskyv offices and bursting into a studio located in the 14th floor, where the journalist was working. “The man came here on purpose. He knew where he was going,” the journalist´s employer told reporters, adding that he was detained and handed over to police.
The IFJ has recorded two killed journalists in Russia since the start of 2017. Several attacks and threats were reported during the year, including at least 13 journalists currently in detention. Some journalists have fled the country to escape the climate of violence and harassment.
- Avichay Adraee, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson for Arabic Media, said in a statement published on an IDF Facebook account yesterday that at least eight Palestinian telecom and production companies were raided, but he did not specify the companies’ names. Adraee said 11 offices of the companies were raided because they provide services to the Hamas-affiliated stations Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds, which incite against Israel.
In early morning raids in several West Bank cities, Israeli forces, in cooperation with the Israeli home security service Shin Bet, confiscated documents and broadcast equipment, and closed the media companies down, according to news reports and the pro-Palestinian press freedom group Journalists Support Committee. Footage on the IDF Facebook page shows soldiers using plywood and metal to physically prevent access to the offices. Notices were left on doors saying that the companies were closed for six months, and warning employees to stop assisting terrorism and incitement.
Three of the companies–TransMedia Palestine, PalMedia and RamSat–provide production services, facilities, camera crews, and studios to Hamas-affiliated TV channels including Al-Aqsa, Al-Quds, and Palestine Today, and to international channels including Russia Today, BBC, and France 24, according to the Journalists Support Committee and the local press freedom group, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom.
The IDF also arrested two Transmedia staff on suspicion of incitement, according to Adraee and a news report. The men, who are brothers, were named in a Facebook post by one of their relatives as Amr al-Jaabari, director of TransMedia, and Ibrahim al-Jabaari, a cameraman and managing director at the company.
As well as allegedly providing services to Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, the stations were raided for broadcasting inflammatory material that promotes terrorism, according to the IDF spokesperson. Transmedia broadcasts footage on its website and social media of Israeli military raids and clashes, and PalMedia broadcasts more general news coverage on its site and social media, according to news reports and video footage posted on Facebook.
The Israel Defense Forces has previously said that it is illegal for companies to provide services to Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa because the stations incite violence against Israel, according to reports.
PalMedia was raided earlier this year, in a separate incident. CPJ documented a July 29 raid by Israeli soldiers raided the company’s Ramallah office, during which troops seized storage devices and documents.
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed to learn that two rebel groups in Balochistan, in southwestern Pakistan, have threatened to attack the province’s media if, by 24 October, they have not begun defying a Pakistani government ban on covering rebel activities. RSF condemns the rebel threats and ultimatum, which are unacceptable. At the same time, it calls on the civilian and military authorities to allow journalists to do their work.
As a result, two of these groups, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and the United Baloch Army (UBA), issued an ultimatum at the start of the month giving all of the province’s journalists until 24 October to start covering their activities.
In a statement posted on the Urdu-language Daily Sangar website (dailysangar.com), BLF spokesman Gahram Baloch said journalists will be exposed to “avoidable harm” of they do not start “behaving.”
“Distribution of newspapers will be suspended in the region after the deadline,” the statement said. “And we warn journalists to stay away from their offices and press clubs. Media workers will be to blame for any harm they suffer.”
Khalil Ahmad, the head of the Balochistan Union of Journalists, confirmed to RSF’s Pakistan representative that the provincial authorities regard the rebel groups as “terrorists” and forbid any mention of them in the media.
All possible means are used to force compliance, starting with economic pressure, to which for many local newspapers are particularly susceptible because state advertising constitutes their main source of income.
Judicial pressure is also used. Since 2008, a total of 11 reporters and editors have been given jail sentences for defying the ban on referring to rebel groups. And finally, there has been physical intimidation, violence and torture by the intelligence services, which are often accused of brutality.
Around 40 journalists have been murdered since the start of the current conflict in 2006. Impunity is the rule. Few of the cases have led to prosecutions.
- CJFE is overjoyed by the safe return of Zeenat Shahzadi, a 26-year-old Pakistani journalist who went missing two years ago from the streets of Lahore. Her recovery was confirmed this morning by retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of Pakistan’s missing persons commission.
Zeenat Shahzadi was kidnapped off the streets of Lahore on August 19, 2015, and had no contact with the outside world until her release on October 18, 2017. The brazen, daylight kidnapping of a young female journalist was the first of its kind in Pakistan. Zeenat’s family and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believe Pakistan’s Special Forces are responsible, because she fearlessly pursued a story the spy agencies didn’t want told.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been known to target journalists. Law enforcement agencies exercise unrestricted powers under the 2014 Pakistan Protection Act. Those powers were further strengthened in 2015 by the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO), which offers greater power and the opportunity for impunity to the police, intelligence agencies, law enforcement authorities and military for acts like forced kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killings.
According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, “[Pakistan’s] higher judiciary, including the Supreme Court, has on many occasions found personnel from the Pakistan army and paramilitary to be involved in […] abductions, enforced detentions and later disappearances.”
The Commission on Enforced Disappearances works under the jurisdictions of the federal government and has no authority over the country’s security agencies. 1,300 out of a total 3,000 missing people’s cases remain pending before the commission. In addition to the missing persons’ crisis, Pakistan ranks sixth in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ list of the 20 deadliest countries for journalists in the world, and as the ninth worst country in the world for impunity for crimes against journalists.
Shahzadi’s family suffered a tragedy in March 2016 when Shahzadi’s teenaged brother, distraught over her kidnapping, hanged himself.
- Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent blogger killed today. The car that Caruana Galizia was driving exploded near to her house in Bidnija, in the north of the island, media reported.
Caruana Galizia, who reported on government corruption and the Panama Papers, told police two weeks ago that she had received death threats, according to Malta’s national broadcaster TVM, which did not provide further detail. The journalist’s blog, Running Commentary, which included investigative reports and commentary on politicians, was one of the most widely read websites in Malta, according to reports.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia investigated wrongdoing in Malta’s political, business and criminal worlds,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “The investigation into her murder therefore must be thorough, credible and timely.”
Caruana Galizia’s reports about Muscat’s alleged connection to the Panama Papers scandal forced him to call early elections in June 2017, after harsh criticism from members of the European Parliament. The 53-year-old journalist alleged that Muscat and his wife were behind an offshore company that received over US$1 million in payments from a Dubai company allegedly owned by Leyla Aliyeva, a daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. Muscat denied the allegations, according to reports.
Caruana Galizia’s last blog, which was critical of the country’s opposition party, was posted at 2:35 p.m. local time, just a few minutes before she left her house, according to local reports. The journalist’s critical coverage led to several legal battles. CPJ documented in February how a court ordered her bank accounts to be frozen until a verdict was reached in a libel case that two government officials had filed against her. CPJ was unable to determine the current status of the case.