Freedom of Press

Regional News • Europe
Ukrainian president bans three opposition television stations
Ukrainian president bans three opposition television stations
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

In an unprecedented decree, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj has banned three opposition news channels. The ban includes the revocation of broadcasting licenses, TV frequencies and the blocking of accounts for an initial period of five years, the presidential office announced Wednesday night. The shutdown of ZIK, NewsOne and 112 channels was immediate in the capital, Kiev.

The move was justified by an alleged threat to national security and dissemination of Russian propaganda. In a joint statement, the broadcasters called the ban a "reckoning with inconvenient media."

Journalist Can Dündar sentenced to 27 years in jail by Turkish court
Journalist Can Dündar  sentenced to 27 years in jail by Turkish court
Credit: Foto: © JCS' (Public Domain)

The journalist Can Dündar, who fled into exile in Germany, has been sentenced to more than 27 years in prison by a Turkish court. The court accused the Turkish newspaper journalist of obtaining state secrets for espionage purposes. It also convicted him of supporting terrorism.

Can Dündar's defenders stated that they think that the verdict against Dündar is political. Germany would therefore be unlikely to extradite the journalist.

Business • Media & Advertising
Report: 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide
Report: 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide
Credit: / The Climate Reality Project

According to the annual press freedom survey published by the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) at least 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide. According to the data, fifty-four journalists are currently considered abducted, and four disappeared in 2020.

Over 130 journalists have been arrested for their reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong democracy movement media entrepreneur Lai detained until trial

Shortly after the verdict against Joshua Wong and two of his comrades-in-arms the media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, another prominent supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement has been sent to prison. He is accused of fraud and is now expected to remain in detention pending a planned court hearing in April.

Regional News • Europe • France
Police violence in Paris: a photographer beaten up during the "March of Liberties"

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Paris and other French cities to protest against the "Global Security" law.

Syrian photographer Ameer al-Halbi, a war correspondent known for his coverage of the fall of Aleppo and winner of a World Press Photo award in 2017, was wounded during a police charge while covering the march on Saturday afternoon, AFP reported.

The "Global Security" law would punish punishes the so-called "malicious" dissemination of the image of police officers, particularly during demonstrations.

Controversy over the law was heightened by the heavy-handed evacuation of a migrant camp in Paris on Monday and the revelation on Thursday of the beating of music producer Michel Zecler by four police officers.

Regional News • Europe
Foreign journalists' accreditations revoked in Belarus
Foreign journalists' accreditations revoked in Belarus
Credit: / Matt Chesin

The Foreign Ministry in Belarus stated on Friday that all existing press accreditations of foreign journalists were cancelled. Starting Monday, Journalists are supposed to reapply for accreditation under a new, "streamlined" system.

Belarusian government focus on foreign media organizations follows weeks of critical news coverage of the controversial presidential elections and the disproportionate crackdowns on demonstrations against the longstanding Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

"The only possible explanation is that the Belarusian government fears independent media and is using every possible trick to prevent independent reporting," states Deutsche Welle's Editor-in-Chief, Manuela Kasper-Claridge.

Regional News • Asia • China
Australian journalist held in China on national security grounds

Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been detained since August 14th and is suspected of "criminal activity endangering China's national security". Lei is a news anchor for China Global Television Network (CGTN) and was arrested in Beijing and was taken into secretive detention. The reason for her detention is still unclear.

Regional News • Europe
Belarus: Accreditations from western media journalists removed

Journalists working for western media outlets had their accreditations removed on Saturday in Belarus. This comes a day after a German ARD TV crew was arrested in their hotel and later deported. Journalists affected worked for Reuters, Radio Liberty, AFP, AP and BBC, among others.

Regional News • Asia
Multiple journalists have been arrested by Hong Kong police including journalist for UK's tv channel ITV
Multiple journalists have been arrested by Hong Kong police including journalist for UK's tv channel ITV
Credit: Wilson Li via LinkedIn

The Hong Kong Police Force has announced via their Twitter account that nine people have been arrested for alleged breaches of the national security law.

One of the arrested people is the freelance journalist Wilson Li who works for the UK-based television channel ITV. A spokesperson from ITV News has stated that: "We can confirm that Wilson Li works for ITV News in a freelance capacity. We are concerned to hear of his arrest and are urgently seeking clarification of the circumstances."

In addition to the arrests, the Hong Kong Police Force has raided and searched the office the media outlet Apple Daily.

Regional News • Asia
Pro-democracy owner of Apple Daily media outlet Jimmy Lai arrested by Hong Kong police

The Hong Kong police have arrested Jimmy Lai on grounds of the new national security law in Hong Kong. According to a close aid of his, he has been arrested at 7am and lawyers have been sent to the police station.

The news agency AFP has stated that a police source has stated that Lai had been arrested for the alleged collusion with foreign forces and fraud. His house has been searched by the police, as well as the house of his son. Multiple other members of his group have reportedly been arrested.

Regional News • Europe
The Journalist Deniz Yücel sentenced to two years and nine months in prison by the Turkish court
Deniz Yücel in Berlin, October 2011
Deniz Yücel in Berlin, October 2011 Credit: Schreibkraft (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In today's trial, the journalist was sentenced to prison for propaganda for the PKK party, which is banned in turkey. His lawyer was acquitted of charges of propaganda for the Gülen movement and sedition. Yücel himself was not present at the trial. His lawyer, Vesel Ok, has already announced an appeal and says: "We do not accept this judgment." The verdict is not binding yet.

Yücel's case had a heavy impact on the German-Turkish relationship. He was held without charge in a high-security prison in Turkey from February 2017 to February 2018. For months he was in solitary confinement. In May 2019, it was announced that he was maltreated in prison.

Regional News • Americas • United States
CNN and Buzzfeed obtain more records of Robert Mueller's investigation
Robert Mueller at the White House, 2021
Robert Mueller at the White House, 2021 Credit: The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

CNN and Buzzfeed obtained further reports and notes from "special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election [...] in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by BuzzFeed News and CNN." The notes contain interviews with major witnesses during Robert Mueller's investigations, including Steve Bannon and multiple witnesses whose names had been retracted.

Some of the key takeaways of these notes are:

  • Steve Bannon, Trump's former campaign manager, expressed severe mistrust of Roger Stone, accusing Stone of having leaked damaging information to the press to get Paul Manafort as a replacement for Corey Lewandowski as campaign manager. Bannon called Stone a "nasty piece of work" with a "sketchy background."

  • Bannon described Trump asking frequently about "dirt" on Hillary Clinton and her missing emails to hurt her campaign. According to Bannon, Trump assumed the emails could contain information that would link "crooked Hillary" to the conspiracy theory about an illicit uranium deal.

  • FBI agents visited a male, unnamed witness who asked "if the agents were there to inquire about the campaign, and about Erik Prince, a military contractor and unofficial adviser to Trump’s campaign."
Regional News • Europe • Germany
German interior minister Horst Seehofer announces that he will file police report over news article
Picture of Horst Seehofer from 2019
Picture of Horst Seehofer from 2019 Credit: Patrick Büttgen, phoenix (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The German minister of the Interior, Building and Community Horst Seehofer has publicly announced that he plans on filing a formal report to the police over an opinion piece that was published by the Berlin newspaper "tageszeitung" (taz). In the German publication "Bild" he stated that (translated) "A disinhibition of words inevitably leads to a disinhibition of deeds and to excesses of violence, just as we have now seen in Stuttgart. We must not accept this any longer". The satirically meant article in question had discussed the topic of abolishing the police and mentioned the option that they instead could be put on a landfill.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook blocks article from "The Guardian" and bans users through automated anti-nudity system

The social media network has blocked a link of the British daily newspaper "The Guardian" on the grounds of nudity because the preview image of the article contained a historical photo of Aboriginal men in chains even though it did not show naked people. Facebook took down the post of at least one user and multiple are reporting that they are unable to share the link even after a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the "mistake" made by an automated system.

Regional News • Americas • United States
ACLU Minnesota files class-action lawsuit against police on behalf of attacked journalists

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced that the ACLU Minnesota has "filed a class-action lawsuit overnight on behalf of journalists who were targeted and attacked by Minneapolis and Minnesota police". This follows the repeated attacks on journalists from different publishers and agencies by the police during the protests.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Australian embassy contacts US government over attacked journalists
A screen-capture shows Network Seven cameraman Tim Myers and reporter Amelia Brace as they were assaulted by police officers while covering protests outside the White House
A screen-capture shows Network Seven cameraman Tim Myers and reporter Amelia Brace as they were assaulted by police officers while covering protests outside the White House Credit: Video Reproduction

After Tim Myers and Amelia Brace, journalists of the Australian Channel 7, were beaten by police outside the White House while covering the ongoing protests the Australian embassy has contacted the US State Department to shed light on the situation.

One of the journalists has stated that "It was an absolutely terrifying experience but we came through it together" when they were beaten with a truncheon, hit with a riot shield and punched in the face by the police.

Channel 7 is yet to make a formal police complaint.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Police arrests CNN team reporting from Minneapolis protests

CNN has announced via their twitter account that a reporter and his production team have been arrested by the police as they were reporting from the violent protests in Minneapolis. The media company claims that the arrest is a "clear violation of their First Amendment rights" and that the reporter and team had identified themselves as journalists.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Highest German court rules that internet surveillance of foreigners in foreign countries is unconstitutional

The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the current regulations regarding the surveillance of foreigners outside of Germany are unconstitutional. The judges remarked that the "strategic international telecommunications surveillance" conflicts with the constitutional rights protecting the secrecy of telecommunications and the freedom of press.

Regional News • Europe
Second Hungarian Taken by Police for Writing on Facebook

Five policemen showed up at a man's home in the town of Gyula, Hungary, to take him in. The reason: he posted on Facebook about the 1170 beds that were emptied in the local hospital. This is the second time Orbán's "war on fake news" has resulted in action by the police since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in Hungary, when the government bill giving the Prime Minister near-total power was passed, including a section that criminalizes the spread of misinformation about the virus. During the four hours of questioning at the local police precinct, the man kept asking for his lawyer until he got released but was left to get home on his own means, regardless of his physical disability.

Suspects of attack on German camera team stay silent

After the attack against the ZDF-Team and three security guards on 1st of May 2020 the investigators are still searching for an attack motive. All suspected persons are using their rights to remain silent and further investigations haven't brought up conclusive evidence so far.