Archive | 11:08 pm

In Nigeria, soldiers beat journalist covering demolition

10 Sep

Nigerian soldiers beat Leadership Newspapers reporter David-Chyddy Eleke, confiscated his camera, and arrested him for taking pictures of the demolition of buildings in Awka, in Anambra State in Nigeria’s southeast region on September 6, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports

Eleke told CPJ he identified himself as a journalist but one soldier slapped him while two others tore his shirt and dragged him into a van for refusing to surrender his company’s camera. Eleke said the soldiers, who were attached to officials of the Awka South Local Council Secretariat carrying out the demolition, threatened him not to answer his phone calls while they took him to the secretariat. His camera was taken and the pictures deleted, he said.

Eleke was released and his camera returned the same day, following intervention of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, who condemned the attack, his employer reported. Ekene Okoye, the chairman of the Awka South Local Council Secretariat, said Eleke did not get permission from the soldiers to take pictures of the demolition, according to news reports. Eleke’s assault comes a month after Benedict Uwalaka, another journalist with Leadership Newspapers, was assaulted on August 9 by mortuary attendants at a government hospital. A suspect has been arraigned in Uwalaka’s case.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Gabon opposition TV station reports attack

10 Sep

On September 5, 2012, the studios of TV+, a private television station in the capital, Libreville, owned by André Mba Obame, the country’s main opposition leader, were attacked by six unknown assailants, Agence France-Presse quoted Editor-in-Chief Ismaël Obiang Nze as saying. In the attack around 3 a.m. local time, a security guard was hit on the head with a hammer, stabbed in the back, and tied up, but his injuries were not critical, Nze said.

Frank Nguema, TV+ managing director, told CPJ the assailants broke the TV station’s gate but were unable to get past the steel security door into the station’s offices. Nguema said the attackers, who fled following the arrival of more security guards, proceeded to another building where TV+ transmitters are located, but retreated upon seeing 20 guards on alert there. The station was considering filing a formal complaint with Gabon authorities, he said.

On Aug. 16, unidentified gunmen stormed TV+ and burned down its transmitters, according to local journalists and news reports.

Blaise Louembe, Gabon’s information minister, told CPJ that attacks on TV+ are staged by the opposition to discredit the government. Citing a YouTube video of protests held on August 15, where opposition supporters are seen pursuing policemen, Louembe said that it is improbable that anyone other than the opposition could attack TV+, which is located in an opposition stronghold. In a communiqué received by CPJ, Jean Francois Ndongou, Gabon’s interior minister, pledged an investigation.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Indian cartoonist jailed for images criticizing government

10 Sep

Aseem Trivedi shouts slogans as he is escorted by police outside court. (Reuters)

New York, September 10, 2012–Indian authorities should immediately drop all of the charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and release him from detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police in Maharashtra state arrested Trivedi, a 25-year-old freelancer from India’s central Uttar Pradesh state, on Saturday, according to news reports. The cartoonist faces charges of sedition, violating Internet security laws, and insulting national honor for publishing cartoons mocking national symbols and criticizing corruption on his website, Cartoons Against Corruption, news reports said.

Trivedi has refused to apply for bail as an act of protest against the sedition charge, Alok Dixit, Trivedi’s friend and founder of the Internet freedom campaign Save Your Voice, told CPJ by email. A Mumbai court ordered that the cartoonist be held until September 24, but a trial date has not yet been set, news reports said. It is not clear what total penalties Trivedi could face if found guilty.

“Criminalizing Aseem Trivedi’s efforts to highlight the serious problem of corruption is a perverse exercise of power and runs completely counter to India’s democratic principles,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities in Maharashtra must release Trivedi immediately and halt their obstruction of his work.”

The charges against Trivedi stem from a December 2011 complaint from a lawyer in Mumbai, who said he was acting on his own, according to news reports. The cartoonist’s website was subsequently blocked by Web-hosting service Big Rock, news reports said.

On August 30, eight months after the complaint was filed, police took an arrest warrant to Trivedi’s Uttar Pradesh residence, according to Dixit. The cartoonist was not home at the time, Dixit told CPJ.

The reason for the delayed arrest is not clear. Dixit told CPJ that police said that Trivedi had “abscond[ed] for the past eight months,” but, he said, Trivedi “was running a campaign, talking to media, available on Facebook, Twitter, everywhere.”

The cartoonist surrendered in Mumbai on Saturday, according to Dixit.

Sedition charges have been used in reprisal against Indian journalists in the past, according to CPJ research. “If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy,” Trivedi said outside the court, according to the U.K. daily Independent.

Trivedi’s arrest comes in the wake of a national debate on Internet security as authorities tried to curb religious unrest by censoring online content. Internet freedom activists in India are concerned that government regulations to manage the nation’s growing online communities could be used to suppress dissent.

  • For more data and analysis on India, visit CPJ’s India page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

CPJ welcomes Ethiopian pardon of Swedish journalists

10 Sep

Nairobi, September 10, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved to learn the Ethiopian government has pardoned Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye today.

“We welcome the government’s decision and look forward to the prompt release of Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “However, journalists should never be jailed for legitimate newsgathering.  Authorities ought to show tolerance for independent reporting and release the remaining six journalists imprisoned.”

Since 2011, the government of Ethiopia has convicted 11 independent journalists and bloggers under a sweeping antiterrorism law. Ethiopian authorities arrested Persson and Schibbye in July 2011 and sentenced them to 11 years in prison for allegedly supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally after the two reporters covered the activities of a separatist group in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

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