Archive | 8:34 pm

Critical Bahraini journalist detained for four months

13 Sep

New York, September 13, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the ongoing imprisonment of Ahmed Radhi, a freelance journalist who was first detained four months ago after making critical comments about Bahraini-Saudi relations. Radhi now faces terrorism and other anti-state charges which he says were lodged after he was abused and forced into making a false confession.

“Bahrain must halt this practice of prosecuting critical journalists for their dissenting views,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Authorities should release Ahmed Radhi immediately.”

Radhi, a contributor to several local news websites, has been imprisoned since May 16, when he was held for several days without a lawyer present and without his family’s knowledge of his whereabouts, the reports said. He was last in court in Manama on August 30, when his detention was extended for 15 days, according to news reports. Although that extension appears to be running out, his next scheduled date was not immediately clear.

The case dates to May, when in press interviews Radhi made comments criticizing a proposed union between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, news reports said. Radhi posted the comments on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, saying the union would justify the occupation of Bahrain by Saudi troops, which had been sent in March 2011 to stifle popular protests. The journalist’s family has said they believe his detention is a result of the public comments he had made, according to the Bahrain Center of Human Rights.

On June 16, a local court charged Radhi with “igniting a flame to achieve a terrorist purpose,” “possession of flammable substances (Molotovs),” and “participation in assembly to disturb public security and using violence to achieve that,” according to news reports. Radhi has told the court that he was tortured into making a confession and made to sign papers he had not read, the human rights group said. No evidence has been provided to support the allegations, the group said.

In a June letter to the human rights center, Radhi said security forces had beaten and blindfolded him and subjected him to physical and psychological torture to force him to confess to the charges brought against him, the Bahraini human rights group reported. In addition to his freelance work, Radhi has also worked for the pro-government daily Al-Ayyam and as a correspondent for the Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV before the government withdrew his accreditation, news reports said.

Bahraini authorities have used anti-state charges to imprison other critical journalists. On September 6, an appeals court upheld a life sentence given to Abduljalil Alsingace, a prominent independent blogger and human rights defender, on charges related to “plotting to topple” the regime, according to news reports.

In the past 19 months, journalists in Bahrain have endured the worst conditions since King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa assumed the throne in 1999. CPJ has documented three journalist deaths, including a videographer killed in April; dozens of detentions; arbitrary deportations; official smear campaigns against journalists; and numerous physical assaults.

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

from Committee to Protect Journalists


Nigeria – Nigerian journalist beaten and arrested by soldiers

13 Sep

13 September 2012

(IPI/IFEX) – 12 September 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the reported beating and arrest, by soldiers, of David-Chyddy Eleke, a senior correspondent for Leadership newspaper, on 6 September.

The incident occurred as Eleke was taking photographs of a demolition at the Arthur Eze Avenue in the Southeastern region of Awka, reports said.

According to local reports, even after Eleke identified himself as a journalist, soldiers attacked the journalist and confiscated his camera, before throwing him into a patrol van. He was later released.

Nigerian officials told local media that Eleke did not have permission to photograph the demolition area.

“The physical assault of a journalist for doing his or her job is unacceptable under any circumstances, but we are especially troubled at allegations that it was soldiers who attacked David-Chyddy Eleke,” IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said. “It is the responsibility of the government, and by extension security forces, to ensure the safety of journalists. We call on the authorities to conduct a full investigation into this reported attack.”

The chairman of the Anambra State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Toochuku Udoji-Omelu, was quoted by Leadership as saying: “We have remained the best of friends with the government of this state, and to think that the same people can be responsible for the brutalisation of our member is the height of assault.”

Since the beginning of the year, there have been several reported attacks against journalists in Nigeria, including the fatal shooting of cameraman Chuks Ogu in April.

In August, in separate incidents, two photojournalists for local newspapers, Tunde Ogundeji of Compass and Ben Uwalaka of Leadership were both brutally attacked.

Uwalaka of Leadership newspaper was reportedly battered by a group of workers at the mortuary of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), after wanting to photograph the bodies of the victims of the Dana air crash. In an interview with his newspaper, Uwalaka said he was beaten with sticks and various objects including a bottle.

The Nigerian Union of Journalists had reportedly taken legal action against LASUTH. Additionally, IPI urged for the perpetrators of the attacks in August to be brought to justice.

IPI welcomes recent news that one of the attackers of Ben Uwalaka has been arraigned before court.

On August 31, Bayo Ogunsola, one of two assailants identified by Uwalaka, was arraigned for allegedly assaulting Uwalaka and destroying his camera. Ogunsola, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is due in court on 4 October, 2012 for trial. His lawyer has appealed for an out of court settlement, however, Uwalake has assured to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that despite pressure he will not drop charges. Iyobosa Uwugiraren, the managing editor of Leadership similarly expressed they will support Uwalaka throughout his trail.

IPI urges the Nigerian authorities to continue to ensure safety of journalists in the country and bring all those responsible for attacks against journalists to justice.


International Press Institute
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Phone: +43 1 5129011
Fax: +43 1 5129014

via IFEX

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