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Blog: In UN complaint, Azimjon Askarov seeks justice, freedom

13 Nov

Lawyers for imprisoned investigative reporter Azimjon Askarov, who is serving a life term in Kyrgyzstan on charges widely seen as politically motivated, filed an appeal today with the U.N. Human Rights Committee that seeks his release.

Askarov’s lawyer, Nurbek Toktakunov, and a team of experts from the Open Society Justice Initiative filed a 115-page complaint with the U.N. body. The document, Askarov vs. Kyrgyz Republic, describes in detail what Justice Initiative Executive Director James A. Goldston called a “textbook case of denial of justice” that included Askarov’s arbitrary arrest amid the country’s June 2010 ethnic conflict, his repeated beatings at the hands of Kyrgyz police, the filing of fabricated criminal charges, a trial that was biased and politicized, and a climate of intense intimidation that prevented defense witnesses from testifying.

“I am appealing to the United Nations because of the appalling lack of the rule of law in Kyrgyzstan; the authorities just disregard the Constitution,” Askarov said in a statement made through his lawyer in Bishkek. “I am just one of the many people imprisoned after arbitrary detention, torture, and unfair trial.”

Domestic courts have denied appeals filed by Askarov, but his imprisonment has been challenged by the Kyrgyz government’s own human rights ombudsman, as well as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez.

Today’s complaint asks the U.N. body to seek Askarov’s immediate release and the reversal of his conviction, along with a full medical examination and treatment. The journalist has suffered the effects of torture and substandard prison conditions. Last month, prison authorities told defense lawyers that Askarov had been diagnosed with heart disease.

The complaint also asks for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of Askarov’s detention and torture, and to review all other convictions related to the 2010 violence.

Our own special report on Askarov’s case–based on CPJ research and materials made available by the Justice Initiative–lists similar recommendations for both Kyrgyz authorities and the international community, including the UN Human Rights Committee.

Next week, CPJ will honor Askarov with its International Press Freedom Award. To bring attention to the case, CPJ is also gathering names on a petition seeking his release. In his work, Askarov had exposed numerous human rights abuses and miscarriages of justice over many years. CPJ concluded that authorities mounted a criminal case of incitement to violence as a means of silencing his critical reporting.

“I feel the need to let the international community know about the injustice that is still ravaging my country,” Askarov said in his statement.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Iranian hacker arrested for hacking Iran, US, Israeli websites

13 Nov

A professional Iranian hacker has been arrested in Iran after hacking into over 1,000 websites, most of which were U.S. and Israeli, tabnak website reported.

Iran’s South Khorasan province’s cyber police head Colonel Gholamreza Hosseini said that the police successfully managed to detain the hacker responsible for attacks through Facebook.

The interrogation revealed that among the websites damaged by the hacker, was the website of Iran’s National Television Network (IRIB).

During the interrogation, the captured hacker claimed he launched the attack on IRIB and other websites to express his support for the earthquake victims in Eastern Azerbaijan province of Iran.

Several days ago Iran’s Varzegan city of country’s East Azerbaijan province was shattered by the earthquake, that, according to the latest reports injured over 50 people. Most of the injured ones are school children.

Speaking of the other hacked websites, the detainee said he wanted to show the defensive weaknesses of Israeli and U.S. cyber world, and hacked them put of pure curiosity.

via Trend.Az.

Blog: In China, kids ask the tough questions at Party Congress

13 Nov

Eleven-year-old Zhang Jiahe asks a question during the 18th National Party Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

When a nation’s most outspoken journalists are 11-year-olds, is it a good sign for the future? On the one hand, they might grow up to ask probing questions. On the other hand, they might end up following the path taken by their older peers and stick to scripted exchanges.

The issue comes courtesy of the 18th Party Congress ongoing in China, a five-yearly stage-managed event to determine the Communist Party’s top leaders. It is notorious for its secrecy. Two kids from the Beijing-based Chinese Teenagers News took center stage at the event on Tuesday when they bucked tradition to ask officials questions they’d thought up themselves. Zhang Jiahe and Sun Luyuan raised questions of rising housing costs and food safety respectively, according to Agence France-Presse.

A flood of coverage of their efforts followed in China, even though the answers they received were far from revealing, AFP said. The heightened interest about this relatively minor interlude speaks volumes about how hard it is to ask straightforward questions at a political event in China, and, more broadly, the difficulty of reporting on a huge occasion that seems determined not to be newsworthy. While the previous 2007 Congress saw some opening up in line with the Party’s strategy to attract international reporters to the 2008 Olympics, many politicians have shunned the limelight this year, according to Reuters.

The most dramatic revelations of the week are expected Thursday, when the next generation of Politburo Standing Committee leaders will be announced in a manner that pre-dates contemporary norms for government-media relations by several decades. Expect no speeches, or even press releases: Journalists will be left to interpret the new pecking order according to the sequence in which the officials appear on stage, news reports say.

There’s nothing here to suggest that new leaders will transform the way the Party operates overnight. But there is one possible change that could signal media reform: While the Standing Committee has been made up of nine members for years, it might be reduced this week to seven, according to local and international media reports. The change is significant, Cheng Li of the Brookings Institute told the Wall Street Journal‘s China Real Time blog, because “the two positions they are considering eliminating are the leaders in charge of propaganda and police. Over the course of five or maybe even 10 years, these two leaders really blocked a lot of economic liberalization policy and political reform initiatives. … Eliminating these two positions sends a direct signal that political reform is under way.”

Edging the propaganda chief further from the center of power is not the same as dismantling the extensive machinery of information control CPJ has documented in China. But if it happens on Thursday, it could be a sign that today’s pre-teen journalists will be able to continue asking real questions of their leaders in the future.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Honoring tenacity and courage

13 Nov

New York, November 13, 2012– Four fearless journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia who risked their lives and liberty to expose wrongdoings will be awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2012 International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting.  Harassed, tortured, threatened and imprisoned for their critical investigations, the awardees have endured reprisals for their work and continue to persevere.   The awards dinner is open for press coverage. Accreditation requests will be accepted until noon on November 19 (EST).

WHAT:  22nd annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner and the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, honoring a lifetime commitment to press freedom, will be presented to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian.

WHERE: Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, New York City

WHEN:  Tuesday, November 20, 2012

             6:00-6:30 p.m. Photo and interview opportunity in East Foyer

             7:45 p.m. Awards ceremony and dinner

WHO:   Dinner chairman:  David Boies, chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP 

            Host:  PBS senior correspondent and CPJ board member Gwen Ifill

            Presenters:  Christiane Amanpour of ABC News and CNN International, Matthew

            Winkler of Bloomberg News, Kathleen Carroll of The Associated Press and Slate’s

            Jacob Weisberg

International Press Freedom Award winners present at dinner:

Mauri König, Gazeta do Povo, Brazil (English, Portuguese)

Mae Azango, FrontPage Africa and New Narratives, Liberia (English)

Expert spokespersons will be available for imprisoned journalists:

Dhondup Wangchen, Filming for Tibet, China

Azimjon Askarov, reporter, Ferghana News and Golos Svobody, Kyrgyzstan

from Committee to Protect Journalists

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