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article imagePress freedom in danger: some striking cases

By AFP     Apr 26, 2017 in World

Press freedom has "never been so threatened" as it is today, according to Reporters Without Borders, with journalists harassed, jailed or disappeared in a lengthening list of countries.

The monitoring group's secretary-general Christophe Deloire and AFP's global news director Michele Leridon pointed out some telling examples Wednesday:

- 'Jihad' -

Russian investigative journalist Elena Milashina, who recently revealed systematic violence against homosexuals in Chechnya, has had to flee the country after a call for "jihad" against her and her newspaper Novaya Gazeta by the main mosque in Grozny. She claims the call was orchestrated by the region's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

- Death penalty -

Iranian journalist Narges Mohammadi, who has campaigned against the widespread use of the death penalty there, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year. Her husband, fellow journalist Taghi Rahmani, spent 14 years behind bars before leaving for France.

- 'Terror' links -

Radio France International's correspondent in Cameroon Ahmed Abba has been jailed for 10 years for supposed links with the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. Deloire, whose watchdog is known by its French initials RSF, said there was no evidence against him.

- Held for 16 years -

Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak has been held without trial by the Eritrean authorities since 2001. He co-founded the notorious repressive country's first independent newspaper. He was awarded this year's UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize.

- Disappeared -

Chinese citizen journalists Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu disappeared last June before it was revealed that they were being held detained by police in Yunnan. They are still in custody despite winning last year's RSF's Press Freedom Prize.

A similar fate befell Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abdel Shakour, nicknamed "Shawkan", who has been held since 2013.

- Turkish crackdown -

In Turkey, which holds the world record for locking up its own journalists, foreign reporters are increasingly being accused of being spies and of spreading misinformation.

- Bahrain harassment -

The Gulf state of Bahrain is refusing to allow any AFP journalists to be based there, Leridon said, and a photographer who previously worked for the agency there is still being harassed by the authorities.

- Threats -

AFP had to get its correspondent out of Burundi, she added, and its journalists have also been threatened in Venezuela, Congo and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Foreign journalists are being excluded from more and more African countries with states such as Djibouti, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Congo refusing them visas, Leridon, added.

- Polish purge -

In Poland, the new nationalist government is imposing an iron grip on public television and radio channels of a kind not seen "since the purge of 1982" during martial law, according to Jaroslaw Kurski of Gazeta Wyborcza.

Privately owned outlets are also targeted, particularly German-owned media groups, he said.

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