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This Is How Journalists Are Being Threatened, Bullied, And Murdered Around The World

Press freedoms are under assault around the world. These are the most urgent cases in February, including journalists receiving threats, subjected to unfair trials, and their murders left unsolved.

Posted on February 6, 2020, at 11:52 a.m. ET

The case of an imprisoned journalist serving 10 years shrouded in silence.

Courtesy Arash Shoa-Shargh

Arash Shoa-Shargh, an Iranian journalist living in exile in Turkey and working for popular anti-government news channel Amad News, was arrested and sentenced in 2018 to 10 years on charges of “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “acting against national security,” “encouraging the public to misconduct,” and “spreading corruption on the land of God.” Friends have said authorities pressure the journalist’s family to not publicize the case, while detention in a rural prison has made it difficult to access information on his current status.

Russian editor held in Irkutsk punishment cell without just cause.

The editor-in-chief and founder of local news site BlogSochi, Aleksandr Valov, was placed in solitary confinement last month under close supervision because of anticipated disagreement with the court’s verdict in his case. He was arrested in January 2018 and sentenced to six years on trumped-up extortion charges. Valov livestreamed his arrest as police broke his door, cut off the electricity, and beat him.

Arrested journalist’s charge and location unknown for more than five months.

Samuel Wazizi

The whereabouts of Cameroonian journalist Samuel Wazizi (whose legal name is Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe) have remained unknown since he was transferred from police to military custody in August. He has been denied access to his lawyers, family, and friends and held on undisclosed charges which police say are related to the country’s Anglophone armed conflict. The country held at least seven journalists in prison as of Dec. 1, 2019.

No updates after journalist’s disappearance more than two years ago.

Mwananchi Publications Limited

Azory Gwanda has been missing since Nov. 21, 2017. The freelance journalist was investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania when he “disappeared and died,” as Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview last July. However, the official backtracked amid requests for clarification, and the government has failed to conduct an investigation or disclose any more information.

Imprisoned journalist’s health deteriorating after nine years of a life sentence.

Sherzod Askarov

In July, a Kyrgyz court upheld the life sentence of award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, despite persistent international condemnation. The ethnic Uzbek is the only journalist imprisoned in the country and has been held nine years on trumped-up charges for reporting on human rights violations. Letters home detail his deteriorating health, limited access to medication and prison officials punishing detainees after visiting days.

Imprisoned journalist has requested and been denied help for severe depression.

Prison guards have denied medical treatment for reporter Lu Yuyu, who was diagnosed with severe depression in the midst of his four-year prison sentence that began in August 2017. He and his partner were arrested in Dali, Yunnan province on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for publishing photos, videos, and text on topics including corruption protests and environmental pollution. The court maintained its decision in 2017, and Lu is currently lodging a second appeal.

Cuban authorities barricade independent journalist inside her home.

Luz Escobar

Since November, Cuban authorities have repeatedly barred Luz Escobar from leaving her Havana home. The reporter for the independent Cuban news website 14ymedio says authorities often prevent independent journalists from working on “significant dates,” either by detaining them or threatening detention if they exit their homes. A security agent was stationed outside Escobar’s door multiple times last year, including on the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death and international Human Rights Day.

Demands for answers in Khashoggi murder persist into the new decade.

Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

A picture of Jamal Khashoggi during a vigil marking the one-year anniversary of his death.

In December, Saudi Arabia sentenced eight individuals in connection with the 2018 brazen killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. What the kingdom may have considered resolution and closure for the high-profile case, CPJ called a “sham trial” and “mockery of justice. Calls remain for the US and UN to conduct an independent criminal investigation and probe the Saudi crown prince’s role in the “extrajudicial killing.”

Authorities fail to protect journalist from protesters’ assault.

Masozi Kasamabara

Protesters beat and attempted to tear clothing off Tuntufye FM reporter Patricia Kayuni on Jan. 10 while she covered a demonstration in Chitipa, in northern Malawi. No arrests have been made against attackers who believed Kayuni was a police officer sent to photograph demonstrators. The same week, authorities in Malawi detained and charged three journalists seeking to cover the EU delegation’s return.

Three journalists awaiting sentencing on charges of membership in a banned group and disseminating false news.

In November, plainclothes Egyptian security forces arrested freelance journalists Solafa Magdy and her husband Hossam El-Sayyad at a café in the Dokki area of Giza, as well as freelancer and blogger Mohamed Salah. The officers confiscated their mobile phones and car keys and beat Magdy for refusing to unlock her phone. A state security prosecutor delivered charges of membership in a banned group and disseminating false news. Magdy is experiencing health issues in pretrial detention, ahead of a Feb. 4 hearing.

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