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These Journalists Are Facing Huge Threats And Injustice For Pursuing The Truth

Press freedoms are under assault around the world. These are the most urgent cases in September.

Posted on September 3, 2019, at 1:47 p.m. ET

No justice for Saudi journalist as the anniversary of his killing nears.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Jamal Khashoggi's name on a memorial at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Next month will mark one year since the brazen killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. To date, there has been no independent criminal investigation, despite findings from the UN and CIA pointing to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, calls for the White House to release intelligence reports, and a Congress-imposed deadline for presidential reply under the US Global Magnitsky Act, which President Donald Trump declined to honor in February.

Acclaimed Mexican journalist has her home raided and pets killed.

Victor Chavez / Getty Images

Lydia Cacho (right) with Alfonso Cuarón and Javier Risco at the premiere of the movie Roma in December 2018 in Mexico City.

Despite having government-provided protection since 2009, one of Mexico’s best-known investigative reporters, Lydia Cacho, continues to suffer retaliatory attacks for her freelance reporting and work promoting freedom of expression. In July, burglars raided her home, killing her pets and stealing electronic devices containing information about sexual abuse cases she was investigating. Throughout her career, she has also experienced death threats online and via phone, sexual violence, imprisonment, and an assassination attempt.

Tanzania arrests reporter after coverage of internal divisions among the ruling party.

Stringer / Reuters

Erick Kabendera

After police in Tanzania detained freelance journalist Erick Kabendera on July 29, claiming to question his citizenship status (which has previously been investigated and cleared), they charged him Aug. 5 with money laundering, tax evasion, and assisting an organized crime racket. The charges appear to be an effort to justify government detention and retaliation for his critical journalism, including recent reporting for regional weekly the East African on alleged divisions in Tanzania’s ruling party. The money laundering charge disqualifies him for bail, and assisting a criminal racket could carry a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Colombian journalist is silenced from speaking out about her harassers' trial.

Stan Honda/handoutIWMF

Claudia Duque

In a 26-year career as an investigative journalist, Claudia Duque’s reporting has spurred criminal cases against powerful people including politicians and members of the Colombian army. During that time, however, she has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, and psychological torture. In July, the court overseeing the trial of some of the people who have retaliated against Duque over the yeas prohibited her from questioning the court or the perpetrators and blocked her from giving opinions about the trial. If the gag order stands, Duque could face a 10-year prison sentence for speaking on the impunity surrounding her case.

Tanzanian government refuses to investigate the disappearance of a missing journalist.

Mwananchi Publications Limited

Azory Gwanda

Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, has been missing since Nov. 21, 2017. The government has failed to conduct a credible investigation or provide clear answers about his fate. On July 10, Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.

A Cuban reporter is beaten in custody, then charged and given a fine for "disobedience."

Yamil Lage / AFP / Getty Images

Roberto Jesús Quiñones

On April 22, Cuban police beat and detained Roberto Jesús Quiñones while he was covering a trial as a contributor for CubaNet. Upon his release five days later, Cuban authorities alleged that his conduct during detention constituted “resistance” and “disobedience,” for which they imposed charges and a fine. On Aug. 7, a municipal court in the city of Guantánamo sentenced him to one year in prison for refusal to pay the fine. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Cuba’s “flagrant disregard for legal norms.”

Authorities in Kashmir still refuse to release a journalist after more than a year.

Free Aasif Sultan / Facebook

Aasif Sultan

Amid a weekslong communications blackout in Kashmir in August, the Committee to Protect Journalists documented the detainment and harassment of at least three journalists, two of whom have been released. That's in addition to the case of Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, who has been behind bars for more than a year. He was arrested during a raid of his home in August 2018, months later was charged with “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists,” and has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal his sources in a cover story written about a militant leader slain in July 2016.

A court in Kyrgyzstan upholds a journalist’s life sentence in prison.

Tabyldy Kadyrbekov / Sputnik via AP

Azimjon Askarov

Award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek and has contributed to independent news websites including Voice of Freedom, has spent nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for reporting on human rights violations. Despite persistent international condemnation and calls for Askarov’s release, a Kyrgyz court that had reviewed his case in light of new legislation ruled to uphold his life sentence on July 30.

An Azerbaijani investigative journalist is facing a new wave of harassment.

Aziz Karimov / Pacific Press/Sipa USA

Khadija Ismayilova

After exposing the money flows and property holdings that the Azerbaijani president and his family used to enrich themselves in 2014, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova spent 537 days in jail. The harassment cropped up again last month when courts upheld tax evasion charges from her time as bureau chief for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty a decade ago — a nonprofit entity not subject to the tax, she claims. In addition, Ismayilova is subject to a travel ban, financial penalties, frozen assets, and an inability to report.

Iranian court sentences an editor-in-chief to four and a half years in prison.

Kazemi family

Masoud Kazemi

In June, an Iranian court sentenced Masoud Kazemi, editor-in-chief of the monthly Sedaye Parsi political magazine, to four and a half years in prison on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda and insulting the supreme leader and other Iranian officials. The charges stem from posts Kazemi made on Twitter in November 2018 relaying his reporting on corruption in Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade. After imprisonment, he will also be subject to a two-year ban from working as a journalist.

This post was written in cooperation with the One Free Press Coalition.

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