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Committee to Protect Journalists Blasts Chinese Censorship of Internet

  • Amy Katz
  • John Shields

The Committee to Protect Journalists says China's authoritarian approach to Internet communications affects more than just free expression inside the communist nation. Beijing's clampdown on the Internet is the group's focus at a Wednesday U.S. Congressional committee hearing on Chinese censorship of the Internet.

The group is to testify that Beijing's clampdown on the Internet could become a model for other repressive regimes to limit free speech.

The Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ann Cooper, says the recent practice of U.S Internet companies aiding Chinese censorship must be addressed now. In a widely publicized case, a search on the Chinese version of Google for the word 'Tiananmen' brought up tourism links, but no mention of the 1989 deadly protests near the square itself.

"We believe that China's authoritarian approach to Internet communications, which is now being aided by U.S.-based Internet companies, could -- if successful -- become a model for other repressive regimes."

The report released Tuesday also highlights the dangers facing journalists working in the Middle East, where it says a growing number of attacks are being carried out with impunity. It says the attacks on journalists have forced them to consider the consequences of what they write and have fundamentally changed reporting in the region.

In the latest high-profile kidnapping of a journalist in Iraq, earlier this month Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor was shown pleading for her freedom.

"I am with the mujahadeen. I am here, I am fine. Please do whatever they want, give them whatever they want as quickly as possible. There is a very short time. Please do it fast."

The CPJ report was also highly critical of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism agenda, which it says has made it easier for Eurasian authoritarian leaders to justify repressive media policies in the name of security.

Executive Director Ann Cooper, however, says there were several important achievements during the year. "2005 was a year with some very promising signs that those who kill journalists may increasingly be called to account for their crimes."

The committee's annual press freedom survey is thought to be one of the most authoritative sources of information on press conditions around the world.

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