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OSCE, CPJ Condemn Attacks on Journalists World Over


Two international organizations are again voicing concern about journalists around the world who are harassed, attacked, jailed or killed in the line of duty.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Committee to Protect Journalists have called on various governments to insure foreign and domestic reporters be allowed to do their work without hindrance and free of threats and intimidation.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic issued a strong condemnation Thursday for a serious cyberattack on the French television network TV5Monde which blocked its television broadcasts, websites and social networks for several hours.

Calling the incident “a clear violation of the right to free expression and free media,” Mijatovic also said that “online and traditional media are now essential tools for the free flow and access to information and this new form of censorship needs to be seriously addressed internationally.”

She urged some top French ministers to visit the headquarters of the media group immediately to show their concern and support, and publicly note the seriousness of the attack. Mijatovic expressed confidence that French "authorities will do their utmost to identify the origin of these attacks.”

CPJ called on Turkish authorities Wednesday to improve conditions and allow access for international reporters to cover events and developments in the country.

Andy Spyra
Andy Spyra

Media reported that a German freelance photographer, Andy Spyra, who traveled to Istanbul to cover the anniversary of the Armenian massacre, was stopped at Atatürk international airport by plainclothes security officers.

They searched Spyra’s luggage, his camera and other reporting equipment. Despite the German Embassy’s involvement to help Spyra gain entry to the country, Turkish authorities, citing “security reasons” sent him back to Germany.

Spyra told reporters Turkish authorities accused him of having ties to Islamic extremists. He said that he had intended to cover the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacre, a sensitive topic in Turkey. Historians believe about 1.5 million Armenians living in Turkey were killed, but the Turkish government has repeatedly refused to use the term genocide when referring to the killings.

Frederike Geerdink
Frederike Geerdink

CPJ also took aim at the trial of a Dutch freelance journalist that began Wednesday. Frederike Geerdink is facing terrorism charges over her reporting on the Kurdish minority, CPJ said quoting news reports.

“Turkey has become increasingly hostile to international journalists, particularly those who cover sensitive topics, such as the plight of the Kurdish and Armenian minorities,” a CPJ official said.

“We call on Turkish authorities to allow journalists to do their work freely, including by scrapping the absurd criminal case against Fréderike Geerdink and allowing entry to Andy Spyra,” the official added.

Both organizations have also expressed concern for the mistreatment of journalists in other countries in the past few days.

In Greece, Kostas Vaxevanis was sentenced to 26 months on libel charges for stories written about banking practices in the country.

In Russia’s restive republic of Dagestan, Vyacheslav Starodubets, a Russian blogger was beaten and warned to leave the area.

In Morocco, press freedom advocate Hicham Mansouri was handed a 10-month prison term and $4,057 fine over adultery charges by Rabat’s Court of First Instance.

In Somalia, the National Intelligence and Security Agency raided the Shabelle Media Network offices, arrested staff and closed the privately-owned Radio Shabelle and Sky FM.

The raid came after the network aired a clip of the militant group al-Shabab claiming responsibility for the attack on Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya, which killed an estimated 148 people.