Press freedoms are under assault around the world. These are the most urgent cases in January, including journalists receiving threats, subjected to unfair trials, and their murders left unsolved.
Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, has announced he will resign on Jan. 12 in connection with the government’s mishandling of the investigation into the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The investigative reporter, whose work included the Panama Papers, was killed in an October 2017 car bomb blast. Two years later, a public inquiry was initiated, and three senior members of Muscat’s administration stepped down over allegations of involvement in the murder. Three other men are currently in detention in relation to the events.
An Egyptian journalist on hunger strike has been hospitalized.
Reports surfaced on Dec. 16, 2019, that Esraa Abdel Fattah from the now-blocked website Tahrir News was hospitalized in connection with a hunger strike. The reporter and social media coordinator had been detained two months at that point, charged with belonging to a banned group, spreading false news, and misusing social media platforms to disrupt national security. She began her strike in October to demand an investigation into her allegations of mistreatment and torture.
A Chinese writer is serving his sixth year of a life sentence.
This month, Ilham Tohti, a Uighur scholar, writer, and blogger, is serving his sixth year of a life sentence. Uighurbiz -the Chinese- and Uighur-language website that focused on social issues, which he founded in 2006 - was shuttered for its “separatist” ideas, a charge Tohti denied after his arrest in 2014. China allows Tohti’s wife and family to visit him for only 30 minutes every three months.
Four Burundi reporters and their driver are facing 15 years in prison.
Four journalists and their driver were arrested in Burundi in October while covering clashes in the country’s Bubanza Province. Senior political reporter Agnès Ndirubusa, broadcast reporter Christine Kamikazi, English-language reporter Egide Harerimana, and photojournalist Térence Mpozenzi remain in detention. Their driver, Adolphe Masabarikiza, was released in November. All five face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of charges of undermining state security.
The whereabouts of an imprisoned Russian journalist remain unknown.
Aleksandr Valov, the editor-in-chief and founder of local news site BlogSochi, was arrested Jan. 19, 2018, and is currently serving a six-year sentence on trumped-up extortion charges. His lawyer has not been able to contact or locate him. Valov narrated a livestream video showing police beating him during his own arrest.
The trial of a detained Venezuelan photographer has been repeatedly delayed.
The trial of freelance photographer Jesús Medina Ezaine has been repeatedly postponed and is now scheduled to begin Jan. 30. The only Venezuelan journalist currently in prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2019 prison census, Ezaine has been held in pretrial detention at the Ramo Verde military prison since August 2018. He is accused of criminal association and inciting hate.
Demand for answers in Khashoggi's murder persist into the new decade.
The new decade has arrived without an independent criminal investigation into the brazen 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside Istanbul’s Saudi Consulate. Calls have gone unheeded for the US and UN to probe the Saudi crown prince’s role in the “extrajudicial killing” -though in December a court sentenced eight men in what CPJ called a “sham trial” and “mockery of justice.” Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia released 26 journalists from prison in 2019.
The Iranian government has banned the internet, and a corruption reporter is serving time.
While Iran implemented an internet ban in November in response to protests over rising gas prices, Masoud Kazemi sat in prison on charges stemming from 2018 Twitter posts about government corruption. The editor-in-chief of the monthly Sedaye Parsi political magazine, Kazemi was sentenced in June to more than four years, convicted of spreading misinformation and insulting the supreme leader as well as other Iranian officials. After he is released, he will be banned for an additional two years from working as a journalist.
A communications blackout has slowed the case of a jailed editor in declining health.
India’s only two cases of jailed journalists in 2019 were in Kashmir, according to CPJ's tracking. The region’s ongoing communications shutdown that began Aug. 5 -the longest ever imposed in a democracy -has slowed trial hearings and news of the detained. Family of Qazi Shibli, editor of the Kashmiriyat news website, didn’t know his whereabouts for more than a month after his July arrest for allegedly reporting troop movements on Twitter. The family has since expressed serious concerns about his health and hired a lawyer’s help to petition for bail.
A freelance journalist is serving two and a half years in a Russian prison.
In October, a military court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced Nariman Memedeminov to two years and six months in prison after he was convicted of making public calls for terrorism online. In 2018, the freelance journalist's home was raided and he was arrested. His work included livestreaming trials of Muslim minority Crimean Tatar activists and interviews with their family members and lawyers. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.