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One Free Press Coalition Spotlights Journalists Under Attack

In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. 

On April 1, 2021 the One Free Press Coalition launched the 26th monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom cases around the world. This iteration focuses on cases of journalists who have faced retaliation related to posts online and on social media.

In many countries around the world, particularly those with repressive media environments, social media provides one of the few avenues for journalists to publish critical reporting. Censorship on social media platforms can take many forms, including journalists facing arrest for posts, having articles or pages removed, as well as the censorship journalists face when targeted with online harassment from state and non-state actors.

Another nefarious threat for journalists online is the prevalence of sophisticated spyware. As CPJ has found in its newly launched campaign, dozens of journalists around the world have been subjected to spyware attacks from state actors, threatening a journalist’s personal information, sources and even their own physical safety.

Of the 274 journalists behind bars in 2020, 79 percent report and publish on the internet, and 58 percent are considered internet reporters. Online harassment is another increasingly concerning threat to press freedom. Given how prevalent it is for journalists, especially for women and people of color, it is often difficult to quantify the number, but as reporting from IWMF and CPJ has shown, it poses a serious threat to press freedom.

Recently the Coalition Against Online Violence launched the Online Violence Response Hub with resources for journalists targeted by online abuse. In addition, CPJ provides guidance for journalists on digital safety.

1. Kabir Kishore (Bangladesh)

Cartoonist allegedly subjected to severe physical abuse while held behind bars. Now released on bail, he faces serious health issues and charges under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act.

2. Lu Yuyu (China)

Chinese journalist faces continued harassment since his release from prison: police invading his home, forcing him to relocate, and demanding he shut down his Twitter account.

3. Hopewell Chin’ono (Zimbabwe)

Journalist has faced repeated arrests and harassment from authorities in the past year for his reporting, and potentially faces years behind bars on charges of “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State” for a tweet about alleged police abuse.

4. Elena Solovyova (Russia)

Russian freelance reporter doxxed by anonymous Telegram channel in attempt to harass her for her work.

5. Otabek Sattoriy (Uzbekistan)

Uzbek blogger covering corruption detained and charged with extortion, and has had his Telegram channel taken down.

6. Mohammad Mosaed (Iran)

Online reporter forced to flee Iran and seek exile as he faces over four years in prison on charges related to social media posts critical of the government.

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7. Ricardo Noblat (Brazil)

Brazilian authorities have repeatedly threatened criminal investigations against political news journalist in recent years for re-sharing social media posts critical of the government and of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

8. Arzu Geybulla (Turkey/Azerbaijan)

Azerbaijani journalist living in Turkey was targeted in a virulent online harassment campaign, forcing her to temporarily go offline, following the publication of a piece accusing her of disrespecting victims of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. 

9. Basma Mostafa (Egypt)

Egyptian journalist detained and held in 2020 on charges of spreading false news, misusing social media and joining a terrorist organization. Currently free, she still faces charges and has experienced continual judicial harassment.

10. Rana Ayyub (India)

Indian journalist has faced years of harassment in relation to her ongoing reporting and commentary on taboo subjects, with recent abuse amplified by the ongoing farmer’s protests in India.

The One Free Press Coalition is made up of nearly 40 prominent international members, including: Al Jazeera Media Network, AméricaEconomía; the Associated Press; Bloomberg News; the Boston Globe; BuzzFeed; Corriere Della Sera; De Standaard; Deutsche Welle; Estadão; Euractiv; the Financial Times; Forbes; Fortune; HuffPost; India Today; Insider Inc.; Le Temps; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; NHK; Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Quartz; Radio Free Asia; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; Republik; Reuters; the Straits Times; Süddeutsche Zeitung; Time; TV Azteca; Voice of America; The Washington Post; WIRED; and Yahoo News.

One Free Press Coalition partners with the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation to identify the most urgent cases for the list, which is updated and published on the first business day of every month.

The mission of the coalition is to use the collective voices of its members—which reach more than 1 billion people worldwide—to “stand up for journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.” News organizations throughout the world can join the Coalition by emailing Members of the public are also encouraged to join the conversation using the hashtag #OneFreePress and following developments on Twitter @OneFreePress.

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