A Bangladesh court has indicted four bloggers for their supposedly inflammatory writings about Islam and the religious character Muhammad.
This will be the first case to be tried under Bangladesh's recently amended Information and Communication Technology Act, enacted after widespread violent street protests demanding the blood of atheist bloggers. The new law features extreme punishments
of up to 14 years in jail.
The opening of the trial was set for 6th November.
Cameroon's National Communications Council has closed down 11 newspapers, television and radio stations. Journalists say these private media outlets are
being silenced because they are critical of the government.
Cameroon's state radio CRTV announced the suspension of three radio stations, a television station and seven newspapers. The report said Cameroon's National Communications Council also suspended a journalist and two publishers.
The journalists and media organs were accused of failing to respect professional norms and ethics. But Ngah Christian Mpipgo, publisher of the Guardian Post --- one of the suspended newspapers --- called the act an abuse of press freedom:
I mean, I look at it as some kind of repression. It is understood that the Guardian Post is too critical of government action, and then coming at a time when we are preparing for elections, I have to just conclude that it is a way of stopping us from
exposing a well-planned government rigging machinery.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by a Dakar criminal court's decision to close the privately-owned newspaper Le Quotidien for three months
and sentence its editor, Madiambal Diagne, to a month in prison and a damages of 10 million CFA francs (15,000 euros) for an article criticizing a former foreign minister.
The court also imposed one-month jail terms on one of the newspaper's reporters, Mamadou Biaye , and a French intern who is no longer in Senegal. The case was brought by former foreign minister Alioune Badara Cisse' -- usually referred to as ABC in the Senegalese media -- over an article published on 20 June.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The court's decision is highly regrettable because it means the authorities are refusing to defend media freedom. Despite repeated calls by journalists and the international community, the decriminalization of press offences is still not on the agenda in
Egyptian security forces continue to detain and harass journalists working for news outlets critical of the military-led government, particularly
Al-Jazeera and its affiliates.
The Ministry of Investment has said it would ban Al-Jazeera Mubashir, the network's Egyptian affiliate, because it lacked the required legal permits, according to news reports . The statement accused the channel of spreading lies and rumors damaging
to Egyptian national security and unity. The Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying it had confiscated two broadcasting cars and equipment from Al-Jazeera Mubashir.
Egyptian security forces detained without charge four staff of Al-Jazeera English, including correspondent Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow, and producers Russ Finn and Baher Mohammed, the station reported. Al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent Abdullah
al-Shami and Al-Jazeera Mubashir cameraman Mohamed Bader had been arrested earlier this month while covering protests and held under charges of threatening national security and possessing weapons, respectively.
Al-Jazeera Mubashir's office was raided and shut down on July 3, shortly after the military announced Morsi's removal. Its sister channel, Al-Jazeera Arabic, was raided in mid-August and shut down. Both stations continue to broadcast from Qatar with
feeds from inside Egypt.
A Cairo court ordered on Tuesday Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr be taken off air . The administrative court ruling also banned Al-Yarmouk, Al-Quds and Ahrar 25, regarded as channels linked to Islamists, off the Egyptian airwaves .
The news channel has come under fire as local media and authorities accused it of bias against the popularly-backed overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails. Egyptian officials even
said Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr posed a threat to national security. The three other channels were also blamed for one-sided reporting in favour of the Brotherhood and its supporters.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an amendment to a media law adopted by the Gambian parliament that imposes lengthy prison sentences and heavy
fines on individuals who use the Internet in any capacity to criticize government officials.
Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West Africa consultant said:
Gambian authorities are trying to protect themselves by denying their citizens the right to use modern communications fully. This amendment should be repealed immediately.
The Gambian Parliament on July 4 amended the 2009 Information and Communication Act to introduce a 15-year jail term and fine of 3 million Dalasis (about US$100,000) to any individual convicted of using the Internet to spread false news or make
derogatory statements, incite dissatisfaction, or instigate violence against the government or public officials, news reports said. The penalties apply to individuals living in the country or abroad, the reports said .
Information Minister Nana Grey Johnson said the amendment had been passed to prevent Gambians from engaging in unpatriotic behavior against the government and public officials, according to news reports .
Gabon bans 3 publications over criticism of officials
20th August 2013
Gabon's state-run media regulatory agency, the National Communications Council, suspended three newspapers on May 29, 2013, according to news reports .
The Council suspended private weekly Ezombolo for six months because of an April 22 column that criticized President Ali Bongo's record in office, according to news reports.
The Council also suspended for six months the satirical supplement of La Griffe newspaper, Le Gri-Gri de la Griffe , on broad accusations of indulging in indecency and vulgarity in most of its publications, according to news reports.
La Griffe Managing Editor Olivier Konate' told CPJ that prior to the suspension, the Council had warned the newspaper to tone down its content after receiving a complaint over a caricature of a former official.
The Council suspended La Calotte for two months after summoning Editor Habib Antoine Bibalou over articles critical of Investment Minister Magloire Ngambia and Alice Bikissa Nembe', deputy to the minister for health, local news website Infosgabon
reported . The Council accused Bibalou of failing to report to several summons, according to news reports.
A ruling by a court in the central Russian town of Ulyanovsk ordering a state-run Internet provider to block access to 15 websites, including those of two
prominent national newspapers, has sparked fears of a broader campaign of Internet censorship in the country.
Two of the blocked websites, Gazeta.ru and Komsomolskaya Pravda, are among the top 10 news websites in Russia.
Local prosecutors said in a statement that the ruling was based on the presence on the websites of articles explaining the intricacies of giving a bribe in Russia and how to escape prosecution afterward.
Prosecutors emphasized that the court ruling had not ordered whole websites to be blocked but only specific pages containing the illicit information. Internet provider Rostelecom made the decision to block the sites themselves, going beyond the court's
instructions, they said.
Vietnam has announced a new law that will ban the discussion of news on blogs and social media. The law will take effect in September.
Known as Decree 72 , the law restricts the use of blogs and social networks to providing or exchanging personal information and bans using them to share information from news sources.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011. If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently
deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums.
The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous. Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge (without US help). But, at the same time, it will reinforce the
legislative arsenal available to the authorities.
They will no longer have to charge independent news providers with 'anti-government propaganda' or 'trying to overthrow the government.' Instead, they will just have to set a few examples under the new law in order to get the others to censor themselves.
If Decree 72 is implemented, we urge the entire international community to condemn Vietnam severely and to consider imposing economic sanctions, especially on the tourism sector, to which the government pays a great deal of attention. Sanctions on
tourism are the most likely way to get a reaction from the authorities.
Until now, blogs and social networks have been important sources of news and information for Vietnamese Internet users, and an effective way of bypassing censorship. But Prime Minister Dung announced that they could henceforth be used only to provide or
exchange personal information.
Overruling its own Press Council, parliamentarians in Burma have passed a restrictive new press law that will restrict freedom of the press. It
keeps in place many of the most draconian elements of the existing legal framework.
The Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law renews the government's power to license newspapers, news websites and foreign news agencies and has strict rules on obscenity and the incitement of public disorder. While abolishing some of the prison sentences
under the old Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law (1962), the law keeps criminal sanctions as well as excessively high fines for media organisations breaching the law.
The Ministry of Information's draft law has been viewed by members of Burma's fledgling press council as an attempt to undercut their attempts to formulate a new press law. Burma's Press Council was founded by the government in October 2012 with the
intention that journalists, their trade unions, media owners and civil society stakeholders should develop a new press law. After a disappointing first attempt at reform , the Press Council is currently working on a second draft of its law.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Information drafted its own press law, aimed at undercutting the more open and inclusive process undertaken by the Press Council.
Burma's upper house will now consider whether to pass the Ministry of Information's restrictive law, or consider the Press Council's proposals when they are finalised.
The Blue Express Daily (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city, Shandong province has been banned from publishing in the
next three months because it was running supposedly vulgar content, according to its editors.
The daily, which started publishing on July 17 last year, employs more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000, said Editor-in-Chief Han Hao. Han said he would be negotiating with provincial publishing authorities to bring the paper back, but he
believed officials would have final say on the fate of the publication.
Han told the South China Morning Post that he believed a local competitor had gone to authorities and attacked the paper for running inappropriate pictures of pretty women, which Han said were celebrity photos that appeared in the entertainment news.
The paper published a front page letter for its final issue. Although the letter doesn't explain why the paper is being shut down, Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at the daily, cited vulgar content as a major reason that has lead to the censorship.
Vulgar content , a made-up accusation, has taken down a newspaper, he wrote on Weibo. A new page in China's journalism and history has been turned.
Authorities in Egypt's new military-run government raided Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station, disrupting its service, and shut down at least three stations
supportive of Mohamed Morsi in a series of moves that seemed designed to cut off coverage of pro-Morsi events, according to news accounts.
Al-Jazeera reported that security forces raided the Cairo offices of its Egyptian station, Al-Jazeera Mubashir, interrupting service, and detaining several people. The raid came during a live broadcast, the station said. Reuters also reported the raid,
citing an account from a station journalist who said coverage of a pro-Morsi rally had also been obstructed.
Misr25, the Muslim Brotherhood's television station, went off the air minutes after Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian defense minister, announced Morsi's ouster, state media reported . A live feed from Misr25 that was being carried by Al-Jazeera
English suddenly went black, as did the outlet's live YouTube feed. Misr25 had carried news and commentary that directly reflected the Muslim Brotherhood's political perspective.
The state-run Al-Ahram and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said two other pro-Morsi channels, the Salafi-affiliated Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas, also went off the air at that time. Al-Ahram said police entered the Media Production City offices
of all three stations.
A seventeen-year-old student has been sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly insulting Bahrain's king on Twitter. Ali Faisal Alshofa was first
arrested in March this year. The teenager has been accused of posting the tweet in question using the @alkawarahnews account, but he has denied any ties to the account.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has condemned the teenager's arrest, as well as the ongoing crackdown on online users, and use of the judicial system to limit their free speech.
The Jordanian government has said that it had now blocked 254 unlicensed news websites.
Fayez Shawabkeh, head of the Press and Publication Department said:
16 local news websites were blocked in the past two days after carefully examining their situation. This brings the total number of sites the PPD blocked recently to 254, while 111 sites have obtained licenses.
On June 3, authorities said they would block nearly 300 out of 400 local news websites for failing to obtain the necessary licensing, under last year's repressive legislation. The law not only requires licensing but requires that editors of news
websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association, giving the government the right to censor content and hold journalists liable for comments posted on webpages.
One of the sites blocked in the past two days is 7iber, Arabic for ink. Its editor, Lina Ejeilat, told AFP 7iber was an interactive website that published reports and features from contributors, and said it should not be covered by the
legislation. We are a blog and definitely not a news website, she said. Shawabkeh disagreed, saying that 7iber is registered at the trade and industry ministry as a news website and posts news and political analyses about Jordan, which means
that the law applies to it.