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Journalisten demonstrieren nach Mord an Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, Malta
Image: AFP/Getty Images/M. Mirabelli
Freedom of Speech

Journalists under threat: January's 10 most urgent cases

January 6, 2020

Every month, the One Free Press Coalition draws attention to unresolved cases of crimes against journalists. In January, the list includes the cases of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Sakharov Prize laureate Ilham Tohti.


1. Daphne Caruana Galizia (Malta

Malta acknowledges mishandling of journalist's murder case

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he will resign on January 12 in connection with the government's mishandling of the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination. The investigative journalist 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 were detained in relation to the events.

Read more: How a journalist's murder haunts Malta's ruling elite

2. Esraa Abdel Fattah (Egypt

Egyptian journalist on hunger strike tortured and hospitalized

On December 16, reports surfaced that Esraa Abdel Fattah, editor of banned website Tahrir News, had been hospitalized after going on hunger strike in October. At that point, the journalist had spent two months in prison charged with membership in a banned group, spreading false news and misusing social media platforms to disrupt national security. Esraa Abdel Fattah has demanded an investigation into her allegations of mistreatment and torture.

Read more: Egypt: Activist Abdel Fattah's arrest highlights plight of rights workers

3. Ilham Tohti (China)

Six years in jail for Chinese writer serving life sentence

Uighur scholar and writer Ilham Tohti is serving his sixth year of a life sentence. Uighurbiz, the Chinese- and Uighur-language website he founded in 2006 with a focus on social issues, was shut down for its “separatist” ideas (a charge Tohti denies) after his arrest in 2014. Tohti's family members are allowed to visit him for 30 minutes every three months. 

Read more: Uighur activist Ilham Tohti wins EU's Sakharov Prize 

China Uigure Ilham Tohti Öknonom
Ilham Tohti | imprisoned since 2014Image: Getty Images/AFP/F.J. Brown

4. Agnès Ndirubusa and the team at Iwacu (Burundi)

Four Burundi reporters imprisoned and awaiting trial

Four journalists were arrested in Burundi in October while covering clashes in the country's Bubanza province. Reporters Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi, Egide Harerimana and photojournalist Térence Mpozenzi could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges of undermining state security.

5. Aleksandr Valov (Russia)

Imprisoned Russian journalist's whereabouts unknown

Aleksandr Valov's lawyer has not been able to contact or locate him since his arrest two years ago. The editor-in-chief and founder of local news site BlogSochi was arrested in January 2018 and is serving a six-year sentence on trumped-up extortion charges. 

6. Jesús Medina (Venezuela)

Trial of detained Venezuelan photographer delayed

The trial of freelance photographer Jesús Medina has repeatedly been postponed, with the date currently set for January 30. The only Venezuelan journalist imprisoned, according to CPJ's 2019 prison census, has been held in pretrial detention since August 2018. He is accused of criminal association and inciting hate. 

Venezuela, Journalist Gregory Jaimes wird von Kollegen unterstützt
Image: Getty Images/F. Parra

7. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia)

Demands for answers in Khashoggi murder persist into new decade

The new decade has arrived without an independent criminal investigation into the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside Istanbul's Saudi consulate. Calls have gone unheeded for the U.S. and UN to probe the Saudi crown prince’s role in the “extrajudicial killing,” as have calls for the White House to release intelligence reports. Meanwhile, the Kingdom ended 2019 holding 26 journalists in prison.

Read more: Khashoggi's fiancee: 'There has been no real outcome of the investigation for 14 months'

8. Masoud Kazemi (Iran)

Corruption reporter serving time while government bans Internet

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 was sentenced in June to four-plus years, found guilty of spreading misinformation and insulting the supreme leader and other Iranian officials. For an additional two years, he will be banned from working as a journalist.

9. Qazi Shibli (India)

Communications blackout slows case of jailed editor in weakening health

Arrests in Kashmir constitute India's only two cases of jailed journalists, according to CPJ tracking. The region’s ongoing communications shutdown that started August 5 has slowed trial hearings and updates to family members. The whereabouts of The Kashmiriyat website editor Qazi Shibli were not known for more than a month after his July arrest for allegedly reporting on Twitter about troop movements. His family have since expressed serious concerns about his health and hired a lawyer's to petition for bail.

Indien Kaschmir-Konflikt nach Änderung Artikel 370
Image: Reuters/A. Dave

10. Nariman Memedeminov (Russia)

In October, a military court in Russia's city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced Nariman Memedeminov to two years and six months in prison, convicted of making public calls for terrorism online. The verdict followed the raid of the freelance journalist's home and his arrest in 2018. He had covered trials of Muslim minority Crimean Tatar activists and interviews with their family members and lawyers after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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