Waging Justice for Journalists
Since its launch in April 2019, TrialWatch has focused on monitoring trials against journalists. We have monitored over 40 cases that threaten press freedom, including cases in which journalists have been charged with criminal defamation and insult, ‘fake news,’ national security offenses, and sedition.
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Trials of Journalists
A growing number of governments treat journalists who criticize them as ideological enemies, and reporters are imprisoned for just doing their job. The last few years have seen the highest numbers of journalists imprisoned than at any time in the last three decades, while the murder of journalists goes unpunished in 9 out of 10 cases. Below is a list of some of the trials we have monitored involving journalists:
- The trial in Morocco of Hajar Raissouni, an opposition journalist who has alleged that her conviction and sentence for the ‘crimes’ of abortion and sex outside of marriage were a politically-motivated effort to silence her (and who was subsequently pardoned). See CFJ statement here. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial in Belarus of Marina Zolotova, the chief editor of the country’s most popular online news outlet, who was prosecuted for criminal negligence due to her alleged failure to prevent employees from sharing passwords to paywalled content. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial in Turkey of Cansu Piskin, a legal reporter prosecuted on terrorism-related charges after she published the name of a prosecutor in an article about a case. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial in Cambodia of two former Radio Free Asia journalists on espionage charges that carry a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison. See CFJ statement on the two-year anniversary of their arrest here. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial in Nigeria of Omoyele Sowore, a journalist, former presidential candidate, and opposition critic who has been charged with treason and conspiracy to commit treason for calling peaceful protests under the slogan “#RevolutionNow”. See the preliminary report here. See also CFJ statement on his re-arrest here and statement on his earlier detention here.
- Proceedings in Nigeria against Samuel Ogundipe, who is being prosecuted for theft-related offenses – carrying a sentence up to seven years – in connection with reporting on confidential government documents.
- Habeas corpus proceedings in India regarding Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was detained in connection with Facebook posts denouncing the ruling party. See preliminary report here.
- The in absentia trial in Cambodia of two journalists, Aun Pheap and Peter Zsombor, on charges of incitement based on their reporting on voting patterns in a commune that the ruling party did not win in the last election.
- The trial in Indonesia of journalist Muhammad Asrul, who has been charged with “disseminating information that
incites hatred” and “purposefully causing public distress by disseminating false information,” based on articles about alleged corruption by a local political figure.
- The trial in Uganda of journalist and filmmaker Moses Bwayo on charges of unlawful assembly related to filming a documentary on an opposition figure. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial of Paul Chouta in Cameroon on charges of defamation, “publication of insulting language” and “false reporting as a cyber offense.” See statement by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and CFJ announcing filing of a communication with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and follow-up statement on Mr. Chouta’s continued detention. See the preliminary report here.
- The trials in Bangladesh of photojournalist and editor Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who has been charged with criminal defamation, among other charges, in three separate cases under the Digital Security Act. The charges relate to a newspaper article he shared on social media that alleged a scandal involving Bangladeshi politicians. See CFJ statement calling for his release from pre-trial detention here.
- The trial in Azerbaijan of opposition leader and former journalist Tofig Yagublu, who has been convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to over four years in prison. The charges arose out of a car accident and alleged assault that Mr. Yagublu states was staged.
- The trial in Russia of journalist Svetalana Prokopyeva, who was convicted of “public justification of terrorism” following statements she made on her radio program seeking to understand the root causes of a terrorist attack committed by a teenager. See CFJ statement on her conviction here. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial of journalist Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias in Malaysia, who has been charged with disseminating false information that “could disrupt national stability and public order” for Facebook posts questioning the government’s decision to allow tourists on a cruise ship coming from Wuhan to disembark at Penang.
- The trial of a journalist in Africa charged with offenses including “spreading fake news” relating to their reporting on the government’s response to COVID-19.
- The trial of journalist Dhaval Patel in India, charged with sedition and spreading “false alarm or warning” for reporting on the handling of COVID-19 by the authorities in the state of Gujarat.
- The trial of journalist Kufre Carter in Nigeria, charged with criminal defamation and conspiracy for an article that described a conversation between two unnamed health professionals in which they criticized the local health commissioner’s response to the COVID crisis.
- The trial of journalist Alexander Pichugin in Russia, who was convicted of spreading ‘fake news’ for sarcastic comments he published on social media criticizing Russia for permitting religious gatherings as a stark exception to the general rule of social distancing at a time when COVID-19 infection was prevalent. See CFJ statement on his conviction here.
- The trial of blogger Emna Chargui in Tunisia, who was convicted of “inciting hatred between religions through hostile means or violence” and “infringing an authorized religion” for a poem she re-posted on Facebook entitled ‘Sura Corona,’ which discussed the importance of science guiding the response to COVID in the style of a Quranic verse. See CFJ statement on her conviction here.
- The trial in Turkey of journalists from OdaTV for allegedly disclosing the name of an intelligence officer, in violation of Turkish intelligence law, despite the fact that the information had already been made public by others.
- The trial in Turkey of journalists from the news portal Diken on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” for covering tweets from the anonymous ‘Fuat Avni’ Twitter account.
- The trial in Malaysia of online news site Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, on charges of contempt for unmoderated comments posted by third parties on the news site.
- The trial in Cambodia of journalist Ros Sokhet, who was convicted of incitement for Facebook posts critical of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, among others. See CFJ statement on his conviction here.
- The trial in Malaysia of blogger Dian Abdullah on charges of sharing offensive content and making statements that could cause public mischief in connection with criticism of the Malaysian government’s failure to provide sufficient assistance to the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
- The trial in Morocco of Omar Radi, an investigative journalist who has previously focused on the financial holdings of the King of Morocco, on charges of insulting the judiciary. See CFJ statement on his conviction here. See full Fairness Report here.
- The trial in Peru of journalist Paola Ugaz, who has been charged with criminal defamation for her criticism of the coverage of lawsuits filed against her in response to her investigative work on abuses allegedly perpetrated by a Peruvian Catholic lay organization. See the preliminary report here.
- The trial in Algeria of journalist Said Boudour, who was convicted of defamation for Facebook posts he denied making, as well as blackmail. See CFJ statement in advance of his trial here.
- The trial in Guatemala of Anastasia Mejia, a Maya K’iche’ radio journalist who has previously reported on alleged corruption by local officials. She has been charged with sedition, aggravated attack, arson, and aggravated robbery in connection with her live reporting on a protest.
- The trial of Indian journalists Anant Nath, Rajdeep Saradesai, Vinod Jose, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, and Paresh Nath, and politician Shashi Tharoor on sedition charges for reporting and sharing media posts on the death of a farmer during the Delhi farmers’ protests.