Spotlighting journalists under attack

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of a Philippine online news site Rappler, talks to the media after posting bail at a Regional Trial Court following an overnight arrest by National Bureau of Investigation agents on a libel case in Manila, Philippines. More than a dozen global news organizations including The Associated Press have formed a coalition to spotlight the world’s most threatened journalists. Member editors and publishers of the One Free Press Coalition will publish across platforms each month a “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being abused. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Bullit Marquez/AP
Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of a Philippine online news site Rappler, talked to the media after posting bail at a Regional Trial Court following an overnight arrest by National Bureau of Investigation agents on a libel case in Manila, Philippines.

The Boston Globe joins the One Free Press Coalition, a group of news organizations from around the world that will highlight each month a list of journalists whose press freedoms are under attack.

On the first of each month, the coalition will publish a “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists who are under threat for doing their jobs. Here are the cases the coalition published April 1:

1. Miroslava Breach Velducea (Mexico).


In March 2017, La Jornada correspondent Miroslava Breach Velducea was murdered in the state of Chihuahua in connection to her reporting on links between politicians and organized crime. Prior to her death, she had received threats on at least three occasions for her reporting. Currently there is one suspect in custody, and the next hearing is expected to take place in a few months.

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2. Maria Ressa and Rappler (The Philippines).

National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler on February 13 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler faces separate retaliatory tax charges. On March 28, authorities in the Philippines issued arrest warrants against Rappler editors and executives, including Ressa, for violating laws barring foreign ownership of media. CPJ and First Look Media are partners in a legal defense fund for journalists, of which Ressa and Rappler are the first recipients.

3. Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam)

After a one-day trial, Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state.” She produced a number of videos critical of authorities on topics like toxic environmental spills and government corruption.


4. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan).

A life sentence for documenting human rights abuses.

Award-winning Kyrgyz journalist Azimjon Askarov has spent nearly nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite international condemnation, Kyrgyz authorities have upheld his sentence.

5. Rana Ayyub (India):

The independent Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has spent her career covering taboo subjects, including violence against lower-caste groups and minorities in India. Because of her work, Ayyub has faced a wave of harassment on social media, including pornographic videos with her face photoshopped in them and the publication of her address and personal phone number.


6. Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau (Nicaragua).

Nicaraguan journalists detained amid media crackdown.

In December, Nicaraguan police raided TV station 100 percent Noticias and arrested station director Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, its news director. Both journalists are being held on charges of “inciting hate and violence” and have been denied consistent access to legal services.

7. Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan).

As editor of the Juba Monitor, Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres in spite of arrest threats and constant censorship of herself and her colleagues.

8. Amade Abubacar (Mozambique).

Mozambican journalist held in detention without trial.

Radio journalist Amade Abubacar was arrested in January while photographing families fleeing militant attacks in northern Cabo Delgado province, and was detained incommunicado in a military facility. He has since been moved to a jail far from home. There are no signs he will be released any time soon as he continues to be held in detention without trial.

9. Claudia Duque (Colombia).

The veteran investigative reporter has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture, and exile. Courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing Claudia and her daughter. As of January, all the detainees were released. The IWMF awarded Duque the Courage in Journalism Award in 2010.

10. Osman Mirghani (Sudan).

Sudanese authorities arrested Mirghani, editor in chief of the independent Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, in February. Authorities have not made public what charges he is held on, and his health has deteriorated in prison. Prior to his arrest, Mirghani had been reporting on ongoing protests in Sudan.

The One Free Press Coalition welcomes additional prominent editorial outlets this month, including The Boston Globe and Fortune in the U.S., and CNN Money Switzerland, Corriere Della Sera (Italy), Deutsche Welle (Germany) and Republik (Switzerland) in Europe. Existing members include: The Associated Press, Financial Times, Forbes, HuffPost, Reuters, Time, Yahoo News in addition to other world leading news organizations.

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.”

The second “10 Most Urgent” list, published this morning by all members and at https://www.onefreepresscoalition.com, includes the following journalists (not ranked in a specific order):

The late Miroslava Breach Velducea, correspondent at La Jornada, Mexico

Maria Ressa, founder of Rappler, The Philippines

Tran Thi Nga, prominent human rights blogger, Vietnam

Azimjon Askarov, award winning journalist, Kyrgyzstan

Rana Ayyub, an independent journalist, India

Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau, journalists at 100% Noticias, Nicaragua

Anna Nimiriano, editor of Juba Monitor, South Sudan

Amade Abubacar, radio journalist, Mozambique

Claudia Duque, a veteran investigative reporter, Colombia

Osman Mirghani, editor-in-chief of Al-Tayar, Sudan

Last month’s inaugural list also included Eman Al Nafjan, prominent women’s rights blogger in Saudi Arabia. While the charges have not been dropped, Eman was recently released from a Saudi Arabia prison.

“The escalating attacks on press freedom around the world have dire consequences in the everyday lives of countless people,” said Brian McGrory, Editor, The Boston Globe. “This effort is another key way to focus attention on a problem that needs to be addressed, here and everywhere. The Globe regrets that such an initiative is needed, but feels it is important to be a part of it.”

“We magazine and newspaper editors love to talk about ‘speaking truth to power,’ but we too often forget what those words mean in much of the world, where reporting and speaking such truth is an act of stunning and selfless bravery,” said Clifton Leaf, Editor-in-Chief, Fortune. “Fortune is honored to join the One Free Press Coalition, and we’re grateful for the chance to work alongside our colleagues to push for greater protections for journalists around the globe. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial mission. It shouldn’t be a life-or-death one.”

News organizations throughout the world can join the coalition by emailing info@onefreepresscoalition.com. Members of the public are also encouraged to join the conversation using #OneFreePress and following developments on Twitter @OneFreePress.

One Free Press Coalition

The One Free Press Coalition every month spotlights the “10 Most Urgent” journalists whose press freedoms are under threat worldwide. The coalition uses the collective voices of participating news organizations to spotlight brave journalists whose voices are being silenced or have been silenced by “standing up for journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.” To see the “10 Most Urgent” list every month and to view a complete list of participating news organizations and supporting partners, please visit https://www.onefreepresscoalition.com or @OneFreePress on Twitte