Case List of Imprisoned Writers for 2009 (continued)
as prepared by International PEN Writers in Prison Committee
(Details current up to 30 June 2009)
EUROPE and Central Asia
Imprisoned - Investigation
Murad BODJOLYAN: d.o.b. c. 1947. Former diplomat and journalist. Arrested January 2002.
Trial details: Trial started on 24 October 2002 under Article 59 of the Criminal Code (treason). Subsequently convicted to ten years in prison on 16 December 2002. Accused of passing on military and economic information to the Turkish military intelligence, as well as details of Kurdish Workers’ Party exiles in Armenia. Lawyers argue there is little evidence and suggest that his writings are the basis of the charges. The conviction was upheld in early 2003 and is now final. Bodjolyan has brought his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Background: Bodjolyan is a freelance journalist for the Turkish NTV television network. Until 1998 worked in the Armenian foreign ministry and acted as interpreter for former president Ter-Petrosian. Suggestions that the conviction may be linked to February 2003 presidential elections and is aimed at undermining Ter-Petrosian who is standing for re-election. Married with children. PEN is seeking further details of this case and confirmation of imprisonment.
Arman BABADZHANIAN: journalist and editor for the newspaper Zhamanak-Yerevan (Yerevan Times). D.o.b c. 1947. Sentenced to four years in prison on 9 September 2006, subsequently reduced to 3.5 years, on charges of avoiding military service. Babadzhanian was detained on 26 June and charged with allegedly forging documents four years before to allow him exemption from military service. Supporters claim that the underlying cause of the case is Babadzhanian’s work on Zhamanak- Yerevan. Shortly before his arrest, the newspaper had published an article that had questioned the independence of the Prosecutor General’s office. The sentence is unusually severe, as such cases usually lead to sentences of one to three years. CPJ reports that Babadzhanian pleaded guilty to draft evasion but added that the action was aimed at silencing “an independent and incorruptible media outlet”. He added that the court had not taken into account medical documents that referred to health problems that should have excluded him from service.
Appeal: an appeal against the sentence was rejected on 11 March 2007, and in early July 2008 a petition was filed requesting Babadzhanian’s early release from prison.
Background: Babadzhanian had been living in California, USA until he moved to Armenia in early 2006.
New information: According to reports from early 2009, Babadzhanian remained imprisoned. PEN continues monitoring the case.
*Argishti KIVIRIAN: editor of the independent news website ArmeniaToday, was reportedly attacked by three men while on his way home on 30 April 2009. One of the attackers fired a gun, alerting Kivirian’s neighbours and forcing the men to flee. The website reports on economic, social and political matters, and the journalist’s colleagues believe the assault was connected to his work. Kivirian’s wife, a well-known lawyer for several imprisoned opposition figures, also believed the attack is linked to his reporting.
Nicole PASHINYAN and Mikael HAYRAPETYAN: editor of the proopposition Ter-Petrossian newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak and academic/ journalist, respectively. Both reportedly in hiding after the Armenian police launched a search for them on 10 March 2008. At the time, a state of emergency was imposed in Armenia’s capital, after eleven days of consecutive protests against the official results of the presidential elections, held on 19 February. Pashinian is also a leading member of the opposition party Aylentrank (Alternative), and has continued writing for the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper. Case closed due to lack of further information.
Imprisoned - Main Cases
Eynulla FATULLAYEV: editor of Gündelike Azerbaijan and the Russian language Realny Azerbaijan.
Case (1) Convicted c. 20 April 2007 to 30 months in prison on charges of libel and insult to Azerbaijanis in an article that Fatullayev says he did not write and had been manufactured as a way of silencing him. He was sentenced under Article 147.2 of the Azeri Penal Code by the Yasamal District court to two and a half years imprisonment. Upheld on appeal on 22 August 2007.
Background: The charges arose from a civil case raised in February 2007 by Tatyana Chaladze, head of the Azeri Centre for Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons. She referred to a remark attributed to Fatullayev in which he is said to have reported that Azeris were responsible for the massacre of residents in Khodjali, in Nagorno Karabakh in 1992. This resulted in a fine levied on 6 April 2007 of 10,000 manats (US$ 11,600).
Case (2) Sentenced to eight and a half years imprisonment on 30 October 2007 by the Grave Crime Court in Baku on charges of terrorism and inciting ethnic hatred. These additional charges were levied against Fatullayev under Article 214 of the Penal Code on on 22 May 2007 and confirmed on 4 July 2007. Said to be related to a commentary in Realni Azerbijan published in early 2007 that focussed on Azeri foreign policy with Iran. The article was written by another reporter. The court also ruled that everything in Fatullayev’s two newspaper’s offices would be confiscated and a fine of 250,000 manat (US 58,000) be imposed.
Appeal: The sentence was upheld on appeal on 16 January 2008, and upheld again by the Supreme Court on 3 June 2008.
Background: Fatullayev’s reporting on the dispute has led him to come under attack by Azerbaijani nationalists in early 2005.
Case (3) On 4 September 2007, tax evasion charges were levied by the Ministry of National Security following a search of his newspapers office and questioning of its staff. If convicted he faces six months imprisonment or a term in a labour colony.
Prison conditions: Fatullayev has staged protests within prison against political imprisonment and poor prison conditions. In April 2008, he staged a hunger strike in which he was joined by other prisoners and supporters outside. He ended his hunger strike after twelve days after a visit from the Azeri representative of the OSCE, and the OSCE Representative for Freedom of Mass Media, Miklos Harastzi. Despite this, two days later he was held in solitary confinement for ten days. The authorities gave no reason for this punishment although his lawyer believes it was because he continued to stage protests. Fatullayev is being held at Prison #12, in Baku, where he was visited by the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Committee against Torture in March 2009. The Chairman reported that Fatullayev’s health is normal and that he did not have complaints about prison conditions.
Previous arrest: Fatullayev was served a two-year suspended sentence in September 2006 for defamation and insult against the interior minister, Ramil Usubov. He accused the minister of having links with Haji Mamedov, a former official on trial for his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov.
Other information: On 24 April 2008 Eynula Fatullayev and other two Azeri journalists, received the Human Rights Watch administered Hellmann/Hammett award in recognition of their journalism in the face of persecution.
Honorary Member: Lichtenstein Centre.
[RAN 27/07 and updates]
Profession: Founder of the daily Ideal.
Date of arrest: Late April 2009
Sentence: Six-month prison sentence Expiry: Late October 2009
Details of arrest: Guliyev went into hiding from October 2008 until late April 2009, when he was arrested.
Details of trial: The criminal case was filed in September 2008 by a Nagorno-Karabakh war veteran, who alleged that two articles published in Ideal in August 2008 harmed her honour and dignity. She filed the case against Nazim Guliyev and Ali Hasanov (see below under ‘Released’). An Azerbaijani court sentenced Hasanov to six months in prison on defamation charges, and he was later pardoned. Guliyev was sentenced to pre-trial detention during a hearing in the Nasimi District Court on 30 October 2008, however by then he had gone into hiding. In late April 2009, Guliyev was arrested and on 26 May 2009 he was sentenced to six months in prison on defamation charges. His defence announced an appeal. There are reports that the articles in question were written by a person who used a pseudonym.
Profession: editor-in-chief of newspaper Azadlyg
Date of arrest: imprisoned under pre-trial detention on 11 November 2007.
Sentence: Four years. Expiry: November 2011.
Trial: On 7 March 2008 Zakhidov was sentenced to four years imprisonment at Yasamal District Court in Baku for ‘hooliganism and intentional inflicting of bodily harm’ under articles 127.2.3 and 221 of the Azeri Criminal Code. According to the Baku based Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety, no evidence to prove Zakhidov’s guilt was presented during the trial which began 8 January 2008. On 13 May 2008 the Yasamal District Court upheld the four years prison sentence, as ruled by the Court in Baku. Afterwards, on 21 May 2008 Zakhidov’s defence filed a cassation complaint against the earlier judicial decision.
Background: A man and a woman filed a complaint against the editor claiming that he had tried to attack the woman. Ganimat Zakhidov told Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) that on 7 November 2008 he was going up the steps to his office when the woman (subsequently identified as Sevgilade Guliyeva) began to shout and accuse him of insulting her. He said that the man grabbed him and told him to stop bothering the girl. Zakhidov told RSF about the incident on the day that it occurred. He said he regarded it as deliberate provocation in retaliation for his writings, which are critical of President Aliyev and his associates.
Detention: Zakhidov is being held at Prison #17, Baku, where he is allowed family visits.
Award: In July 2008 Zahidov received the Human Rights Watch administered Hellmann/Hammett award in recognition of his journalism in the face of persecution.
Imprisoned - Investigation
Mushfig HUSEYNOV: correspondent for Bizim Yol newspaper. He was sentenced in July 2007 to three months pre-trial detention. On 19 October 2007 the Nasimi Court, Baku, extended the pre-trial detention to 24 January 2008 in a hearing which took place without the presence of Huseynov or his lawyer. Huseynov was arrested 24 July 2007 for allegedly requesting a 3,500 US$ bribe from Ministry of Labour and Social Defence Administration Director Rizvan Aliyev in exchange for not printing an article. On 21 January 2008 he was sentenced to six years under Article 311 of the Criminal Code (accepting a bribe) and forbidden from working as a journalist for a further two years after his release. Free expression monitors in Azerbaijan point to trial flaws and claim that the charges against Huseynov have been fabricated as a means of undermining the reputation of dissident journalists. On 4 April 2008 the Appeal Court in Baku reduced Huseynov’s sentence to five years imprisonment, but upheld the ban on him working as a journalist for two years.
New information: On 27 May 2009 a court in Baku denied a request to release Huseynov from prison on health grounds.
Novruzali MAMEDOV: editor of the Talysh minority language newspaper Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh) and head of the Talysh Cultural Centre. Reportedly received a ten-year sentence on 24 June 2008 at a closed trial, without the presence of Mamedov’s defence. He was convicted on charges of treason under Article 247 of Azerbaijan’s penal code, based on the allegation that Mamedov had received money from Iran to publish the newspaper, but prosecutors have not publicly explained the charges. He has been held since February 2008, and allegedly incommunicado at a Ministry of National Security detention centre.
New information: By mid May 2009 it was reported that Mamedov remains in detention.
[RAN 35/08 – 4 July 2008]
*Sabuhi MAMMADLI and Ervin MIRZA: journalists for the newspaper Yeni Musavat, are reportedly facing trial for ‘libel’ and ‘insult’, under articles 147 and 148 on the criminal code, since January 2009. It is said that the charges have been filed by the assistant chief of the Davachi regional police, because he was named in an article in relation to the disappearance of two young sisters in 2008. The journalists claimed that the accusation against them is unfounded, and that the assistant chief’s name was referred to once during the trial by one of the suspects of the sister’s disappearance. Mammadli stated that the article was based in his investigation in the region and on what the sister’s relatives and the village residents said. PEN is seeking an update on this case.
Faramaz NOVRUZOGLU (Allahverdiyev) and Ilham TUMA (Agayev): Journalist and advisor for the newspaper Nota, and editor-inchief of 24 Saat newspaper, respectively, face criminal charges for insult and libel. On 30 December 2008 the Binagaly District Court heard a case filed by the chairman of the Adalat party, against both journalists for an article published in 24 Saat on 28 May 2008, entitled ‘Russia rejects Ilyas Ismayilov’, which is said to be critical to the Adalat party leader. According to Azeri law, individuals have the right to respond to articles they consider to be damaging their honour within a month and they can ask for the publication of a correction or appeal to the courts instead. However, in this case, the law suit was not filed until October 2008. The Court hearing was postponed for an indefinite period while a specialist determines whether the article was written by Novruzoglu. (see also item below on threat to Novruzoglu)
Non Custodial Sentence
Avez ZEINALLY, Kamal HUSEYN, Vugar GURDGANLI: Editor-in-chief and reporter of the newspaper Khural and reporter respectively. 1) PEN learned in 2007 that charges of incitement of religious, national and/or ethnic hatred under Article 283.1 of Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code had been levied against Zeinally for translating Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler into Azeri. Case was opened on 9 December 2004, closed on 28 February 2005 and reopened on 7 May 2007. In October 2007 the journalist was forbidden from leaving Baku by Azerbaijani National Security Ministry. On 7 November 2007 a preliminary hearing was held Narimanov District Court in Baku. The case was then placed on hold. Reports in June 2009 suggest the trial is now under way, although this needs confirmation. 2) On 17 January 2008 Zeinally was sentenced to one and a half years of ‘corrective labour’ under Article 147.2 of the criminal code. In accordance with the terms of this ruling Zeinally will be required to give 20% of his salary to the government over the two year period. He was convicted alongside Kamal Huseyn who was sentenced to 18 months corrective labour. The case stems from two articles written by Huseyn and printed in Khural newspaper about the Publishing House Azerbaijan. The Director of Azerbaijan Agabay Asgarov filed a lawsuit against Huseyn and Zeinally, the paper’s editor, claiming that the aticles were defamatory. 3) On 21 January 2008 Avaz Zeynalli was sentenced to two years’ corrective labour alongside Vugar Gurdganli, who was sentenced to one and a half year’s corrective labour. During this period 20% of Zeynalli and Gurdganli’s salary will have to be paid to the state. The case stems from three articles, written by Gurdganli and published in Khural in October and November 2007, which comment on the relationship between Elmar Valiyev, head of the Yevlakh region and President Aliyev. One article was entitled ‘Elmar Valiyev deceives Ilham Aliyev’. Elmar Valiyev and the Yevlakh community considered the articles to be defamatory and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the writer of the article, Gurdganli and the editor of the newspaper, Zeynalli. Avaz Zeinally’s two sentences were combined and he was ordered to give 20% of his salary to the state over a two-year period. According to Article 49 of the Criminal Code this is the maximum amount person can be made to pay in ‘corrective labour’.
*Idrak ABBASOV: journalist for the independent newspaper Zerkalo and researcher for the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), reported being detained on 20 February 2009 while conducting a study of the regional press freedom situation in Nakhchivan, south-eastern part of the country. Abbasov was allegedly taken to the headquarters of the security services, blindfolded and interrogated for two hours on the motives for his trip to the area. Before being released, a security officer ordered him to leave Nakhchivan, and delete the pictures from his camera. He was reportedly accused of spying for Armenia.
*Eldaniz ELGUN: Independent journalist and author, reported receiving death threats in relation to his novel 13 Days 1001 Nights. Elgun’s novel is a love story between a young Azeri and an Armenian girl. In early March 2009, Elgun reported to the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) that unidentified people have been calling him demanding he should stop referring to his novel, which has been banned from sale. The callers also demanded Elgun gather the books and burn them, otherwise he will be burnt instead. The author announced he will file a complaint.
*Vidadi MAMMADOV: Journalist for the newspaper Azadlig, reported receiving death threats from an unidentified caller on his mobile phone on 2 June 2009. According to Mammadov, the caller told him: ‘be clever if you want to live, or we’ll behead you’. It is said that the journalist had previously received threats for his work. He has not reported the threat to the authorities for lack of trust on them, but has made the issue public in the national press.
*Faramaz NOVRUZOGLU: Editor of the newspaper Nota, reported in late February 2009 that he and his family had been receiving death threats over the phone. He believes that the threats are linked to his recent reporting on the Anti-terror Centre, which is part of the Ministry of National Security. According to reports, the callers identified themselves as people with links to the Centre. On 22 February 2009 the editor appealed to the president to deal with these calls. Novruzoglu is also facing criminal charges for insult and libel (see above ‘On trial’).
*Emin MILLI, Adnan AJIZADA: internet writers. Detained overnight from 8-9 June 2009 after they had filed a complaint to the police about an assault they had suffered in a restaurant. They claim that they had been forcibly shackled together, and had been denied treatment for the injuries they sustained during the restaurant attack. They are filing a complaint against the police.
*Elman ABBASOVA, Hakimeldostu MEHDIYEV, Malahet NASIBOVA: correspondents for the Institute for Reporter’s Freedom and Safety (IRFS), and, correspondent for Turan News Agency and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty respectively, all based in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, reported that they were harassed and assaulted in the Sadakar region, on 16 January 2009. The reporters went to the area to investigate the case of a person recently released after spending time in a psychiatric institution, where he had been placed by the police. When the journalists arrived at this person’s house, they found the door locked. At that moment around 20 people surrounded the journalists and threw insults at them, calling them enemies, and questioned who had sent them there. The reporters said they most of the people in this group were local government officials, including the head of the Sadarak regional police department. Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev reported that he was pushed and beaten by the police, and forced to get into his car and ordered to leave. The journalists were allegedly accompanied by police cars, as they left the area. Later in January, the journalists reported receiving death threats in their mobile phones. On 30 January 2009 the journalists sent a letter of complaint to the police department and the ministry of interior, asking then to investigate the threats and to ensure their safety.
Ali HASANOV: Journalist and current editor-in-chief of the daily Ideal, was arrested on 14 November 2008, and sentenced to six-months in prison on defamation charges. The criminal case was filed in September 2008 by a Nagorno-Karabakh war veteran, who alleged that two articles published in Ideal in August 2008 harmed her honour and dignity. She filed the case against Ali Hasanov and Nazim Guliyev, founder of the newspaper (see above for more on Guliyev). On 15 April 2009, Ali Hasanov was released from prison under the Pardon Act passed by the parliament in late March 2009.
Sakit Mirza ZAKHIDOV: journalist and satirist for the newspaper Azadlyg, as well as a poet. Sentenced on 4 October 2006 to three years in prison on drugs charges that are widely considered to be trumped up. Zakhidov was arrested on 24 June 2006. An honorary member of English PEN that sent representatives to Azerbaijan in early 2009 to visit Zakhidov and his family, was released soon after on 9 April 2009 under a Presidential amnesty. [RAN 28/06 and updates]
*Andrzei POCZOBUT: correspondent for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, has reported harassment after publishing critical articles on President Lukashenko’s policies and the security services. The journalist applied for the renewal of his press accreditation, which expired on 24 February 2009. On 3 March Poczobut phoned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to follow up on his application, but was told that his accreditation had been denied because he had insulted the Belarusian president in his articles. He has also reported receiving phone threats demanding him to stop his critical reporting or there would be retaliation. It is said that the harassment coincided with the journalist’s investigation on a security service official of high-rank. Before working for the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Poczobut was the head of the Polish-language publication Magazyn Polski na Uchodzstwie, popular among the Polish minority in Belarus.
*Radivoje GUTIC: Local correspondent for the newspaper Vecernje Novosti, a Serbian-based daily, was reportedly threatened on 9 April 2009. The journalists said he received two calls on his mobile phone from someone who said he was a representative in Trebinje of the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to Gutic, the calls came after he reported on various opinions on the activities of the church in the country.
*Slobodan VASKOVIC: Journalist for the publication Novi Magazin, based in Banja Luka, was reportedly threatened in a letter received in March 2009. The letter was allegedly signed by the ‘Serbian Avengers’ group, and was sent after the publication of reports on the Serbian Orthodox Church. Days later, on 18 March, Vaskovic who is also a TV reporter, was filming in Trebinje with a TV crew, when he and his team were intimidated and chased by a group of individuals, until the police arrived and escorted them to safety.
Killed – investigation under way
Ivo PUKANIC: co-owner and director of the weekly news magazine National was killed by a bomb explosion on 23 October 2008 outside the headquarters of the magazine, in central Zagreb. The marketing director of the National was also killed. This was not the first attack against Ivo Pukanic, aged 47. There are reports that in 2002 a man attempted to stab him, and that since then he was constantly under police protection. Again, in April 2008 an unidentified attacker came up to Pukanic on the street, close to his flat in Zagreb, threatened him and then shot at him twice from the distance. Some reports linked the attacks to Pukanic’s critical reporting, others suggest that there may be personal reasons behind it. On early November 2008 it was reported that the Croatian police had charged five men, three of whom are arrested, and that it had issued international arrest warrants for the other two. One of the fugitives is believed to be a Bosnian Serb, former member of the group called Red Berets. The authorities are reportedly working together with the Bosnian police.
New information: In early June 2009 it was reported that three men had been detained in Belgrade, Serbia, on suspicion of participating in Pukanic’s killing, but had not been charged yet.
Basaran DUZGUN, Suleyman ERGOCLU and Fehim NEVZAT: Journalist for the Cyprus Daily, former managing director and representative of the Cyprus Media Company, respectively, are reportedly facing trial for ‘casting a shadow’ over the relations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Turkey. On 16 April 2007 the Cyprus Daily published an article written by Duzgun, in which he allegedly compared the devil to the former Turkish president. On 24 October 2008 the Lefcosa Court announced that the trial against the three journalists would commence on 28 November 2008. The case was filed by the Northern Cyprus Minister of Interior, and the journalists could face a prison sentence or a fine. No recent news. PEN is seeking further details.
Vittorio DE FILIPPIS: Former publisher of the newspaper Liberation, and now its development manager, was arrested on 28 November 2008. He was reportedly insulted in front of his children and badly treated as he was taken away. Once at the station he was allegedly strip-searched twice before being charged with libel. He was released five hours later. The case dates from de Filippis’ term as publisher of Liberation, from June to December 2006 when a message was sent to the readers page of the newspaper’s website regarding a libel case filed by the founder of an Internet company against Liberation. As the publisher of the newspaper, De Filippis is said to be responsible for the message and for any article thought to be libellous. The case against De Filippis was filed by the founder of the Internet company, who allegedly had attempted to sue Liberation, on previous occasions on the same charge. A police officer allegedly said that De Pilippis had ignored summons from the investigating magistrate on this case, however De Pilippis denied receiving any of the summons. PEN is seeking an update on the trial.
Roberto SAVIANO: author and contributor to the newspaper La Repubblica. In October 2008 Roberto Saviano stated that members of the Neapolitan mafia in Italy denounced in his novel Gomorra, announced he will be assassinated by Christmas. Saviano has told the press that he is leaving Italy as a consequence. For the last two years, he has been living under permanent police protection. Threats to his life have apparently increased since the recent launch of a feature film based on the book.
[RAN 56/08- 23 October 2008]
Imprisoned - Main case
* Ramazan YESERGEPOV
Profession: Editor-in-chief of the weekly Alma-Ata Info.
Date of the arrest: 6 January 2009
Details of the arrest: Yesergepov was being treated for hypertension at the Cardiology Institute in Almaty, when armed and masked security officers entered the hospital and took him away. He was taken to the Taraz regional office, in southern Kazakhstan, where he was interrogated by the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB). According to a statement by the KNB from 13 January, Yesergepov was arrested because he repeatedly ignored subpoenas issued by the agency.
Charges: By 13 February 2009, there were reports that Yesergepov had not yet being charged, but he had been threatened with charges of ‘disclosure of state secrets’ for which he faces up to eight years in prison and a ban on professional activities of up to three years.
Treatment in detention: There are serious concerns that the editor has been denied adequate medical treatment.
Other information: Since December 2008, Alma Ata Info, has been investigated for the disclosure of two leaked memos published alongside an article in its 21 November issue. The article in question ‘Who rules the Country – The President or the KNB?’ is said to deal with a tax fraud allegation involving a local prosecutor and a judge. KNB officers raided the weekly’s newsroom, seizing the hard drives of seven computers.
[RAN 10/09 – 13 February 200]
*Yermek BOLTAI: Reporter and editor for the Kazakh service of the news website Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was reportedly attacked by five unidentified men outside his apartment building, in Alma Aty, on 18 January 2009. The editor had recently reported critically on the local authorities. The police are investigating the attack.
*Bakhytzhan NURPEISOV: Reporter for the pro-opposition weekly Obshchestvennaya Pozitsiya (Public Position), was reportedly attacked while on his way home on 5 February 2009. Three unidentified men assaulted the reporter and took his camera, press credentials, tape recorder and notepad, leaving his wallet and mobile phone. The reporter had recently published articles regarding the properties of the mayor of Astana, comparing them with the poor living conditions of the local community. The police are investigating the attack.
*Jeta XHARRA (f): Head of the Kosovo office of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), reported receiving anonymous death threats by e-mail in early June 2009. Reports say that the threats started after the 28 May 2009 edition of BIRN-Kosovo weekly television programme ‘Life in Kosovo’, hosted by Xharra. After the broadcast, on 1 June 2009, the local newspaper Infopress, allegedly published an editorial linking Xharra and her colleagues to Serbian spies, and compared their latest broadcast to ‘fascist propaganda against everything Albanian’. Soon after the editorial, the station’s e-mail inbox was full of violent death threats against Xharra and her colleagues. Infopress is said to receive substantial advertising revenues from the government. Xharra reported the threat to the police, but no arrest has been made.
Killed: investigation ongoing
Alisher SAIPOV: journalist, aged 26, of Uzbek ethnicity. Shot dead by three bullets at close range by an unknown gunman in front of several passers by on 24 October 2007 in the city centre of Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan close to the Uzbek border. Saipov was the editor of the independent, Uzbek language newspaper, Siyosat (Politics). He had also worked for a number of publications including www.fergana.ru, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He also reported for the London based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
Background: Saipov was a well known journalist who had been outspoken in his criticism of the Uzbek authorities, particular the country’s dire human rights record. Among others, he covered the mass killings of citizens by Uzbek soldiers in Andijon in May 2005.
Investigation: Early on Kyrgyz police said that Uzbek agents may have been involved in his murder. However a statement on 31 October 2007 by a Kyrgyz Ministry of the Interior official indicated that there was no evidence of this. Osh is known to have been infiltrated by Uzbek security agents and there are reports that the Uzbek exile community there have suffered threats and intimidation. Kyrgyz officers sealed his office, and seized computers and mobiles, it is said in an attempt to investigate Saipov’s contacts. However colleagues fear that sensitive information could be passed on to the Uzbek authorities, enabling them to identify Saipov’s sources. Furthermore, on 1 November 2007, the CPJ expressed alarm that the Kyrgyz authorities had publicly stated that Saipov had links with the banned Uzbek Islamic groups, Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, citing material allegedly found on his hard drive. His colleagues condemn this preliminary statement as unprofessional and biased, pointing out that Saipov would have been in touch with these groups in his professional capacity as a reporter. On 4 February 2008 an Interior Ministry press officer announced that the investigation had been suspended. Following the announcement Kyrgyz officials gave different reasons for this. On 31 March 2008 the Interior Ministry Investigative Committee informed the family that the investigation had been stopped “due to the inability to identify a suspect”. On 21 November 2008 it was reported that the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs stated that journalism had been ruled out from the investigation on the death of Alisher Saipov.
Death threats: In the months prior to his death, Saipov reported receiving death threats and to being followed by unknowns. A local state television station in Uzbekistan had also recently aired a program in which Saipov was described as deliberately attempting to destabilise Uzbekistan through his reporting, and he had for some months been subject to an internet smear campaign from Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz President Bakiyev has taken on direct responsibility for resolving the murder.
Award: In 2008 an award in Saipov’s name was established in Kirgizstan, to reward young journalists. In 2009 the prize was given in three categories: for professional commitment, for active civil position, for adherence to human rights.
Family: Saipov was married. His first child was born just three months before his death.
Abdumalik SHARIPOV: journalist. Charged alongside two members of the local human rights organisation Justice, Valentina Tritsenko and Mahamadzhana Abdushaparova, and Nargiza Turdiyeva, a private citizen. Accused under Article 127 and 128 of the Criminal Code for an article published in January 2006 entitled “Women are being beaten, even those who are pregnant” published in Pravo dlya vshe”. This follows a complaint by a senior investigator of the interior department, Zhalabat region, who had been referred to in the article which reported on a statement made in January 2006 by Turdiyeva to the human rights organisation in which she claimed to have been beaten by the investigator who knew that she was pregnant at that time, and that specific threats had been made against her. The hearings opened in June 2006 but were postponed for health reasons. It was due to restart on 22 May 2007. In August 2008 PEN received information that hearings were postponed once more for health reasons, and that it could take up to six to eight months to restart. PEN will continue monitoring the case.
*Syrgak ABDYLDAYEV: Political journalist and commentator for the newspaper Reporter-Bishkek, was reportedly attacked by an unidentified man outside the newspaper’s offices on 3 March 2009. Abdyldayev was stabbed about thirty times requiring several operations. None of his belongings were taken. It is said that recently the journalist had been criticising governmental policies. The police have opened an investigation which is under personal control of the Minister of the Interior.
*Ulugbek BABAKULOV and Elena AGAYEVA(f): Editor-in-chief and correspondent for the Russian newspaper Moskovskiy comsomolets respectively, were reportedly beaten and robbed in Bishkek, on 26 March 2009. Babakulov remained at hospital for a while as he had a minor head trauma, as Agayeva recovered at her home. The authorities disregarded their colleagues’ claims that the assault was linked to their work.
*Abduvahab MONIYEV: Deputy editor of the Kyrgyz-language newspaper Achyk Sayasat (Open Politics), was reportedly beaten in Bishkek, on 5 June 2009. It is said that Moniyev had received a call from an unidentified man who asked him for a meeting, in order to share information on a delicate matter. When the editor arrived at the meeting place he was beaten by four unidentified men. None of his belongings were taken. Moniyev’s colleagues believe the attack was linked to his work. The attack has been reported to the authorities in Bishkek.
*Yrysbek OMURZAKOV: Editor-in-chief of the twice-monthly newspaper Tribuna, was reportedly beaten while on his way to work in Bishkek city, north of the country, on 7 May 2009. The editor was with his son in his car when three men approached them, blocked their way, and beat him. Omurzakov considers the assault to be in connection with the newspaper’s reports, because the attackers threatened him for his work and said this was not the last time he saw them. It is said that the newspaper has various lawsuits as a consequence of its critical reporting, mainly o local authorities. The authorities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are reportedly investigating the attack.
*Natalia MORARI:Investigative journalist for the independent Moscow-based newspaper The New Times, and activist, has been reportedly charged with ‘calls for organising and staging mass disturbances’, and could face up to eight years in prison. The charges stem from a protest organised by Morari, aged 25, and a group of activists which took place at the Great National Square in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, on 7 April 2009. The protest was coordinated using text messages on mobile phones, and the Twitter and Facebook networks. Its objective was to hold a ‘day of mourning’ after the results of the 5 April parliamentary elections were made public. Initially, the organisers thought the demonstration would gather several hundreds people, and informed the authorities accordingly, on 6 April. However, on the ‘day of mourning’ over 10,000 people had joined the demonstration. At around midday the protest turned violent, and hours later the riots were controlled by the authorities allegedly with excessive use of force. International commentators have named the events as the “Twitter Revolution”. Morari has told the press that she had not wanted or expected the violence, but praised the courage of young people in coming onto the streets to protest against the election irregularities. In early May 2009 it was reported that the Moldovan Court of Appeals had released Morari from house arrest. She is free to leave her home, but cannot leave the country.
Background: Natalia Morari has written widely on corruption and money laundering, and had articles published in The New Times. She is well known to free expression activists in Russia and abroad. In late 2007 Morari published a number of reports on political irregularities in the Kremlin and corruption within the Russian intelligence services, the FSB. As can be seen by the murders of journalists in Russia, such writings expose the authors to enormous risk. The New Times has lost advertising revenue as advertisers pull out, fearing repercussions. Morari believes that the Russian security services collaborated with the Moldovan authorities in her arrest. She is married to the Russian journalist Ilya Barabanov, who remains in Russia. In late 2007 she was expelled from Russia, on charges of being a “threat to national security”. No specific reasons were given, but it is thought it is because of her exposure of Kremlin corruption. Since then she has been unable to visit her husband, who now visits her in Chisinau, Moldova twice a month. She continues to report on European issues for The New Times.
Honorary Member: English and Cuban Writers in Exile PEN Centres.
*Stanislav MARKELOV and Anastasiya BABUROVA (f): lawyer and journalist for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were shot dead in a Moscow street on 20 January 2009. They were attacked as they left a press conference at the Independent Press Centre. Markelov, a human rights lawyer who had also worked for the Novaya Gazeta and had represented the journalist Anna Politkovskaya before she herself had been assassinated in October 2006 (see below). Markelov had, just hours before his killing, issued a statement protesting the early release of a Russian army officer who had been convicted in 2003 for the murder of a Chechen girl. He represented victims of human rights abuses, including the families of Chechens who have disappeared. Anastasyia Baburova was walking alongside Markelov when he was shot. She reportedly attempted to apprehend the gunman, but was herself shot in the head, and later died in hospital. Baburova had joined Novaya Gazeta in October 2008 and had been researching neo-Nazism and race motivated crimes in Russia.
[RAN 07/09 – 2 January 2009]
Killed: trial under way
Anna Politkovskaya (f): leading journalist and author. Shot dead in the elevator of her apartment on 7 October 2006. A journalist who covered the war in Chechnya, Politkovskaya had been receiving threats since 1999 after she wrote articles claiming that the Russian armed forces had committed human rights abuses in Chechnya. Despite these threats she continued to write and in 2003 published A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya. She was also a co-contributor to A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, published in 2003. Her most recent book, published in 2006, was Putin’s War: Life in A Failing Democracy. In 2002 Politkovskaya was one of the few outsiders allowed into the Moscow theatre in an attempt to negotiate with Chechen rebels the release of hundreds of hostages. In 2004, she fell seriously ill as she attempted to fly to Beslan to cover the hostage crisis there, leading to speculation that she had been deliberately poisoned to stop her from reporting on the crisis. Politkovskaya was the winner of numerous international awards for her courage, including the 2004 Olaf Palme Award that was set up by the family of the murdered Swedish prime minister. The prize was given to Politkovskaya to honour her work for the “long battle for human rights in Russia”.
Investigation into murder: On 27 August 2007, the prosecutor general announced that ten suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder including Chechen criminals, former and serving members of the Russian Federal Security Services and police forces. A statement that the killing had been masterminded by Russians living overseas, was greeted with some scepticism. Questions surround the timing of the announcement (almost a year from Politkovskaya’s death), and reports that suspects had been beaten to confess and other irregularities. International monitors have voiced concerns about lack of transparency in the proceedings and conflicting statements that could undermine the investigation. On 12 May 2008 the Investigative Committee at Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office announced that the Chechen Rustam Makhmudov had been charged in absentia with murdering Politkovskaya. An international warrant for his arrest was issued. Afterwards, on 18 June 2008, the Investigative Committee announced that it had charged three men, a former police officer with the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organised Crime, and two ethnic Chechen brothers. There are two other investigations opened, one in which the suspect remains in absentia, and another into the intellectual authors of the crime. The case was sent to Moscow District Military Court on 2 October 2008, allegedly because It contains classified material and an officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB) is involved in the case. However, according to the Chief Investigator in charge of the case, this FSB officer is not directly charged with Politkovskaya’s murder, but with abuse of office and extortion, and will be tried with the three other suspects because of his previous association with them.
Trial: On 17 November 2008 the trial on Politkovskaya’s murder started and was opened to the media and the public. However, two days later as the jurors refuse to attend the courtroom together with the media, the judge decided that the trial will be held at closed doors. Three men went on trial for their participation on the murder, but the precise charges were not published. There were suspicions among Politkovskaya’s colleagues who referred to the trial as a ‘farce’ as the main authors of the crime are not in the dock. On 19 February 2009, the men accused of assisting to organise Politkovskaya’s murder were acquitted by a twelve-member jury in Moscow, for lack of proof in the evidence provided by the investigation. After prosecutors appealed the non-guilty verdict, the Supreme Court overturned this decision and ordered a retrial The same military court in Moscow where the initial trial was held, will retry the accused men.
Killed: under investigation
Magomed YEVLOYEV: owner of the opposition website ingushetiya.ru. Was arrested on 31 August 2008 as he disembarked from an airplane at Manas airport in Ingushetia’s capital, Nazran, and died from a gunshot wound to the head, inflicted as he was being driven in a police van from the airport. Police claimed that the death was accidental and that a policeman’s firearm had accidentally fired as Yevloyev had lunged at the officer in an attempt to resist arrest. The official reason for his killing is “death by negligence”. However, relatives and others believe that that it was deliberately aimed at causing fear and intimidation, and to force a split between civil and human rights groups in Ingushetia.
Background: The website has been fiercely critical of the Ingushetian leadership, and so concerns have been voiced that Yevloyev may have been assassinated. Ingushetiya.ru is known as a reliable source of information on issues including corruption, human rights abuses, poverty and unemployment, as well as anti-government protests. The website has suffered several attempts to close it down. Most recently a June 2008 banning order issued for “inciting ethnic hatred” and distributing “extremist” materials was upheld by a district court in Moscow. On 22 August 2008, Yevloyev had posted a statement on his website accusing Zyazikov and the Ingushetian Interior Minister Musa Medov of unleashing “a civil war against the Ingushetian people”, adding that “all attempts undertaken by Zyazkivov and Medov are futile”.
Investigation: The first investigation lead by the Russian prosecutor general’s office concluded that Yevloyev’s death was an accident. The then Ingush minister of interior held responsible for the death has since been transferred to Moscow to a higher ranking position. On 16 March 2009, it was reported that a new investigation had been launched by the prosecutor’s office in Ingushetia on Yevloyev’s death. The lawyer for Yevloyev’s family stated that the investigation will deal with the unlawful detention of the journalist, and will establish which officers were in charge of Yevloyev’s transportation to the police station.
[RAN 42/08 – 3 September 2008]
Killed: motive unknown
*Shafig AMRAKHOV: editor of the online regional agency RIA 51, died while in Murmansk hospital, northwest of the country, on 5 January 2009. On 30 December 2008, Amrakhov was assaulted by an unidentified man as he entered the lift to his apartment. He was shot in the head several times with rubber bullets. The authorities are investigating the case and are taking into consideration his work as a journalist among other possible causes. There are reports that the editor had been attacked on a previous occasion in 1997, and that in 2008 his accreditation to attend a press conference by the Russian president had been denied. Amrakhov protested publicly against that decision.
*Vyacheslav YAROSHENKO: Editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Korruptsiya i Prestupnost (Corruption and Crime), based in Rostov-on-Don, south-western Russia, died on 29 June 2009. Yaroshenko was reportedly badly beaten in the morning on 30 April 2009 after returning home alone from a party. He was found unconscious at the foot of a staircase at the entry to his building. He was taken to hospital where he remained in critical condition. Yaroshenko’s colleges believe that he was attacked because of his journalistic work, as his newspaper reports cases of corruption in Rostov law enforcement agencies. Soon after the editor was taken to hospital, the police stated that he had been involved in a fight during the evening of 29 April. Later, the police gave another version of the events saying that the editor hurt himself while drunk, by falling down the stairs. In early May 2009, there were reports that the police had so far refused to register the attack as murder.
Imprisoned - Investigation
Anatoly SARDAYEV: editor in chief of the weekly Mordoviya Segodnya (Mordoviya Today) based in the city of Saransk, the capital of the Central Russian Republic of Mordoviya. Sentenced on 29 June 2007 for embezzlement and misuse of funds when he was head of the Mordoviya postal service in 2004. Given a 5 year sentence, and a fine of around US$ 4,000. However colleagues and press freedom monitors are concerned that the sentence may be a means of punishing his newspaper for critical reports on the local authorities. Specifically an article that carried a survey of public opinion polls published in April 2007 that said that the majority of Russians consider law officers with distrust and that 46% of respondents would consider resisting a soldier’s orders. Sardayev’s supporters also point to a number of instances since early 2004 when Sardayev and others working for his paper have been harassed and charged on what they claim to be spurious grounds.
Nadira ISAYEVA (f): editor-in-chief of the independent weekly Chernovik, based in the southern republic of Dagestan, is reportedly facing criminal charges after the newspaper published on 4 July 2008 an article quoting one of the leaders of the ’Boyevikis’ (‘independence fighters’). If convicted she faces up to eight years of imprisonment, under charges of extremism and incitement of hatred. In a press release, the office of the general prosecutor stated that the article “depicts disbanded terrorist groups in Dagestan as well-organised political power, presents terrorists as heroes and encourages leaders to believe in the necessity of violent change of the constitutional regime in Russia”. Earlier, the regional prosecutor in Dagestan, issued a warning that the newspaper had violated anti-extremism legislation. On 18 July 2008 the Chernovik allegedly challenged the prosecutor’s warning before a court, but no hearing has been scheduled. Isayeva reported to CPJ that on 26 August 2008 the homes of six Chernovik’s journalists were searched by investigators with the local prosecutor’s office and officers with the Criminal Investigation department of Dagestan’s Interior Ministry. Besides Isayeva, none of the other five reporters have been charged, but had their homes searched. The reporters are Timur Magomayev, Artur Mamayev, Magomed Magomedov and Timur Mustafayev, and Chernovik’s founder Khadzhimurad Kamalov. The investigators seized a computer, books, and electronic files allegedly looking for signs of extremism. The day after the search, a spokesperson of the general prosecutor’s office stated that it had been established that the authors of the newspaper’s articles may have published them in co-authorship. On the same day, 27 August 2008, Isayeva reportedly received a notice from the Investigative Committee at the Dagestan prosecutor’s office, communicating her that she had to undergo a psychological analysis.
New information: On 15 June 2009, a lawsuit was filed against the weekly Chernovik in Dagestan’s Supreme Court. The case was filed by the state’s media regulator, who demanded for the closure of the weekly for publishing alleged extremist statements. Reports say that the case is linked to articles published in 2008 which allegedly incited hatred of regional enforcement agencies.
*Arseny MAKHLOV: Founder of the independent newspaper Dvornik, is reportedly facing charges of ‘bribery’, after the daily published articles on alleged corruption implicating local officials. He was arrested on 30 March 2009, charged and released on 1 April, awaiting a criminal investigation. The police claimed that Makhlov attempted to bribe a transit officer to avoid a breathalyzer test. However, Makhlov said that two plainclothes officers from the Kaliningrad’s Department of Economic Crimes approached him while he was getting into his home, pointed to 50 Euros on the control panel of the car, and accused him of bribing the officer. If found guilty Makhlov could face up to eight years in prison. Previously, in 2008 Makhlov was attacked after the newspaper published an article regarding a private company acquiring a landmark building illegally.
*Irek MURTAZIN: Internet writer and former press secretary to the president of the republic of Tatarstan, has been charged by with ‘slander’ and ‘privacy invasion’ under articles 129 and 137 of the Criminal Code, respectively. The trial stems from Murtazin’s book Mintimer Shaimiyev: The Last President of Tatarstan, published in 2007. It is said that the authorities only paid attention to the book after Murtazin posted on his blog the erroneous news that Tatar President Shaimiyev had died while on holiday in Turkey in September 2008.The news was refuted soon after, but the Murtazin was summoned to the prosecutor’s office for questioning; afterwards his home was searched and his computer and notebooks seized. The author was formally charged on 10 December 2008. Later that month, Murtazin was attacked in his car by two unknown individuals. As of June 2009, he remained free.
Nikolai SOKOLOV: At the end of February 2008 editor in chief of the newspaper Fakti s Argumentami was charged with ‘libel disseminated by a mass medium’, under Article 129 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on the basis of a statement made by Viktor Sokovyk, mayor of the town of Elets, who accused the journalist of deliberate dissemination of false information damaging the mayor’s honour and dignity. If the journalist is convicted of the charges he could be sentenced to a fine, corrective labour, or three to six months in prison. Fakty s Argumenti ran articles in between September 2007 to November 2007. Three particular articles led to the legal action against Sokolov; ‘Death Agony’ (issue #35, 6 September 2007; ‘Turnskin’ (#46, 22 November 2007, and ‘Hunt! Hunt is going on’ (#47, 29 July 2007). On 4 March 2008 a new criminal case was opened against the editor under Article 319 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, pertaining to ‘insulting an authority’. The case was opened over the article ‘Turnskin?’, which contained statements about Sokovykh. A commission made up of experts in linguistics and criminal law decided that the article contained obscene expressions. Sokolov has expressed concern that the people involved in the investigation, a commission made up of experts in linguistics and criminal law, may be corrupt. PEN has learned that he has been served a fine of 10,000 roubles ( 250), confirmed by the regional court.
Previous Charges: In 2006 similar charges were bought against Sokolov relating to Mayor Sokovykh, but eventually dropped because the texts of the articles contained ‘journalistic opinion or assumption, a value judgement providing a general subjective evaluation’.
Rimma URAZBAKHTINA (f): journalist for the newspaper Chas Pik Na Magistrali. 1) reportedly faced charges linked to an article published in late November 2007 deemed to harm the “honour and dignity” of a judge. PEN learned in July 2009 that she had been acquitted of this charge in September 2008. 2) In May 2009 it was reported that Andrei Nazarov, who represents the Republic of Bashkortostan in the State Duma, has brought a case against Urazbakhtina, for an article published on the Mediakorset website, that he says is slanderous. The article is said to have accused Nazarov of being openly critical of the Bashkortostyan Prime Minister Rail Sarbayev, accusing him of involvement some years before in the assassination of a prosecutor. Nazarov claims the article not only belittled himself, but also the United Russia party of which he is a member. She is likely to be tried for slander under Article 129 of the Russian Criminal Code and could be imprisoned for 18 months if convicted.
On trial: fled
Roza MALSAGOVA (f): Editor-in-chief of the independent Ingushetia news website Ingushetiya, has reportedly fled Russia in late July 2008. The editor, according to her lawyer, faces criminal prosecution for ‘incitement of ethnic hatred and ‘distribution of extremist materials’, and had been harassed, threatened and beaten up by the Ingush authorities. Malsagova had already moved from the Ingush capital Nazran to Moscow, in November 2007, after being beaten up in her home in front of her children, however, the threats and harassment did not stop, as she continues to receive threats by e-mail and over the phone. The website allegedly is the only media that had been critical of the regional president Murat Zyazikov, of the Republic of Ingushetia who has since been replaced. Ingushetiya allegedly reported on issues of local corruption, disappearances of local residents, unemployment and anti-government protest. The website has suffered reportedly four closure attempts since the beginning if the year 2008, by other regional authorities who alleged that its some articles have extremists content. She is now in Europe.
Free on bail
Nikolai ANDRUSHCHENKO: co founder of the weekly Novy Peterburg. Sentenced 24 November 2007 to two months pre trial detention following his arrest the previous day on charges of obstructing police and defamation. The reason for his detention is his reporting on a murder investigation and trial in 2006 in which police officials were allegedly criticized. He faces up to six years in prison. His colleagues believe that the real reason for Andrushchenko’s arrest is his critical coverage of local authorities and his newspaper’s support for the opposition in the run up to the December 2007 parliamentary elections. In January 2008 a St. Petersburg court extended Andrushenko’s detention up to 21 March 2008 after the Presidential elections. On 21 March his preliminary detention was extended a further two months with no offical charge. The successor to Novy Peterburg, the newspaper Minuty Veka, has reported being harassed by authorities since Andruschenko’s arrest. 6 February 2008, according to reports, the offices of Minuty Veka were raided and six computers from the newsroom were siezed. The police claimed that they were acting on a tip that the paper was using unlicensed software. Andrushchenko was freed on bail, on order of the Dzerzhinki District Court of St Petersburg in August 2008. The hearing was still due as of December 2008 and the newspaper remained closed. PEN is seeking an update to his case
[RAN 48/07 and updates]
*Oleg SALNIKOV: Journalist, has reportedly received death threats after publishing an article in the newspaper Gubernskiye Vedomosti. According to a 5 March 2009 report from the Glasnost Defence Foundation (GDF), Salnikov’s article entitled ‘Ordinary Fascism Attempts to Take Root on These Isles’ refers to an extremist organisation led by two former law enforcement officers. The piece has been also posted on the internet site of the news agency Sakhalin-Kurily, which allegedly led to the threats against Salnikov and his family.
*Yury GRACHEV: Editor of the weekly Solnechnogorsky Forum, was reportedly attacked in the town of Solnechnogork, 65 km northwest of Moscow, on 3 February 2009. He was found by his neighbours unconscious and bleeding at the entrance of his home. The Solnechnogorsky Forum weekly had been covering corruption and had been critical of the local authorities, and that as a consequence a number of local officials and businessmen were charged with corruption in 2007. More recently the weekly has been covering the March 2009 elections. It is said that Grachev’s briefcase with material for the following issue of the weekly went missing from the attack.
*Vladim ROGOZHIN: managing director of the media holding company Vzglyad, based in Saratov, south-east of the country, was assaulted by two unidentified men on 5 March 2009. Rogozhin was beaten on the head in the corridor of his apartment. There was no robbery. In January 2009 Rogozhin assumed this managerial position and had previously worked for the newspaper Saratovsky Vzglyadan, a news agency and a TV station. He reported on issues of corruption in various levels of the regional government, and it is believed that the attack could be linked with his reporting. The authorities are investigating the attack.
*Maxim ZOLOTAREV: Editor of the newspaper Molva Yuzhnoye Podmoskovye, distributed in Serpukhov, a town situated 99 Km south of Moscow, reported being assaulted while walking to his car near his flat, on the afternoon of 12 March 2009. Zolotarev was stopped by three unidentified men who got out of a car and hit him with an iron bar after discharging a gas pistol into his face. It is said that the newspaper is critical to local political issues. Zolotarev considered this attack as a warning and decided to stop his journalistic work. An investigation has been opened on the attack.
*Leonid ASTACHOV: journalist for the independent magazine Profit, reported receiving threats after the publication of an article in the December 2008 issue of the magazine. The article, entitled ‘A story from outer space of some little known facts from Ivan Lachugin’s life’. Lachugin is the Duma deputy for Voronezh. The journalist said he received phone calls from an unidentified man who threatened him with violence for his “insulting” article. In early January 2009, an unknown man visited the journalist’s home on two occasions, demanding to know the name of who ordered the publication. Astachov reported the threats to the regional prosecutor.
Boris STOMAKHIN: contributor to Radikalnaya Politika and the Chechen rebel-run website Kav-Kaz Centre. Sentenced to five years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic hatred and supporting terrorism on 20 November 2006. Prosecuting authorities state that his articles called for “destroying of the Russian people as a nation”. He has been imprisoned since his arrest on 22 March 2006 when he fell from a Moscow window in an attempt to escape police. It is thought he suffered a fractured spine and damage to his knee. He was first held in a prison in Moscow, then transferred on 25 June 2007 to another in Nizhny Novgorod, some 400 km from the capital. The charges relate to an article published in 2003 following a complaint that the newspaper was published by “Chechen radicals”. Stomakhin fled Moscow but returned after an unsuccessful appeal for asylum in Ukraine.
PEN Position: PEN understands that many of the articles do call for violence and justify terrorist acts such as the seizure of the theatre in Moscow in late 2003. Stomakhin, in his defence, states that his comments were simply opinions and not calls for action and a number of NGOS have called for his release, referring to his writings as while being on the one hand “outrageous”, on the other they do not directly incite violence. PEN is currently reviewing the case.
*Zoran MARJANOVIC: Journalist for the newspapers Kurir and Glas Javnosti, based in Silopaj, close to Gornji Milanovac, reportedly received a death threat on 3 May 2009. According to the journalist, he received a phone call from a Serbian Orthodox priest, who threatened to show him his gun and said that he, Marjanovic, will end up like a Slavko Curuvija who was a reporter killed in 1999. It is said that before the threat, the journalist had published a piece on the priest.
Biserka KARNEZA CERJAK (f): Journalist for the weekly magazine Reporter, is facing trial for criminal defamation, and was questioned by the police on 24 November 2008. The allegation was brought by the mayor of Celje, the third largest city in the country, for a piece in the 26 May 2008 issue of the magazine in which she allegedly referred to the mayor’s business activities. If found guilty Karneza Cerjak could face up to one year of imprisonment, under article 171 of the Criminal Code. PEN is seeking an update.
On 19 December 2007 the sentences were announced against over 60 people accused on charges of terrorism for their alleged support and activities for the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) a Basque armed separatist group, which concluded with 47 convictions of between two and twenty years in prison. Among them are a number of journalists and writers, including those working for the Basque newspaper ‘Egin’. The trial started in November 2005, lasting sixteen months, and took place in Madrid, 400 or 500 kilometers away from the homes of the accused. During that time the accused were required to attend the court hearings, even if they were not involved in the case that was on trial in a specific day. Throughout that time, the accused had practically no way earn a living, since they had to be in Madrid. The trial itself was based on an 8- year inquiry carried out by Baltasar Garzon, a leading member of Spain’s anti-terrorism group. The convictions relate to a number of different cases that were brought together for trial in one court. (The Egunkaria case, see below, was originally among this group, but subsequently tried separately). Garzon concluded that ETA was formed not only of armed cells, but also through a network of political, financial and media groups. Some of the defendants were detained following the sentencings, and others freed pending appeal. There are concerns that some of those convictions may be in breach of international standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty International has stated that it believes that there may be prisoners of conscience among this group, and as of December 2007, was still researching the legal documentation that led to the decision. The cases listed below are those that have been brought to International PEN’s attention as possibly being among those wrongly convicted. It is seeking clarification of the charges to enable it to hold an informed opinion on these concerns
Imprisoned - Investigation
Javier SALUTREGI: sub-editor for ‘Egin’, that was forcibly closed in 1998 by a court order, which was subsequently lifted in 1999. ‘Egin’ was accused of printing coded messages for ETA and thus supporting “terrorism”. Salutregi was charted alongside Teresa Toda and 15 admin staff of the newspaper. Salutregi was Arrested on 22 July 1998 and freed on 150,000 bail on 20 November 1998, reduced to 6000 in December 1999. He received a 12- year sentence on 19 December 2007 on charges of membership of an armed organisation, and was arrested on 30 November 2007 to start serving his sentence. The sentence was subsequently reduced to seven years and six months. On 3 July 2008 he was released on bail from the Picassent prison, reportedly on health grounds. However he was re-arrested in April 2009 and remains in prison. He is expected to be released at the end of 2014.
Teresa TODA (f): (dob 1950) journalist and sub-editor for ‘Egin’ that was forcibly closed in 1998 by a court order, which was subsequently lifted in 1999. ‘Egin’ was accused of printing coded messages for ETA and thus supporting “terrorism”. Charged alongside Teresa Toda was Javier Salutregi (see above) and 15 admin staff of the newspaper. Toda was arrested on 19 September 1998 and freed on bail of 6000 that day. She received a ten year sentence on 19 December 2007 and was imprisoned on conviction of co-operating with an armed organisation. Her sentence was reduced to six years in prison in April 2009. She remains detained in Salamanca prison.
Professional background: Teresa Toda is a Board Member of the Basque PEN Centre. Born in Brazil into a diplomatic family she lived in North and South America and the UK before going to Spain where she became a correspondent for Egin in 1984. She then moved to the Basque region to work for a trade union publication, taking leave of absence from Egin in 1998, and unable to return when it was closed down. She is known for her anti-Franco and left wing activism for which she was expelled from university.
Xabier ALEGRIA, Fr. Txema AUZMENDI, Martxelo OTAMENDI, Juan Mari TORREALDAI, Iñaki URIA, and Pello ZUBIRIA: in February 2003, a number of journalists and others associated with the Basque language newspaper ‘Euskaldunon Egunkaria’ were arrested in February 2003 under anti-terror legislation and subsequently freed to face trial under accusation of being financed and directed by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) and used by the organisation for money laundering. There was widespread condemnation of the charges as being without foundation. A number of those arrested claimed to have been ill-treated while in custody. ” The trials against seven of the detainees opened on 13 February 2006 yet on 14 December 2006 the Public Prosecutor’s Office requested the First Section of the Criminal Division of the Spanish National Court to drop the case against Euskaldunon Egunkaria, arguing that the indictment was “very weak” and “insufficient” to prove a link between the newspaper and ETA. The Attorney General has also now retracted the original view that Euskaldunon Egunkaria formed “part of a violent organisation”, and now asserts that “there is no indication that the newspaper [nor] the accused have either complemented or lent their political support to the actions” of ETA. The Public Prosecutor’s case against the newspaper was closed. However a private prosecution still stands with a hearing said to still be under way in 2008. There has not been any instruction to reverse the order that the newspaper be closed.
All are Honorary Members of the English PEN Centre
Asier VELEZ DE MENDIZÁBAL: Reporter for the daily Gara, is on trial on charges of ‘complicity in disturbing public order’ under article 20 of the criminal code, reportedly for covering a demonstration in Iruñea, Pamplona, which took place on 17 June 2008. The protest against the suspension of the activities of a political party in the Iruñea City Hall. Once the news of the suspension was made public, members of the party turned up at the City Hall and apparently some attempted to force themselves into the premises, but were removed by municipal officers. Velez de Mendizával and a photographer of the newspaper were covering this protest. On 3 November 2008, eleven people were charged for these events, including Velez de Mendizával and the photographer. The prosecutor requested a five-month term in prison for the journalist and the photographer. The trial is expected to start in March 2009. PEN is seeking an update.
Sabino ORMAZABAL: writer, journalist, ecologist and campaigner. Arrested in October 2000 under Article 576.1 of the Penal Code for “collaboration with a criminal organisation”. Ormazabal is a member of the Joxemi Zumalabe Foundation, which supports various Basque social and cultural movements. The Foundation was accused of collaborating with Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), a charge they consistently deny. Ormazabal was detained for seven months and released May 2001 then re-detained on 30 November 2007, freed on bail and then sentenced to nine-year’s imprisonment in December 2007. Amnesty International refers to a statement by Ormabazal in which he clearly states that he had never collaborated with ETA and abhors the organisation for its violence. He was among nine members of the Joxemi Zumalabe Foundation acquitted in June 2009.
Tursunali ALIEV: Journalist. Charged with libel under Art 135 p. 3 of the Criminal Code, on 9 August 2008. The charges are reportedly linked to a satirical article entitled ‘It should shame the chairman’, published in the Tong newspaper on 12 September 2007. In his piece, Aliev allegedly revealed information on the illegal privatisation of public property in the Zhabborrasoluv district. The chairman of this district was dismissed after its publication. PEN is seeking an update.
*Abdumumin SHERKHONOV: Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pazhvok (Echo) and freelancer for the Tajik service of Radio Liberty, was reportedly attacked in Kulyab city, south of the country, on 5 January 2009. The editor was on his way to the newspaper’s headquarters when two men stopped him, and threatened to arrest him. One of these men allegedly claimed to be a Ministry of the Interior officer and showed his credentials. When Sherkhonov refused to talk to them, the men assaulted him until a passer-by intervened. One of the editor’s attackers has been detained by the authorities and identified by Sherkhonov. There are reports that the newspaper is well known for its articles critical to the authorities.
Killed: Trial under way
Hrant DINK: editor of the Armenian language Agos magazine. Killed outside his office in Istanbul by an assassin on 19 January 2007. His murder sparked mass marches with protestors carrying banners saying “We are all Armenians”, “We are all Hrant Dink” and “301 Murderer”. Dink was one of the few persons to be convicted under Article 301 of the Penal Code, accused of “insulting Turkishness” for his writings on the Armenian genocide. In October 2005 he was given a six month suspended sentence for a 2004 article entitled “The Armenian Identity”. Dink’s murder has sparked debate on revision or repeal of Article 301, which many believe marked Dink out as a target for ultra nationalists.
Threats: Following Dink’s murder it has been revealed that he had informed and warned the authorities about the plans to kill him but was not taken seriously. Following the murder, a number of other writers and journalists were allegedly put on extremist “death lists” and placed under police protection.
Trial: 17-year-old Ogun Samast was arrested on accusation of manslaughter, affiliation to an armed group and possession of illegal firearms. In March 2007 it was reported that 30 people had been interrogated in connection with Dink’s murder, 20 of whom were subsequently brought to trial that opened in July 2007 and is still ongoing. A separate investigation was opened into 8 police accused of “dereliction of duty” following claims that they had been warned several times that Dink was in danger. One of them in particular is accused of failing to pass on information of a plot to kill Dink. In July 2008, the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Commission reported that there was negligence and lack of coordination on the part of the security services that led to a failure to prevent the murder.
European Court on Human Rights Application: The European Court on Human Rights is considering five applications under the right to life, the right to effective application of the court, right to fair trial, freedom of expression and against discrimination. These applications will be considered in November 2009.
Imprisoned: investigation cases
Baris ACIKEL: license owner and the responsible editor of a periodical “Devrim Yolunda __çi, Köylü” (Worker and Peasent on the Way of Revolution. Found guilty for 12 crimes under the former Penal Code article 159, the new penal code article 301, article 216 (inciting hatred and hostility among the people) and Anti-Terror Law articles 5; 6/1; 7/2 and 8/2. Held in an F-type prison in Kandira in December 2008. PEN is seeking further information.
Ibrahim ÇIÇEK, Bayram NAMAZ, Sedat SENOGLU, Ziya ULUSOY: editor in chief, journalist, journalist, journalist, deputy editor and journalist respectively for the newspaper Atilim: Arrested under Article 6 of the Anti Terror Law on 10 September 2006. Trial proceedings against them opened on 13 April 2007. Accused of being members of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MKLP) deemed to be a terrorist organisation. Concerns centre on the non-disclosure by the authorities of the reasons for their arrest. The first trial itself was marked by clashes between supporters and police, during which tear gas was used. Also among those detained is Fusun Erdogan (f), a radio journalist. At a hearing held on 26 October 2007 at the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court, there were protests when it was announced that all the defendants in this case would continue to be held in pre-trial detention.Their lawyers complained that they had not received the evidence against their clients, as the information on them had been classified as secret. Namaz and Senoglu, held in Edirne F Type Prison and Çiçek and Ulusoy in Tekirdeg F Type Prison, as of December 2008.
Rüstü DEMIRKAYA: journalist for the Dicle News Agency. Sentenced to six years and three months in prison under Article 314/2 of the Penal Code – “assisting and harbouring an illegal organisation” .
Charges: accused of having met with PKK officials in Tunceli in fall 2005 and giving them a lap top computer and CDs.
Concerns: His lawyers as well as free expression groups say that the sentence is unsound, being based only on the statement of one informant. It is also claimed that at the time of the alleged offence, Demikaya was several hundreds of miles away, enrolling at a university course near Izmir, information that was backed up by police in Izmir.
Place of Detention: Malatya Prison.
Other: Twelve others were tried with Demirkaya. One of them, the alleged informant received a life sentence. Four were freed.
Hatice DUMAN: referred to as a journalist working for Atilim as being detained as of May 2007 under Anti-Terror Laws. Arrested with a number of others, since released, on the charge of “being members of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP)”. Hatice Duman is still in Gebze Special Type Prison as of December 2008.
*Aylin DURUOGLU (F): editor of the websit azetevatan.com, part of Vatan newspaper. Arrested on 27 April 2009 three days after a police operation in Istanbul where a member of the militant organisation, ‘Revolutionary Headquarters’, a policeman and a bystander were shot dead. As of 13 May, the authorities were refusing to give information as to why she was detained, saying that the information was classified. Her supporters believe it is because she studied alongside the militant who had been killed, Orhan Yilmazkaya, and had interviewed him about a book he had written entiteld Turkish Hamam. Duruoglu’s lawyer says that her client had no knowledge of Yilmazkaya’s alleged militant activities and had fully cooperated with the police. PEN is seeking further information.
Mustafa GÖK: journalist for Ekmek ve Adelet magazine. Arrested 15 February 2006 and detained under Anti Terror legislation as of May 2007 on the charge of “membership of an illegal terrorist organisation”. Gök is charged under Anti Terror Law Article 7 and was said to be in Sincan F Type Prison as of December 2008.
Erdal GÜLER: ex-editor of Revolutionary Democracy Newspaper (Devrimic Demokrasi Gazetesi) Arrested on 25 December 2007. Güler is said to have had an arrest warrant against him and to have been taken to Bayrampasa prison. Güler is charged with “propaganda for an illegal organisation”. Held in Amasya E Type Prison in Istanbul as of May 2009.
Mehmet KARAASLAN: journalist for Gündem (Agenda)newspaper arrested during a raid on their Mersin offices on19 April 2007. All charged under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code for being members of an illegal organisation and Article 220/7 “helping and harbouring an illegal organisation”. The indictment was prepared seven months after their arrest. Sentenced to five years in prison c. 18 March 2008. Karaaslan was reported held in Karaman-Ermenek M type prison as of December 2008.
Behdin TUNÇ, Ali BULUS, Faysal TUNÇ: journalists for the DIHA newsagency arrested between February and April 2007 and detained under Anti Terror legislation. Faysal and Behdin Tunç are charged with “voluntarily and knowingly helping an illegal organisation”. Trial opened on 10 September 2006 at the Van Heavy Penal Court. Evidence is said to be based on files downloaded from the internet and books seized from their homes. On 30 April 2008, Faysal Tunç and Behdin Tunç were sentenced (lengths of terms to be confirmed). They are detained in Diyarbakır D Type prison and Bulus is held in Karaman M Type Prison as of December 2008.
Erol ZAVAR: referred to as a journalist for Odak. Reportedly tried at the Ankara State Security Court No 2 on 27 June 2001 and sentenced to death under Article 146/1 of the Criminal Code for “attempting as a member of the illegal resistance movement, and in accordance with the aims thereof, to overthrow the existing constitutional order by force”. Sentenced reduced to life imprisonment. Claims to have been tortured. Subject of a support campaign who are campaigning for him to receive proper treatment for bladder cancer, asthma and other problems. Said to have written a book of poetry in prison. His lawyers have demanded his release on health grounds on a number of occasions, yet all applications were rejected. Zavar has serious health problems and campaign “Erol Zavar’s Right to Live” continues. See www.erolzavar.com (in English) for documents and information on Zavar. In October 2008, Zavar’s wife stated that she and her two small daughters were attacked by prison guards during a prison visit. Held in Sincan F Type Prison, Ankara, as of Decemer 2008.
*Ismail BESIKÇI: sociologist and author who spent many years in prison in the 1980s and 1990s, is reported to be suffering death threats via a banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) website in early 2009.
On Trial/Charged (not detained)
*Bedri ADANIR: owner of the Aram Publishing House. Reported in March 2009 to be on trial in Diyabakir and facing a possible 5-year sentence on charges under Article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law for publishing On Culture and Arts, a collection of speeches by the leader of the banned PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. The book is said to refer to Ocalan as “chairman” and PKK members as “guerillas” and “martyrs”.
Huseyin AYKOL, Ali TURGAY: license owner and editor of weekly YedinciGün newspaper.
(1) Trial opened at the Istanbul High Criminal Court No 9 on 8 April 2008 to hear charges under Penal Code Article 215 and Anti Terror Law Articles 6 and 7 for making propaganda for a terrorist organisation and printing its materials. Relates to article in 10-16 November 2007 issue where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was referred to as the “leader of the Kurdish people”. Believed still on trial as of December 2008.
(2) Ali Turgay was sentenced on 11 July 2008 to 30 months in prison for propganda and publishing statements for an “illegal organisation” for an article published in January 2008 in Haftaya Bakis. Thought to remain free.
Ahmet ALTAN: journalist for Taraf. Charges filed in September 2008 by the Ankara Branch of the Great Union Party (BPP) under Article 301 for insult to the Turkish republic for an article entitled ‘Ah Ahparik’ (‘Oh Brother’ in Armenian). The article is said to have included the phrase “the Unionists [of the Ottman era] conducted a cruel genocide”. PEN is seeking further information.
Soner ARIKANOGLU: Ankara correspondent for Taraf. Trial Launched in July 2008 for a 24 March 2008 article on sketches found in the headquarters of the Workers’ Party of the Supreme Court of Appeal. The article is seen to be insulting to the court, an attempt to influence a fair trial and a violation of privacy under Articles 267, 285, and 288 of the Penal Code. First hearing held at the Kadiköy Court of First Instance in Istanbul on 16 September 2008. PEN is seeking an update.
Kiyasettin ASLAN: representative fo the Office Workers’ Union in Kilis. On trial under Article 301 for an article he wrote and published in Kent in which he reportedly tells of women and children killed by landmines laid by the Turkish army. Accused of “insulting the army”. First hearing on 11 June 2008 resulted in case being sent to the Ministry of Justice for comment, as per ammended Article 301. No further information as of December 2008.
Cumali BADUR: internet journalist. On trial 15 October 2008 for reporting on the trial of Hagi Bogatekin (below) in an article on the www.gergerin.com website. Accused of attempting to influence the judiciary. (Article 288). PEN is seeking further information.
Haci BOGATEKIN: The editor of local “Gerger Fırat” newspaper. 1) On trial on 15 October 2008 for an article ‘Feto and Apo’ published January 2008. Charged with insult to a public offical and attempting to influence a trial. Hearing held on 5 February 2009 led to a walk out by the defence lawyers, claiming that they did not believe that a fair trial was possible and recommended that another judge preside the case and that a new defence counsel be provided. A decision was expected on 18 March 2009. PEN is following up. 3) In December 2008, he was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “insulting” pulbic officials for articles in his newspaper on a corruption trial that led to the imprisonment of a mufti in Adiyaman for having misused money collected by mosques aimed at helping the families of seasonal workers who had lost their lives. Presumed free on appeal. See also Cumali Badur, above.
*Özgür BOGATEKIN: journalist for Gerger Firat in Adiyaman and son of Haci Bogatekin, above. Sentenced on 13 May 2009 to 1 year, 2 months and 17 days in prison for an article in which he argued that his father was imprisoned unlawfully. At the time the article was written in June 2008, his father was still in jail. Haci Bogatekin is now free although cases against him continue. Özgür Bogatekin was convicted of “insulting” the judge presumably under Article 301 (tbc) who had presided over his father’s case by referring to him as a pegur, an insult used in the locality referring to having wolf like traits. He also suggests that there is animosity between the judge and his father. Özgür Bogatekin is free pending appeal.
Sibel BULUT: chief editor of Atilim. Accused under Article 215 of praising criminality for an article on revolutionary youth in 1968. Prosecutors asking for a 2 year sentence. In early November 2008, the court of first instance referred the case to a high court. PEN is seeking further information.
Mustafa Kemal ÇELIK, Mehmet Resat YILDIZ, Aytekin DAL, Mehmet Sadik AKSOY: Çelik is the owner of several newspapers in Batman, Dal is chief editor of Vizyon, Aksoy of Baris (Peace), Yildis of Caldas. All brought before the Batman Court of 2nd Instance on 9 May 2008 on charges under Articles 301 and 288 for “insulting the armed forces” and “attempting to influence the judiciary” in their reports of the 2006 incident where a car was fired upon and a young boy killed in Batman. Hearing held 9 July 2008. PEN is seeking an update.
Murat COSKUN: author of Language of Suffering: Woman” published by Peri Publishing House in 2002. The book contains four stories written in lyric form.
1) Sentenced by the Istanbul State Security Court No 4 and by the Beyoglu Criminal Court No 2 to one year and 15 days in prison on charges of “inciting hatred and hostily” under Penal Code Article 216. According to reports, Coskun was not aware that he was on trial. He was imprisoned on 22 August 2008. According to reports, Coskun was already in Bursa prison serving a sentence for membership of the banned PKK when he was requested to give a statement regarding the book. Coskun was released and returned to his home in Adana and then returned to gaol on conclusion of the trial on 22 August 2008. He was released by early May 2009
2). Coskun is also reportedly facing charges under Article 301, alongside Peri Publishing Houser director, Ahmet Onal, for insult to the armed forces. The case is currently under consideration by the Ministry of Justice. The charges relate to a passage in the book in which the Turkish armed forces are described as “vultures” and another where a PKK militant is quotes PKK “propaganda”. The case is waiting for permission to proceed from the Minister of Justice.
Temel DEMIRER: writer.
1) Reported in January 2008 to be standing trial before the Ankara Penal Court of First Instance under Article 216 (inciting enmity) and Article 301 (insult to the state) for a speech against the January 2007 murder of Hrant Dink in which he said “I invite all here to commit a crime. Yes, there was an Armenian genocide in this country.” And then urged Turkish intellectuals that if they did not themselves commit “this crime of 301 301 times” they too could be accomplices to the murder of Hrant Dink. A hearing held 15 May 2008 resulted in the court forwarding the case to the Ministry of Justice following ammendments to Article 301 put in place in April 2008. In early September 2008, the Ministry granted approval and the case opened in November 2008. Concern was expressed in November 2008 about comments made by the then Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin in declaring the decision to proceed by stating that Demirer had made statements calling the Turkish state “murderous” and thus should be exempt from freedom of expression protection. Observers are concerned that such statements are tantamount to proclaiming guilt and could bring Demirer to the attention of extremists who threaten and attack those who refer to an Armenian genocide. They fear that this could make Demirer a target for assassination. Demirer’s request to have the Minister of Justice’s decision annulled as being interference in the independence of the judiciary was heard on 12 May 2009 and its outcome to be announced later. Next hearing of Demirer’s case due 9 October 2009.
2) In late May 2009, Demirer was sentenced to 5 months in prison in a second trial under Anti Terror Law Article 7/2 for a speech by Demirer deemed to be propaganda for an illegal organisation. He is free on appeal.
Abdurrahman DILIPAK: editor and rights activist. Has undergone many trials under various laws for his writings and commentary. Most ended with acquittal or non-custodial sentences. Currently on trial under Article 301 opened in February 2008 with hearing due on 17 September 2008 before Bakirkoy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. This relates to an article seen to denigrate the Turkish army. The court forwarded the cased to the Ministry of Justice for its consideration on whether to procede under revised 301 legislation. PEN is seeking an update.
Cevat DÜSÜN: chief editor of the Alternatif newspaper, on trial alongside Ragip Zarakolu (see below) before the Istanbul High Criminal Court on charges of “making propaganda for a terroris organisation” (Anti Terror Law 7/2), alienating people from the military (Penal Code Article 318) and praising crime and criminality (Article 215). Relates to articles published in Alternatif of which Zarakolu is also owner and responsible editor, published 16 and 17 August 2007 that included an article by the conscientious objector, Mehmet Ali Avci titled “I Refuse to be a Turkish Soldier” leading to infringement of TPC 318. Another article titled “First Bullet” refers to the PKK as “the organisation fighting for freedom of Kurdish people”, and a third, titled “Fireworks Everywhere” that quoted a speech made by an MP and stated “Kurds would turn their faces to the mountains if a political solution fails” [suggesting that there would be a return to guerilla activities ed.]. This breaches ATL Article 7 and TPC Article 215. No further information as of June 2009.
Sükrü ERBAS: poet. Among 15 people sentenced to nine months in prison c. 16 December 2008 by the Criminal Court of First Instance in Antalya, southern Turkey. All were accused of speaking in Kurdish at an election rally in 2002. One of those convicted, Hikmet Fidan, had died in 2004. PEN is seeking details of the legislation used. Sükrü, who was standing as a candidate in the election, has reportedly stated that not only does he not speak Kurdish, he was not at the rally. The sentences led to protests by writers and intellectuals held in Ankara. Erbas and the other defendants are free on appeal. Erbas is a member of PEN Turkey. An award winning poet, he has had a number of his poetry collections published and has on several occasions taken part in petitions and actions calling for freedom of expression. Not believed to be detained, possible appeal under way.
Yalçin ERGÜNDOGAN: journalist for the daily Birgün. Trial opened before the Istanbul Beyoglu Penal Court of First Instance on 21 June 2006 under article 480/1 of the Penal Code for an article entitled “Followers of Haydar Have Risen Against him”, published on 26 April 2005. The trial was launched following a complaint by Haydar Bas, chair of the Independent Turkey Party described as “religious-nationalist”. Last hearing on this case held on 23 May, postponed to 26 September 2007 when it is believed he was sentenced to a fine, which he is appealing against. However the case is now to be tried under new Penal Code article 125, opened on 26 December 2007. The court found Ergündogan guilty of “insult” and ordered him pay 5 thousand lira compensation. The case is in the appeal court. On 11 July the appeal court reversed the decision to fine Ergundogan and ordered a retrial, the next hearing of which was due 8 October 2008. No further information as of June 2009.
Cezmi ERSÖZ: writer. On trial on 30 October 2008 on charges under Aticle 318 of the Penal Code of “alienating people from military service” for an article published on 5 September 2007 in the magazine Leman entitled ‘Returning from the Army is Beautiful’. The phrase that led to the charge was ‘Army is hell for young people. If I live long enough, I would like to write a novel about this savagery … Friends who had to go into the army helplessly should not feel bad. If you can at least return from there with optimistic views about this society, yes optimistic, then you may come to realise that this is and will be a much better society without its military, and you can console yourselves with this thought.” PEN is seeking an update.
Ismail Gökhan GENÇAY, Ibrahim ÇESMECIOGLU: editor and editor-in-chief respectively of the Sunday magazine of Birgün newsapaper. Trial opened before Beyoglu Penal Court of First Instance on 21 June 2006 on charges relating to an interview with a conscientious objector under Article 318 of the Penal Code. He faces 2.5 years in prison, with an additional year for carrying out the offence in the press. The case was sent to Îstanbul High Criminal Court with special powers, set up to replace the former State Security Court. Hearing set for 23 October 2008. PEN is seeking an update.
Huseyin GÜNDÜZ: editor for the Do Publishing House. Released after two days’ detention in early November 2008 to face trial under article 215 – praising criminality – for publishing a book by Medeni Ferho – Letters to Öcalan, Mr Chairman. Trial set for 5 January 2009. Reportedly sentenced to a fine of 16,600 TL for a book by Sertaç Dogan Sirnak is Burning. PEN is seeking an update.
Cengiz KAPMAZ: journalist for the now closed Özgür Gündem. Cases launched in December 2006
1) for an article published 15 February 2006 ‘2,555 days have passed’ under Article 215 of the Penal Code (praising crime and criminal acts) and Article 218 for carrying out the offence in the press.
2) for an interview with former DEP politician Orhan Dogan under Article 7/2 of the Anti Terror law for “making propaganda for an illegal organisation. Case opened before the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court on 16 February 2007. On 16 September 2008 he was sentenced to ten months in prison. Presumed free pending appeal. PEN is seeking an update.
Sinan KARA: journalist for Ülkede Özgür Gündem newspaper. Numerous cases made against him under various articles, notably article 301 in past 4 years. See previous PEN caselists. Reports in February 2008 suggest that he has stood trial in a total of 48 of which 22 were still pending.
Mustafa KARAALIOGLU: editor Star newspaper. Istanbul Bakirköy Chief Public Prosecutor ordered a case against him in mid July 2008 under article 216 – incitement to enmity for a 6 June 2008 article criticising the constitutional court for its decision cancelling an amendment on the wearing of headscarfs in public institutions. PEN is seeking an update.
Erol KARAASLAN: publisher, Kuzey Publishing House. Charges have been made against him under Article 125 of the Penal Code for “insult” to religion for publishing the Turkish edition of Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusion. Charges levied in August 2008 currently under consideration by the judicial authorities. Earlier in 2008 another attempt to bring the book to proseuction made by the same complainant, under Article 216 (incitement to unrest), was overturned. Both cases have been brought by people connected to Adnan Oktar, the leader of what has been termed a creationist “cult” that has no connection with the government or official relgious bodies. Oktar has published over 200 books that he has delivered to schools and other educational institutes across Turkey. Oktar has made complaints against a number of websites that he claims have denigrated him, including one that has led to the blocking of Richard Dawkin’s site and of the website of Turkey’s Education and Scientific Workers’ Union after it had protested that Oktar had delivered his pro-creationist book to schools throughout Turkey free of charge. The trial opened on 19 June 2009, with the next hearing set for 7 July.
Malih KASKAR: Journalist for Milas önder (Milas Leader) reported in October 2008 to have been sentenced to a prison term for ‘insult’. PEN is seeking further details.
Ersen KORKMAZ: owner of Demokrat Iskenderun
1) remains on trial on charges under Article 159 of the Penal Code, although this article has now been replaced by Article 301. Accused of “insult” to the armed forces for an article on a debate organised by the Turkish Communist Party on guerrilla leader Ocalan in September 2002. The article was entitled “They Caught the Leader of the Kurds and gave him to the Fascists.” He is on trial with Necmettin Salaz, who organised the panel. Last hearing held on 26 December 2008 at the Iskenderun Court of First Instance.
2) Reported to have another trial against him for an article published 18 November 2008 entitled “Ending poor practices in Imrali Prison is Essential for Social Stability”. Accused for using the term “Mr Ocalan” when referring to the head of the banned PKK. Hearing scheduled for 13 May 2009 before the Iskenderun Court of First Instance. PEN is seeking updates on both trials.
*Vedat KURSUN: editor and owner of Azadiya Welat newspaper. Reported tried before the Diyabakir Criminal Court on 5 February 2008 on charges under Articles 220/6 and 314/2 of the Penal Code for making propaganda for an illegal organisation (the PKK) and Article 7 of same law for sending directions to the PKK through the press. Charges relate to articles published between September 2006 and August 2007 that referred to the imprisoned PKK leader Abdulla Öcalan as “the leader of the Kurdish people” and other such references. He was imprisoned on 5 February 2008 since when there have been a number of hearings, each of which resulted in requests for release pending trial turned down. On 30 April 2008 the Diyabakir High Criminal Court allowed Kursun to be freed pending trial, with a hearing set for 3 June 2008 when he was convicted to three years and three months in prison. It is not clear if he is free pending appeal. PEN is following up.
Nurettin KURT: reporter for Hürriyet. Sentenced in October 2008 to one year and 6 months in prison for revealing confidential details of a trial. This relates to anrticle in which he wrote about the personal life of a leading businessman and suggestons that a woman with whom the businessman had had an affair had embezzled money from him. The execution of the sentence was postponed. PEN is seeking an update.
Ahmet ÖNAL: owner of the Peri Publishing House. On trial in August 2002 for book by M. Erol Colkun, Acının Dili Kadın (Women: Voice of the Pain) under article 312 of the Penal Code. Önal heavily fined and Colkun sentenced to 15 months in prison in August 2003. They appealed against both convictions. There are two cases against Ahmet Önal over the same book. The case under TPC article 312 ¨inciting hatred and hostility among the people on the grounds of race¨ was merged with the case under TPC article 159 “insulting the military forces of the state through publishing”. Both cases will be held on the same folder number 2005/149. Hearing held 11 July 2008. No further information as of June 2009. Many cases had been launched against the books published by Peri Publishing House and many of them are banned.
Emrullah Özbey: owner of the Mus Haber newspaper. Reported in July 2008 to have been sentenced to seven months in prison and a fine. PEN seeking details. Presumed not imprisoned.
Songül ÖZKAN (f): Publisher of Evrensel publishing house. She was put on trial under Article 312 (inciting hatred and hostility among the people on the grounds of race and regional difference) after she had published Kurdish journalist and writer Ahmet Kahraman’s book Kürt Isyanlari (Kurdish Rebellions). Hearings opened in October 2006 at the Beyoglu Penal Court of First Instance No. 2. Court decided lack of jurisdiction and sent the case to High Court. The new court had not been decided as of June 2008. In July 2008 she was a recipient of the Turkish Publishers’ Association Freedom of Expression Award. PEN is seeking an update.
*Siar RISVANOGLU: editor and lawyer. Trial to open on 26 May 2009 for articles in his newspaper Isçi Mücadelesi (Worker’s Struggle) for praising criminals Turkish Penal Code 215, and under anti terror legislation. The articles are seen to be propaganda for terrorist organisations. He is to be tried in Ankara. PEN is seeking an update.
Veysi SARISÖZEN: Writer and journalist.
1) On 20 November 2008 one year and three months in prison upheld by Istanbul High Criminal Court. Charged with making propaganda for an illegal organisation – Penal Code 215 (tbc) for an article published in Gündem on 12 November 2007 entitled “Etc. Etc.” in which he argued that the PKK is a rebel rather than terrorist organisation. He is appealing his sentence.
2) Sarisözen is also on trial under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law for an article in Gündem of 14 June 2007 again accused of propaganda for the PKK for similar comments. Next trial hearing due 10 March 2009. PEN is seeking an update.
3) A third case was opened on 12 June 2009, this time for an article published in February 2009 which the prosecutors state argued that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation but a popular uprising. Charged under Article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law for “propaganda” for an illegal organisation. The judge ordered that either the paper pays a fine of 20,000 TL (c. 9,250) within 10 days or the trial will continue. Date set for 26 October 2009.
Ismail SAYMAZ: journalist for Radikal. Reported in August 2008 that he could face trial for an article entitled ‘Have you no shame?’ reporting on the publication of photographs of Ogün Samast, on trial for the murder of Hrant Dink (see above). Saymaz’s article critcised the publication by police of the photos showing Samast smiling. No further information as of June 2009.
*Nedim SENER: journalist for Millyet and author. Trial opened against him on 10 June 2009 on charges of disclosing classified information and attempting to influence the judiciary in his book The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies. The book names several police officers accused of negligence in following up reports that the Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, was to be assassinated, as well as providing misleading evidence to the investigation. According to human rights monitors, Sener could be given up to 28 years in prison (while Dink’s assassin received a 20-year sentence). The complaints were made by five of the officials named who are asking that the anti terror law be applied. Sener argues that the information he used in his book is readily available on the internet. In June 2009, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media wrote to the Turkish authorities asking for the charges against Sener to be dropped.
*Gökçer TAHINCIOGLU, Kemal GÖKTAS: award winning journalists. Law suit filed in August 2008 for an article on the decision of the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court granting permission to the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and police to use electronic monitoring devices. The article, entitled ‘The Document that will Shake Turkey’ was published on 1 July 2008 in the newspaper Vatan. Accused under Article 6/1 of the Anti Terror Law for “targetting public officials who are part of anti-terror activities” by publishing classified information and by giving the name of the judge responsible for the decision to grant permission. They face up to three years in prison. The Supreme Court has previously overturned a similar request for monitoring previously. Both had been granted the Turkish Journalists Association Media Freedom Award in July 2008 for publishing the story. The two say that in researching and writing the story, they had taken care not to publish sensitive information such as photographs. Hearing set for 5 February 2009 postponed to 31 March 2009. PEN is seeking an update.
Hakan TAHMAZ, Ibrahim ÇESMECIOGLU: journalist and general director of Birgün. Under investigation in September 2008 after the 9 August seizure of the newspaper. Accused of publishing an interview with a member of the banned KurdishWorkers party (PKK) carried out at the PKK HQ in Kandil, Northern Iraq in an article entitled ‘A One Sided Ceasefire is Making the Problem Worse’. The interviewee is quoted as saying that although the most people wanted the violence to end, the PKK would continue its “legitimate defensive war”. Both men denied that they were carrying propaganda, and were simply carrying out legitimate journalism. Tahmaz also referred to a book he is working on dealing with the conflict and his belief that the public needs access to all types of information on the problems. He stressed that he is working towards an end to the conflict and the need to end the hostilities that he believes “is taking Turkey to a disaster”. Charged unde Articles 4 and 6/2 of the Anti Terror Law for making propaganda for an illegal organisation. Next trial hearing due 29 September 2009
Mehdi TANRIKULU: Kurdish publisher, owner of Tevn Publishing.
1) Case launched under Articles 7/2 and 6/2 of the Anti Terror Law “publishing the documents of a terrorist organisation” for publication of a book by Ergün Sönmez entitled The Kurdish Independence Movement in the Age of Capitalist Imperialism. Opened on 30 March 2007 before the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court. On 8 February 2008 he was sentenced to six months in prison. Reported to have been sentenced to 18 months in an appeal hearing on 23 June 2008. Presumed to still free on appeal.
2) At the trial above, Tanrıkulu gave his written and verbal court statements and other applications in Kurdish. Istanbul Public Prosecutor Nazmi Okumus filed a complaint against Mehdi Tanrıkulu over an application letter in Kurdish he sent to Judges and Prosecutors Higher Board. The case was filed under TPC 222 ¨violating the law on Turkish letters¨. Tanrıkulu stands trial in Istanbul Criminal Court of Peace Num. 1. On 12 February 2008 he was given an additional sentence of five months against which he is appealing. Next hearing set for 19 February 2009. PEN is seeking an update.
3) Writer of the book ¨Demotion from Lieutenant to regular Soldier¨ Kasım Çakan and Mehdi Tanrıkulu are charged under Anti Terror Law article 7 ¨making propaganda for terrorist organisations¨. Tanrıkulu and Çakan’s first hearing was held on 6 February 2008, with the next due 29 December 2008. PEN is seeking an update.
4) Another case launched for book Types of Torture in Diyabakir Prison under Article 1353 – not clear to PEN the precise charges but thought to be related to refusal to disclose sources. First hearing set for 29 January 2009. PEN is seeking an update.
Samil TAYYAR: journalist and author of the book Operation Ergenekon. Charged in early July 2008 under Article 285 for publishing details of a criminal investigation and Article 288 for “influencing a fair trial”. Operation Ergenekon has led to the arrests of numerous high level figures in Turkish judiciary, military, journalists and others accused of a right-wing plot to destabilise the government. Tayyar faces a sentence of at least 18 months according to press reports. No further info as of June 2009.
Mustafa Naci TOPER: journalist for Atilim. Reportedly sentenced to 10 months in prison in early June 2008 by the Malatya Heavy Criminal Court on charges of “making propaganda for an illegal organisation”. His case was heard alongside that of Kemal Çalgan, chairperson of the Democratic Society Party who wwas sentenced to ten years and seven months in prison for a statement on PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. PEN is investigating this case.
Ferhat TUNÇ, Mehmet ÇOLAK: singer and editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem respectively. Trial started on 2 December 2004 at the Beyoglu Criminal Court on charges under article 159 of the Penal Code for insulting the judiciary in an article Tunç wrote for the daily Gündem on 19 January 2004 entitled “A Revolutionary Leyla and a Song”. They face 1-3 years in prison if convicted. Hearings continued through 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The case was referred to the Ministry of Justice for approval to continue as prescribed under the ammended Article 301. No further information as of June 2009.
Atilla TUYGUN: translator of Dora Sakayan’s An Armenian Doctor in Turkey. Faces trial under article 301 of the Penal Code of “insult” to the state and of “insult to the memory of Ataturk” following the 3 May 2007 acquittal of these charges of the book’s publisher Ragip Zarakolu (see below) The book is said to claim that leading government figures close to Ataturk had been responsible for the mass deportation of Armenians in 1915. As of June 2008 waiting for trial date pending amendment of Article 301. No further information as of June 2009.
Irfan UÇAR, Hasan BAYAR: journalist and chief editor of Özgür Gündem respectively. Trial opened on 13 March 2007 on charges under Article 301/1 and 301/2 before the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal District Court of First Instance in Istanbul. Accused of “insulting the Turkish National Assembly, the judiciary and state security services” for an article published in the newspaper on 13 December 2005. On 23 September 2008 the case was referred to the Ministry of Justice for its consideration as to whether to proceed, as per the revised Article 301 stipulations The article in question criticised the decision to prosecute publisher Fatih Tas for having published a book on the disappearance of a journalist. The relevant quote is “(…) A journalist disappears in Turkey. 11 years pass. A publisher brings out a book on the incident and gets convicted under Article 301. The security forces and judges of this country don’t feel responsible for what has happened to the disappeared journalist Nazim Babaoglü. Those who “lose” Nazim walk free, but those who write about it get prosecuted (…)” No further information as of June 2009.
Mehmet Ali VARIS: formerly publisher/owner of Tohum Publishing House, now with Belge Publishing.
1) Trial opened in 2002 for articles published in the monthly review ‘Long March’ (Uzun Yuruyus) entitled ‘Towards the Elections’ and ‘The Call of Kaypakkaya [a leader of the 1968 youth movement who was tortured and killed]. He was acquitted in March 2003 but this acquittal was overturned in November 2005 and he was convicted to a fine of 20,000 YTL 9c. Eur 10,000) or imprisonment. Varis was imprisoned in October 2008 to a 6 month term for non payment of his fine. His defence that the notice of the fine was sent to an old address and he was unaware he had to pay was not counted. He was freed c. February 2009.
2) Varis was sentenced to another one year prison term served on 24 November 2008. PEN is seeking details. There are other possible trials against Varis relating to three books published by the Tohum publishing house – Kuzey Bati Dersim; Koçgiri by Mamo Baran – insult to Turkishness, Kemalizm-Oturan /Adam (Kemal – the Sitting Man) by Erdal Yesil – insult to the memory or Ataturk and Cok Kulturlulukten Tek Kulturluluge Anadolu (Anatolia from Multiculture to MonoCulture) by Aytekin Yilmaz – insult to Turkishess.
Ugras VATANDAS, Ahmet Sami BELEK: sentenced to one year in prison in early November 2008 on charges under Article 6/1 of the Anti Terror Law at the Istanbul High Criminal Court. Accused for publishing a statement from the PKK in their newspaper the Daily Evrensel on 10 December 2007. Not clear if detained.
Yasin YETISGEN: owner of Coban Atesi (Shepherd’s Fire), based in Gaziantep, south eastern Turkey. Gaziantep Public Prosecution service prepared an indictment against Yasin Yetisgen for an article written by Berkant Colkun and published in “Çoban Atesi¨ on 8 November 2007. The article is entitled ¨Don’t Send me to the Army, Mum”. Yasin Yetisgen is charged with ¨alienating the people from military service and insulting the memory of Atatürk¨. Yetisgen is charged for a quote from the article ¨If the present Kurdish movement is called a terrorist movement, it means that the movement launched by Mustafa Kemal can not avoid that definition. The only difference is that Mustafa Kemal was not arrested¨. Yetisgen hearing held in Gaziantep Criminal Court of First Instance on 12 November 2008. Charged under Article 5816 – insult to the memory of Atatürk and article 318 – discouraging military service. No further information as of June 2009.
Ragıp ZARAKOLU: publisher, Belge Publishing House. Zarakolu is a recipient of the NOVIB/PEN Free Expression Award 2003.
1) Legal proceedings were initiated in December 2004 against Zarakolu for the publication of George Jerjian’s book History Will Set us Free: Turkish- Armenian Conciliation under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (formerly Article 159 of the old Penal Code) for “insulting the State and the memory of Kemal Ataturk”. The book is said to claim that leading government figures close to Ataturk had been responsible for the mass deportation of Armenians in 1915. First trial held before the Light Crimes Court at Istanbul on 16 March 2005. On 17 June 2008 he was sentenced to a five month prison term, commuted to a fine. He appealed against the sentence.
2) In December 2008, Zarakolu and the chief editor of the Alternatif newspaper, Cevat Düsün, were on trial before the Istanbul High Criminal Court on charges of “making propaganda for a terroris organisation” (Anti Terror Law 7/2), alienating people from the military (Penal Code Article 318) and praising crime and criminality (Article 215). Relates to articles published in Alternatif of which Zarakolu is also owner and responsible editor, published 16 and 17 August that included an article by the conscientious objector, Mehmet Ali Avci titled “I Refuse to be a Turkish Soldier” leading to infringement of TPC 318. Another article titled “First Bullet” refers to the PKK as “the organisation fighting for freedom of Kurdish people”, and a third, titled “Fireworks Everywhere” that quoted a speech made by an MP and stated “Kurds would turn their faces to the mountains if a political solution fails” [suggesting that there would be a return to guerilla activities ed.]. This breaches ATL Article 7 and TPC Article 215.
Background: Zarakolu has been subject to many years of harassment, trials and periods of imprisonment since the 1970s for publishing books on such issues including minority and human rights. His publishing house was bombed by right wing extremists in 1995, forcing his publishing house underground for a couple of years. Many of the hearings against Zarakolu have been observed by PEN members.
Honorary Member: American, English, Quebec, Kurdish, Canadian, San Miguel, Scottish, Netherlands and Swedish PEN
*Önder AYTAÇ, Emrullah USLU: both police officers – Aytaç is a professor and member of staff at the Police Academy Institute, and Uslu is a Chief Commissioner. Both share a column published in the newspaper Taraf. In May 2009 it was reported that they are under investigation under Article 301/2 of the Penal Code for having made statements seen to denigrate the Turkish Armed Forces in their column. Aytaç says that the charges relate to a comment in an article examining the work of the intelligence agency and the village guard system among other issues and made reference to Turkey’s application for integration to the EU suggesting that those people such as themselves who investigate police abuses should be appreciated for their work.
*Figen YÜKSEKDAG, Önder ÖNER, Çetin POYRAZ: editor for Atilim and two of its correspondents respectively. Among 60 journalists, writers, artists and activists for the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) arrested followng police raids on Atilim and other organisations in Istanbul and elsewhere 10 March 2009. Raids reportedly made on orders from the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court under the Anti Terror Law. Charges not clear.
Fatih TAS: publisher. Aram Publishing House. Sentenced to six months in prison under Article 301 for book They Say You Are Missing based on the story of Nazim Babaoglu, a reporter for the pro Kurdish Ozgür Gündem, who disappeared in 1994. Accused for comments including “state-mafia-gang links”, “minor massacres like those committed under bloody fascist dictatorships” and “bursting on the Kurdish people with brutality” – seen to be defamatory of the State. Overturned by court of appeal and reviewed by an appeal court which was still ongoing as of December 2008. On 5 January 2009, Tas was sentenced to five months in prison, converted to a fine of YTL 3,000 (c. $2,000) as he refused to state that he would not commit a similar offence again. He is appealing the sentence.
Since June 2007 to date there have been a series arrests of leading military, political, police, intellectual and other figures. Now numbering over 130, they are accused of membership of a neo-nationalist organisation known as “Ergenekon”. Its aim is said to be to to overthrow the government and linked to recent assassinations, including that of Hrant Dink (above). There have been concerns about the conduct of the investigation and that some of the arrests may be of persons solely for their views. The first to be charged, 86 defendants, went on trial in October 2008 and is likely to go on for years. A second trial against 56 others opens in July 2009. Among the defendants are writers, journalists and academics whose cases PEN is monitoring. While some may hold nationalistic views that run counter to International PEN’s charter , there are concerns that the only evidence against them is their writings. The prosecutors claim that some of these writings “in the wake of assassinations that undermine public authorit, defendants attempted not only to mislead the public but also carried out propaganda [for Ergenekon] in their writings.”
Adnan AKFIRAT, Serhan BOLLUK: journalist, chief editor of Aydinlik. Among a number of leading nationalist figures arrested since late March 2008 on accusation of being part of a nationalist group, Ergenekon, whose aim is to overthrow the government and linked to recent assassinations, including that of Hrant Dink (above). Some claim that the arrests are anti-democratic and an attempt to intimidate critics of the government. Free pending trial.
*Ahmet AKGÜL, Mevlut SUNGUR: editor in chief and writer for National Solution respectively. Among a number of people arrested in the Ergenekon case on 22 July 2008 and believed to still be in custody as of February 2009.
*Mustafa BALBAY, Ufuk BÜYUKÇELEBI, Neriman AYDIN: Ankara representative Cumhuriyet and chief editor of Tercüman, and writer for the online publication Toplumsal Haber.
1) Among eight people arrested in early July 2008 as part of a series of arrests of members of the nationalist group Ergenekon (for more see Selcuk, below). Released to stand trial.
2) Balbay and Aydin were re-arrested on 7 March 2009 and taken to Metris prison. Bianet reports that the reasons for their re-arrest is unknown but that they face life sentences if convicted. Cumhuriyet editor in chief, Hikmet Çentinkaya, told the media “What happened in the past 8 months to cause these arrests? We don’t know if there is new evidence or not. … [Balbay] is a Kemalist and Republican. If those constitute crimes, I wouldn’t know.” Other commentators consider the arrests of those such as Balbay are a warning to the opposition.
*Mehmet BAKIR, Oguz DEMIRKAYA, Ünal INANÇ: first two are journalists and heads of the Internet Journalists’ Association. Inanç is noted only as journalist. Bakir runs the website Sivasmit. Arrested for investigation re. ‘Ergenekon’ on 22 January 2009.
Zihni ÇAKIR: journalist and author. Arrested in Ankara c. 27 May 2008 as part of a series of arrests of people implicated in the right wing Ergenekon group. He is the author of a book on Ergenekon entitled Kod AdiDarbe which is said to include secret documents, wire tap records and codes belonging to the group. Among them is documentation that allegedly gave details of a public transport site that was targetted for a bomb attack aimed at creating panic and confusion. The book also refers to Turkish intelligence services (MIT) investigations into a prominent judge alleged to be working for the CIA. Believed to be freed pending charges.
Dr Yalçin KÜÇÜK: writer, economist, historian and socialist. Known ciritic of the AKP. Author of numerous books on socio-economics. Accused of sympathies with the PKK and sentenced to two years in prison in the late 1990s for interview with its lead, Abdullah Ocalan. Arrested on 7 January 2009 for investigation in the ‘Ergenekon’ case. Released 22 January 2009 to face trial.
*Bekir ÖZTÜRK, Furat ERMIS: head and contributor respectively of the ultra nationalist website kuvayimilliye.net. Accused of inciting violent acts by the armed forces through articles on the site.
*Ergün POYRAZ: author of controversial books on the now banned islamic Refah and Fazilet Parties, as well as on the key members of the ruling AKP. Evidence in his books are said to have led to the closure of Refah and Fazilet in the late 1990s/early2000s. Among the accusatnio against him is that he allowed books written by Ergenekon members to be published under his name, claims said to be unsubstantiated, and that his books deliberately contributed towards the Egenekon’s policy of spreading chaos, including through unfounded suggestions that certain leaders were of Jewish or Armenian backgrounds, considered defamatory. One such book could be Poyraz’s The Children of Moses which claims that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is part of a “Zionist conspiracy” concocted by JITEM, a clandestine organization said to be the military wing of Ergenekon accused of being responsible for bombings and assassinations. that is commonly believed to be behind many bombings, attacks and assassinations. Some news reports suggest that material seized from his home suggested Poyraz was collecting information on senior military and other officers. Believed to be detained pending trial.
Ilhan SELCUK: 84-year-old journalist. Arrested and held briefly before being freed to face trial in the Ergenekon case in March 2008. Cumhuriyet, the mainstream newspaper for which Selcuk works, claims that the arrest is anti-democratic and an attempt to intimidate critics of the government. Selcuk was detained in 1971 for being an alleged communist and is well known for his subsequent book that described his torture and ill-treatment. In 2007 he wrote a controversial article that was seen to be supportive of nationalists. He is a known secularist and critic of the government’s move to revise secularism.
*Vedat YENERER: independent journalist and war reporter arrested 22 January 2008 and believed still detained as of February 2009.
*Ismail YILDIZ, Hayrulla Mahmut ÖZGÜR, Halil Behiç GÜRCIHAN: the first is the former head of SESAR (Centre for Political, Economic, Social Research and Strategy Development) and head of its website sesar.com.tr. The other two contributed to the website. All are accused of having published articles that furthered the aims of Ergenekon and “inciting uprising”. Accused with them of carrying research for the site are: Kamal SAHIN, Refik NUHOGLU and Murat YÜCEL.
Mehmet BAKIR: journalist and editor in chief of Güney magazine. Sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 12 February 2007 under Article 7 of the Anti Terror Law. (Plus a fine of 1.666 Turkish Lira, and deprivation of public rights and ban on travelling abroad) He was sentenced along with seven others, all members of the Bolshevik Party (North Kurdistan/Turkey). Arrested 9-10 July 2002, almost five years earlier, the men are accused of “membership of an illegal organisation”. Bakir and others in the group have reportedly denied being members. Amnesty International, which considers them to be prisoners of conscience, describes the group as a “small, non-violent opposition party”. Concern surrounds the judgement based on statements said to have been extracted under torture. The trial has been controversial, with two retrials being held, and two previous decisions by the court of appeal to quash the verdicts of the lower courts. This case has been subject to widespread controversy in Turkey. Bakir was finally detained in February 2007 and is now held in Bolu F Type Prison, near Ankara. Presumed released in May 2009.
Honorary member: Belgian Flemish PEN
Nedim GÜRSEL: author of Allah Kizlari (Allah’s Daughters). Published by the Dogan Publishing House in March 2008.
1) In July 2008 a case was brought against him for “incitement to hatred and enmity” under Article 216 of the Penal Code. Article (3) of which refers to “humiliation” of religion as being grounds for prosecution. However, after a prosecutor led investigation into the complaint, the Sisli District Cout in Istanbul dismissed the case. However, on 5 May 2009 the case was brought to the Beyoglu District court, also in Istanbul, and again the prosecutor advised that there was no offence. However, this court decided to continue with the case.
2) On 5 May, the same court agreed to open a second case against the book, also opened by a private individual on similar grounds, giving the first date of this second hearing to be held the same day as the second of the first, 26 May. Gürsel faced a maximum 6-year prison term. Gürsel, a noted author, is resident in France, and a member of the French PEN Centre. He was present at the 26 May hearing, arguing that “This is a novel and it is not possible for novels to commit crimes.” The two cases were subsequently merged and, on 25 June 2009, Gürsel was acquitted.
[RAN 20/09 and updates.]
Martin RYNJA: Independent publisher and proprietor of the publishing house Gibson Square, suffered a firebomb attack on 27 September 2008, when petrol was poured through the letterbox of the publishing house and set alight. The building is also Rynja’s family home. The attack is related to Rynja’s plan to release in October 2008 the first English language edition of the novel The Jewel of Medina, written by American author Sherry Jones. The novel fictionalises the relationship between the prophet Mohamed and his young wife Aisha. Gibson Square is known for publishing books that are controversial. As a result of the attack, its publication in the UK was delayed. Three Muslim men were each sentenced to four and a half years in prison for the attack – one in May 2009, the others in early July. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson, but denied that they had any intention of serious damage, only to damage the door as a means of “punishing” Rynja for publishing the book.
Imprisoned - Main Case
D.o.b.: 1950 Profession: Journalist for the independent German-based Uzbek agency Uznews.net which is blocked in Uzbekistan, reporter for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Voice of America, the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and chairperson of the Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Individual.
Date of arrest: 7 June 2008. Sentence: Ten-year prison sentence. Expires: 6 June 2018.
Details of arrest: Arrested by traffic police in Nukus, on the Turkmen border, who stopped and searched his car and then claimed to have found packages, allegedly containing marijuana and cocaine. He was not questioned about where they came from, which would be normal procedure in such cases. On the same day police searched his home and his workplace and confiscated a laptop, books, and notes, amongst others. Later, Abdurakhmanov was questioned about a biography of the exile leader of the banned opposition party Erk, found by police amongst his belongings.
Details of the trial: The trial started on 12 September 2008, and only Abdurakhmanov’s relatives were allowed to be present. The charges against him are ‘selling drugs in large consignment’ under Article 25- 273, Part 5 of the Uzbek Criminal Code. According to Uzbek laws, attempting to commit a crime envisages the same punishment as committing the crime. On 10 October 2008, he was given a ten-year prison sentence, which was upheld in November, when his appeal was overturned by the Supreme Court. On 25 March 2009, the Karakalpak Supreme Court for the second time upheld the ten-year prison sentence against Abdurakhmanov, without explaining the basis of its decision.
Professional details: Abdurakhmanov is well known for his reporting and monitoring of human rights, economic and social issues in the region.
Place of detention: He is currently held in Karshi prison. A relative was been able to visit who reported in late March 2009, that although he has been held in isolation, he is not being ill-treated. In late April 2009 Abdurakhmanov was visited by his father and wife, and they said he is in good spirits and maintains his innocence. His brother and lawyer announced an appeal is being prepared to demand the Supreme Court to reconsider the conviction.
Other details: Prior to his arrest Abdurakhmanov had expressed concerns that he may suffer reprisals for his writings. He had apparently written an article that had criticised local traffic police shortly before his arrest. Organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch state that the sentence is clearly aimed stopping his critical reporting.
[RAN 40/08 and updates]
Muhammad BEKZHON (BEKJANOV)
D.o.b: c. 1955. Profession: former journalist.
Date of arrest March 1999. Sentence 15 years, reduced to 12 years. Expires March 2011.
Details of arrest: Deported from Ukraine in March 1999 on accusation of involvement in a series of explosions in Tashkent. Several others arrested in connection with these events (see Makhmudov, below).
Trial details: It is thought that his arrest is linked to his association with the exiled opposition leader Muhammed Salih and that the charges are linked to his work on Erk, the opposition party’s newspaper, although it has been banned since 1994. Some of the defendants have testified to having been tortured under interrogation including beatings, electric shock and threat of rape of female family members. In August 1999, Bekjanov was sentenced to 15 years in prison, convicted ‘of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper containing slanderous criticism of President Islam Karimov; participating in a banned political protest; and attempting to overthrow the regime’. In addition, the court found them guilty of ‘illegally leaving the country and damaging their Uzbek passports’.
Professional details: Former contributor to Erk. Brother of exiled opposition leader, Muhammad Salih.
Place of detention: Kasan prison, southwestern Uzbekistan.
Health concerns: reports of torture lead to concern for well being. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in his 2003 report referred to allegations of torture resulting in Bekjanov’s leg being broken. It referred to Bekjanov contracting TB, for which he received treatment. The Uzbek government had responded to the Rapporteur informing him that the sentence had been reduced by a fifth, and giving details of the TB treatment being given. It denied that “moral or physical pressure” had been applied. In October 2006, his wife was able to visit him in prison and reports that he was still suffering beatings, and that he had lost most of his teeth. Concerns for his health remained acute.
Other Details: Wife resident in the USA.
Honorary Member: English, American PEN, USA, Canadian PEN Centres
Dzhamshid (Jamshid) KARIMOV: d.o.b c. 1967, journalist working for the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) until May 2005 and subsequently for a number of other publications, disappeared on 12 September 2006. Two weeks later his friends were able to ascertain that Karimov was being held in a psychiatric hospital in the capital, Samarkand. The chief psychiatrist at the hospital stated that Karimov suffers from a psychiatric disorder, that he was accepting medication, was in a room of his own and does not mix with other patients.
Ill treatment/medical: has been allowed visits from his mother and fiancé but on occasion reportedly appeared distressed and asked them to help him get out. In August 2007, there were reports that his health had deteriorated further, in particularly his failing eyesight. He was reportedly still held in psychiatric detention in late 2008.
Background: Karimov is a nephew of the President Islam Karimov and, according to CPJ, is said to have been openly critical of his uncle and to be living in poverty. Karimov worked for IWPR until May 2005 when many protestors were killed at a protest in Andijan. He subsequently went on to work for a number of independent newspapers as a freelancer.
Previous political persecution: Since mid 2006 Karimov had been under surveillance by the intelligence agencies and in August 2006, his mother reportedly demanded of the authorities, unsuccessfully, that listening devices be removed from their property. Also in August 2006, Karimov’s passport was seized after he applied for a visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan. It is reported that on 31 August 2006, the head of the regional administration visited Karimov and offered him positions on official newspapers, apparently in a bid to entice him to stop his independent journalism.
Other information: Karimov’s mother, who had been outspoken in her son’s defence, died in March 2008.
Honorary member: English PEN
Profession: writer and opposition activist.
Date of arrest: 19 February 1999. Sentence: 14 years. Expires: 3 August 2013.
Details of arrest: Arrested 19 February 1999 after a series of explosions in Tashkent. Several others arrested in connection with these events.
Trial details: Held in incommunicado detention from February to May 1999. Subsequently charged 1) Article 158 Uzbek Criminal Code – Threatening the president and 2) Article 25-159 UCC – Threatening the constitutional order 3) 216 organising banned public associations and religious organisations 4) 242.1 organising a criminal group. It is thought that his arrest is linked to his association with the exiled opposition leader Muhammed Salih. However access to key documents has been denied. Appears that some of the charges against the defendants are linked to their writings in and distribution of Erk the newspaper of the opposition Erk party, banned in 1994. At the trial, Makhmudov testified to having been tortured under interrogation including beatings, electric shock and threat of rape of female family members. On 3 August 1999, sentenced to 14 years.
Professional details: Well-known writer. Member of the Uzbek Writers Union and Uzbek Cultural Foundation.
Previous political imprisonment: imprisoned between 1994 and 1996 for alleged embezzlement and abuse of office, charges which at the time were considered by PEN and Amnesty International to have been fabricated and that his arrest was because of his association with Salih. This view supported by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary detentions.
Place of detention: Subsequently moved on to UYA 646 High security prison in Chirchik prison, Tashkent district, where the conditions are said to be less harsh than at Navoi.
Health concerns: reports of torture lead to concern for well being. Hospitalised July 2000 presumably for facial and throat surgery. Thought to have resulted from extreme ill-treatment and neglect in Jaslyk camp where previously held.
Other information: Makhmudov’s book, Immortal Cliffs was published in French in late 2008.
Honorary Member: English, American, Canadian, Netherlands and USA PEN Centres.
[RAN 11/09 – 11 February 2009]
Gayrat MEHLIBOEV: d.o.b. c. 1979. Journalism graduate and contributor to Hurriyet Respublika and Vatanparvar newspapers. Arrested 24 July 2002 in Chorsu Market, Tashkent, during an illegal demonstration. Accused of supporting the banned Hizb ut-Tahar Islamist group.
Charges: Charged under Article 156 of the Criminal Code – inciting religious enmity, Article 159 – forming illegal religious organisations, Article 244 participation in extremist groups, 216 – organising illegal associations, and 156 – inciting religious, racial, national animosity.
Sentenced: 20 February 2003 to seven years in prison, subsequently reduced to six and a half years. Said to have followed the publication of his article ‘The Scales of Justice’. Reports in February 2008 that a second 5-year sentence was also passed as he is said to continue his propaganda activities in prison and that this means a total of seven years. Mehliboev is said to claim that he had simply reported on ill-treatment in prison. Uznews.net in February 2008 adds that Mehliboev has admitted that he is a member of Hizb ut-Tahar and that quotes him as saying that “the state should adopt Shariah” law.
Reasons for charges: Accusation based on article published in 2001 on the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahar and literature of the organisation found in his room. He is accused of infiltrating a newspaper. Mehliboev claims that while he studied the organisation’s ideology which he used as a source for his article, he was not involved in violent acts. He also denied possession of the literature. He claims to have been tortured in detention. Graduated in journalism in June 2002 from Tashkent University.
Place of detention: reported in February 2008 to be held in Zarafshan Prison in Navoiy.
State of health: in February 2008 it was reported that the family is concerned for his health.
PEN position: PEN continues to consider this case as an investigation pending confirmation that Mehliboev has not advocated violence.
Imprisoned – investigation
*Bahrom IBRAGIMOV, Davron KABILOV, Ravshanbek VAFOYEV, Abdulaziz DADAHONOV (DADAHANOV) and Botirbek ESHKUZIYEV: Members of a religious group have been sentenced on 16 February 2009 to eight to twelve years in prison, reportedly for publishing the religious magazine Vesna (Spring) and for their membership of the religious group Nur (Light). It has been reported that the Nur group had originated in Turkey, where it has been banned, and that the Uzbek Security Service alleged that Nur received funds from Turkey. Ibragimov and Kabilov are convicted to twelve years in prison, Vafoyev and Dadahonov to ten years, and Eshkuziyev to eight years, and they are serving their sentences in a high-security prison in Tashkent. (see also Shavkat Ismoilov and Davron Tajiyev below)
*Shavkat ISMOILOV and Davron TAJIYEV: Director and editor respectively of the magazine
Yetti Iklim (Seven Dimensions),
were sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly ‘creating, leading or participating in religious extremist, separatist, or other banned organisations’, according to Criminal Code’s Article 244 Part 2, on 6 April 2009. It is said that the charges against both were related to both journalists links to the religious organisation Nur (Light), based in Turkey. (See also Barom Ibragimov et al above.)
*Dilmurod SAYID: journalist for a number of independent websites, based in Tashkent, was reportedly detained on 22 February 2009 under article 165 of the Criminal Code on charges of ‘extortion’. Sayid was interrogated in Samarkand city, after a witness testified against him saying that she was forced by the journalist to extort money from a local businessman. However, afterwards the witness retracted in full her statement. According to the journalist, he had never met the witness. Despite this, Sayid remains in pre-trial detention in Samarkand, and could face up to fifteen years in prison if found guilty. It is said that the journalist’s detention could be linked to his reporting on alleged illegal confiscations of farmers’ land by local authorities. On 16 June 2009, hearings resumed in Samarkand Region’s Taylak District criminal court.
*Kushodbek USMON: independent journalist was reportedly detained on charges of defamation and insult on 23 February 2009. Initially, the journalist was detained for ‘hooliganism’ on 13 January 2009, but charges were changed by the prosecutor without explanation. If convicted Usmon could face up to three and a half years in prison. There not information on the accusing part in the trial, but it before his arrest the journalist wrote critical reports on police officers of high rank.
Yusuf Juma (Dzhuma): poet. Age 50.
Sentence: five years in prison.
Arrest: Reported disappeared on 10 December 2007, and subsequently found to have been arrested on 22 December 2007. His arrest follows a series of demonstrations he and his son staged in Bukhara, where they displayed anti President Karimov posters against charges made against another son, Mashrab Dzhuma, who was arrested on 4 December and is charged with rape, allegations that he and his family dispute. Alerts were raised when, on 10 December 2007, after an altercation with police in Bukhara, neighbours reported that dozens of police had descended on the Juma home, and heard shooting from inside the house in a rampage that lasted until 1 am the following morning. Neighbours also report that after the police left, they went to the house to find no-one there and the corpses of pet dogs and livestock that had been shot. Juma was thought to have been at his house at the time, along with three of his children aged 25, 19 and 11, and his daughter-in-law and two grand children aged five and two. For some days there were concerns that Juma had been arrested, and possibly killed. However by 22 December he was found to have been detained after he had spent some days in hiding. Some family members are said to have fled abroad.
Government response: in a letter to PEN from the Uzbek Ambassador to London, responding to queries made by the organisation, it is confirmed that the arrests occurred after a “protest action” staged against the decision to sentence one of Juma’s sons – Mashrab Juma - to a prison term on charges of assault and injury. The letter states that in December 2007 a dispute arose at the home of a friend during which Mr Juma attacked another person present with a knife. Mashrab Juma is charged with deliberate injury under Article 104 of the Criminal Code. The letter further states that the men insulted police who attempted to break up the meeting and then drove away, injuring two policemen. They were subsequently charged under Article 104 of the Criminal code – deliberate injury, and Article 219 – resisting a police officer in the course of their duty. Reports from other sources suggest that police were injured in this incident.
Trial: On 15 April 2008 Juma was sentenced to five years in prison as charged. He reportedly admitted in court that he may have collided with the police. However an original statement offered by the prosecution described the injuries sustained as “minor” was later changed to state that they were “medium”. His son, tried with him, was given a suspended sentence.
Ill Health: On 21 February 2008 it was reported that a doctor who visited Juma in the Bukhara Regional police department’s Otbozor prison reportedly saw evidence that Juma had been tortured. Juma is said to have lost a lot of weight and be in pain. In April 2008 his family publicised concerns that he remained in poor health and was being denied medical attention. In early August 2008 it has been reported that Yusuf Juma had been transferred to Jaslyk prison, in northern Karakalpakstan. On 2 August 2008 he was visited there by his daughter who reported that her father said he had been systematically tortured since his arrest in December 2007, that he was told he would not leave prison alive and that this was an order coming from on high. Subsequently, also in August 2008, Yusuf’s wife appealed to the UN Committee against Torture, asking them to intervene to save him from dying. She also gave information on the prison conditions where her husband is held, in a prison cell with inmates suffering from HIV and tuberculosis, and that he has suffered loss of weight, currently weighting about 40 kilos.
Previous political persecution: Juma is well known for his opposition activities and has been subject to arrest and harassment in recent years including a three year sentence passed in 2001 for “unconstitutional activities”. He was freed in early 2002.
New information: In early February 2009, Yusuf Juma’s daughter visited her father, after none of the family members had been allowed to see him since November 2008. She reported that her father was frail as he had spent various periods of 14 to 15 days in a punishment cell.
[RAN 28/08 and updates]
Zohir HASANDOZA and Perdakul TURAKULOV: Samarkand correspondent for the newspaper Ovozi Tojik, and freelancer for the same newspaper respectively reportedly charged with ‘hooliganism’ after an incident in August 2008 when they were reportedly set upon by angry people who objected to their investigation into market place fraud. Case closed due to lack of further details.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Omar BELHOUCHET and Salima TLEMCANI: Editor and reporter respectively of the French-language daily El Watan. Were reportedly given a three-month sentence and a fine of 50,000 Dinars (500 Euros approx.), on charges of defamation in late December 2008. The trial is related to a report published in 2004 in the newspaper regarding an alleged healer who practices without any medical qualification. The case was filed by the healer. Both journalists remain free pending the outcome of their appeal.
*Omar BELHOUCHET: Editor of the French-language El Watan, is reportedly on trial for defamation. This time the case against him is related to a piece he wrote in February 2005, in which he quoted a statement made by a union leader of Air Algeria. The case was filed by Air Algeria. On 10 May 2009 the Belhouchet attended a court hearing, and he is awaiting sentencing (see also above).
*Nouri BENZENINE: Former correspondent for the newspaper Echourouk El Youmi, in the western region of the country, was reportedly sentenced to two months in prison and a fine for defamation in a case brought by a member of parliament. According to El Watan, the journalist did not know about the trial against him until receiving official notification of the sentence on 3 May 2009. The journalist is appealing the sentence. The case stems from a report regarding gas trafficking in the region, published in March 2007.
Hassan BOURRAS: Reporter. Sentenced by an appeal court in Saida to two months in prison on 28 October 2008 for an article published in 2006 in the Arabic-language daily Al-Bilad. He had originally been sentenced to a fine, but the appeals court increased the sentence without him or his lawyer being present at the hearing. He plans to appeal the ruling. No further information as of end June 2009.
*Ahcene GUETTAF: Correspondent in Buoira for the newspaper El Khabar. Reportedly on trial on charges of defamation after publishing an article on alleged corruption. On 11 May 2008 the Lakhdaria Prosecutor in Buoira province, demanded a three month prison sentence against Guettaf. According to his lawyer, the judge will announce his decision in early July 2009.
Sentenced: non custodial
*Nedjar Hadj DAOUD: Editor of the regional weekly El Waha (The Oasis). Reportedly detained on 2 March 2009 when his six-month prison sentence for defamation was confirmed on appeal. The case was filed in 2005 over an article about alleged rapes by a local government official. The weekly has been banned since 2006, and Daoud reportedly has other lawsuits pending against him. El Waha reported on issues of corruption and alleged threats against the press in the country. On 4 March 2009 Daoud was provisionally released from prison on medical grounds.
Ali DILEM, Ali QUAFAK and Farid ALILAT: Cartoonist, editor and managing editor, respectively, of the daily Liberté. Reportedly on trial for charges filed against them by the Defence Ministry, under Article 146 of the press law which provides for prison sentences for insulting state bodies. On 1 June 2008 the Prosecutor requested a two-month prison sentence against the three defendants. No further information as of 30 June 2009, case closed.
*Abdulhasan BU-HUSSAIN: Journalist for the local newspaper Alwasat, is reportedly on trial for defaming the Civil Service Bureau (CSB). On 5 May 2009 Bu-Hussain was summoned to court for a series of articles he published from September to November 2008 in Alwasat. The articles reportedly questioned many decisions taken by the CSB which allegedly violate the Constitution and various laws in Bahrain. Trial on-going as of 30 June 2009.
*Abdul-Jalil ALSINGACE: Activist and internet writer. Reportedly arrested on 26 January 2009 and charged under Article 160 and 165 of the Bahrain Penal Code and Article 6 of the Bahrain Terrorism Code with ‘forming an organisation outside the provisions of the law’, ‘provoking hatred of the regime’ and ‘inciting violence and the overthrow of the political system’. The charges are believed to be based on his publishing activities and speeches about the political situation in Bahrain. He was released on bail but banned from travelling outside Bahrain. Trial believed to be on-going as of 30 June 2009.
*Lamees DHAIF (f): Journalist for the Al Waqt (Time) newspaper. Charged on 5 March 2009 with criminal defamation over a series of articles entitled ‘Shameful case: The Time for Silence is Over’ calling forfamily law and alleged criticisms of the judicial authorities. She has previously faced harassment and censorship for her critical articles. She remains free, WiPC seeking an update.
Eisa AL SHAYJI and Saeed AL-HAMAD: Editor-in-chief and journalist respectively of the Bahraini newspaper Al-Ayam. Reportedly facing criminal defamation charges in a case brought by Egyptian Islamist preacher Sheikh Wajdi Ghunaim in August 2007. The charges relate to an article published in Al-Ayam which allegedly accused the Muslim Brotherhood and Ghunaim of bringing extremist ideas to Bahrain and creating conflict between Bahrain’s Sunni and Shi’ite communities. Ghunaim was expelled from Bahrain in November 2007. The first hearing of the trial was scheduled for 30 June 2008. No further information as of 30 June 2009, case closed.
Imprisoned: Main case
Profession: Novelist and Internet writer.
Date of arrest: 26 December 2007.
Details of arrest: Mosaad Abu-Fajr has been detained without charge since 26 December 2007 for his peaceful activism in support of the Bedouins of the Sinai Peninsula, his own native people, who are said to be ill-treated by the Egyptian authorities in Northern Sinai. The area borders the Gaza Strip, where the political climate is extremely volatile, and the risk of terrorist attack is high. He is said to remain detained without charge or trial in spite of repeated court rulings ordering his release.
Health concerns and place of detention: In November 2008 it was reported that his health had sharply deteriorated as a result of a hunger strike, and in early December 2008 he is said to have been moved from Borg Al Arab Prison to another detention centre. In February 2009 his wife reported that she is the only person allowed to visit him.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Mosaad Abu-Fajr was previously briefly detained in September 2007.
Other information: Mosaad Abu-Fajr has reportedly published one novel, Talit el-Badan, the name of a mountain in Sinai province. He is also the editor of the web site Wedna N’ish’ (We Want To Live), which he founded as a mouth-piece for Sinai Bedouins.
[RAN 06/09 – 22 January 2009]
Abdel Kareem Nabil SULEIMAN (aka Kareem Amer)
Profession: Internet activist.
Date of arrest: 6 November 2006. Sentence: Four years in prison. Expires: 5 November 2010.
Details of arrest: Arrested after posting articles critical of Islam on his web-blog (www.karam903.blogspot.com). He was charged with ‘incitement to hatred of Islam’ and ‘circulating rumours threatening public order’.
Details of trial: His trial began on 18 January 2007 and he was sentenced to four years in prison on 22 February 2007 on charges of ‘disparaging Islam’ and ‘defaming the Egyptian president’. The charge of ‘broadcasting statements that could disturb public order’ was dropped. The Court of Appeal upheld the four-year sentence on 12 March 2007.
Place of detention: Borg El-Arab Prison in Alexandria.
Treatment in Prison: Reported to be beaten and ill-treated in detention. According to a lawyer from the Arabic Network for Human Rights, who visited Kareem Amer on 30 August 2008, Amer is in a poor state of health and continues to be ill-treated in jail. He must follow the strict rules that apply to political prisoners during visits, although he remains in the criminal prisoners division, where he is treated without any consideration of his rights as a political prisoner. Reports suggest that the prison administration does not allow him to go to the prison yard as others do, and that fellow inmates harass him under orders of the prison administration.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Previously arrested for posting anti-religious articles on his website and held for almost three weeks in October 2005.
Awards: Kareem Amer was awarded the journalism award at the 7th Annual Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards on 14 March 2007. Adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’ on 23 March 2009.
Honorary member of: English and American PEN.
[RAN 04/07 and updates]
*Ahmed MOHSEN: Internet writer for the blog http://eyestillopen.blogspot.com, was reportedly arrested from his home in Fayoum city by state security agents, on 29 April 2009. He has been charged with ‘exploiting the democratic climate prevailing in the country to overthrow the regime’ for his critical writings online. He was reportedly imprisoned for fifteen days pending investigation. WiPC seeking an update.
Hani Nazer AZIZ: Internet writer and social worker. Reportedly detained on 3 October 2008, when he handed himself to the police after the authorities detained some of his relatives forcing him to come forward. He is being held at Borg El-Arab prison in Alexandria, without charges. Aziz is said to be a Christian internet writer, critical to the views of conservative Muslims and Christians. There are reports that while browsing his blog some young Muslims found a link to an electronic novel, which is said to be controversial, entitled Azazeel’s Goat in Mecca written by another internet writer who calls himself ‘Father Utah’. However, they assumed Aziz was the author which is alleged to be the motive for Aziz’s detention. Soon after Aziz’s detention, a Bishop from the locality of Naga Hammadi, where Aziz is from, is said to have visited the writer’s family and asked them not to publicise his detention, in order to achieve a deal with the authorities to guarantee Aziz release. However, according to local reports, Aziz’s lawyer was asked by the writer to make his case public. The content of his blog Kareez Hob (Preacher of Love) has been deleted. Still thought to be detained as of 30 June 2009.
Mohamed KHAIRY, Khalifa EBAID and Abd Altawab MAHMOUD: Internet writers. Mohamed Khairy runs the blog Garshakal (http://garshkal.blogspot.com/), Khalifa Ebaid runs the weblog Ana Marathon, and Abd Altawab Mahmoud runs the weblog Alhayat Alsa’ida (http://ragabhpl.blogspot.com/). Reportedly arrested in late October 2008 and charged with ‘taking advantage of the prevailing atmosphere of democracy to overthrow the regime’. They are under detention at the Snoures police station in Fayoum city. No further information as of 30 June 2009.
*Ahmed Seif al-NASR: Correspondent for daily Al-Dosotour and internet writer for the blog A’al Makshouf (Fair and Clear), was reportedly arrested in Fayoum, 130 km southwest of Cairo, on 10 April 2009. Reports say that al-Nasr was covering the arrest of various students from Fayoum University, when he was taken to the Qohafa police station, in Fayoum. Still thought to be detained as of 30 June 2009.
*Yasser BARAKAT: Editor-in-chief of the Al-Mogaz newspaper. Sentenced to six months in prison on 25 June 2009 in an insult and libel case filed by MP Mostafa Al-Bakry. The case stems from an article published by Barakat entitled ‘Bakry, Syrian intelligence and Sawiris’ on 27 November 2007. Thirteen cases have been filed against Barakat by Al-Bakry, three of which have been won by the MP. Barakat remains free pending appeal.
Saad El Din IBRAHIM: Director of the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies, professor of sociology and defender of human rights and democratic freedoms. Reportedly sentenced in-absentia to two years in prison with labour, by the Al Khalifa Misdemeanor’s Court, on 2 August 2008. He is reportedly charged for publishing articles abroad on the domestic situation in Egypt, which were supposedly false and damaged national security and defamed Egypt’s image. After the sentence, it was reported that actions have been taken to withdraw Dr. Ibrahim’s Egyptian nationality. He remains abroad.
*Mounir Saad HANNA: Government clerk. Charged in April 2008 for writing a poem allegedly defaming the Egyptian president. The poem in question is an unpublished, six-verse handwritten memo. Reportedly tried without a lawyer and sentenced on 27 June 2009 to three years in prison and a bail of 100000 LE. Remains detained as unable to pay the heavy bail sum. The appeal will be heard by the misdemeanors court in Adawa, Menya province, on 18 July 2009.
Muhammad ADEL: Internet writer for the blog Meit (Dead), was reportedly detained on 24 November 2008, his home searched and books siezed. In mid-December 2008 Adel was charged with ‘joining a banned group that aims to prevent state institutions from performing their duties’ for alleged membership of the Muslim Brotehrhood. Reports say that in February 2009 Adel went on four-day hunger strike for being held in solitary confinement, and that on 10 March 2009 he was released from prison, but the charges are still pending.
*Magdi El-SHAFEI: Writer and publisher. Reportedly on trial for his graphic illustrated novel ‘Metro’, faces up to two years in prison. The case was filed by the Vice Squad in May 2008 before the Cairo Misdemeanours Court for ‘publication and distribution of publications contrary to public morals’ under articles 178 and 198 of the Penal Code. It is said that in April 2008 the police broke into the Malamih publishing house, owned by El-Shafei, and seized copies of the book, as well as copies in bookstores. The novel reportedly takes the form of a dialogue using colloquial language which is allegedly offensive. WiPC seeking further information.
*Ahmed Mohamed ALAA El DIN: Internet writer and activist, was reportedly arrested on 7 April 2009 and his computer was seized from his home. He was released on 27 April 2009, without being charged. It has been reported that a complaint has been filed at the public prosecution office for the alleged kidnapping of Alaa, including the names of the two officers involved in Alaa’s detention, but no investigation has been conducted.
*Abdul Aziz Al-MUGAHED: Internet writer for El-Mogahed blog, was reportedly detained on 3 November 2008, and later charged with ‘joining a banned group’, the Muslim Brotherhood. There are reports that he was ill-treated while in detention. Al-Mugahed was released on 1 March 2009.
*Dhia Eddin GAD: Internet writer for the blog Angry Voice, was reportedly detained on 6 February 2009, when security officers took him from his family home in the Nile Delta area. Reportedly arrested for participating in a peaceful demonstration supporting Palestinians. He was released on 27 March 2009, without charges. In late May 2009 it was reported that Gad had been receiving threatening phone calls allegedly from State Security officers.
Adil HAMOUDA, Wael AL-IBRASHI, Ibrahim ISSA AND Abdel Al-Halim QANDIL: Editor of the weekly Al-Fagr, journalist with the weekly Sawt al-Umma, editor of the daily Al-Dustur and former editor of the weekly Al-Karama respectively. Issa is also a novelist, and his novel Maqtal Al-Rajul Al-Kabir (The Assassination of the Big Man) was banned in 1999. Reportedly sentenced on 13 September 2007 to one year in prison and a heavy fine on charges of ‘making public with malicious intent false news, statements or rumours that are likely to disturb public order’ as stated by Article 188 of the Penal Code. The men posted bail and remained free pending appeal. In early February 2009 the appeal court struck down the one-year prison sentence for the four editors but upheld the conviction and fine. Case closed.
Anawar EL-HAWARY, Mahmoud GHALAB and Ameer SALIM: Director, deputy chief and political editor of the newspaper El-Wafd respectively. Reportedly each sentenced to two years in prison on 25 September 2007, after a lawsuit was brought against them by a group of lawyers representing the ruling Democratic Party. The charges are based on Article 102 of the Criminal Code, alleging that El-Wafd published false news detrimental to the judiciary in January 2007. The story refers to a meeting between several senior judiciary officials during which several judges were criticised. The men remained free pending appeal after posting bail, case closed for lack of further information.
Wael EL IBRASHI: Chief editor of the independent newspaper Sawt El-Omma. Six lawsuits for defamation were reportedly brought against him before the Misdemeanours Court of El-Agouza on 10 December 2007. The lawsuits were reportedly filed by several businessmen regarding articles published in his newspaper alleging corruption in their companies. Case closed for lack of further information.
Mohamed RAFAAT: Internet writer, media student and editor of the blog Matabbat (http://matabbat.blogspot.com/). On 21 July 2008 State Security staff raided Rafaat’s home in his absence and confiscated many books and his personal computer. Once Rafaat approached the State Security offices, he was arrested on charges of ‘inciting to strike on the occasion of 23 July’. On 17 August the State Security reportedly decided to release Rafaat, but the Security Investigation agency decided to hold him for another week, until another arrest order was issued under the state emergency laws. Case closed for lack of further information, presumed freed.
*Omidreza MIRSAYAFI: Internet writer. Died on 18 March 2009, while in detention in Evin prison, Tehran. Mirsayafi had been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment on charges of insulting Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamanei, and propaganda against the regime, for writings posted on his blog. He had been free on bail pending appeal until 7 February 2009, when he was summoned again for questioning and taken to Evin prison. Mirsayafi was reportedly suffering from depression and was taking medication, and he reportedly died after being taken ill in detention. Prison authorities claim that Mirsayafi committed suicide by taking an overdose; but his family maintains that he would not have had enough medication in his possession to kill himself. He was originally arrested on 22 April 2008, his home was searched and his computer seized. He spent forty days in detention and was released on bail. He was tried on 2 November 2008.
[RAN 17/09 – 24 March 2009]
Imprisoned: Main Cases
Profession: Leading Canadian-Iranian journalist, editor, playwright and film-maker.
Date of arrest: 21 June 2009.
Details of arrest: According to PEN’s information, Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who has lived and worked in Tehran for the past ten years and who has dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, was arrested on 21 June 2009. He is among scores of journalists and leading reformists to have been arrested in Iran following the disputed presidential elections on 12 June 2009. He remains detained incommunicado without charge as of 30 June 2009. International PEN is gravely concerned by an alleged ‘confession’ published on 30 June 2009 by an Iranian state news agency, in which Bahari admits to participating in an alleged Western media effort to promote irresponsible reporting in Iran.
Other information: Maziar Bahari is a widely respected and award-winning commentator on Iranian issues, and his arrest is part of a major crackdown on dissent which has seen unprecedented restrictions on the foreign media in Iran and widespread arbitrary arrests of journalists and leading reformist figures.
Profession: Internet writer. Date of arrest: 1 November 2008.
Details of arrest: According to PEN’s information, Hossein Derakhshan was arrested from his family home in Tehran on 1 November 2008 shortly after returning to Iran from several years living in Canada and the United Kingdom. The authorities did not officially acknowledge his detention until 30 December 2008. Initial reports suggested that he was accused of ‘spying for Israel’, apparently for a highly publicised trip he made to Israel – with whom Iran has no diplomatic relations - in 2006, travelling on a Canadian passport. He declared that this trip was to show his “20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there”. He also wanted to “humanise” Iranians for Israelis. However, it has also been suggested that he faces accusations of ‘insulting religion’ in his weblogs. However, it has also been suggested that he faces accusations of ‘insulting religion’ in his blogs. Hossein Derakhshan is held incommunicado at an unknown location, and there are mounting concerns for his well-being. Still detained without charge as of 30 June 2009.
Other information: Nicknamed ‘the Blogfather’, thirty-three year-old Hossein Derakhshan is known for pioneering ‘blogging’ in Iran with his Internet diaries, in both English and Farsi, which have been critical of the Iranian authorities though more recently have been sympathetic to President Ahmadinajad. He is said to be a controversial figure.
Mohammad Hassan FALLAHIYA:
Profession: Journalist and managing editor of Aqlam al-Talaba, a student publication of Ahvaz University, Khuzestan province.
Date of arrest: November 2006. Sentence: Three years imprisonment with hard labour. Expires: November 2009.
Details of arrest: Detained after writing reports on repression of the Arab minority in Khuzestan and reportedly contacting opposition groups based abroad.
Details of trial: Reportedly sentenced on 21 April 2007 and according to Amnesty International, he was not allowed legal representation throughout the judicial process.
Place of detention: Held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, Tehran. Reportedly moved to an unknown location on 24 January 2008.
Treatment in prison/Health Problems: There are fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Fallahiya also suffers from sickle cell anaemia but he is reportedly being denied the medical care he needs for his condition. The prison authorities have reportedly prevented his family from bringing supplies of his medication to the prison and it is feared that his health may deteriorate further without adequate medical care.
Honorary member of: English PEN.
Profession: Iranian Kurdish journalist, writer and human rights activist.
Date of arrest: 25 January 2007. Sentence: Death penalty, commuted to ten years in prison.
Details of arrest: Reportedly detained on 25 January 2007 in Marivan, a small city in the northwestern province of Kurdistan, apparently for expressing his views on the Kurdish issue. He was reportedly held incommunicado without charge in a Ministry of Intelligence facility in Marivan, and transferred to Marivan prison on 26 March 2007. In April 2007, the Mehr News Agency, which is said to have close links with Iran’s judiciary, apparently alleged that Adnan Hassanpour had been in contact with Kurdish opposition groups and had helped two people from Khuzestan province, who were wanted by the authorities, to flee from Iran. However, it is thought that he may be held for a phone conversation he had with a staff member of Radio Voice of America shortly before his arrest.
Details of trial: He appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj on 12 June 2007, in the presence of his lawyer. On 16 July 2007 he was told that he had been sentenced to death on charges of espionage and Moharebeh (‘being at enmity with God’). The sentence was confirmed on 22 October 2007, but was overturned by the Supreme Court in Tehran in August 2008 on procedural grounds. The case was returned to Sanandaj for a re-trial and heard on 6 September 2008 and 30 January 2009. [He was sentenced to ten years in prison on 1 July 2009.]
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Adnan Hassanpour is a former member of the editorial board of the Kurdish-Persian weekly journal, Aso (Horizon), which was closed by the Iranian authorities in August 2005, following widespread unrest in Kurdish areas. He had previously been tried in connection with articles published in the journal.
Other information: He is a member of the Kurdish Writer’s Association.
Honorary member of: Swedish and Basque PEN.
[RAN 11/07 and subsequent updates]
Profession: Iranian Kurdish Journalist for the weekly Krafto.
Date of arrest: 18 December 2006. Sentence: 2 years in prison, an additional year reportedly added in May 2008. Expires: 17 December 2009.
Details of arrest: Officials from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Kaveh Javanmard at his home in Sanandej on 18 December 2006.
Details of trial: He was sentenced to two years in prison 17 May 2007. The charges against him have not been made known, although he is believed to be held for his legitimate professional activities as a journalist. The authorities have reportedly targeted other staff members of Krafto in the weeks leading to his arrest. Javanmard’s arrest came during a wave of arrests, bans and acts of intimidation against the media following a visit to the Kurdish north by the President and the Culture Minister in September 2006.
Place of detention: Reportedly transferred on 29 December 2007 to a prison in the northern city of Maragheh, 300km from his family home, where he is to serve the remainder of his sentence in internal exile.
Other information: Reportedly convicted of ‘acting against national security’ in a separate case, and sentenced to a further one year in prison by an appeals court in May 2008.
[RAN 18/07 and updates].
Mohammad Sadiq KABUDVAND:
Profession: Editor of the journal Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdistan and Kurdish rights activist.
Date of arrest: 1 July 2007. Sentence: 11 years in prison. Expires: 30 June 2018
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested at his place of work in Tehran by plain-clothed security officers. Following his arrest, he was first taken to his house where three computers, books, photographs, family films and personal documents were confiscated. He spent the first five months of his detention in solitary confinement. His family was unable to raise the bail that could have enabled him to be freed pending trial.
Details of trial: Kabudvand’s trial began on 25 May 2008, and he was sentenced at a closed court on 22 June 2008 to eleven years in prison by the Tehran Revolutionary Court for forming a human rights organisation in Iran’s Kurdish region. The sentence was upheld on 23 October 2008 by the Teheran Appeal Court.
Place of detention: Intelligence Ministry’s Section 209 of Evin Prison.
Treatment in prison: Held incommunicado and said to be ill-treated.
Health concerns: Suffers from high blood pressure, skin and kidney conditions, has been told by prison guards that every time he wants to go to the toilet, he must write a letter. On 19 May 2008 Kabudvand reportedly suffered a stroke in Evin prison and has been denied access to adequate medical care. Said to have suffered another stroke in December 2008, and is said to be in a critical condition, and in urgent need of specialist medical attention.
Previous political detention: Among several prominent Kurdish human rights defenders and journalists to be detained on 2 August 2005 following protests in the city of Sanandaj, capital of Kurdistan. Kabudvand was reportedly sentenced to 10 months in prison on 18 August 2005 for “separatist propaganda”. Reportedly held in solitary confinement for 66 days before being freed on bail. For reasons unclear to PEN, Kabudvand was summoned by the Office for the Execution of Sentences on 22 September 2006, and ordered to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Released in April 2007.
Professional details: Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was Chair of the Kurdish Human Rights Organization (RMMK) based in Tehran, and former editor of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan (Kurdistan People’s Message) a weekly published in Kurdish and Persian, which was banned on 27 June 2004 after only 13 issues for ‘disseminating separatist ideas and publishing false reports’. He has also reportedly written two books on democracy and a third on the women’s movement in Iran, which were not given publishing licences.
Other information: In January 2009 it was announced that Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand received the Human Rights Watch administered Hellmann/Hammett award in recognition of his journalism in the face of persecution.
Honorary member of: Swedish PEN.
[RAN 30/07 and updates].
Seyed Zohur Nabavi CHAASHMI: Columnist with the banned Sarzamin-e Aryayee magazine. Reportedly detained and taken to Evin prison in late March 2008, after an appeal court upheld his sentence of four years. It is thought his sentence is linked to a series of articles that he wrote in the magazine Sarzamin-e Aryayee (The land of Aryans). He is being held in Ward 350 in Evin Prison. In late December 2008 it was reported that he had been denied family visits for four weeks. WiPC seeking details of charges.
Rahim GHOLAMI: Journalist and cultural activist in Iranian Azerbaijan. Reportedly detained in Ardebil on 10 April 2008 with fellow activists Ardeshir Karim-Khiavi, deputy of the Islamic Association in the Independent University of Ardebil and managing editor of the student newsletter Khazar, and Vodoud Saadati, a student activist. On 26 November 2008 Gholami was summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Ardebil city, together with the other two Azeri activists. It has been reported that at the hearing the judge ordered the arrest of the activists’ lawyer and forced him to drop the case. It is said that Rahim Gholami is a journalist and an associate in the weekly publications Yashil Moghan, Mehr Ardebil, Araz, Forough Azerbaijan and Yarpagh. No further details as of 30 June 2009.
Bahman TUTUNCHI: Journalist and former member of the editorial board of the banned Kurdish weekly Krafto. Reportedly detained on 18 November 2008 at his home in Sanandaj, Iranian Kurdistan. Reports suggest that he has been subject to harassment since the closure of Krafto in December 2007. Said to have recently been moved to the section for drug addicts in Sanandaj prison. On 9 April 2009 it was reported that Tutunchi remains detained without charge.
Sentenced: non custodial
*Omid MAMARIAN, Roozbeh MIREBRAHIMI, Shahram RAFIZADEH and Javad GHOLAMTAMINI: Internet writers. Reportedly sentenced to three years imprisonment, fines and flogging by Tehran Judiciary Court on 3 February 2009, on charges which include ‘propaganda against the state’, ‘disseminating lies, ‘disturbing public order’, and ‘membership of illegal organisations’. The four internet writers were arrested in September and October 2004, and were allegedly ill-treated while interrogated, spent time in solitary confinement and did not have legal council or family visits. By the end of 2004 the writers were free on bail. Mamarian, Mirebrahimi and Rafizadeh are currently living overseas, only Golamtamini remains in Iran. The defence announced it would appeal the conviction.
Mahbubeh ABBASGHOLIZADEH (f), Parvin ARDALAN (f), Zhila BANI-YAGHOUB (f) and Shadi SADR (f): Prominent women writers and journalists. Arrested on 4 March 2007 along with thirty other women activists. All four were released on bail in March 2007 but are still facing charges of ‘acting against national security’, ‘participating in an illegal demonstration’ and ‘publicity against the Islamic Republic’ for organising a demonstration in Tehran on 4 March 2007. Parvin Ardalan is facing two terms of six-month imprisonment. Other women journalists and internet writers facing possible imprisonment in connection with the protest include Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani (6 months), Jelveh Javaheri (6 months), Maryam Hosseinkhah (6 months), Nahid Keshavarz (6 months) and Delaram Ali (30 months and 10 lashes.
[RAN 13/07 and updates]
*Kaveh MOZAFARI and Jelveh JAVAHERI (f): Journalist for the FeministSchool.com and 4equaity.info, both websites dealing with issues regarding women’s rights. Reportedly detained on 1 May 2009. Mozafari was detained by intelligence officers in the centre of Tehran, before the beginning of the May Day demonstrations. The officers took him to his home to do a search, and while there, they arrested his wife. On 3 May 2009, a judge set Javaheri’s bail for 100 million Toman, but according to her lawyer, she refused to pay the bail as she had not committed any crime. The Free Union of Workers in Iran reported that by 10 June a Court in Tehran demanded 50 million Toman to grant Mozafari’s bail, but he could not pay that amount and remains in prison.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Javaheri spent one month in detention in December 2007 because of her articles posted online. The WiPC is seeking information on the charges against Mozafari and Javaheri.
*Alireza SAGHAFI: Editor of the magazine Rah Ayandeh (Way of the Future) until its closure in May 2008 and member of the Iranian Writers Association, was reportedly detained by intelligence officers on 1 May 2009. Saghafi’s detention took place in the centre of Tehran, prior to his participation in the May Day demonstration. On 2 May Saghafi was transferred to Evin prison. According to the Free Union of Workers in Iran, Saghafi was released on bail on 10 June 2009. The WiPC is seeking information on the charges against Saghafi.
Taghi RAHMANI and Hoda SABER
Profession: Journalist with the banned weekly Omid-é-Zangan and coeditor of the banned monthly Iran-é-Farda.
Date of arrest: 14 June 2003. Sentence: seven and five and a half respectively.
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested at their homes in Tehran on 15 June 2003 for meeting secretly with students in support of the anti-government protests that began on 10 June 2003. They were free on bail at the time after being convicted in a separate case.
Details of trial: Among seven journalists who were sentenced on 10 May 2003 for their membership of the National Religious Alliance (Melli Mazhabi),a nationalist Islamic group that has been banned since March 2001. They received sentences of eleven and ten years’ imprisonment respectively on charges of “subversive activities against the state”. Both remained free on bail pending appeal, but were each arrested at their homes in Tehran on 15 June 2003 for allegedly meeting secretly with students in support of the antigovernment protests that began on 10 June 2003. They remained detained, and details of their detention remained unclear until 1 May 2004, when their sentences were reportedly confirmed as seven and fiveand- a-half years’ imprisonment respectively. Lawyers for the men have not been allowed access to their clients’ files. Their case was re-examined by the Head of Judiciary and they were convicted in a closed session on 28 December 2005 on charges of forming an illegal group and conspiring to commit crimes. They remain free on bail pending appeal.
Other information: Taghi Rahmani is a recipient of the 2005 Hellman/Hammett awards.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Rahmani previously served 13 years in the 1980’s and 90’s for opposition activities.
Honorary member of: Danish PEN (Taghi Ramani).
Saman RASOULPOUR: Internet writer, contributor to the news website Rooz online and member of the Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights in Kurdistan. Reportedly arrested on 27 July 2008 at his home in the city of Mahabad, in West Azerbaijan province. Two days before his arrest, he participated on a demonstration demanding the overturn of the death sentence imposed on Adnan Hassanpour and others (See Adnan Hassanpour’s case above). Reports suggest that his arrest was linked to his reporting and his activism, as he has written about the Kurd minority in Iran. Rasoulpour was released on payment of bail on 14 August 2008, and is awaiting trial. No further details as of 30 June 2009.
Following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in the presidential elections announced on 13 June, widespread peaceful protests by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who dispute the election result have been suppressed by the authorities. Scores of journalists and leading reformists are amongst the hundreds to have been arrested, and although many have since been released (see www.cpj.org and www.rsf.org for more details) the following are believed to remain detained as of 30 June 2009 and arrests are continuing:
*Abulfadhl ABIDINI: Freelance journalist and human rights activist, reportedly arrested in Ahwaz in southwest Iran on 30 June 2009. Abidini was also arrested last year after he reported on a strike by workers at a factory in Ahwaz.
*Mohammad Ali ABTAHI: Well known blogger. Reportedly arrested from his home in Tehran on 16 June 2009.
*Mehamsa AMRABADI (f): a reporter for Itmad e Milli newspaper, was reportedly arrested in Tehran on 15 June 2009.
*Karim ARGHANDEHPOUR: Journalist for the now-banned reformist newspapers Salaam and Vaghaa-ye-Ettefaaghyeh and blogger. Reportedly arrested on 17 June 2009.
*Zhila BANI-YAGHOUB (f) and Bahman Ahmadi OMAVI: Editor-in-chief of the women’s rights website Canon Zeman Irani(http://irwomen.net) and reformist journalist respectively. They are a married couple. Reportedly arrested by security forces in Tehran on 19 June 2009. Zhila Bani-Yaghoub also faces charges in a separate case, see ‘on trial’ above.
*Muhammad GHOUCHANI: Editor-in-chief of Itmad e Milli, which is owned by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was arrested on 19 June 2009 by Ettelaat intelligence agents. On 30 June, Javan, a newspaper aligned with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, published a “confession” allegedly made by Ghouchani.
*Saeed HAJJARIAN: Prominent reformist journalist and politician. Formerly wrote for the reformist newspaper Sobh-e Emrooz and worked as political advisor to former president Mohammed Khatami. Reportedly arrested on 15 June 2009 and remains detained without charge. Hajjarian, aged 55, is disabled and in need of constant specialist medical care as the result of an assassination attempt in 2000. His wife reports that his condition is seriously deteriorating in detention.
*Saeed LILAZ: A journalist for the daily business journal Sarmaia and a vocal critic of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s economic policy. Reportedly arrested in his home on 17 June 2009. His whereabouts are unknown.
*Rajab-Ali MAZROUI: Director of the Association of Iranian Journalists, was reportedly arrested on 19 June 2009.
*Shiwa NAZAR-AHARI (f): Internet writer and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a local watchdog group, was arrested by Ettelaat intelligence agents in her Tehran office on 14 June 2009.
*Kambiz NOUROOZI: Director of legal affairs at the Association of Iranian Journalists, in Tehran, arrested on 28 June 2009. He reportedly contacted family members to inform them that his case will be referred to the Revolutionary Court.
*Esmail PARAST: Reporter for the publication Farhikhteghan. Reportedly arrested on 22 June 2009.
*Sumaia TAWHIDLU (f). Blogger on the website Sahel e Salamat and a supporter of defeated reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Reportedly arrested in mid-June in Tehran.
*Mujtaba TEHRANI: A reporter with the newspaper Itmad e Milli owned by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, was reportedly arrested on his way home on 27 June 2009. The following day police reportedly visited his home, searched it, and took his computer.
*Ahmad ZAID-ABADI: Journalist who writes for Rooz Online, a Farsi and English reformist news Web site. Reportedly arrested in mid-June in Tehran.
D.o.b.: 1979. Profession: Writer and leader of the group Students for Freedom and Equality (Daneshjouyan-e Azadi Khah va Beraber Talab).
Date of arrest: 14 January 2008.
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested in Tehran on 14 January 2008 by Intelligence Ministry officers along with 14 other students at a meeting, in what appears to be a pattern of recent arrests of student activists. Amin Ghazaei’s home was reportedly searched on 15 January 2008 by police who confiscated his computer and all of his papers. Held without charge in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin Prison until his release on bail on 11 March 2008.
Professional details: Amin Ghazaei is known for his many articles published on-line on topics such as gender identity. The websites he has written for include www.mindmotor.com and www.poetrymag.info . He is the chief editor of the electronic journal ArtCult and has his own weblog (bafandeh.blogfa.com). He has also translated some banned books into Farsi, including Gender Trouble (Judith Butler), Seduction (Jean Baudrillard), and Cyborg Manifesto (Donna Haraway) which have been published either on the web or by an Iranian publisher in Europe. He has also published two collections of writings, Hich Ettefagh (Nothing Happening) and Haghighat (Truth), and has co-authored the anthology Honar-e Mossalah (Armed Art). None of his works have been submitted for publication inside Iran.
D.o.b.: 1930. Profession: Journalist and film critic.
Date of arrest: 24 November 2001. Sentence: 11 years’ imprisonment. Expires: 23 November 2012.
Details of arrest: Abducted by the Iranian intelligence services on 24 November 2001. It is thought that his arrest may be connected to his position as manager of the Majmue-ye Farrhangi-ye Honari-ye Tehran, a cultural centre for writers, artists, and intellectuals. Pourzand is also known for his articles critical of the Islamic regime, and is said to have worked with Iranian foreign-based media.
Details of trial: On 6 March 2002, the Iranian authorities began closed and unannounced proceedings against Pourzand. On 13 April 2002 the Tehran General Court reportedly sentenced him to eleven years’ imprisonment on charges of “undermining state security through his links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries”. It is widely believed that the charges against him are based on ‘confessions’ which are thought to have been exacted under duress. The sentence was reportedly confirmed on 21 May 2002 following an appeal by his court-appointed lawyers.
Health concerns: Pourzand suffers from diabetes and a heart complaint. Said to have been denied necessary medical treatment whilst in detention, and reported by his family to be in a serious condition both physically and psychologically. After a series of hospitalisations in 2004 he was released on medical leave from prison. However according to his family he is denied permission to travel abroad for necessary medical treatment and to visit his family who are living in exile in the US.
Other information: Siamak Pourzand is the husband of writer and lawyer Mehrangiz Kar.
Honorary Member: Norwegian, Canadian and American PEN.
[RAN 20/04, 27 April 2004]
D.o.b.: 1970. Profession: Novelist
Date of arrest: 15 March 2007. Sentence: 1 year in prison, 9 months of which were suspended.
Details of arrest: According to PEN’s information, Yaghoub Yadali was arrested on 15 March 2007 and detained for 41 days on charges of insult, libel and publication of false information in two of his fictional works: a collection of six short stories entitled Sketches in the Garden (Aasa Publications, Tehran, 1997) and parts of his novel Rituals of Restlessness (Niloufar publications, Tehran, 2004). Both had been granted approval for publication from Iran’s Ministry of Guidance. A sample of the novel, Rituals of Restlessness, featuring a rural Lor woman who is described as an immoral person, is quoted by the prosecutor in the indictment. Yaghoub Yadali is himself a member of the Lor Ethnic minority, and is an award-winning writer in the region.
Details of trial: Yadali was tried at a court in the city of Yasuj, capital of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, south-western Iran, on 23 August 2007. He was convicted and sentenced in September 2007 to one years’ imprisonment for ‘insulting in order to agitate the general public’. Nine months of the sentence are suspended for two years, conditional on his writing four articles in the local news papers on art and cultural personalities of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, published at his own expense. On 24 February 2008 an appeals court reportedly ordered that he serve the term in prison. Thought to remain free as of 30 June 2009.
Professional details: Yaghoub Yadali is a prominent writer, who has also worked as a television director, making documentaries and writing screenplays. In addition to the works for which he was sentenced, he has also published Probability of Merriment and Mooning (Nim-negah Publications, Shiraz, 2001), a collection of eight short stories for which he won the Press Critics Annual Prize in 2001, and many articles and cultural commentaries in newspapers and journals. Since his arrest Yadali has been banned from publishing, and his books have been withdrawn from the market. He has also been dismissed from his job, and is now unemployed and without financial support.
Honorary member of: Scottish and Swedish PEN.
Sentenced – free on bail
Solmaz IGDER (f): Journalist for the online website Canon Zeman Irani (http://www.irwomen.com). Reportedly sentenced in early November 2008 to six months in prison for ‘activity liable to harm national security’ by a revolutionary curt on Rai, southern Tehran. Igder was not given a written notification of the sentence, she was only notified orally, which prevents her from appealing with the support of legal defense. Idger remains free on bail.
Profession: Journalist with the Azeri-language weekly Yarpagh.
Date of arrest: 28 May 2007. Sentence: Eight years in prison.
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested on 28 May 2007 at his home in the northwestern city of Zanjan. Reportedly held incommunicado in pre-trial detention in section 209 of Evin prison, without access to family visits, until 26 February 2008 because his family was unable to raise the bail sum.
Details of trial: Convicted by a Tehran revolutionary court behind closed doors on 11 June 2008 on charges of ‘maintaining relations with foreigners’ and ‘publicity against the Islamic Republic’. His lawyer was not present at the hearing. His sentence was upheld on appeal in June 2008. [Reportedly taken into detention on 11 July 2009].
Abolfazl Abedini NASR: D.o.b.: 1982. Journalist with the weekly Bahar Khozestan. Reportedly arrested on 13 November 2007, and sentenced to one year in prison on 24 December 2007 at a trial held in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on charges of ‘inciting workers to rebellion’ and ‘relations with foreign media’ after he covered a worker’s demonstration. His lawyer was reportedly not present at the trial. Released on bail on 18 February 2008.
*Roxana SABERI (f): Iranian-American journalist and writer. Reportedly arrested in late January 2009 for buying alcohol, which is prohibited in Iran. In early March it was reported that her detention was linked to her allegedly ‘illegal’ and ‘unauthorised’ activities as a journalist in Iran since 2006, when her press credentials were revoked. On 18 April 2009 she was sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to eight years in prison.
[RAN 15/09 and updates]
Hamid ARGHISH (Rostami): Journalist and poet from Iranian Azerbaijan. Reportedly sentenced to 1 year imprisonment, 2 years internal exile and a 3-year ban on publication of his writings on 16 May 2008. Case closed for lack of further information.
Yosef Azizi BANITRUF: Freelance journalist working for several national and foreign media. Reportedly sentenced on 20 August 2008 to five years in prison for ‘acting against national security’, ‘propaganda against the regime’, ‘incitement to rebellion’ and ‘relations with foreign officials’, after a two-year trial. Reports suggest that the charges were linked to his reporting on the excess use of force by security forces against demonstrators from the Arab community in Khuzestan. The journalist was arrested on 25 April 2005, and released on bail on 28 June 2005. The sentence was upheld by an appeals court on 12 November 2008. Banitruf left Iran to escape arrest and remains abroad. Case closed.
Mohsen HAKIMI: A member of the Writers Association of Iran. Reportedly detained without a warrant during a visit to a family friend on 22 December 2008 and remains in detention. The judge in charge has refused to release him on bail. Case closed for lack of further information.
Alireza SARAFI, Said MOHAMADI, Hassain RASHEDI and Akabar AZAD: Editor of the banned monthly Dilmaj, editor of the literary magazine Yashagh, and journalists for the magazine Varlighe and the weekly Yarpagh respectively. All from the Azeri ethnic minority in Iran. Reportedly arrested in Tehran on 10 September 2008 whilst at a meeting at the home of a political activist. Thought to be held for their activism and writings against social inequality of Azeris in Iran. Still detained incommunicado without charge as of 25 September 2008. Case closed for lack of further information.
Abid AREF: Editor-in-chief of the independent Kurdish weekly Hawlati. Reportedly facing a criminal defamation lawsuit filed against him by Iraqi President Jalal Talibani, for a report translated and published in the paper on 13 January 2008. The report, authored by an American scholar for the US non-profit American Enterprise Institute for the Public Policy Research, was allegedly highly critical of the President and other Kurdish leaders. The charges were filed under article 433 of the 1969 Iraqi Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine. The trial opened on 4 February 2008. Case closed for lack of further information.
Ata FARAHAT: Golan Heights correspondent for the daily newspaper Al Watan. Reportedly arrested on 30 July 2007 and taken to Al-Jalama prison, southeast of Haifa. The charges against him are unknown but it has been reported that Farahat was brought before an investigative judge on several occasions. Farahat is a Syrian national and according to the Syria Centre for Media Expression, he may have been charged with ‘establishing contacts with an enemy nation’. His lawyers and the Israeli media are banned from talking about the case. In early October 2008 Ata Farahat’s family reported that he is currently being held in Al-Jalbou prison, in Beit Shean, 120 kilometres from Jerusalem. The trial against him opened on 2 March 2008 in a court in Tel Aviv, and that seventeen hearings have taken place so far, all behind closed doors. The media, defence lawyers and Farahat’s family continue to be banned from providing information on the trial.
*Amira HASS (f): Journalist for the Haaretz newspaper, based in Tel Aviv. Reportedly arrested and questioned on 12 May 2009 for three hours by the police as she was leaving the Gaza Strip, for allegedly ‘illegally entering enemy territory’.
*Islam SAMHAN: Poet and journalist for the newspaper Alarab Alyawn, aged 27. Reportedly sentenced to one year in prison on 23 June 2009 for allegedly ridiculing religion and divine doctrines, offending prophets and failure to register his publication at the Jordanian department of printing and publishing. The case dates back to March 2008, when Samhan published his book Rahaqet Dhel (Gracefulness of a Shadow), some verses of which were considered to be blasphemous by the Jordanian Grand Mufti, Jordan’s highest religious authority, who accused him of ‘apostasy and being an enemy of religion’. The Muslim Brotherhood called for the book to be recalled and for Samhan to be punished. As a result of this campaign he was briefly detained for 15 days on 19 October 2008. WiPC checking current status.
*Hassan BARHOUM: Internet writer and journalist, was arrested on 26 February 2009, and sentenced on 6 March 2009 to six months in prison and a fine for ‘circulating false news’. However, the Court of Appeal increased Barhoum’s prison term to ten months on 13 April 2009. There are fears that his imprisonment was linked to his reporting on corruption, and for publishing a document signed by sixty prominent people accusing the public prosecutor of corruption. WiPC seeking further information.
*Chekib EL-KHAYARI: Human rights activist and contributor to international news media, was reportedly arrested on 17 February 2009, and sentenced to three years in prison for ‘gravely insulting state institutions’ on 24 June 2009. There are reports that El-Khayari’s detention was initially linked to statements he made to international media criticizing governmental policies on drugs. However, in the 21 April 2009 hearing, he was told that the prosecutor had presented further charges against him regarding infractions of currency regulations. These new charges were related to a payment he received from the Spanish newspaper El Pais, after he published an essay in the 4 July 2006 issue of El Pais. El-Khayari received 225 Euros for the essay deposited in a foreign bank account, and reportedly withdrew the money without using a Moroccan bank as an intermediary or informing the Office of Currency Exchange. El Khayari, aged 30, has also received a fine for approx. US$90,000. He is being held at Oukacha Prison, in Casablanca. His defence announced an appeal against the sentence.
*Ali ANOUZIA, Mohamed BRINI, Mokhtar Al-Ghizeawy, Rachid NINY, and Younes MESKINI: Editor of the daily Al-Jarida Al-Oula; editor of the daily Al-Ahdath Al-Magrebia; reporter for Al-Ahdath Al-Magrebia; editor of Al-Massae; and former reporter for Al-Masae, respectively. Reportedly facing charges of ‘publicly harming’ the Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi, and ‘hurting his dignity’, over articles published in late 2008 and early 2009. The various pieces were critical of Qaddafi, including his political paper Green book. The journalists were summoned to court in Casablanca on 22 May 2009. According to the journalists’ lawyers, the trial was adjourned until late June 2009. If found guilty, the journalists could face up to one year in prison.
*Driss CHAHTAN: Managing editor of the independent weekly Al-Michaal, is reportedly on trial on charges of defamation. The case was allegedly filed by a group of supporters of King Mohamed VI, after the editor published an article which appeared in the front page of Al-Michaal entitled ‘The scandals of the King’s Aunts’. Chahtan was summoned to a Casablanca court on 18 June 2009, and if found guilty he could face up to one year in prison and a fine, according to Article 42 of the Press Law.
*Ali AL-ZWAIDI: Journalist and internet activist. Charged on 24 February 2009 under article 61 of the Omani communications law over an article alleging corruption in the Omani telecommunications company Omantel. The article was published in August 2008 on the online forum Sablat Oman which Al-Zwaidi moderates. He is not thought to be the author of the article. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. The trial was due to start on 17 March 2009, WiPC seeking an update.
*Farid HAMAD and Ayad (Iyad) SROUR: Editor of the newspaper Al-Ayyam; and head of the Yafa press centre. Hamad has been reportedly held in detention since 29 July 2008, and Srour since 14 October 2008. According to press reports, in mid February 2009, Palestinian security forces refused to released both journalists, alleging that they were detained on charges of ‘possession of weapons’ and ‘membership to an illegal organisation’, and that they would remain in prison because they pose a threat to the Palestinian people. However there are fears that they may be held for their reporting. Still detained as of 30 June 2009, WiPC seeking further details.
Mustafa SABRI: Editor of the Hamas-affiliated daily newspaper Palestine. On 31 July 2008 Mustafa Sabri was detained by the Palestinian intelligence agency in the West Bank city of Qalqilya. The Supreme Court, on 10 September, ordered his release, but in spite of this Sabri remains in detention. Reports suggest that his defence does not know of any accusation against Sabri. Still detained as of 30 June 2009.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Reportedly arrested by officers of the Intelligence Service in Kalkiliya, a town in the West Bank, on 27 May 2008, interrogated and released two days later. Also reportedly arrested for four days in February 2008 by the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
*Abu SAMRAH: Correspondent for the newspaper Alhaqiqa Aldawliya. Reportedly arrested on 23 June 2009 from his home in the West Bank. The reason for his arrest is not known. Still detained as of 30 June 2009.
*Hamoud Bin SALEH: Internet writer and university student. Was reportedly detained and taken to the notorious Eleisha prison in Riyadh, on 13 January 2009. It is said that his arrest was linked to his postings on his blog, where he announced his conversion from Islam to Christianity. His blog Masihi Saudi has been blocked. Saleh, aged 28, is a student at Al-Yarmouk University. On 28 March 2009 he was released but prohibited from contacting the media and travelling abroad.
Dr. Matruk AL-FALEH: Prominent pro-reform activist and Professor of Political Science at King Saud University, Riyadh. Reportedly arrested on 19 May 2008 for publishing critical comments about poor conditions in Breidah Public Prison. Held in solitary confinement in Alhayer prison, without access to legal advice or family visits. Dr. Matruk Al-Faleh was released without charge on 11 January 2009.
[RAN 06/08 and update]
Yousif ASHMAWI: Egyptian Internet activist and programmer arrested on 24 August 2008. It has been reported that in October 2007 Ashmawi travelled to Saudi Arabia to work as an IT programmer, and did also some work for the Saudi Foreign Ministry. Last time he was seen, on 24 August 2008, he went to an administrative office to obtain his driving license, when a car believed to belong to the Saudi Security Services took him to an unknown location. He has not made contact with his relatives in Egypt. Some reports say that he is being held in Al Hayer prison in Riyadh. Case closed for lack of further information.
Imprisoned: Main cases
D.O.B. 1975. Profession: Writer and poet.
Date of arrest: November 2006. Sentence: Four years’ imprisonment. Expires: November 2010.
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested in November 2006, for articles posted on Syrian websites, in particular an article entitled ’What did the Syrian army do in Israel’s war against Lebanon’ dated 16 July 2006, posted on a Syrian internet website http://www.ahewar.org/debat/show.art.asp?aid=70127 (in Arabic).
Details of trial: Saad was taken to the state security court on 24 June 2007, but his trial was postponed twice. He was convicted on 7 April 2008, under Article 286 of the Criminal Code, for disseminating false or exaggerated information, which is liable to weaken national morale.
Place of detention: Saydnaya prison, north of Damascus.
Professional details: Saad had been writing articles on political and economic issues in Syria. Some of these pieces were posted in Syrian websites, which are frequently blocked in that country. He has also published two collections of poems in Arabic, A Syrian Requiem: A Text on Love and Death’ (Dar al-Balad House, Damascus, 2003) and Spirit, speckled defeats (Dar Amwaj House, Beirut 2004).
D.o.b.: 1948 Profession: Internet writer and political analyst. Writes regularly for the website Elaph.com (http://elaph.com), heavily censored in Syria because of its outspoken news reporting.
Sentence: 3 years in prison. Expires: 5 May 2011.
Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested on 6 May 2008. Saleh, aged 61, had recently posted online articles critical of the Syrian authorities.
Details of trial: His trial began on 1 December 2008 on charges of ‘spreading mendacious information aimed at weakening national sentiment’, ‘inciting civil and sectarian strife’, and ’attacking the president’, under articles 285, 374 and 277 of the criminal code, for his critical writings. On 15 March the Damascus Criminal Court found Habib Saleh guilty of “weakening national sentiments” (Article 285 of the Penal Code) and “broadcasting false or exaggerated news which could affect the morale of the country” (Article 286). The charges on which he was convicted related to several articles on domestic political issues which he had written and published on the internet and in which he had criticized policies of the Syrian government and expressed support for a prominent opposition figure, Riad al-Turk. The court dropped other charges against him.
Previous political imprisonment/problems: Twice detained for his critical writings: sentenced to three years in prison in 2002, released on 9 September 2004; re-arrested on 29 May 2005 and sentenced to three years in prison for ‘spreading mendacious information’, released on 12 September 2007 after completing three-quarters of his sentence.
Fayez SARA, Yasser al-‘EITI, Ali al-ABDULLAH, Akram al-BUNNI
Profession: Journalist for the Arabic language publications Assafir, Al-Hayat and Al-Arab Al-Yom, poet, writer, and columnist respectively.
Date of arrest: 12 December 2007-3 January 2008. Sentence: Two and a half years in prison. Expires: July 2010.
Details of arrest: Amongst thirteen prominent activists to be arrested after attending a meeting on 1 December 2007 of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic Change, an umbrella group formed in August 2005 by secular opposition parties calling for ‘radical democratic change’ in Syria. Over 40 activists were reportedly arrested in a crackdown on signatories of the Damascus Declaration, and most were freed after a brief detention.
Details of trial: These four men are among thirteen to be charged on 28 January 2008 with ‘weakening national sentiment’, and ‘spreading false news’. On 29 October 2008 the First Damascus Criminal Court sentenced the detainees to two and a half years in prison for ‘publishing false information with the aim of harming the state’, ‘membership of a secret organisation designed to destabilise the state’ and ‘inciting ethnic and racial hatred’. Their defence announce they would appeal the sentence.
Place of detention: Held in ‘Adra prison in harsh conditions.
Treatment in prison: Said to have been ill-treated, but to have access to family visits.
*Faruq Haji MUSTAFA: Syrian-Kurdish journalist and writer, reportedly detained by security officers on 5 April 2009. Mustafa has written for various regional publications, including Al-Watan, based in Syria, Al-Safir, based in Lebanon, and Al-Hayat, based in London. There are reports that before his arrest, the journalist had received several summonses to go to the political security office in Aleppo. Feared to be held incommunicado without charge as of end June 2009.
*Waed Al-MHANA: Journalist and activist, is reportedly on trial for an article posted on the website Kaluna Shuraka (We are all partners), in early November 2006. In the article, Al-Mhana referred to the project of the Ministry of Culture to demolish a site in the historic area of Damascus. In April 2007, the Ministry of Culture filed a criminal case against Al-Mhana for violating the press code because his article contained allegedly ‘inappropriate phrases that include abasement’. On July 2008 the journalist was found guilty and sentenced to two months in prison and a fine, but Al-Mhana didn’t know about it until early 2009. In April 2009 he then filed an appeal and demanded a review of his case. No further information as of 30 June 2009.
*Derwesh XALIB: Linguist, computer engineer and member of Kurdish PEN Centre. Reportedly arrested by the Syrian security forces in Qamishli (southwest Kurdistan), on 13 January 2009. Two days later, security officials raided Xalib’s home and seized his writings, transcripts and all his books. Xalib, aged 59, has run many Kurdish language courses in Syria, and has established the Committee for learning the Kurdish language. On 26 January 2009, it was reported that he had been released.
Michel KILO: Prominent writer, journalist and civil society activist. Arrested on 14 May 2006 and sentenced to 3 years in prison for signing the “Beirut-Damascus Declaration” of 12 May 2006 calling for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria. He was convicted by the Damascus Criminal Court on 13 May 2007 on charges of “spreading false news, weakening national feeling and inciting sectarian sentiments” for his dissident writings and pro-reform activities. Michel Kilo was released from Adra Prison in Damascus on 14 May 2009. He was held for interrogation at the Intelligence Services headquarters in Damascus until 19 May 2009, then allowed to return home. He is said to be in good health.
Karim ARBAJI: Internet writer and moderator of the online forum www.akhawia.net. Arrested on 7 June 2007 and reportedly charged with ‘spreading false information that may weaken national sentiment’ according to Article 286 of the Criminal Code. Thought to be remained detained without trial as of end December 2008. Case closed for lack of further information.
Tarek BIASI: Internet writer. Reportedly arrested on 30 June 2007 and sentenced to three years in prison on 11 May 2008 by the State Security Court for ‘insulting security services’ and ‘weakening national sentiment’ in his online writings. Case closed for lack of further information.
*Ammar AMROUSSIA: Contributor for the banned newspaper El Badil (Alternative) and human rights defender. Reportedly attacked and threatened by the Gafsa police chief and five other officers on 15 May 2009. The attack occurred after Amroussia published articles in the El Badil website on a series of protests in January 2008 and the crackdown in the mining region in June.
*Slim BOUKHDIR: Journalist and Internet writer, was reportedly threatened by the Tunisian authorities to send him back to prison, in early January 2009. According to a 6 June 2009 report, Boukhdir was told by the authorities that he could face charges of ‘receiving funds from foreign agencies’, if he accepts economic support from an international organisation of journalists. Boukhdir stated that the warning was made the day after an organisation offered their support over the phone, suggesting that the Tunisian authorities are monitoring phone calls. Boukhdir served time in prison from November 2007 to July 2008 for his political reporting.
*Omar MESTRY: Managing editor of the Internet magazine Kalima, was reportedly threatened by an unidentified police officer on 29 January 2009. Mestry had just left Kalima’s headquarters when a police officer threatened him at knife point. Omar Mestry and Sihem Bensedrine (f), editor of Kalima and human rights activist, are subject to ongoing harassment and attack for their human rights activism. Sihem Bensedrine, Neziha Rejiba and Mohammmed Talbi were awarded the 2009 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize.
Honorary member: of Swiss Romande PEN Centre.
*Abdallah ZOUARI: Former editor of the banned weekly Al Fajr. Reportedly arrested on 13 March 2009 in a café in the town of Khariba and interrogated for several hours over a letter he had signed to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas calling for the release of political prisoners held in Ramallah.
*Yahya BAMAHFUD: Internet writer and former editor of the Hadhramaut board news website, was reportedly arrested by security officers in Bamahfud, in Mukalla city, on 10 May 2009. Reports say that Bamahfud’s home was raided without a warrant, his documents and computer were seized, and he was taken to an unknown location. WiPC seeking further details.
Fahd al-QARNI: Popular singer. Reportedly sentenced on 9 July 2008 to eighteen months in prison, a fine of 500,000 Yemeni Riyals, and to promise never to sing again, on charges of insulting the Yemeni president and the ruling party. The singer was reportedly arrested in April 2008, while in his way to Aden participate in a festival. He was freed in September 2008 and the charges quashed when he received a presidential pardon, but on 18 February 2009 he was summoned to court again to be prosecuted on the same charges. It is believed that these charges are based on cassette tapes produced by al-Qarni in September 2006 combining folk music with humour and criticism of government policies. These compositions were not authorised by the Ministry of Culture and in July 2006 six vendors were arrested for selling al-Qarni’s cassette. WiPC checking whether currently detained.
*Fuad RASHID: Journalist, owner and publisher of the news service www.mukallapress.com, was reportedly arrested by security officers, in the city of Al-Mukalla, Hadramoot province, south of the country, on 4 May 2009. Reports say that the website had been reporting on the clashes between local residents and security forces, which started in late April 2009. Rashid has been taken to a high security prison and remains detained as of end June 2009.
*Salah JALAL: Editor-in-chief of the newspaper July 17, was reportedly kidnapped on 4 May 2009, by a group of civilians, who were said to be wearing military clothes. Local media reports say that this is part of a state-run campaign against the media, after the clashes between residents of the southern region of Yemen and the security forces, in late April 2009. WiPC seeking further details.
*Hisham BASHRAHEEL: Editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Al-Ayyam, had been reportedly issued with an arrest warrant on 4 May 2009. On 13 May, the newspaper’s headquarters were attacked by security forces, and three members of his staff were injured after the police surrounded the building and opened fire. The newspaper’s General Director, Bashraheel Bashraheel, reported that several of the newspaper’s reporters have received death threats since the newspaper published reports and photos of the clashes between residents of the southern region of the country and the security forces. Al-Ayyan’s website has been blocked and the newspaper has not being able to go to print.
*Mohammad SHAR’ABI: Editor of the independent Al Diyar newspaper. His house was reportedly bombed on 24 March 2009. He had previously received death threats for his critical writings. He was previously attacked in November 2008 when unknown assailants has shot at his house.
*Abdel Malek SHRAI: Journalist for the independent Al-Ayyam daily. Reportedly attacked by unknown assailants on 23 March 2009 whilst reporting on the murder of a local official.
Abdel Karim AL-KHAIWANI: Former editor of the online opposition publication Al-Shoura. Arrested on 20 June 2007 and sentenced to six years in prison on 9 June 2008 for alleged links to a militant opposition group ‘Houthis’. It is widely believed, however, that he was targeted for his journalistic activities. On 25 September 2008 Abdel Karim Al- Khaiwani was released after being granted a presidential pardon. On 26 January 2009 the Yemen’s Special Terrorist Court decided to uphold the initial sentence of six years in prison against Al-Khaiwani, contrary to the presidential pardon. He remained free, and on 14 March 2009 the Yemeni president finally announced that the case against Al-Khaiwani was closed.