Global Report 04.02.05

UKRAINE

The International Federation of Journalists has called on Ukrainian
president Viktor Yushchenko to solve the case of journalist Georgy
Gongadze’s murder and bring those responsible to justice, the
Ukrainskaya Pravda website has reported.

Gongadze used to be its editor-in-chief. IFJ general secretary Aidan
White said Yushchenko should act swiftly to provide the changes that he
promised during the “Orange Revolution”. White said the group welcomed
the president’s admission that Gongadze was killed by the authorities,
but said this statement should not be remembered as simply a part of
the presidential campaign. White said: “This case has become the symbol
of striving towards justice and democracy in Ukraine.”

PAKISTAN

Journalists staged a protest rally against the arrest of Al-Jazeera
TV journalist Tasir Aluni, who was held in Spain. A large number of
national and international journalists joined the rally. According to
the Pak Tribune, they chanted “full-throated slogans” for Aluni’s
release, claiming he was only doing routine duties and saying the
arrest of a journalist of any nationality was a violation of freedom of
the press. The rally was headed by Nawaz Raza, former president of the
press club.

Protesters appealed to international human rights organisations to play a role in releasing the journalist.

SERBIA

More than five years after the murder of Serbian journalist Slavko
Curuvija, the killer has yet to be identified – at least publicly. But
the Belgrade-based B92 Radio reported that police have had a suspect
for more than a year, but are not following through on the case, says
the Southeast European Times .

Curuvija was killed in April 1999 while under police surveillance,
after being accused by pro-Milosevic media of treason. According to
B92, testimony by a witness to the murder led police to identify the
killer in 2003. The reported suspect is Luka Pejovic, a Montenegran
gang figure. Rajko Danilovic, the Curuvija family lawyer, said he could
not confirm whether the allegations are valid, but called on police to
interview the government agents who were tailing Curuvija the day he
was shot and killed outside his home.

IRAN

The Writers In Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously
concerned about Arash Sigarchi, after his arrest by the Iranian
authorities. Sigarchi was editor-in-chief of Gylan Emroz and maintains
an internet journal known as Panhjareh Eltehab.

He was detained by the Ministry of Intelligence and is in Lakan
prison in Rasht, 200 km from Tehran on the Caspian coast. The Writers
In Prison Committee has learned that his detention was due to
interviews he gave to the BBC World Service.

Sigarchi was
previously a journalist on the daily Bahar , a reformist newspaper that
was banned in 2000. He was previously detained last August after a
report in his blog about a gathering at a Tehran cemetery marking the
anniversary of the execution of “several thousand” political prisoners
in 1988.

USA

As freed prison journalist Wilbert Rideau (Global Report, 21
January) starts his new life, his onetime partner at the Louisiana
State Penitentiary’s award-winning magazine remains behind bars – in
declining health and probably facing another seven years before his
release, reports the Associated Press. Besides working as co-editor
with Rideau on The Angolite , Billy Wayne Sinclair came into the public
eye in another way – as a government witness who helped expose a 1980s
pardon-selling scandal in Louisiana. And that, Sinclair has claimed in
lawsuits in state and federal court, is the reason he is still inside.

Sinclair and Rideau often travelled together (unshackled but
accompanied by guards) for speaking engagements outside the walls of
the “nation’s deadliest prison, says AP. Sinclair saw his life sentence
for killing a convenience store clerk during a 1965 robbery reduced to
90 years.

BRAZIL

Journalist Lucio Flavio Pinto has been attacked and received death
threats. Pinto, publisher and editor, of the small bi-monthly Jornal
Pessoal , based in Belem in the northern state of Para, was in a
restaurant when businessman and politician Ronaldo Maiorana allegedly
choked him, pushed him to the floor, kicked him and threatened to kill
him. The Committee to Protect Journalists said Maiorana’s bodyguards
provided cover for their boss during the attack. Maiorana is director
of the Belem-based daily O Liberal , part of a large media group which
Pinto alleged ran a quasi-monopoly and used its influence to pressure
companies and politicians to place advertising.

KENYA

Kenyan authorities have changed their mind in the first-ever serious
government attack on press freedom in the country, reports afrol News.
The criminal libel charges against an investigative reporter, based on
outdated legislation from the colonial era, have been dropped after
massive local and international protest. The East African Standard
journalist Kamau Ngotho was charged with criminal libel after writing
about ties between the country’s business elite and the government of
president Mwai Kibaki. The attorney-general gave no reason for the
change of heart. But it is believed the pressure of protest was a
factor. Ngotho had already won the right to be judged by Kenya’s
Constitutional Court instead of an ordinary court.

NEPAL

Reporters Sans Frontieres has voiced its outrage at the torture by
soldiers of a young journalist, who has since been detained in Katmandu
under the anti-terrorist law. It called for Chandra Giri, 23, of the
weekly Shram to be freed from custody and for those responsible to be
punished, in a letter to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. He was
moved to the central prison after 20 days in secret detention. He told
his brother that soldiers, seeking information about his sources and
contacts with Maoist leaders, had beaten him, given him electric shocks
and sprayed him with freezing water.

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