Global Report 20.05.05

USA

A third federal agency has admitted it paid a journalist to write
favourable stories. Documents released by the Agriculture Department
show it paid freelance writer Dave Smith $9,375 in 2003 to “research
and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the
benefits of NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service] programmes”.
Three articles by Smith – a biologist by profession who now works for
the NRCS in Montana – appeared late last year in two magazines aimed at
hunting and fishing enthusiasts: Outdoor Oklahoma and Washington-
Oregon Game & Fish. Neither magazine told readers that Smith had
been paid by the government even though he had “clearly spelled out [to
the magazines]” that he had been hired by the Agriculture Department.
Last year it was revealed that the Education Department and Health and
Human Service Department had both paid journalists to write favourable
stories, leading to accusations of the Bush administration of paying
for propaganda, which would be illegal. President George Bush has since
ordered Cabinet secretaries to end such payments to journalists.
USAToday.com

GREECE

Football hooligans are being blamed for a violent assault on sports
journalist Kostas Nikolakopoulos after he finished broadcasting on
Sport FM radio in Athens. Nikolakopoulos, 41, who also works for
dailies Fos ton Sport and Adesmeftos, was left with head, rib and hand
injuries after being attacked in front of his family by four men armed
with iron bars and knuckledusters.

Nikolakopoulos, who covers sports events linked to Olympiakos
football club and its supporters, said: “This attack was carried out
football hooligans.

I have been receiving veiled threats for
three months.” In October last year, Philippos Syrigos, sports editor
of daily Eleftherotypia, was beaten up by thugs wearing motorcycle
helmets and armed with knives after leaving the Sport FM
offices. Reporters Without Borders

RUSSIA

Pskov police have deported a three-member Latvian television crew,
inflaming tensions between Latvia and Russia. Reporter Ivo Kirsblats
and cameraman Maris Jurgensons from Latvia’s government-run TV station
LTV, along with their driver Eriks Pakalns, were in Abrene on the
Russia/Latvia border covering the World War II Victory Day celebrations
when they were detained at a police station accused of breaking
immigration laws and “trying to escape”. LTV chief editor Inta Lase
said they had obtained accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry
and violated no laws. The Latvian Foreign Ministry sent a note of
protest to Moscow which said: “Such incidents do not help improve the
image of Russia as a country where press freedom is observed.” The crew
said that police forced them to erase footage and that the windshield
of their car was smashed while they were being questioned. Pskov police
said the journalists were detained because they had filmed a railroad
junction which required authorisation. The St Petersburg Times
Online

IRAN

A summons against journalist Emadoldin Baghi to appear at a Tehran
revolutionary court on 12 May was suspended following a national and
international outcry. Baghi, former editor of daily newspaper Jomhuriat
(Republican) – which was closed on the orders of the Tehran prosecutor
in July 2004 – was given a suspended sentence of one year last November
for writing articles for the pro-reform press.

This was later changed to one year in prison with no suspension of
sentence. Baghi, a founder of an organisation that defends the rights
of prisoners of conscience, had already served two years in prison for
“attacking national security” and “spreading false news”. Authorities
recently closed the monthly newspaper Jameh No (New Society), edited by
Baghi’s wife. Reporters Without Borders

BANGLADESH

A journalist on a Bangla-language daily has sought police protection
after claiming an assistant private secretary to a whip of parliament
threatened to kill him. Gouranga Nandi, a senior staff reporter on the
Khulna-based Dainik Janakantha, said that Nazmul Haq Nannu called him
at his home in Sonadanga.

Nannu asked Nandi why he had written a news story detailing arguments between the Khulna mayor and whip Ashraf Hossain.

Nandi
said: “When I said I am not bound to reply, [Nannu] hurled abuse at me
and threatened to give me ‘a good lesson. You need to be punished’. He
threatened to kill me, saying no one will be able to save me.” Nannu
has yet to respond to the claims. Asia Media Online

IRAQ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed concern
over the detentions of at least eight Iraqi journalists by US and Iragi
military forces. A US military spokesman said that the journalists pose
a “security risk to the Iraqi people and coalition forces”. None of the
journalists have been formally charged. Agence France-Presse said the
detainees included the news agency’s reporter Ammar Daham Naef Khalaf,
who was detained by US troops in Ramadi, and photographer Fares Nawaf
al-Issaywi, who was taken by Iraqi forces in Fallujah. CBS News
reported last month that a freelance cameraman, wounded by US fire in
Mosul, was taken into custody after “testing positive for explosive
residue”. Hassan al-Shummari, who reports for privately owned satellite
station Diyar TV, is also being detained for allegedly “aiding
insurgents”. The identities of the other detainees are unclear. CPJ
executive director Ann Cooper said: “We are deeply concerned that these
journalists are in detention merely for doing their work.” CPJ Online

PHILIPPINES

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has called for an end to the
murder of journalists in the country following the fifth death this
year. Philip Agustin, 54, publisher and editor of the Starline Times
Recorder, was gunned down inside his home in Dingalan, Aurora, on 10
May – bringing the total number of journalists murdered since democracy
was restored to the country in 1986 to 66. An aide to Arroyo said that
the protection of journalists and the immediate investigation of
attacks on them will be among the government’s top security concerns.
Press secretary Ignacio Bunye said the series of attacks pose “a
continuing challenge to the protection of press freedom in the
country”. A fund has also been established which will be used to
investigate the killings of journalists and assist their families.
Agustin’s death comes almost a week after radio broadcaster Klein
Cantoneros was gunned down in Dipolog City. Sun Star Network Online

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