In May 2019, WIRED has joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of leading editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack around the world. Today, the coalition is releasing its 24th monthly list of the “10 most urgent journalists” whose press freedom is suppressed or whose cases demand justice. This iteration focuses on elections and protests as a catalyst for violence against journalists.
Countries in which the number of jailed journalists increased significantly in 2020 include Belarus, where mass protests ensued over the contested re-election of the long-time president, and Ethiopia, where political unrest escalated into armed conflict . The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) maintains safety advice for journalists covering the elections as good as civil disturbance.
Here is the list for February, in order of urgency:
1. Mohamad Mosaed (Iran)
Investigative journalist fleeing detention and fearing deportation.
In January, the independent economic journalist Mohamed Mosaed detained by the Turkish border police. He had fled Iran following a summons to start serving his prison sentence in two days. The sentence amounts to nearly five years in prison, a two-year ban on journalism activities and a two-year ban from using all communication devices. Mosaed had been stopped in 2019 for posting on Twitter during an internet shutdown that authorities implemented in response to anti-government protests. He was released, then arrested again in 2020 after criticizing the government’s lack of preparedness to respond to Covid-19 and legislative elections. His charges include “complicity against national security” and “dissemination of propaganda against the system”. Turkish officials assured his lawyer that he would not risk deportation.
2. Kasirye Saif-Ilah Ashraf (Uganda)
Journalist assaulted by police twice while covering opposition political events.
Security officers assaulted at least 10 journalists covering opposition events leading up to the country’s presidential election in mid-January. Weeks after Kasirye Saif-Ilah Ashraf was hospitalized due to the police holding his mouth open and spraying him with pepper, the police fired a projectile which hit the Ghetto Media reporter in the head and cracked his head. Kasiyre remains hospitalized. Greater Masaka Regional Police Commander Enoch Abaine, accused of firing the projectile at Kasirye and at least one other journalist, said no journalist was intentionally targeted during the incident. He said authorities were investigating allegations that journalists were injured during the event.
Uyghur journalist Gulmire Imin spent more than 10 years behind bars, serving a life sentence on charges of separatism, revealing state secrets and organizing an illegal protest. She was one of several Uyghur-language web forum administrators who were arrested after the July 2009 riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Authorities accused Imin of being an organizer of protests and of using the Uyghur-language website to disseminate information about the event. Imin has also been accused of divulging state secrets over the phone to her husband, who lives in Norway. China is the top jailer of journalists, with 47 behind bars in 2020.
4. Ahmed Ismail Hassan (Bahrain)
Videographer killed by unknown suspects nine years ago.
Mars marks nine years since Ahmed Ismail Hassan, a Bahraini videographer, was gunned down after filming a pro-reform protest. Riot police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets, and then unknown assailants in a vehicle began firing live ammunition at protesters. Hassan, 22, was shot and died in hospital. His death was the third media fatality in Bahrain since the uprising began. the two other individuals died while in detention in 2011. Questions remain in all three cases.