Turkey: Jailing is the Agenda to silence critical Journalists

Stop the presses: Turkey tops list of jailed journalists

October 23, 2012

As the situation in Syria intensifies, its neighbor Turkey, which is at the frontline of the offensive against President Assad’s government, is being dubbed as the world’s leading jailer of journalists by a New York–based media watchdog.

­The latest investigation says that 76 journalists were detained in Turkey as of August 1, 80 per cent of which were imprisoned as a direct result of their work. The remaining 20 per cent of the cases are still being investigated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) workers. The report also claims that three-quarters of jailed journalists have not yet been convicted of any crime but are held while they await “resolution of their cases.”

The findings claim that “the Turkish government is engaging in a broad offensive to silence critical journalists through imprisonment, legal prosecution and official intimidation,” as 70 per cent of those in jail were Kurdish and the rest being accused of participating in plots against the government, or membership of outlawed organizations.

Press freedom in Turkey according to the 53 page report has suffered as “as tensions between Turkey and Syria escalate a choke on information and climate of fear could deter important, probing news coverage.”

The watchdog believes that “according to the government’s theory, journalists were using news coverage to create the kind of societal chaos conducive to a coup.” In fact most have been charged with aiding terrorism by covering activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).

CPJ’s report also criticized the 2007 Internet law which allows website filtering by the Turkish authorities against opposition.

Furthermore at least 5,000 criminal cases were pending against journalists by the end of 2011 the report says.

According to the CPJ, the number of journalists in Turkish jails surpasses figures in Iran, China, or Eritrea, making Turkey the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

“Turkey’s current prison tally far surpasses that of the next most repressive nations, including Iran, which was imprisoning 42 journalists when CPJ conducted its December 2011 prison census; Eritrea, which was holding 28; and China, which was jailing 27,” the report says. CPJ’s analysis of imprisonments in Turkey also found that the crackdown has accelerated in the last two years as two-thirds of imprisoned journalists were detained in 2011 or 2012.

JCP says that Ankara’s relationship with Washington makes Turkey “promote itself as a regional leader in freedom… Yet such claims are contradicted by the persecution of journalists at levels that place Turkey alongside global outliers.”

The watchdog recommends Prime Minister Erdogan and his government to “exert the political will to abandon the systemic suppression of critical views and dismantle the country’s vast system of media repression. Source

 

Judicial harassment of Turkey’s media – latest

October 22, 2012.

Reporters Without Borders has decided to start a news feed with regular updates in order to follow the many prosecutions of journalists and news media in Turkey. Despite Law 6352’s adoption in July, the media continue to be the target of constant judicial harassment, in which the KCK and Ergenekon trials are just the most visible cases.


22.10.2012 – Four journalists given jail terms in space of three days

Four Turkish journalists were given prison sentences in the space of three days this week while four others were given conditional releases pending the outcome of their trials.

Kurdish media still at centre of storm

A court in the southern city of Adana sentenced Seyithan Akyüz, a reporter for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat (Free Country), and Kenan Karavil, the former manager of local Radyo Dünya (Radio World), to twelve years and thirteen and a half years in prison respectively on 16 October.

Convicted of belonging to the outlawed Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), regarded as the urban wing of the armed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), they were among the 45 defendants in a mass trial who received a total of 419 years and two months in prison. Two other defendants were acquitted.

The next day, a court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir sentenced Murat Ciftçi, a reporter for the Kurdish news agency Diha, to eight years and nine months in prison on a charge of collaborating with the KCK. After five months in pre-trial detention, he had been released in April 2012 pending the outcome of his trial.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that another Diha reporter, Gülsen Aslan, was given a conditional release in Diyarbakir on 17 October. Arrested on 4 February, she had been released and then re-arrested at the request of the local prosecutor’s office.

Diha said Safak Celen, who works for Azadiya Welat, was also released. Aslan and Celen were among 34 suspected KCK members who were arrested in Batman province. Aslan is facing up to 15 years in prison. Their trial is to resume on 26 December.

The trial of Diha journalist Özlem Agus will begin in Adana on 26 December. Held since 6 March, she is accused of having links with the KCK’s “Media Committee”, as are Diha editor Ali Bulus and Azadiya Welat reporter Ferit Köylüoglu.

Agus, Bulus and Köylüoglu will be among a total of 54 defendants in the next mass trial in Adana, of whom 20 are in preventive detention. The 300-page indictment accuses Agus of covering demonstrations in a way “that respects the ideology” of the PKK and of “sending information to Roj TV liable to serve as PKK propaganda.”

The work phone calls between Agus and Bulus, and those between Köylüoglu and Azadiya Welat’s distributors are regarded as prosecution evidence in the indictment, which also cites the fact that Köylüoglu himself distributed copies of the newspaper and asked about sales, as if this constituted criminal activity although Azadiya Welat is not banned.

Provisional outcome in Atilim case

The fourth journalist to get a jail sentence this week was Hatice Duman, the editor of the leftist newspaper Atilim, whose life sentence on a charge of being one of the leaders of the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) was upheld by the supreme court on 15 October, according to her lawyers.

The supreme court overturned the conviction of fellow Atilim journalist Necati Abay, the spokesman of the Solidarity Platform with Imprisoned Journalists, who had been sentenced to 18 years and nine months in prison by an Istanbul criminal court on the same charge.

However, although the supreme court ruled that he was not one of the MLKP’s leaders, it determined that he was still a member. So he is still facing up to 15 years in prison.

Zero tolerance for torture coverage

An Istanbul criminal court forced Taraf (Camps), a daily critical of the government and armed forces, to publish a retraction in its 13 October issue at the request of Sedat Selim Ay, the deputy head of the Istanbul police anti-terrorism section, who is accused of torturing suspects in the 1990s (see below).

Citing the presumption of innocence, the court overturned an earlier court ruling that the allegations Taraf had published about Ay were “in the general interest.” Eight members of the newspaper’s staff still face criminal charges in connection with the 12 articles it ran from 22 July to 2 August quoting victims identifying Ay as their torturer.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted strongly at the time to media criticism of the protection his government has given to Ay, which contradicts its declared policy of “zero tolerance” for torture.

Ay’s promotion to his current position triggered an outcry this summer. A few years ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had failed in its obligation to “conduct an effective investigation and trial” in connection with the torture allegations.


12.10.2012 – No let-up in judicial harassment of journalists since July reform

Three months after Law 6352’s adoption, Reporters Without Borders has evaluated the impact so far of this reform, which is supposed to reduce the frequency with which Turkey’s media are the targets of lawsuits and prosecutions.

“We welcome the release of several journalists who were held without trial for months or years but the judicial climate for the media has not improved. Dozens of journalists continue to be detained and, regardless of Law 6352’s requirements, decisions are being taken to keep them in provisional detention with hardly any more justifying grounds being presented than in the past. As we had feared, ’terrorism’ charges are being used as a pretext for not applying the reform to many cases and new prosecutions are being brought against people for the opinions they express because Law 6352 is limited to ’offences’ committed before 31 December 2011,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Law 6352 was a step forward but, as we said already, marginal reforms will not suffice, any more than another general amnesty like the ones Turkey has had in the past. Civil liberties will not be guaranteed in any sustainable manner until the Anti-Terrorism Law, the criminal code and the criminal procedure code are purged of the repressive attitudes that permeate them,” the organisation concluded.

Adopted on 5 July, Law 6352 provides for a three-year suspension of all prosecutions and convictions for “press and opinion crimes” with a maximum sentence of five years in prison that were committed before the end of 2011. If the person concerned refrains from committing an offence of the same kind during the three years, the case is dropped for good. Otherwise it resumes.

As Reporters Without Borders said at the time, this leaves journalists with a threat hanging over them for three years, during which they are forced to remain silent or to censor themselves.

It is this provision that has just been applied to Cüneyt Özdemir, the well-known columnist of the daily Radikal and host of a popular programme on CNN Türk, who was facing a sentence of three months to two years in prison for “insulting an official in the course of his duties” under article 125 of the criminal code.

On 16 October, an Istanbul magistrate court ordered a three-year suspension of the prosecution brought against him over Tweets criticizing the president of the 14th Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Fevzi Elmas. Özdemir denies being the author of the Tweets and says the authorities brought the case on the sole basis of an article on the conservative website Star Medya accusing him of sending them.

The Tweets criticized the Court of Cassation for upholding decisions taken in the alleged gang-rape of a 13-year-old minor by 26 men in the eastern city of Mardin in 2002. After lower courts ruled that the victim had consented and that other attenuating circumstances existed, the short jail sentences were not implemented on the grounds that the statute of limitations applied.

Released journalists still being harassed

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Mehmet Günes, the publisher of the periodical Türkiye Gerçegi (Turkey’s Reality), was released by an Istanbul court on 5 October because of “the length of the time spent in preventive detention” but his trial is to continue on 28 December.

He had been held since December 2011 for alleged membership of a small underground group called “Revolutionary Headquarters.”

Another journalist held on the same charge since October 2011, Hakan Soytemiz, the publisher of the periodical Red (No), was released on 9 July. Like the alleged Ergenekon network, Revolutionary Headquarters is accused of organizing armed attacks on government offices and the ruling AKP party with the aim of destabilising the government.

Sedat Senoglu, the editor of the leftist weekly Atilim (Momentum), was finally released on 6 September after being held for six years without trial on a charge of membership of the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). The Istanbul court that freed him said it took account of a “possible change in the charge” and the years he spent in prison.

Eleven of the 26 people who are charged in the same case are still held. The include Füsun Erdogan, the former editor of an Özgür Radio publication, and Atilim columnist Bayram Namaz. Both have also been held without trial since 2006.

A court in the eastern city of Van that is trying Murat Aydin, a reporter for the Kurdish news agency Diha (Tiger), decided at the end of a hearing on 18 September to grant him a conditional release. He had been held for 11 months. His trial on a charge of cooperating with the outlawed Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), regarded as the urban wing of the armed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), will continue on 27 November.

Cagdas Ulus, a reporter for the daily Vatan (Homeland) who is also accused of KCK links, and Cihat Ablay, an employee of the newspaper distribution company Firat, were granted conditional releases on 13 September by an Istanbul court, which said “the nature of the charges could change.”

They were arrested in December 2011 along with 42 other journalists and media workers, of whom 34 are still held. The next hearing in this mass trial is set for 12 November. Hasan Özgünes, a journalist held for the past year in a related anti-KCK investigation, is also to remain in prison. He is a columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat and member of BDP, a legal Kurdish party.

New prosecutions

A court in the southern city of Adana jailed Diha reporter Ferhat Arslan on 5 October in response to an appeal by the prosecutor’s office against his release a week earlier after four days in police custody.

He is one of 25 individuals being investigated on suspicion of KCK membership. They include members of the (legal) BDP and the Human Rights Association (IHD) and an employee of Radyo Ses (Voice), a station based in the southeastern city of Mersin, Mahir Ögretmen.

Journalist accused of blasphemy

Representatives of the Islamist political party Saadet (Happiness), filed a complaint on 5 October accusing Sevan Nisanyan, a writer and journalist of Armenian origin, of blaspheming and insulting the Prophet Mohammed in comments on Twitter about the US-produced anti-Islamic video “Innocence of Muslims.”

The complaint demanded his trial on charges of criminal insult or “inciting hatred on the basis of religious differences.”

More disturbingly, the Islamist daily Milli Gazete (National Gazette) has been urging prosecutors to react, claiming in a barely veiled threat against Nisanyan that “judicial inertia is straining patience.” On its front page on 7 October, a photograph of Nisanyan was switched with the photograph of a cow that illustrated another article.

Workers Party complaint against journalist

The Workers Party (IP) has filed a suit against Robert Koptas, a journalist of Armenian origin who edits the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, over a 24 August column headlined “Shameful visit to IP.” It criticized a decision by the head of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) to visit the IP and its newspaper Ulusal Kanal after they were searched as part of the Ergenekon investigation.

Koptas, who regarded the visit as a misplaced show of solidarity, is being sued for 10,000 Turkish lira (4,350 euros) for comments that were allegedly “insulting” and “contrary to the truth.”

Judicial intimidation of the daily Taraf

Sedat Selim Ay, a senior official said to have tortured prisoners during the 1990s, has filed a complaint against eight journalists with the daily Taraf (Camps) who criticized his appointment as deputy director of the Istanbul anti-terrorist department.

Ay previously accused Taraf of exposing him to possible terrorist attacks by identifying him, and he is now accusing the newspaper of again exposing him and his subordinates by interviewing the victims of torture.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office has reacted to the complaint by opening an investigation into Taraf editors Tuncer Köseoglu and Burhan Ekinci, columnists Mehmet Baransu and Melih Altinok, and reporters Sümeyra Tansel, Adnan Keskin, Tugba Tekerek and Hüseyin Özkaya.

Taraf’s two managing editors and three other Taraf journalists have meanwhile received summonses from the prosecutor’s office on libel and insult charges in connection with columns published in July on the same subject.

Journalists sued by armed forces chief of staff

Gen. Necdet Özel, the armed forces chief of staff, is suing Fatih Altayli, the editor of the daily HaberTürk, for 50,000 lira in damages for “insulting” him in a 9 September column about an accidental explosion at an arms depot in the western city of Afyonkarahisar that cost the lives of 25 conscripts.

Headlined “Schopenhauer was right,” Altayli’s column criticized Özel’s management of the armed forces and quoted German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s phrase, “The notion of honour does not exist in eastern societies.” The case is expected to be heard in the next few months.

Gen. Özel has also filed a complaint against the journalist Cüneyt Ülsever under article 95 of the military penal code concerning “the humiliation of a representative of the state in the exercise of his duty.”


07.08.2012 – Editor of Kurdish newspaper released after two years in custody

The Diyarbakir criminal court today approved the release on parole of the journalist Ozan Kilinç, imprisoned since 22 July 2010 on charges of criminal propaganda.

The court granted a request by his lawyer under Law 6352, introduced on 5 July, which is intended to limit pre-trial detention.

Kilinç, the forrmer owner and editor of the country’s only Kurdish-language daily, Azadiya Welat (Independence Homeland), was sentenced in April 2011 to six years and nine months in prison after being found guilty of publishing propaganda in support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and of committing a crime on behalf of the organization,

He was originally sentenced to 21 years in prison in February 2010 but this was reduced on appeal.


31.07.2012 – Court refuses to release three journalists under reform package

An Istanbul court refused on 27 July to release three journalists who have been held for nearly three years as part of the investigation into the alleged clandestine ultranationalist network called Ergenekon.

They are Mustafa Balbay, a columnist for the secularist and nationalist newspaper Cumhurriyet (Republic), Tuncay Özkan, the owner of Biz TV (We TV) and Mehmet Haberal, owner of Ankara-based BTV.

They could have been released under the newly-introduced Law 6352, which is intended to limit pre-trial detention. More than 200 court hearings in their case have so far been held since their arrest.


27.07.2012 – Courts start to free journalists under reform package

Vedat Kursun, the former editor of the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat (Free People), has finally been freed after three years and seven months in jail on a charge of propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK). His release was ordered by a court in the eastern city of Diyarbakir on 23 July.

“We take note of this release,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The rate at which journalists are being freed is still too slow and should be accelerated by the newly-adopted package of reforms,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for the conditional release of all journalists held in connection with their work or because of alleged cooperation with banned organizations.”

As a result of the Diyarbakir court’s ruling, Kursun was freed from the Type E prison in Giresum where he had been held since 30 January 2009 and where he was serving a sentence of 16 and a half years in jail for articles about Kurdish issues and human rights violations in Kurdistan that were deemed to constitute pro-PKK propaganda.

He was released under Law 6352, adopted on 5 July, under which prosecutions of journalists accused of propaganda on behalf of terrorist organizations may be suspended or abandoned. This law also provides for the release of media personnel accused of belonging to or “collaborating” with outlawed organizations.

Around 90 journalists working for Kurdish, secularist or left-wing opposition media remain in jail pending an upcoming series of hearings. Some of them have already been tried and convicted but most have not.

Ragip Zarakolu’s high profile trial

The trial of the famous journalist, publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu began on 13 July and continued until 21 July when, after two specially-invited Turkish TV presenters had finished reading the indictment (2,400 pages) in turn, the court adjourned until after the summer break.

Few journalists have so far been released since Law 6352 took effect. Bedri Adanir, the editor of the Kurdish-language periodical Hawar (Solution) and Ozan Kilinç, one of his journalists, are hoping that the possibility of their release will be examined in the coming days or weeks.

Local newspaper publisher convicted

A court in the southeastern city of Malatya sentenced local newspaper publisher Haci Bogatekin in absentia on 27 June to a year in prison on charges of relaying PKK propaganda and “praising a crime or a criminal” under article 215 of the criminal code over a January 2008 editorial in his newspaper, Gerger Firat, a weekly based in the nearby town of Gerger.

Headlined “Feto and Apo,” the editorial contrasted the government’s failure to combat the threat posed by Fethullah “Feto” Gülen’s influential religious community, the target of much criticism by Turkey’s secularists, with the government’s repeated police and military offensives against the PKK armed separatists led Abdullah “Apo” Öcalan.

In another article shortly after the “Feto and Apo” one, Bogatekin reported that Gerger prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli has ordered him to apologize for insulting Gülen. This resulted in his being immediately detained for 109 days on charges of insult, libel and trying to pervert the course of justice.

Bogatekin told Reporters Without Borders he would appeal against his conviction to Turkey’s highest court.

Abandoned prosecution

Oda TV case

An Istanbul court ruled in mid-July that the prosecution of Baris Terkoglu, the editor of the Oda TV news website, should be abandoned. He had been held since 14 February 2011 for supposedly collaborating with Ergenekon, an alleged terrorist network made up secularists and ultranationalists.

Terkoglu was accused of endangering intelligence officers, judges and prosecutors in charge of the Ergenekon investigation by publishing photos of them under the headline “These photos will cause a stir.” They were shown fasting together during Ramadan. Prosecutors claimed that the photos could expose these senior officials to reprisals by terrorist groups. Terkoglu had been facing a possible three-year jail term under Article 6-1 of the Anti-Terrorism Law 3713.

The court did not wait for the Oda TV hearing scheduled for 19 July to release Terkoglu provisionally. However, three years will have to elapse before the case against him is closed for good, and then only if he has not been arrested in the meantime on similar charges.

The prosecution of Güray Öz, the editor of the republican daily Cumhuriyet, who had helped circulate the photos taken by Terkoglu, has also been suspended. Although not detained, he had been investigated and was being prosecuted.

The other detained Oda TV journalists – Soner Yalçin, Baris Pehlivan and Yalçin Küçük – have not been amnestied but the possibility of their release could be examined at the next hearing, scheduled for mid-September.

Journalists freed

Yürüyüs – another part of the reform package

Halit Güdenoglu, the editor of the far-left weekly Yürüyüs (March), and four of her journalists who like her had been held since 24 December 2010 – Cihan Gün, Naciye Yavuz, Kaan Ünsal and Musa Kurt – were released on 20 July under Law 6352, which instructs the police and judicial authorities to place suspects under judicial control rather than systematically detain them.

They were released at the behest of an Ankara court which said it had taken account of the “time spent in detention” and the “prosecution evidence.” The court also ordered prosecutors to prepare their indictment and to hand over recordings made during the investigation. The five newly-released journalists have been forbidden to leave the country.

Woman journalist freed after three months

Gülnaz Yildirim Yildiz, the former editor of the far-left periodical Yeni Evrede Mücadele Birligi (Combat in the New Period), was released from Istanbul’s Bakirköy prison on 23 July. She had been held since 27 April, when the Court of Cassation upheld her sentence of three years and nine months in prison for propaganda on behalf for the Turkish Communist Party of Labour/ Leninist (TKEP/L).

Journalist freed one month before completing sentence

A court in the southeastern city of Adana released Mehmet Karaaslan, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish news agency Diha, from Birecik prison in the nearby city of Şanlıurfa under Law 6352 on 13 July, a month before he would have completed his sentence of six years and three months for alleged membership of the PKK. He was arrested during a demonstration on 19 April 2007 for allegedly shouting slogans in support of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

In the same country » Turkey

Source

“There is no real Democracy or real Justice system in Turkey”.

If I said that in a news outlet in Turkey I would be throw in Jail, even though it is the truth.

Turkey also imprisoned many military people a while back on fabricated information. This targeting of Journalist seems to be following the same type of mass condemnation.

If they say you did it your guilty whether you are or not.

That is the way their justice system seems to work.You can not enter eve to prove your innocence. The only evidence that is entered is that provided by the Government or Justice system itself. Anything else can and is denied entry into the trials. So even if the defense has proof you are innocent it will not be used in the courts. The evidence will be denied entry by the Judge if they feel like it so to speak.

That is not real Justice that is a kangaroo court.

This report is a bit bias, but the finding of the defense investigators should have been  followed up by the Court if true Justice was to prevail. The evidence was ignored.

Dani Rodrik: Did Microsoft steal its fonts from the Turkish army?

The Turkish court that sentenced more than 300 officers on coup plotting charges in September apparently thinks so.

The Turkish military has long set the ground rules for Turkish politics, and this was hailed as a landmark trial. Many saw it as the centerpiece of a democratic, mildly Islamist government’s long overdue reckoning with the army’s misdeeds.

If the charges in the case are to be believed, misdeeds there were aplenty. Prosecutors had in hand CDs, apparently from 2003 that contained detailed military plans to destabilize the country and dislodge the newly-elected AKP government from power.  According to the documents in the CDs, General Cetin Dogan, then commander of the Istanbul-based 1st Army commander, and his collaborators had prepared horrific operations, including the downing of a Turkish military, the bombing of two mosques, and the targeting of Armenian intellectuals, in order to lay the groundwork for the coup. They had drawn up lists of journalists and politicians to be arrested, selected a new cabinet, and even prepared an economic program for the new government.

The trial was marred by irregularities from the very beginning.  The CDs were never properly authenticated beyond the date and author information in the metadata.  A report that found the documents could not be traced to military computers vanished.  Exonerating evidence uncovered by the prosecutors was placed under seal and hid from the defense.  The presiding judge, who had ruled previously in favor of some of the defendants’ requests, was replaced two days before the trial opened. The pleas of defendants who proved they were out of the country on the dates they supposedly authored the documents met no response. A growing list of anachronisms and other inconsistencies in the documents was passed over.  Meanwhile pro-government and Gulenist media had a field day, spreading rampant disinformation about the case and the defendants.

But the real shocker came when the court finally provided digital copies of the incriminating CDs to the defense, nearly two years after they had been delivered to the prosecutors.  American, German, and Turkish forensic experts hired by the defense were able to establish conclusively that the CDs had been forged.

And here is where Microsoft enters the picture.

The centerpiece of the prosecution’s case is a MS Word document, titled “Operation Sledgehammer.”  This document, which gives the case its name, describes the rationale for the military takeover and the broad contours of the plan.  It carries the date December 2002 and is has General Dogan’s name underneath. On the face of it, there is nothing in the digital file that would contradict this information.  The metadata shows a last-saved date of December 2002 and the putative author to be General Dogan’s chief of staff. (Dogan retired from the army in late 2003.) The CD on which it is found was apparently burned in a single session on March 2003. The document is written using the Arial font and was saved in MS Word 1997, both of which were widely in use in 2003.

Yet when forensic experts looked more closely at the document with a Hex editor, which shows all the binary information on the file, they made a discovery that revealed that the metadata had been tampered with.  In plain sight on the raw file was a reference to “Calibri,” a font that Microsoft introduced with Office 2007 as the new default font for Word, and was first released to the public in mid-2006.  The only explanation for this anachronistic reference was that the file had been worked on with Office 2007 before it was ultimately saved in an earlier version of Word.  It was clear that “Operation Sledgehammer” could not have been produced and burned onto a CD in 2003.

Sledgehammer Action Plan

Digital fingerprints of MS Office 2007 are in fact all over the documents on the incriminating CDs.  In addition to Calibri, there are references to the font Cambria and various XML schemas first introduced with Office 2007.  In one egregious instance, an Excel file was saved in Calibri so that the font is visible to the naked eye. The forgers apparently forgot to save the document in an earlier font.

All these documents carry last-saved dates from 2002-2003, appear to have been authored by officers on duty at the time, and were burned on CDs that were apparently finalized in March 2003.  But the references to Office 2007 leave room for only one conclusion: these documents were in fact prepared years later on backdated computers, with the intention of framing the officers on trial.

Not surprisingly, when these findings were presented to the court, they met the same stony silence that had met earlier indications of forgery.  Turkish law allows courts to disregard forensic evidence presented by the defense.  Only forensic reports obtained by the court itself carry weight.  And the court pointedly refused to assign its own experts on the matter.

By now, even hard-core supporters of the prosecution have had to accept that the evidence in this case is deeply flawed.  They no longer talk about the obviously fabricated mosque-bombing, jet-downing, or assassination plans. They have shifted their accusations instead to the contents of a contingency planning seminar held under General Dogan’s supervision in March 2003.

The anonymous informant who passed on the forged CDs bundled them with authentic material, including voice recordings from the seminar.  The seminar focused on the army’s response to what was called a “worst-case scenario:” rising tensions with Greece compounded by domestic disturbances in the forms of an Islamist uprising.  The proceedings reveal an open secret, namely that there was a strong undercurrent of antipathy among the military towards Tayyip Erdogan and his party.

Many now use snippets of those conversations to argue that they constitute ample evidence of a coup plot on their own — even if the digital Sledgehammer documents themselves are set aside. Never mind that there was no reference to Sledgehammer or any coup in the seminar; that the seminar was attended by observers from the high command in Ankara; that the prosecutors did not attribute any criminal activity to the seminar itself; that the bulk of those found guilty had nothing to do with the seminar; or that most seminar participants were not even indicted.

General Dogan’s two superiors at the time, the commander of the land forces and the chief of general staff, were two key witnesses who could have provided useful testimony.  The prosecutors claimed that the former had thwarted the Sledgehammer coup, without even bothering to question him. In public, both denied any knowledge of Sledgehammer, but said there had been irregularities in the way the seminar was carried out.  The defense repeatedly asked that they be called in as witnesses. The court refused. Did I say this was a kangaroo court?

My wife Pinar Dogan and I have been detailing the Sledgehammer fraud since the CDs first surfaced at the beginning of 2010. Cetin Dogan is my father-in-law, and we obviously have a personal stake in the matter. But our concern extends beyond this specific case and the 300-plus innocent individuals who have been found guilty in a sham trial. The evident framing and massive judicial misconduct on which the Sledgehammer case rests shines a bright light on the kind of country Turkey has become under Tayyip Erdogan and his Gulenist allies. Reminiscent of periods of military rule, the judiciary has turned into a tool for settling scores and remaking Turkish society and politics. The wave of entrapment has so far ensnared military officers, journalists, politicians, Kurdish activists – indeed opponents of all stripes. In a system that can put you behind bars because of a Word document with your name on it, no-one is safe.

The defendants in the Sledgehammer travesty have at least one thing to look forward to. Their guilty verdict means they must have developed Calibri, Microsoft Office 2007’s default font, years before Microsoft says it did. Sorry, Microsoft, you have been caught out. You owe these officers billions of dollars. Source

One has to wonder?

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Published in: on October 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm  Comments Off on Turkey: Jailing is the Agenda to silence critical Journalists  
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Petition: Demand the release of Iraqi Female Writer/Blogger Hiba Al-Shamaree

URGENT UPDATE : Iraqi Female Writer/Blogger Hiba Al-Shamaree.

Layla Anwar
January 31, 2010

Following my previous post here, I just received this fresh information regarding Hiba Al-Shamaree this fellow Iraqi woman writer/blogger who has been kidnapped/arrested by the Iraqi forces on the 20th of January 2010 in the Sayyediya neighborhood in Baghdad.

Her sister has just updated her blog with the following :

Hiba Al-Shamaree is detained by Baghdad’s security forces on the charges of supporting the Iraqi Resistance (through her writings), she will be presented to the Criminal/Penal Court…

I am now authorized by Hiba to reveal her true identity to you.

Her name : Hanan Ali Ahmad Al Mashadani
Age : 33 years old
Profession: Doctor in Ophtalmology

The charges pressed against her : Inciting to violence and supporting the Resistance and according to informed sources this is a charge that falls under the clause of Terrorism as per the Iraqi law.


Hiba lived in Amman with us, but she insisted on going to Baghdad on a humanitarian mission/assignment, for a project financed by an Indian NGO called HMOK and which dealt with deaf and mute Iraqi children. Hiba was working as a consultant for this  Indian NGO.

They discovered her pen name Hiba Al Shamaree because when they arrested her she had her laptop with her which they confiscated and they saw the articles she has been posting on her blog.

Signed Huda Al Shamaree, sister of the doctor and writer Hiba Al Shamaree.

PLEASE, THIS IS AN URGENT PLEA — THEY WILL DESTROY HER. THEY WILL PUT HER THROUGH THE MOST HORRENDOUS OF TORTURES, including RAPE.  I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. I KNOW.


PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP.


CONTACT ANYONE YOU CAN. HIBA’S ONLY CRIME IS HOLDING A BLOG. THAT’S ALL.


SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. YOU CAN’T LET A 33 YEAR OLD WOMAN DOCTOR BE RAPED, TORTURED AND KILLED THAT WAY. BECAUSE KILLED SHE WILL BE .


YOU CAN LET HER DIE  THAT WAY — JUST BECAUSE OF A BLOG. SHE WAS IN BAGHDAD FOR THAT INDIAN NGO, ON A HUMANITARIAN ASSIGNMENT FOR DEAF AND MUTE IRAQI CHILDREN. THIS IS NOT A TERRORIST/CRIMINAL ACT — HELPING DEAF AND MUTE CHILDREN.


HER BLOG IS JUST A BLOG. SHE HOLDS NO GUNS, SHE HAS NO WEAPONS, SHE IS NOT AFFILIATED TO ANY TERRORIST GROUP. SHE JUST HAD HER PEN.


PLEASE HELP HER, PLEASE HELP US.


DISTRIBUTE THIS AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE.–   HRW, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, THE RED CROSS, U.N, ANYONE AND EVERYONE…


YOU OWE IT TO US, YOU BROUGHT “DEMOCRACY” TO IRAQ, YOU OWE IT TO US. YOU OWE IT TO SAVE THIS YOUNG IRAQI  WOMAN’S LIFE.

Source

The Petition as translated into English reads. Not a perfect translation but it gives you a very clear provocation for her arrest.

A solidarity campaign for the release of writer-Shammari gift detained because of their views by the government of Nuri al-Maliki
I went colleague (gift Shammari) at her residence in Jordan to Baghdad on a humanitarian mission is the rehabilitation of a group of children deaf and dumb for the benefit of the Iraqi Foundation HMOK Hindi as an international and a doctor’s eyes, but the government of Nuri al-Maliki was Ttrsdha because of her writings that reject the occupation of Iraq was arrested on charges of incitement against the Israeli government has brought against her charge (terrorism) because of her writings.
We, the undersigned in the hold below Nuri al-Maliki and Jalal Talabani, and the Council of Representatives, and all the military serving in Iraq is responsible for maintaining the life of our colleague (gift Shammari), whose real name is Dr. Hanan Ali Ahmed al-Mashhadani (33) years, and demand her release immediately the name of (Democratic) claimed by forces foreign occupation and local communities in Iraq, and for that we have signed the below

To sign go to this link.

http://www.gopetition.com/online/33750.html

This is an absolute crime against freedom of speech.

No one can say Israel doesn’t play a part in the occupation of Iraq.

Seems they play a large part in it if a simple blogger can be put in prison for writing about them, in another country no less.

We cannot tolerate this type of behavior from any country anywhere. We must protect our press, our blogger’s, our freedom of speech around the world.

Please pass this on to everyone you know.

You could be next to put in prison for simply writing a blog.

Helping this woman is helping ourselves.

Putting this woman in prison is a CRIME.

Update February 1 2010

Hiba Al-Shamaree is no criminal.

I have just finished reading her entire blog.

I saw nothing that makes her a criminal in any way.

I will post her first entry however. Of all the things she brings to light this is the most heartbreaking. The translation is not perfect but it tells the story very well.  It is not a new story but it does describe how the US treated prisoners.  I think it is important to know at least one of the stories  Hiba Al-Shamaree wrote about. We all know of the torture that took place in Abu Ghraib prison. This is one more. This is how the women were treated.

The story of Nadia

You may forget Nadia, the girl who was raped dogs occupied in Abu Ghraib prison, notorious, and to your memories revived this story on the tongue did not Tertm when they emerge from prison into the arms of her family, like a prisoner of any aggrieved injustice Tquih fire and the fire of longing for his family simply.

Nadia had fled as it exits the prison, not because of the shame that Silahakha by the perpetration of a crime and entered prison, but because of what has happened in Iraqi prisoners of abuse and rape and torture at the hands of American mercenaries in the Abu Ghraib prison; where the walls tell the sad stories; however, that ischemia Nadia is the “truth” and not “story”!

Began, “Nadia,” her novel as the “center” saying: “I was visiting a relative of mine Vfujina the U.S. occupying forces raided the house and Tvtcheh to find a quantity of light weapons are based on evacuated to arrest everyone in the house, including me, and vainly tried to persuade the translator who had been with the patrol I have a guest of America, but my attempts failed. I cried and begged and I fainted from the intensity of fear during the road to Abu Ghraib prison. ”

Complement Nadia: “They put me in a dirty cell, dark and lonely and I expect you to be a short period I was arrested after the investigation proved that I have not committed a crime.”

She adds, tears spilling down her cheeks a sign of sincerity and an expression of horror they have suffered: “The first day was heavy and I did not used to smell unpleasant as the cell was damp and dark and more from the fear that has been growing on me quickly. The laughter of the soldiers outside the cell that makes me feel more afraid, I was terrified that awaited me, for the first time I felt I was in trouble very difficult and I entered a world unknown parameters will not get out of it as it entered. the midst of this whirlpool of feelings of different ways I heard a female voice accent of an Arab soldier in the American occupation army Immediately she question: “I did not think that arms dealers in Iraq from the women. ”

Once I spoke to explain to her the circumstances of the incident so harshly beat me I cried and screamed “God .. and God wronged wronged.” Then the soldier Bimtari stream of expletives that I never expected to be released under any circumstances, and then took me and tells mockery of it was watched by satellite throughout the day, and American technology that can track their enemies even inside their bedrooms!.

When she laughed she said: “I Otabek until you live a sex with your husband!”.

I said to her voice confused: I’m not married. Vdrepettni for more than an hour and forced me to drink a glass of water I learned later that a heavily sedated and had not the horizon only after two or more I find myself Jrdoe of my clothes, I knew immediately that I have lost nothing would be able to all the laws of the land be returned to me, I’ve been raped. Vantaptni a fit of hysteria, and you beat my head against the wall firmly that the income of more than five soldiers, led by soldier and beat him up and on successive rape me laughing amid loud music. As days passed, a repetition of the raped almost daily and they invent new ways each time more brutal than its predecessor. ”

It adds to describe the horror of the actions of the American criminals: “After almost a month entered the Negro soldier and threw me by two of clothing and the U.S. military said on Arab broken accent that took me buzzing and after putting a bag in my head to the health facilities where the pipes of cold water and hot and asked me to shower and closed the door and went away. In spite of all that I felt the fatigue and pain, despite the large number of bruises scattered in different parts of my body but I’ve poured some water on my body, and before the end came Asthamami Nigger I felt scared and beaten on his face Baliina response was harsh and He raped me cruelly and spit in my face and came back, accompanied by two others and they have Birjai to the cell, and continued treat me this way to end rape me ten times in a few days, which affected my health! ”

Nadia and complement revealed atrocities against American women in Iraq: “After more than four months, I received a female soldier, known by her with the rest of the soldiers that her name was Mary, and she told me that you are now in front of a golden opportunity today Fissezorna If high-ranking officers have dealt with them positively may call released, especially we are sure of your innocence. ”

I said to her: “If you’re innocent, why do not you shoot me go?!”.

I shouted nervously: “The only way to ensure that you get out is to be positive with them!”.

And took me to health facilities and oversaw the Asthamami heavy sticks her hand and hit me whenever it refused to comply with its orders and then gave me a box cosmetics and cautioned me from crying so as not to spoil the Zinti, and then took me to a small room empty except for a bed to the ground and returned an hour later, along with four soldiers carrying cameras and the to take off her clothes and took to attacking a man like the laughter of soldiers and the music loud and four soldiers took pictures of all the conditions and focus on my face asking me a smile and only killed me, and took a gun from one of her colleagues and fired four bullets near my head and vowed to settle the fifth bullet in my head after the succession The four soldiers raped me, which made me consciousness and woke up to find myself in the cell and the effects of nails and teeth and stings cigars everywhere in my body! ”

Nadia depends on the continuing narrative of tragic novel wiping away tears and then completed: “a day after Mary came to tell me that I was cooperating and that I’m out of prison, but after watching the film image”!

She adds: “I saw the film a pain frequency (Khalguetm have to enjoy you) Here I experienced the anger and attacked them, despite my fear of the reaction, and does not fall the soldiers killed her, and that left me even fell on the soldiers and then beaten out not all of them approached me one more of the month I spent in prayer and supplication to the Almighty to save me Baari than I was.

Then I got Mary with a number of soldiers and gave me the clothes you were buzzing when arrested Ogulwni in the American car and threw me on the highway to the city of Abu Ghraib and me ten thousand dinars. Then returned to the house not home, I was close to where you left me in it, and I know the reaction of my family I chose to visit a relative of mine to know what the situation during my absence and I discovered that my brother set up a funeral to me more than four months, No new dead, I understood that the knife honor waiting for me, I went to Baghdad and has a family of good people Biiwaii and worked with a maid and nanny for their children! ”

Wonders Nadia pain and grief and bitterness: “It will heal Gll? It will restore my virginity? And in all my fault what happened? And the guilt of my family and my tribe? In the gut, children do not know son is he?”

Now your right to know where is it, my answer as one of suicide bombers who blew themselves up on a U.S. patrol in the Abu Ghraib where the violation of view the first time God rest her soul rest in peace and curl

The woman who wrote this is now in prison.

She must be wondering if this is going to happen to her as well.

How anyone could see this woman as a threat to anyone is beyond me.

All she did was write a blog. She voiced her opinion.

I encourage you all to do something to help have this woman released.

Write the White house , Write you members of Government. Write Amnesty International. Write to the media and see if they will cover this story.

Write to or call anyone who may be able to help this woman. Write the UN even.

This so called Iraqi law that put her in prison should be amended and the sooner the better. That is not a fair or just law that is pure BS.

This so called law is based on oppression of free speech.

Iraq a democracy what a joke that is.  US occupation nothing more. Nothing less.

You may not agree with everything the women wrote, but by God you had better fight for her right to say it.  The right to free speech should be the right of every person on the planet.

Also another petition to sign from Reporters Without Borders. Reporters in Iraq who are in prison, also need your help. Go to the site below to read what has been happening in Iraq and sign this  petition as well. Just look under the Iraqi Flag to the right of the page.

Security forces now biggest enemy for Iraqi journalists

At least 77 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since March 2003. Twenty-three of them have been murdered, 40 have been released and 13 are still being held by their abductors.

Thank you all for helping. Than you all for signing the petitions as well.

Please  pass this on to all of your friends.

This is what the Harper Government may do to Canadians all for the appeasement of Israel. Do not let this happen anywhere in the world.

Israel: Attempting to take away Canadians Freedom of Speech

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Comments Off on Petition: Demand the release of Iraqi Female Writer/Blogger Hiba Al-Shamaree  
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Letting AP in on the Secret: Israeli Strip Searches are Torture

European Diplomats thought they had a problem at the border? They only got a couple of warning shots. They should have had to go through this like others had too. Then they would really  have something to whine about.

Seems they got off rather easy.

They should take a look at what was done to this young photojournalist. and others. Things that never made it to the mainstream media.

Letting AP in on the Secret:
Israeli Strip Searches

By Alison Weir

July 29, 2008

On June 26th a young Palestinian photojournalist named Mohammed Omer was returning home from a triumphant European tour.

In London he had been awarded the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalism – the youngest recipient ever and one of the few non-Britons ever to receive the prestigious prize.

In Greece he had been given the 2008 journalism award for courage by the Union of Greek Journalists and had been invited to speak before the Greek parliament.

In Britain, the Netherlands, Greece, and Sweden he had met with Parliament Members and been interviewed on major radio and TV stations.

In the US several years before, he had been named the first recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award.

In an Israeli border facility he was violently strip-searched at gunpoint, forced to do a grotesque sort of dance while completely naked, assaulted, taunted about his awards and his ethnicity, and finally, when Israeli officials feared he might have been fatally injured, taken by ambulance to a Palestinian hospital; if he died, it would not be while in Israeli custody.

As readers may have already guessed, Israel was not part of Omer’s speaking tour.

AP, in its over 60 reports from the region in the following week never mentioned any of this.

The reason Omer was even in ‘Israel’ (actually, an “immigration terminal” controlled by Israel on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank) is a simple one: He was simply trying to go from Jordan to his home in the Gaza Strip. Gaza is basically a large concentration camp to which Israel holds the keys. It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to get out. It is just as difficult to get back in.

Despite Omer’s journalism credentials (Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and IPS, stringer for AFP, occasionally appears on BBC, etc.) and despite being invited to receive an international award, Omer was only able to exit Gaza through the considerable efforts of Dutch diplomats.

When the 24-year-old journalist tried to return to Gaza, it again required intercession by the Dutch Embassy. After being forced by Israel to wait in Jordan for five days (and therefore missing his brother’s wedding), Omer finally received word that he would be allowed to go home.

However, when he arrived at the Israeli immigration terminal, an Israel official told him that there was no entry permit for him in the computer and he was told to wait. Three hours later an official came out and took Omer’s cell phone away from him. While Omer’s Dutch Embassy escort waited outside, unaware of what was going on, Omer’s ordeal began.

“He then asked me to leave my belongings and follow him. I recognized we were entering the Shin Bet [Israeli internal security service] offices at Allenby. Upon entering, he motioned for me to sit in a chair within a closed corridor…

“After what seemed to be one hour and thirty minutes, both doors at the end of the corridor opened. I watched as one of the Palestinian passengers exited securing his belt to his trousers. A second man followed behind and was struggling to put on his T-shirt. Immediately I realized I was not in a good place. The rooms from which they exited must be used for strip searching…

A uniformed intelligence officer and two others began rifling through all of Omer’s possessions.

“They were looking for something specific but I wouldn’t know what until green eyes demanded, ‘Where is the money, Mohammed?’

“What money I thought. Of course I had money on me. I was traveling… For a moment I was relieved, thinking this was just a typical shakedown. I’d lose the cash with me, but that would be about it…

“However, my traveling money failed to suffice. Dissatisfied, he pressed, ‘Where is the money from the prize?’

“I realized he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn Prize from the UK and I told him I did not have it with me. I’d arranged for a bank transfer rather than carry it with me. Visibly irritated the intelligence agent continued to press for money.

“The room filled with more intelligence officers, bringing the total Israeli personnel, most well armed, in the room to eight: eight Israelis and me…

“Dissatisfied that larger sums of money failed to materialize, green eyes accused me of lying. I again repeated the prize money went to bank draft and I already had shown him all the cash I had on me. Avi interjected, ordering me to empty my pockets, which I already had. Seeing they had tapped out, he escorted me into another room, this one empty.

“’OK take off your clothes’ Avi the intelligence officer ordered.

“I asked why. A simple pat-down would have disclosed any money belts or weapons; besides, I had already gone through an x-ray machine before entering the passport holding area.

“He repeated the order.

“Removing all but my underwear, I stood before Avi. In an increasingly belligerent tone he ordered, ‘take off everything’.

“’I am not taking off my underwear,’ I stated. Again he ordered me to remove my underwear.

“At this point I informed him that an escort from the Dutch embassy was currently waiting for me on the other side of the interrogation center and that I was under diplomatic transit.

“He replied he knew that, thus indicating he didn’t care, and again insisted I strip. Again I refused. There was no reason for me to do so.

Omer asked:  ‘Why are you treating me this way? I am human being.’

“For a moment I flashed on the scene in the Oscar winning film, The Pianist where the Jewish man, being humiliated by a Nazi quoted Shakespeare, invoking his faith in place of written words, ‘Doth a Jew not have eyes?’ the old man queried, attempting to appeal to the humanity buried somewhere in the soul of his oppressor. Finding myself confronting the same racism and disdain I wanted to ask Avi, ‘Doth a Palestinian not have eyes?’

Would his indoctrination inoculate him from empathy as well? Likely, I reasoned, it would.

“Avi smirked, half chuckling as he informed me, ‘This is nothing compared to what you will see now.’

“With that the intelligence officer unholstered his weapon, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. Completely naked, I stood before him as he proceeded to feel me up one side and down the other…

“Avi then proceeded to demand I do a concocted sort of dance, ordering me to move to the right and the side. When I refused, he forced me under his own power to move side to side…”

After awhile Omer was allowed to put his clothes back on, but the interrogation continued. His eight, mostly armed interrogators taunted him over his awards, his appearance on BBC, and the misery he was returning to in what they termed “dirty” Gaza. Finally, after hours in Israeli custody and a total of 12 hours without food or water, Omer collapsed.

“….without warning I began to vomit all over the room. At the same time I felt my legs buckled from the strain of standing and I passed out… I awoke on the floor to someone screaming, repeating my name over and over…

“As he screamed in my ears I felt his fingernails puncturing my skin, gouging, scraping and clawing at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. This was the intelligence officer’s method for gauging my level of consciousness. No smelling salts as is the civilized manner for reviving a person. Clawing at my eyes and tearing the skin on my face proved his manner of rendering aid.

“Realizing I was again conscious, though barely, the Israeli broadened his assault, scooping my head and digging his nails in near the auditory nerves between my head and ear drum. Rather then render first aid, which is the protocol and international law in instances whether prisoners of war or civilians, the soldier broadened his assault. The pain became sharper as he dug his nails, two fingers at a time into my neck, grazing my carotid artery and again challenging my consciousness before pummeling my chest with his full weight and strength.

“I estimate I lay on the floor approximately one hour and twenty minutes and I continued to vomit for what seemed like a half hour. Severely dehydrated, focusing took flight and the room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror. The stench further exasperated and seemed to inflame my captors further…

“All around me I heard Israeli voices and then one placed his combat boot on my neck pressing into the hard floor. I remember choking, feeling the outline of his shoe and in my increasing delirium thought for a moment perhaps someone was rendering aid. Reality destroyed that hope. Around me, like men watching a sporting match I heard laughing and goading, a gang rape of verbal and physical violence meted by men entrenched in hatred and rage… I again lost consciousness and awoke to find myself being dragged by my feet on my back through my vomit on the floor, my head bouncing on the pavement and body sweeping to-and-fro like a mop…

Eventually, Omer was transferred to a Palestinian hospital, but only after Israeli officials tried to force him to sign a paper absolving them from responsibility.

“In other words, if I died or was permanently disabled as a result of Israel’s actions, Israel could not be held accountable. One would think I was in a third world dictatorship rather than the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. One would think.”

Where is AP?

One would also think that such treatment of a journalist by America’s “special ally” would be news.

Since journalists tend to be particularly concerned when fellow journalists are victimized, it would be expected that Omer’s abuse would receive considerable press attention – especially since he had just received international recognition from the journalism community. One can only imagine the multitude of headlines that would result if an Israeli journalist, perhaps even one who had not just been feted internationally, had been similarly treated by the Palestinian Authority.

Oddly, however, despite the fact that Reuters, BBC, the UK Guardian, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, and others issued news reports, the Associated Press, which serves virtually every daily newspaper in the U.S., sent out nothing on it.

Astounded, I finally phoned AP headquarters in New York to find out how they had missed it.

I asked for the international desk, told them I had a news tip, and briefly described the incident. I was told, “Oh yes, we know about it.”

I asked them when they were going to report it and was told: “The Jerusalem bureau is looking into it.” The Jerusalem bureau is located in Israel; many of its editors and their wives/husbands/children have Israeli citizenship. It is not the most unbiased of bureaus. Yet, it is the control bureau for the region – the filter through which virtually all AP reports, photos, video footage from Palestine and Israel must pass.

A day or two later there was still no story. I phoned the international desk in New York again and was told that the Jerusalem bureau had decided not to cover the incident. There was no explanation.

I tried phoning higher-ups, including CEO Tom Curley, who goes about the country lecturing about the “public’s right to know” and Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, to learn on what basis AP had determined this incident was not newsworthy. Neither returned my call. I kept trying, hoping to find somewhere in the AP hierarchy at least a semblance of a journalist committed to AP’s alleged mission of reporting the news “accurately and honestly.”

Finally, I found one. I reached the managing editor in charge of international reporting, and asked him why AP was refusing to cover the case of a prize-winning journalist being strip-searched at gunpoint and physically abused by Israeli officials when he returned to Gaza from receiving the Martha Gellhorn award in London.

The editor admitted that he hadn’t heard of the incident and was interested in the details. I told him what I knew, referred him to the UK Guardian article and others, and he said he’d look into it.

As a result, two weeks after Omer’s ordeal, and after Israel had solidified its denial narrative, AP finally sent out a report.

The belated story, datelined Jerusalem and carrying a byline by Karin Laub, left a great deal to be desired.

It depicted the incident as a “he said/she said” dispute, in which it termed Omer’s statements as “claims,” while never using this verb for Israeli statements. In every case Israeli statements are placed in the rebuttal position.

The lengthy article places Omer’s strongest descriptions in the second half of the story, where they would typically be cut by the averaged-sized print newspaper, and leaves out a great deal of important information.

For example, while AP reports that Omer was discharged from one hospital, it neglects to report that Omer was admitted to a second one where he was hospitalized for four or five days. It does not name the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, neglects any mention of other awards, and omits entirely Omer’s meetings with Parliament Members in multiple countries. It fails to report the statement by the former ambassador from The Netherlands:

“This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life … I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future.”

The international organization Reporters Without Borders reported issued a condemnation of the attack, stating that in the ten days preceding Omer’s incident alone, it had recorded five incidents of “wrongful arrest” of journalists by Israel, and that one journalist was still being held. None of this was in Laub’s article.

All of the missing material, of course, would serve to add credibility to Omer’s statements. Perhaps this pattern of omission was a coincidence.

Early in the story, while admitting that Palestinians complain about “rough” treatment at the border (a considerable understatement), Laub seems to go out of her way to discredit Omer’s description of being forcibly strip-searched, by writing: “However, Omer’s allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual.”

The Strip-Searching “Secret”

This is a bizarre statement.

As Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers,  wrote last year, “While Israeli security won’t admit it, it is a widely accepted secret that Palestinians and Arabs…are routinely subjected to intense, hours-long questioning that can include strip searches.”

Is it possible that AP is not in on this secret?

The reality is that frequent, random humiliation by Israeli soldiers and officials is part of the Palestinian experience. Numerous degrading strip searches – some of them particularly grotesque – have been forced on Palestinian men, women, and children of all ages for decades.

In addition, Israeli officials periodically strip search others whenever, it appears, they wish, including:
The British Consul General  (Israeli media reported that her search was “prolonged, needless and humiliating” and that she was “visibly upset)

An American holocaust survivor (she was treated to a “cavity search”)

Sixteen Christian evangelicals rounded up at gunpoint;

Journalists from around the world (an Argentinian journalist wrote: “… they made me go to another office and strip naked. An official came in stands next to me, while I’m naked, with a machine gun in his hand…” A Swiss reporter was forced to remove her pants in public and stand in her underwear, hands raised, in front of an x-ray machine);

A wheel-chair bound New Jersey woman with cerebral palsy whose sanitary pad was confiscated, humiliating her publicly;

An American doctoral student, who was also subjected to a cavity search…  and the list goes on and on.

Yet, somehow, AP missed all of these. In fact, amazingly, a LexisNexis search of Associated Press stories over the past 10 years, using the search terms “Israel” and “strip search,” turns up only one result – a few stories on a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners protesting against, among other things, their daily strip searches by Israeli guards.

Since we think it’s unfair for AP to be excluded from what others in the region know, we compiled a very partial list of reports about Israeli strip-searches, with excerpts from each, and emailed AP the 25-page document. We asked for a correction and received the following response: “This acknowledges receipt of your e-mail. We have no further comment at this time.” Our request for an interview was “respectfully declined.”

Following are just a few of the stories on this topic that AP never reported to the thousands of newspapers, radio and television stations that rely on it for their foreign news.  The entire document is available on the If Americans Knew website.

* In 2007 the Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs issued a statement protesting the policy of Israeli soldiers taking Palestinian women “to separate rooms in the checkpoint and being forced to remove all clothes, to become fully naked.” The minister demanded that the UN and the international community provide security for Palestinian women.

* Even the New York Times (which justified it) reported about the Allenby border in 1987: “Before any visitor gets in, however, he must go through a stringent security check at the Israeli terminal. Besides being examined by metal detectors, each visitor must undergo a private strip search…”

* A University of Utah law student describes a PhD student conducting research in the region who was detained at the border crossing for six hours, “Then a female guard conducted a strip/cavity search while two male guards observed.”

* A British researcher reports: “While men have also reported forms of sexual torture in jail, women prisoners are particularly vulnerable to this as a form of humiliation by their captors. Women are forced to strip naked in front of guards, many of whom are male, and subjected to brutal body searches. Many women prisoners have detailed sexual assault by Israeli military and prison staff. On some occasions women are detained as a way of threatening or putting pressure on a male member of the family.

* A woman trying to reach a hospital reports: “…the labour pains grew stronger. I saw a lot of soldiers in front of me. I called out at them using the word “baby” which I think some understood. They started to talk to me in Hebrew as they pointed the guns towards me. They used signs and gestures. I understood that they wanted me to show them how pregnant I was which I did. One soldier asked me to take off my robe, which I did. But it was not sufficient and he asked me to remove the T-shirt and the trousers. I had no choice and I was ready to go as far as that in order to get to the hospital before it was late. He asked me to take off my underwear which I did. After this humiliation, they fetched a stretcher from one of the tanks. I was naked. I was carried to a tank and was given intravenous glucose into my arm. A few minutes later, they brought my father-in-law inside the tank. They drove for almost half an hour. I was thinking they were taking me to a nearby hospital but it turns out they were taking us back to the Huwwara checkpoint. We were taken out of the tank and were laid nude on the stretchers for almost one hour…”

* Reuters reported: “Three Israeli soldiers forced a Palestinian man to strip naked at gunpoint and walk like a dog in a West Bank city under curfew…A Reuters photographer snapped Yasser Sharaf, 25, standing naked in a cold, muddy street in Nablus on Sunday as two men were handing him clothes to put on and two Israeli armoured vehicles were pulling away from the scene.”

* Reporters who entered Nablus after the Israeli invasion of 2002 quoted from an interview with one of the inhabitants: “The men were then driven to a nearby yard, ordered to strip naked, and made to lie face down in the dirt. While my neighbor Jamal Sabar was taking off his pants, they shot him dead…”

*  “A soldier inside the jeep ordered me to raise my hands and get out of the car and said, ‘take off your shirt.’ I did; then he said, ‘and the pants.’ I did; then he said, ‘the undershirt and underwear.’ I begged him not to force me; and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you.’ And all the soldiers pointed their guns at me. I took off my underclothes and stood naked in front of everybody. He ordered, ‘proceed with your hands up.’ I came up to him and he gave me a transparent plastic bag to cover myself. He blindfolded me and made me sit 20 meters away. Then the soldier shouted at a passenger called Islam ‘Abed al-Sheikh Ibrahim, 18, who was sitting in the front seat, and ordered him to get out of the car. He told the soldier that his leg was broken, but the soldier insisted. He Islam got out and stood on his crutches. The soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. He tried by failed. The soldier came to me and removed the binding off my eyes and told me at gunpoint to go and help him take off his clothes. I went and helped the passenger take off all his clothes. The soldier told me to help him walk to the soldier. We walked up and he gave me another nylon bag for Islam. Then, he told us to sit on the ground. Soon after, the soldier ordered another passenger, Yasser Rasheed al-Sheikh Ibrahim,60, to get out of the car and take off his clothes like us…”

* The Guardian described an incident in which a commander was “awaiting a court martial on several charges, including ordering the boy to strip naked, holding a burning paper under his testicles, threatening to ram a bottle into his anus and threatening to shoot him…”

* “We were mostly older people, sick and wounded. We had nine handicapped people with us, three were from the same family, sons of Abu Ibrahim. Some of us were too old, they were senile. When they told them ‘go left’ they would go right, but they stripped them naked anyway. I tried to help them as much as I could. I was the only one who spoke Hebrew…Close to us was a group of young men. They were handcuffed, naked and lying on their stomachs. The Israeli tanks would pass by them so fast, only forty centimeters away from their heads.”

*  “Other residents described how young men were stripped naked and then shot. Yusuf Shalabi, a young man from the camp explained how the Israeli soldiers denied medical treatment to the wounded, ‘…I remember this nightmare very well. It is very difficult to talk about it. I remember them stripping the people naked, they would handcuff them and blindfold them. I remember seeing two wounded men, one was wounded in the shoulder and the other in the leg. They were screaming in pain and the soldiers would not allow them to be treated.’”

Incredibly, AP seems to have missed all of these, and more. As a result, Americans have little idea of the life is like for Paleestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover, strip searches are just the tip of the iceberg. According to an Israeli government report released in 2000 (five years after it had been written) Shin Bet “used systematic torture against Palestinians and regularly lied about it.” An Israeli human rights organization estimated that 85 percent of Palestinian detainees had been subjected to torture.  In 2002 Foreign Service Journal carried a major expose on Israel torturing American citizens.  AP missed this Foreign Service Journal expose – as did, therefore, every newspaper in the country.

AP’s Ownership

AP is a cooperative. That means that every single newspaper, radio station, and television station that uses AP news stories is an owner of AP. This includes Democracy Now, which apart from a report on Mohammed Omer also seems to have covered this subject minimally, if at all.

It is time for all these news media, and for their readers, listeners, and viewers, to demand that AP provide the full story.

Americans have long given Israel, the size of New Jersey, far more of our tax money than to any other nation on earth. It is time to end the cover up. Americans need to know how Israel is using our money.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew (which found in a statistical study that in 2004 AP had covered Israeli children’s deaths at rates 7 times greater than they had reported Palestinian deaths). The full document listing Israeli strip searches can be viewed at http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strip-searches.htmlDVDs containing a short video about Israeli strip searching of women and children are available for readers wishing to educate their local media and community on the information that AP is choosing not to report. The Washington Report has created a petition on the incident for people to sign.
Omer’s complete statement can be read at:

“British consul strip searched at Israeli PM’s office,” Rory, The Guardian, March 28, 2007

“Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints: Strip-Searching Children,” Alison Weir, CounterPunch, March 15, 2007; Video interview: The Easiest Targets: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/easiesttargets.html

“Israelis arrest 16 from US in roundup of Christians,” Charles M. Sennott, The Boston Globe, October 26, 1999, Pg. A2

http://peoplesgeography.com/

http://www.fpa.org.il/?categoryId=422

“Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints: Strip-Searching Children,” Alison Weir, CounterPunch, March 15, 2007; Video interview: The Easiest Targets: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/easiesttargets.html

http://www.law.utah.edu/blogs/show-entry.asp?EntryID=252

http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=23480

“ALLENBY BRIDGE JOURNAL; A 15-Yard Span Over a Great Divide,” Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, July 18, 1987

http://www.law.utah.edu/blogs/show-entry.asp?EntryID=252

“Israel’s Palestinian Prisoners: The Forgotten Facts,” Isabelle Humphries, Researcher – Nazareth http://www.islamonline.net/

“Israel’s Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), May, 2005, Al-Haq: Law in the Service of Man, the Palestinian Centre for Human rights (PCHR), and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)
http://www.pchrgaza.org/special/OPT%20CEDAW%20Main%20Review.pdf

“Israelis Make Palestinian Strip Naked,” Reuters, Nov. 25, 2002

“Jenin: Lying Down On Broken Glass, Crushing Bones,” April 16, 2002 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) http://www.islamonline.net/english/News/2002-04/16/article40.shtml

“Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian    Territory,” 01 – 07 September 2005, http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2005/08-09-2005.htm

“Commander charged with torturing Palestinian boy,” Chris McGreal, The Guardian, October 22, 2002

“Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts,” Suzanne Russ, Palestine Chronicle, November 26, 2002, http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strippingcommon.html

“Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts,” By Suzanne Russ, Palestine Chronicle, November 26, 2002, http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strippingcommon.html

“Report: Palestinian suspects mistreated by Israeli captors,” Joel Greenberg, Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2007

“Arab-Americans in Israel: What ‘Special Relationship’?” Jerri Bird, Foreign Service Journal, June, 2002

Source

In case you don’t get it Mohammed Omer was “tortured” just trying to go home.

Also see:

Israeli Strip Searches: A Partial List

Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians

Gaza detainee treatment ‘inhuman’

Israeli troops fire warning shots at European Diplomats

Israel Broke Ceasefire From Day One

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Foreign Press still banned from Gaza/Israel attacks Media Building in Gaza City

Frustrated reporters locked out of Gaza war zone

Monday, January 5 2009

Israel scrapped arrangements Monday to allow the first foreign reporters into the Gaza Strip since the military launched its offensive against Palestinian militants, adding to mounting media frustration at being locked out of the war zone.

The ban on foreign media, which has been appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, drew criticism from journalists that Israel is trying to manage the story.

Israel asserts that opening border crossings for journalists would endanger staff at the terminals, which have often been targeted by militants.

The Associated Press and some other news organizations have Palestinian reporters, photographers and cameramen based in Gaza. Many media have no reliable source of independent information.

“The barring of outside news organizations from Gaza hampers the flow of unbiased information of vital interest to the entire world. Authorities on all sides should work to allow access by journalists in keeping with the aims of press freedom,” said John Daniszewski, the AP’s managing editor for international news.

The Israeli government has long banned Israeli journalists from entering Gaza because of fears for their safety, but foreign reporters previously were permitted in, even during times of heavy fighting.

Human Rights Watch urged Israel to open Gaza to journalists and human rights monitors to report on the actions of both sides. “Their presence can discourage abuse by warring parties and help save lives,” the New York-based organization said.

Some 350 reporters have descended on Israel since Dec. 27, when the military launched an intense air war aimed at halting rocket fire from Gaza. Those journalists bolstered a permanent foreign press corps of some 900 media personnel and hundreds more Israelis working for foreign companies.

“Israel has never restricted media access like this before, and it should be ashamed,” said Ethan Bronner, The New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem. “It’s betraying the principles by which it claims to live.”

The army initially was set to allow eight reporters to cross into Gaza on Friday, under a compromise engineered by the Supreme Court, then postponed it to Monday. But the plan was abandoned as combat intensified around the Erez checkpoint, the main civilian crossing from Israel into Gaza.

The Red Cross aborted the evacuation of 33 foreign passport holders from Gaza. Its bus turned back just 500 yards from the border because of the fighting and an obstacle in the road, Austrian Ambassador Michael Rendi said. Among the passengers were Austrians, Germans, Canadians and Filipinos, most of them married to Palestinians.

Dozens of trucks carrying food and humanitarian aid entered Gaza through a separate cargo crossing farther south.

Daniel Seaman, director of Israel’s Government Press Office, said opening the Erez crossing would endanger its staff. But Seaman also asserted the absence of foreign journalists was good for Israel because the Hamas militants who rule Gaza fabricate coverage to make Israel look bad.

“And they get away with it because of the unprofessional cooperation of the foreign press, which takes questionable reports at face value without checking,” he said.

Reginald Dale, director of the Transatlantic Media Network and a senior fellow with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Israel’s decision to keep out foreign journalists was both practical and ideological.

Military commanders in democracies such as Israel and the U.S. know they are accountable to the press, but they also know the risk of negative public opinion, he said. “They have to establish some sort of balance and it’s not easy.”

Dale said Israeli officials probably worried about the impact of a foreign reporter being killed or taken hostage by militants or about Hamas learning military plans and positions through news coverage.

He said he found it unlikely Israel expected to limit coverage of civilian deaths, noting that “the Palestinians are sending out videos of casualties.”

Mohamed Abdel Dayem, coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa program of the Committee to Protect Journalists, declined to speculate on Israel’s motivation but said it was important to have reporters present during fighting.

“There is a need for journalists to be on the ground to document the news stories, and frankly to monitor the behavior of all belligerent parties, whether it is Hamas or the Israeli army,” he said. “The presence of the media in any place where war is raging has helped keep violations under check.”

Reporters who cannot enter Gaza devote much of their time reporting on rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and filming the damage caused on the Israeli side of the line, or filming Gaza from distant vantage points inside Israel.

Hesna Al Ghaoui, a correspondent for Hungarian television, was reduced to filming her cameraman change a flat tire on their rented car inside Israel, footage she said she would use in a report on how she covered the war. She said she had applied “many times” to enter Gaza.

“I have been reporting from many wars and conflicts, but I have never met such frustration,” she said.

In the buildup to its air assault on Gaza, Israel sealed the border to all but the most vital supplies. The only people allowed in or out were urgent medical cases and a few humanitarian workers. Restrictions were further tightened after the air bombardment began.

The Foreign Press Association appealed the ban to the Supreme Court. Without making a final ruling, the court suggested a compromise of sending in a handful of reporters to act as a “pool,” sharing their reports with other foreign media.

“We want to honor that decision,” army spokesman Doron Spielman said, but he added it would be done only in a way that would not compromise military operations or endanger journalists.

Hamas officials went into hiding after the bombing campaign began and were unavailable for comment. But Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman, said before the fighting erupted that the ban on journalists was part of an Israeli policy of isolating Gaza internationally.

“This stops outside parties from seeing the crisis taking place in Gaza,” he said.

Source

Israel attacks international media building in Gaza city
January 5th, 2009

Gaza City: A high-story building housing international media outlets in Gaza City has been targeted by the Israeli military. Seven rounds were fired from an apache helicopter into the building in which international media,  houses international media outlets such as Reuters.

Canadian Human Rights Activist Eva Bartlett was inside the building as it was attacked;

“It felt like the building was about to collapse. The attack was a few floors above where we were, but it felt like the building was going to come down.

Israel has denied the international media access to Gaza, now they are targeting those who are attempting to tell the world what is happening here. Israel does not want the world to see it’s crimes.” Eva Bartlett – International Solidarity Movement

Israel has maintained it’s ban on foreign journalists entering the Gaza Strip, despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling stating that they should be permitted.

International Solidarity Movement and Free Gaza Movement volunteers have been working to document the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Source

Ban foreign journalists and kill the internal media.

This is how you keep the truth hidden from the outside world.

Of course Israel will deny it. They certainly wouldn’t tell the truth.

This rates right up there with their targeting of  hospitals, schools, Mosques, police stations and civilian homes. Of course they deny those ones as well.

Gaza wounded die waiting for ambulances

War on Gaza – Timeline: June 19 2008 to January 3 2009

Kibaki is told: Apologize over Journalists Arrested

December 15 2008
By Job Weru

President Kibaki should apologize to Kenyans over the unprecedented arrests of journalists on Jamhuri Day, former MP Wanyiri Kihoro has said.

Addressing a Press conference in Nyeri, Mr Kihoro, said the communications Bill was passed irregularly since only 25 MPs were in Parliament.

Kihoro, a lawyer, said a quorum of at least 30 MPs should be in Parliament to discuss and pass any law.

“This law is inappropriate and irregular. It did not pass the quorum test, and Kibaki should not give Kenyans a law that will allow Government to commit crimes against the media,” he said.

He said if signed into law, the Bill would allow the Government to perpetrate ills against Kenyans, without fear of being exposed by the media.

Kihoro said there would be no free governance without free Press.

“We better have a free Press, than a free Government and gagged media, since free Press will always ensure justice and tranquility for all Kenyans,” he said.

He added: “It is time we spoke openly against this Bill. It is draconian and would lead us into darkness. Let us all rise against this Bill.”

Kihoro termed MPs saying they were not in Parliament as insincere, and taking House business outside Parliament.

“That is conspiracy that should not be allowed to continue, since we have learned that most of those claiming they were not in Parliament drew their sitting allowances for the day,” he said.

Unfortunate

Kihoro said, Kibaki owed Kenyans an apology, over the sideshows created during Jamhuri Day celebrations by his security detail who were arresting journalists.

“Kibaki must not allow such scenes to occur. Instead of celebrating, the ruthless security personnel chose to engage journalists in inhumane arrests,” he said.

Kihoro also termed Monday’s arrest of journalists protesting over passing of the controversial Bill in Nairobi as a return to the dark days when Kenyans were not allowed to speak of issues affecting them.
And speaking separately in Ngorano area in Mathira, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni described the arrest of journalists as unfortunate.

“The media people are holding a view that should be addressed carefully, other than booking them into cells,” he said.
He added: “People should not be apprehended while pushing for crucial rights.”

Speaking at a funeral service in the area, the MP criticized colleagues now against the Bill after it was passed in Parliament saying they were playing populist politics.

“Where were they when the Bill was passed?

If they are genuine, they should have been in the house where I was personally and I supported the amendment but the opposition was too much,” he said.

Source

Journalists arrested in Kenya
December 13 2008
By Alex Kiarie
Kenya

Kenya police have arrested journalists who were protesting at the passing of a bill in parliament which gives the Internal Security Minister the powers to raid and disable media houses which he feels are a possible threat to national security.

Kenya parliament

The Kenya Communication Amendments Bill was passed by the Kenyan parliament on Wednesday. The bill has drawn criticism from media houses, human rights organizations and the general public.

The arrest occurred on Friday at the Jamhuri Day (Independence) celebrations in the capital Nairobi. Journalists from different media houses were arrested as they held a demonstration in support of media freedom at the Nyayo stadium where president Kibaki was scheduled to lead the nation in marking the 45th anniversary of Kenya’s independence. It is celebrated on 12th December each year.

Amongst those arrested are John Allan Namu and Sadiq Shabaan both of Kenya Television Network, and the combative Kiss FM breakfast show host, Caroline Mutoko. Also arrested was Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group – a civil rights organization together with other activists. The demonstrators were in black T-shirts calling on MPs to pay tax.

Meanwhile, a radio comedian with Nation Media Group’s Q FM was arrested as he tried to present a letter to the president that calls on him (president) not to assent to the media bill. Walter Mong’are alias Nyambane was manhandled by the police and the presidential security detail as he attempted to reach the presidential dais. This drew boos and jeers from members of the public and the media-which captured the commotion live. All those arrested are currently being held at the Langata Police Station.

Source

Kenya: Media row over new Bill
December 12 2008
By Ferdinand Wanangwe
Kenya

Kenya Members of Parliament have passed a bill that will limit the liberties of the media in the country. The Kenya Communications (Amendments) Bill 2008 is feared by many that it will gag the media which has been very liberal since multi-party system in Kenya.

The Communications Commission of Kenya will now be mandated to control what can be broadcasted and when it can be broadcasted by private television and radio stations and the CCK will be required to receive guidelines from the Minister of State Security on what content they can or not cover.Media experts in Kenya are now worried that this might take Kenya back during the single party system when politicians decide what is news and what is not news. The big threat is also manifested on the stiff penalties proposed for the offences, which includes confiscating the media equipment. This is seen by many as proportionate to the seriousness of the offences.

Media practitioners say that the current breed of politicians who ascended to leadership in 2002 under NARC was helped by the media and rights groups to acquire power. “It is interesting to note that the same politicians are now fighting to kill media freedom,” a practitioner said.

But the government Minister for Communication, Samuel Poghisio, has stated that the government is committed to the freedom of the press and that the government has no intention present or in future to gag the media.

Media practitioners in Kenya are now very worried that the interpretation of the bill by future governments could differ and this will be the start of dictatorship in a country viewed by many as role model in Eastern Africa.

The country has questionable record of respecting civil liberties at personal and at media levels. A Government Minister recently told a press conference that if you rattle snake you face it. That was after an invasion in a leading media house in Kenya in which damages worth millions of shillings were recorded.

Should President Kibaki sign the bill to become a Kenyan law then the current members of parliament will regret for years having passed it in Parliament. The bill which appeared as an amendment to the already existing Kenya communications act 1998 is totally changed and can only be termed as a new law.

General opinion making rounds has it that Kenyans will only be happy if the president sends the Bill back to Parliament for redrafting so that a new ICT Bill is crafted and debated and the issues of broadcasting omitted in totality.

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Comments Off on Kibaki is told: Apologize over Journalists Arrested  
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Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

November 12 2008

JERUSALEM:

Israel has barred foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip for a week, in a move media have assailed as a serious violation of press freedom.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the restrictions were imposed because Palestinian militants have resumed their rocket fire from Gaza, in violation of a 5-month-old truce. The only people allowed to enter and leave Gaza under the policy are international aid workers and Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment outside the territory, he said.

Because the Islamic militant Hamas group that rules Gaza “is not doing anything to stop the rockets firing into Israel, the decision is that only humanitarian movement is allowed,” Lerner said.

Journalists dismissed that explanation as implausible and said current hostilities did not justify the ban on access.

“It is absolutely essential that international journalists be allowed to enter the territory and deliver their news reports to Israel and the rest of the world,” said a statement from the Foreign Press Association, which represents international media covering Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“We note that humanitarian cases are still going in and out, proving safe passage is possible,” added the statement, issued earlier this week. “The curtailing of journalists’ right to enter Gaza is a serious violation of press freedom.”

The Israeli military said some 75 rockets have been fired at southern Israel from Gaza since the barrages resumed last week, prompting Israel to attack militant targets, seal cargo crossings and restrict fuel shipments.

Source

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 7:36 am  Comments Off on Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza  
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