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Journalists Jailed Worldwide
Wednesday, December 14, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

US now joins the group

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists says China tops the list of countries jailing journalists - followed by Cuba, Eritria and Ethiopia.  These four countries account for two-thirds of the 125 editors, journalists and photographers behind bars around the world. (Chart courtesy CPJ)

The group says the US ranks 6th as it holds war prisoners in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay.

"Antistate" allegations, including subversion, divulging state secrets, and acting against the interests of the state, were the most common charges used to imprison journalists worldwide. Seventy-eight journalists were jailed under such charges, many by the Chinese and Cuban governments.

Ethiopia surprised the organization with a sudden crack down on journalists in 2005. Worldwide, there are three more journalists in jail this year than last.

Cuba ranked second, with 24 reporters, writers, and editors behind bars, most of them jailed in the country's massive March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press.

These jailed people are the people for whom the Ladies in White are demonstrating.

The entire list of imprisoned journalists is here.

The group says it is disturbed that the US has now joined the list. Let's see who the journalists jailed by the US are -

  1. In Gitmo is Sami Muhyideen al-Ha, who works for (not surprisingly) Al Jazerra. He's been held since 2001 when he was captured by Pakistani forces while trying to cross the border into Afghanistan. The date of his arrest is not given. His lawyer claims the US is holding him as an enemy combatant.
  2. In Iraq four men are being held. Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein is an Iraqi photographer who was working for CBS News. He was captured in April 2005 after he was wounded by US fire during a battle in Mosul. The US says the tape in his camera shows he had prior knowledge of the attacks on coalition forces.
  3. Samir Mohammed Noor is a freelance TV photographer working for Reuters. He was arrested at his home by Iraqi troops in May, 2005. The U.S. military says Noor is  "an imperative threat to the coalition forces and the security of Iraq." Whatever that means.
  4. Ali al-Mashhadani is also a freelance photographer working for Reuters. He was arrested in August, 2005, when, according to his family, he was taken from his home during a Marine sweep of his neighborhood in Ramadi. They say pictures on his camera made the Marines "suspicious." The US-Iraqi Combined Review and Release Board determined he is a threat and ordered his continued detention.
  5. Majed Hameed is a reporter working for Dubai-based broadcaster Al-Arabiya and Reuters.  He was arrested along with several other men at a gathering following a funeral in Anbar province. Once again, video found on his camera led to his arrest - although the US is not giving specifics.

For you folks who want to find moral equivalence between the US and Cuba, take a look at the list of journalists held by Cuba. There are no allegations that they were participating in armed conflict against the government - instead a quick read shows that most are arrested for acting against "the independence or the territorial integrity of the state." Some moral equivalence.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren