Mapping Media Freedom: In review 30 July-10 August
Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout Europe.
12 Aug 16

Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout the European Union and neighbouring countries. Here are five recent reports that give us cause for concern.

Turkey: 12 journalists arrested on terror charges

5 August, 2016 – Twelve journalists were arrested on terror charges following a court order, independent press agency Bianet reported.

According to Bianet: “The court on duty has ruled to arrest Alaattin Güner, Şeref Yılmaz, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Faruk Akkan, Mehmet Özdemir, Fevzi Yazıcı, Zafer Özsoy, Cuma Kaya and Hakan Taşdelen on charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organisation” and Mümtazer Türköne, columnist of the now closed Zaman Daily on charges of “serving the purposes of FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation)” and Hüseyin Turan and Murat Avcıoğlu on charges of “aiding a [terrorist] organization as non-member”.

Warrants for the detainment of all 13 Zaman newspaper journalists were issued on 27 July 2016 by Turkish authorities.

Also read: 200 Turkish journalists blacklisted from parliament

Romania: Audiovisual Council member prevents live transmission of debate

4 August, 2016 – Monica Gubernat, a member and chairperson of the National Audiovisual Council of Romania, cut off the live transmission of a council debate, news agency Mediafax reported.

An ordinance says that all meetings of the council must be broadcasted live on its website.

The institution has recently purchased equipment to broadcast debates, which was set to go live on 4 August, 2016. A member of the council, Valentin Jucan, even issued a press statement about the live broadcast.

The chairperson, Monica Gubernat was opposed to it, saying that she was not informed about the broadcast, and asked for a written notification about the transmission.

ActiveWatch and the Centre for Independent Journalism announced they would inform the supervisory bodies of the National Audiovisual Council of Romania and the culture committees of the Parliament about the “abusive behavior of a member of the council” and asked for increased transparency within this institution.

The National Audiovisual Council of Romania is the only regulator of the audiovisual sector in Romania. Their job is to ensure that Romania’s TV channels and radio stations operate in an environment of free speech, responsibility and competitiveness. In practice, the council’s activity is often criticised for its lack of transparency and their politicised rulings.

Germany: Journalists forcefully enter Correctiv offices over MH17 story

2 August, 2016 – British blogger Graham Phillips and freelance journalist Billy Six, forcibly entered the offices of non-profit investigative journalism outlet Correctiv, filmed without permission and accused staff of spreading lies, the outlet reported on its Facebook page on Wednesday 3 August.

According to Correctiv’s statement, Phillips had been seeking to confront Marcus Bensmann, the author of a Correctiv article which claimed that Russian officers had shot down the passenger airplane crossing over Ukraine in July 2014.

Phillips maintains the Ukrainian military is responsible for the crash.

Belarus: Police block freelance journalist from filming government building

2 August, 2016 – Police officers prevented freelance journalist Dzmitry Karenka from filming near the Central Election Commission office located in the Belarusian Government House in Minsk, the Belarusian Association of Journalists reported.

The journalist reported intended to film a video on the last day when candidates for the House of Representatives, Belarusian lower chamber, could register.

At 6am he was approached by police officers who told him that administrative buildings in Belarus can be filmed “only for the news” and asked him to show his press credentials which he didn’t have as he is a freelance journalist.

Karenka told the Belarusian Association of Journalists that he spoke with the police for over an hour before he was released and advised not to film administrative buildings.

Also read: Belarus: Government uses accreditation to silence independent press

Netherlands: DDoS attack on Zaman Today website

1 August, 2016 – The website of the Dutch edition of Turkish newspaper Zaman Today was hit by a DDoS attack, broadcaster RTL Nieuws reported.

The website, known to be critical of the Erdogan government, was offline for about an hour.

An Erdogan supporter reportedly announced an attack on the website earlier via Facebook. Zaman Today said it will be pressing charges against him.

Also read: Turkey’s media crackdown has reached the Netherlands

Mapping Media Freedom

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