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Sharp Rise In Jailing of Online Journalists; Iran May Just Kill Them 233

Posted by timothy
from the your-ethics-may-vary dept.
bckspc writes "The Committee to Protect Journalists has published their annual census of journalists in prison. Of the 136 reporters in prison around the world on December 1, 'At least 68 bloggers, Web-based reporters, and online editors are imprisoned, constituting half of all journalists now in jail.' Print was next with 51 cases. Also, 'Freelancers now make up nearly 45 percent of all journalists jailed worldwide, a dramatic recent increase that reflects the evolution of the global news business.' China, Iran, Cuba, Eritrea, and Burma were the top 5 jailers of journalists." rmdstudio writes, too, with word that after the last few days' protest there, largely organized online, the government of Iran is considering the death penalty for bloggers and webmasters whose reports offend it.
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Sharp Rise In Jailing of Online Journalists; Iran May Just Kill Them

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  • Here's a thought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:22AM (#30364764)
    One good step towards making imprisonment and mistreatment of journalists a big international no-no would be for all the major countries to openly ban their intelligence agencies (the CIA, MI6, etc.) from using operatives posing as journalists, or hiring journalists for intelligence gathering purposes. One of the arguments a lot of these oppressive governments use when they imprison journalists is that these journalists are actually spies. And in at least some cases, they probably actually ARE spies (particularly with freelancers and bloggers with no connection to reputable news organizations). It would be nice if we could at least have the CIA come out openly and bluntly and say to the world community "We don't do this, under any circumstances" the next time some petty tyrant claims that the journalists he's caught are working for the CIA. As it is, anyone wandering into a foreign country and asking questions, journalist or not, is going to be wearing a big target on their chest that says "Possible intelligence operative." The tyrant wouldn't care if we denied it, but it would do a lot to encourage the world community to go to bat for more journalists if they had some sort of assurance that the sanctions they were imposing were on behalf of actual legitimate journalists, not James Bond wannabes with fake press credentials.
  • by Kugala (1083127) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:24AM (#30364780)
    But what better cover for a spy than a profession that cannot be used as cover for spies?
  • by VShael (62735) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:28AM (#30364820) Journal

    "We don't do this, under any circumstances"

    And we would believe them

    Because they said the same thing about spying on Americans.
    Or torture.
    Shall we go on?

  • by dnwq (910646) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:35AM (#30364926)
    You can ban it, but who would believe you? There's no way for the CIA to show that it isn't spying even if it really wasn't.
  • by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:37AM (#30364972)
    There's going to be a large, violent revolution soon.
  • Re:Pile it on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:44AM (#30365074) Journal

    If McCain / Palin had won the election, I might agree with you.

    I don't even think that McCain would have gone into Iran. You'll note that Bush didn't. Iran can't win a war against the United States but they can make it sufficiently expensive to deter us from undertaking such a venture unless our back is truly against the wall. They can creditably threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz. Could they keep it closed indefinitely against the US Navy? Not likely. But closing it for even a few days would send the global price of oil through the roof and bring enormous diplomatic pressure down on the United States.

    I don't think you have to worry about an American->Iranian war anytime soon. I'd worry more about what the Israeli's will do if they feel that the world is allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb. They have much less to lose from a preemptive strike and very good motivation to ensure that Iran doesn't become a nuclear power.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:45AM (#30365082) Journal

    We’ll do that just as soon as Muslim terrorists stop hiding in hospitals and mosques.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:47AM (#30365094) Journal

    And yet our President wants to extend a hand to this regime. What's wrong with that picture?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:58AM (#30365256)

    And yet our President wants to extend a hand to this regime. What's wrong with that picture?

    Nothing, this neutralize Iran leaders best weapon: Blame internal troubles on Western powers to squash any protest.

    For once we are smarter then the bad guys and not playing their game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:04AM (#30365340)
    No facts, just opinion.
  • Re:Pile it on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:15AM (#30365484) Journal

    Well if you want to take things out of context and hold them up as something meaningful, I'm pretty sure I heard Obama talking about "spreading the wealth around" and how an entire class of people "cling" to their guns and religion.

    I didn't like McCain 2.0 very much but if you think he's "eager" for any sort of war then I don't think you understand him very well.

  • Re:Eritrea? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:15AM (#30365492)

    That's probably because you don't pay much attention to the world. If you had, you may have heard of this African country called Sudan, and a particularly a region in it called Darfur, a place where mass genocide has been going on- in fact, where as many as half a million civilians may have been slaughtered so far. Eritrea is one of the nations that has been accused of supporting the Darfur rebels fighting against the Sudanese government, but has since moved into a mediating position over the crisis.

    To be fair though, part the reason you probably hadn't heard about it is because the world's media was mostly too busy covering middle east stuff like Israel's war with Lebanon. Apparently Israel killing 1000 odd Lebanese, many of which were Hezbollah militans and Hezbollah killing 130 Israelis, many of which were soldiers is somehow so much bigger a tragedy than the 10s of thousands of African civilians that were brutally raped, mutilated and murdered around the same time. For some reason, the tragedy in Darfur and the hundreds of thousands of dead, the hundreds of thousands raped and mutilated and the millions displaced just don't get the attention of the media like a good old fashioned suicide bombing in downtown Baghdad or a verbal spat between the US and Iran.

    So yeah, Eritrea is an African nation with some quite close ties to the Darfur conflict. In it's short existence as a sovereign nation (since 1993 iirc) it's also managed to get itself in fights with Ethiopia, Yemen and possibly even Somalia I believe. It's relatively pro-Western, but not blindly so as there was some fuss about them allowing some militant in that the US claimed had Al Qaeda ties. It borders the red sea towards the North Eastern end of Africa.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:17AM (#30365526) Journal

    Nothing, this neutralize Iran leaders best weapon: Blame internal troubles on Western powers to squash any protest.

    Except they are still doing that. Don't you know that all of the current troubles are the fault of the British and Americans?

  • by BhaKi (1316335) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:23AM (#30365614)
    I see a sharp rise in "country X is evil" stories.
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:25AM (#30365638) Journal

    Communicating != extending a hand to.

    Obama is naive enough to think that a regime that sponsors terrorist organizations is one that can be negotiated with in good faith. He stood mute while they violently crushed their own people a few months ago. The worst part of it all is that he has absolutely nothing to show for his efforts. Iran continues to march towards nuclear capability. They've taken his measure and found him lacking.

  • Re:Eritrea? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:35AM (#30365786)

    As long as there isn't a mainstream movie about it, people won't know/care.

  • by Avtuunaaja (1249076) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:44AM (#30365918)
    Yes, but it doesn't really matter to spies because just being a spy is a war crime. Spies that get caught get executed anyway, so what's a little more?
  • by ojustgiveitup (869923) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:50AM (#30365992)
    Ha! That's for the last part where you implied that Iran has shown a hottinanny of interest *who* is in the White House. Actually I guess that goes for the whole thing. The idea that Iran's current political direction has anything to do with the less-than-a-year-old presidency is disingenuously revisionist at best.

    Can we both admit that "communicating" and "extending a hand to" are both woefully simplistic reductions of a complicated diplomatic process, and neither of them really mean anything? Yes, I would have liked Obama to publicly denounce the post-election crack-down, but I also think the administration's assessment that it would be detrimental to the movement was correct. The main propaganda tool used by Iran during that time was that they were putting down violent protests instigated by western powers intent on putting them out of business. That propaganda is more obviously a lie if we stay out of the fray - that may not have mattered to the protesters back then, but it does matter for every protest afterward (like the ones right now). How would speaking up have helped the protesters at that point anyhow? Unless we were willing to back up the words militarily, they would have only been detrimental to the movement. We were not then and are not now prepared to face off with the government Iran in a fight that is, at the end of the day, basically the people of Iran's problem.
  • Re:Here's an idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:51AM (#30366010)

    Yeah, jail the diplomats.

    Then we need to get in contact with Tehran. Hmmm... How to do that?

    You know, what we should do is ask Tehran to send people over who speak our language and understand our culture. It'd be such a nice gesture that we should probably give them a place to stay. Maybe they can be put up in the former Iranian embassy. They have lots of tea and a mosque there. Heaps of Persian literature and discount phones to Tehran too.

    We can negotiate with the people in this embassy for the release of the dipolmats. They can call Tehran and set up meetings and stuff.

    Perfect solution.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:58AM (#30366106)
    "That's probably because you don't pay much attention to the world. If you had, you may have heard of this African country called Sudan, and a particularly a region in it called Darfur..."

    I've been glued to world news for most of the last five years and I had to look up Eritrea. I've also never heard of it before.

    You might have made an excellent point after this phrase, or provided some details, but when I read the first line I thought to myself, "Condescending dick." So I never read the rest of your post.
  • but if your criticism is fucking stupid, i will criticize you for being fucking stupid

    which is just as much my right of criticism as yours, right?

    furthermore, bringing up bush is perfectly reasonable in this context. because it is a direct demonstration of the alternative approach to the one obama is taking that you are criticizing. it doesn't mean you support bush. it means: "what you are asking for is what bush did already, and it easily to demonstrate how fucking stupid it was"

    and furthermore, if you were alive during the bush administration, why didn't you perceive that the approach bush took was so flawed? and if you could have made this observation, which really should be obvious to anyone by now, how can you find the rationale to criticize obama's approach?

    bush's approach was stupid, correct? do you agree or disagree?

    based on that, how can you criticize the alternative approach by obama?

    and please don't bring up the abject stupidity of isolationism. if you think this is the way the usa should proceed in this world, oh man, just go study your history. it is beneath me the remedial historical lessons you should already know about why this approach is so flawed and frankly impossible for ANY country in this world to take

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:05AM (#30366214)

    How is it that these innocent journalists have videos of a beheading, but don't fear for their lives?
    How is it that these innocent journalists are so lucky in having their camera set up in the right place, the right direction, and the right time to record a random roadside bombing?

    Just wondering.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#30366392)

    ======= They actually have a lot in common with certain conservative religious groups here in the US. Bob forbid those retards ever get their hands on the levers of power. We'd have bloggers on death row within the year. =======

    Please cite?
    Errr..didnt think so...

    Nice try.
    Can you say PROJECTION?

    Come to think of it... Seems the liberal side is all about that

    Democrats trying to criminalize citizen journalism
    By: Mark Hemingway
    Commentary Staff Writer
    12/03/09 5:10 PM EST

    An amendment to a bill currently being considered by the Senate would deny ordinary citizens doing vital investigations in the public interest the same legal protections as professional journalists. If it were to become law, the change could significantly stifle important citizen journalism efforts similar to the recent ACORN expose.

    The Senate is currently considering a new press shield law sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa. The bill would "maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media." Except that Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Cal., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., want to ensure that any new journalistic protections would only apply to professional journalists and not regular citizens. An amendment filed by Durbin and Feinstein would modify the legislation to define journalists thusly:

    AMENDMENTS intended to be proposed by Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. DURBIN)

    Viz:

    In section 10(2)(A), strike clause (iii) and insert the following:

    (iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity--

    (I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, 1or other means; and

    (II) that--

    (aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

    (bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

    (cc) operates a programming service; or

    (dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

    In section 10(2)(B), strike ''and'' at the end.

    In section 10(2)(C), strike the period at the end and insert ''; and''.

    In section 10(2), add at the end the following:

    (D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.

    While the ACORN story has stung congressional Democrats and pointed out the deficiencies of the mainstream media, there's no basis for Durbin and Feinstein's amendment that seems anything other than vindictive or an attempt to protect the powerful. It's telling that bloggers on both the left and the right are in total agreement this is very bad law.

    Reality is a bitch huh?
    And we can't have THAT when sadly attempting to bash conservatives now can we?

    Yay, free press!

    MOD ME DOWN!!!!

    They did. I don't see how you're that off-topic though. They must have accidentally clicked "-1 offtopic" when trying to select "-1 inconvenient truth"

  • by gtall (79522) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:32AM (#30366646)

    and male terrorists veiled like Musliim women...a favorite tactic.

  • by Xaedalus (1192463) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `syladeaX'> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:11PM (#30367116)

    From what I've read of the Koran, being a Muslim is an intensely self-centered act of surrender to God, in which no government or authority on earth can interfere with. You surrender your perceived control of your self and submit to God's will directly without an intercessor (Jesus or Mohammed or the Pope) because Islam is supposed to be based on the faith of Abraham, which is the progenitor to Judaism and Christianity. Historically, Mohammed never intended for a priesthood to arise (I'm basing this off Karen Armstrong's work, don't have a direct citation for you). He was emphatic that he was not to be worshipped, and the immediate founders of the ummah were not to be worshipped as well.

    It appears to me that what you're referring to (regarding Islam and the state and how a Muslim can't be a muslim unless they are part of a nation state or something - you're very vague on that) is how Arab culture subsumed Islam and turned it into a political empire. Islam as politics and Islam as religion are two completely different animals, and the same can definitely be said for Christianity and Judaism. The muslim laws (shariah) you're referring to, are the collections of decisions made by later priests based on their interpretations of the Koran and given the weight of law. But they are not actually in the Koran, and they are subject to cultural interpretation and political whims. You would do better to study the Moors of Spain to see what a proper Islamic society was. As for the child-rapist thing, I would remind you that back then, it was customary for girls that young to wed men in Arab, Jewish, and even Christian culture. Hell, up until the beginning of the last century we had American Christian men marrying 12 and 13 year olds. So you're trying to pull a straw man argument there.

    Your points, when you're attacking the political culture of Islam as defined by a state, are mostly valid. But you are making an error in combining Islam as political culture and Islam as religion. Unfortunately, I will concede to you that most people, many Muslims (and Christians, and Jews) make the same mistake. We are only human after all, and definitely not perfect

  • by AmericanGladiator (848223) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:14PM (#30367156)

    to kick their Persian behinds one more time...

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:18PM (#30367202) Journal

    bringing up bush is perfectly reasonable in this context. because it is a direct demonstration of the alternative approach to the one obama is taking that you are criticizing.

    I wasn't aware that foreign policy was a binary choice. "Bushism" vs. "Obamaism". Who knew those were the only two choices?

    if you were alive during the bush administration, why didn't you perceive that the approach bush took was so flawed? and if you could have made this observation, which really should be obvious to anyone by now, how can you find the rationale to criticize obama's approach?

    Because I reject your flawed notion that the only two choices available to us are those presented by Bush and Obama. I reject the notion that because Bush sucked I should embrace what Obama is doing. Can I say it any plainer?

    and please don't bring up the abject stupidity of isolationism.

    Non-interventionism != isolationism.

    BTW, the "shift" key is your friend.

  • Re:Pile it on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pwfffff (1517213) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:32PM (#30367370)

    "I'm pretty sure I heard Obama talking about 'spreading the wealth around'"

    What a horrible quote. It's almost as if you're suggesting that Obama wants to do something about the poor other than round them up and exterminate them. Surely that's not the truth.

  • by raddan (519638) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:19PM (#30368034)
    should have their U.N. member status revoked. Of course, U.N. membership is already somewhat of a farce, the U.N. essentially now being a forum for cronyism, but it would at least take away another venue for people like Ahmadinejad to get up on a podium and spout hatred. Too bad we didn't keep Mossadegh around, huh?
  • Wait and See (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:34PM (#30369182)

    No point in agitating Iran. The US might be able to trigger something, but it couldn't control it. There is no way that the US can CREATE a friendly client-state in IRAN. Only people who get paid to think of ways to create client states think that. The revolution, if it comes, will take its own course.

    It is very important to remember that the theocratic Iranian government has a huge base of support. Students and the intelligentsia have to shift that before they can do anything.

    Iran's got a big problem. It needs technology to oppress its people, but the locals who furnish the technology are the people that the government wants to oppress. Unfortunately, the government has oil money and oil money will finance the purchase of oppression-aiding technology from the "free" countries of the world.

    When the oil runs out, the theocracy will die because it can't afford the oppression. The sadness is that all that oil money could be used to build infrastructure for the people for the future. But it won't. 'Tis a pity.

  • by manicb (1633645) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @03:10PM (#30369650)

    Of course, that would be a good motivation for everyone to claim they are journalists, thereby screwing up the legal system because you can't execute a journalist for murder as they'll claim it a political execution. Which makes it unfair to apply the death-penalty to non-journalists, obvious dual standards etc. etc. If we're being hypothetical/optimistic, could we not simplify things and just say you can't have the death penalty? I could go with that...

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