Tag Archives: press

Malta: MEPs delegation visit

Brussels 22.05.2022 On 23-25 May, six MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee will assess progress in the investigations, trials, and reforms that followed the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Two and a half years after the last visit of an EP delegation to the country in the context of ongoing efforts to strengthen EU values, MEPs will return to Malta on 23-25 May.

The aim of the visit -organised upon the recommendation of the Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (DRFMG) is to take stock of the latest developments as regards the rule of law, recent judicial reforms, safety of journalists, anti-corruption measures, and citizenship and residence by investment schemes. Communication between Maltese authorities and the DRFMG, as well as the group’s work in this area, continued throughout the pandemic.

The delegation comprises the following MEPs:

Vladimír BILČÍK (EPP, SK)
Franco ROBERTI (S&D, IT)
Sophie IN ‘T VELD (Renew, NL), Delegation Chair
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens/EFA, FR)
Nicolaus FEST (ID, DE)
Konstantinos ARVANITIS (The Left, EL).

They will meet with:
the President of the Republic of Malta Dr George Vella
the Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela and Cabinet Members
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti (tbc)
Attorney General Dr Victoria Buttigieg
the Speaker of the Parliament of Malta Hon Anġlu Farrugia
Members of the Parliament of Malta.
They will also hold discussions with commissioners and senior civil servants, representatives of Europol (the EU’s police agency) and regulatory bodies, as well as NGOs, civil society, journalists and representatives of the Daphne Project, and the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Malta: legacy media support

Brussels 22.05.2022 The Maltese government has announced a €500,000 fund for support of printed newspapers (legacy media), to reduce the impact of a hike in printing and paper prices due to the war in Ukraine.

In a statement, the government said Maltese printed journalism had been “impacted by the current extraordinary circumstances, in addition to the major challenges already being experienced by this sector.”

Within this context of hardships for legacy media Prime Minister Robert Abela led a meeting together with finance minister Clyde Caruana and minister for arts Owen Bonnici, with the Institute of Maltese Journalists at Auberge de Castille and a committee of newspaper publishers.

“The role of the newspaper as an integral part of contemporary media, and its key role as a strong instrument of democracy, were also discussed. In view of this crucial role, government will be stepping in and assisting the sector accordingly,” Abela said.

“The government will be providing financial assistance to newspaper publishers, as they currently face significant challenges due to the substantial increase in the price of paper,” the Prime minister added.

Maltese newspaper publishers employ around 66 journalists full-time together with several part-timers, and issue 14 different newspapers, published daily, weekly, and on Sundays.

Gaza: Hamas inside AP building

Brussels 16.05.2021 Israel shared intelligence with the US showing how Hamas operated inside the same building with Associated Press and Al-Jazeera in Gaza, officials in Jerusalem said on Sunday, 16 May.

Officials in more than one government office confirmed that US President Joe Biden’s phone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, May 15, was, in part, about the bombing of the building, and that Israel showed Biden and American officials the intelligence behind the action.

We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

Another senior Israeli official admitted that the fact that the bombing took place two days after a tweet by the IDF misled some foreign media into reporting that ground troops had entered Gaza made the situation more difficult, from a public diplomacy perspective.

Mistrust in journalists at rise

Brussels 20.04.2021 The 2021 Edelman Trust barometer reveals a disturbing level of public mistrust of journalists, with 59% of respondents in 28 countries saying that journalists deliberately try to mislead the public by reporting information they know to be false. In reality, journalistic pluralism and rigorous reporting serve to combat disinformation and “infodemics”, including false and misleading information.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”

The country that fell the furthest in 2021 was Malaysia (down 18 at 119th), where the problems include a recent “anti-fake news” decree allowing the government to impose its own version of the truth. Big descents were also registered by Comoros (down 9 at 84th) and El Salvador (down 8 at 82nd), where journalists have struggled to obtain state-held information about the government’s handling of the pandemic. Most of the 2021 Index’s biggest gains are in Africa. Burundi (up 13 at 147th), Sierra Leone (up 10 at 75th) and Mali (up 9 at 99th) have all seen significant improvements, including the release of four journalists with the independent Burundian media Iwacu, the repeal of a law criminalising press offences in Sierra Leone and a fall in the number of abuses in Mali.

Europe and the Americas (North, Central and South) continue to be the most favourable continents for press freedom, even though the Americas registered the biggest deterioration in its regional violations score (up 2.5%). Europe registered a sizeable deterioration in its “Abuses” indicator, with acts of violence more than doubling in the European Union and Balkans, compared with a 17% deterioration worldwide. Attacks against journalists and arbitrary arrests increased in Germany (13th), France (34th), Italy (41st), Poland (down 2 at 64th), Greece (down 5 at 70th), Serbia (93rd) and Bulgaria (down 1 at 112th).

Navalny: Russia press arrests

The extraordinary figure of more than 50 arrests of reporters, some of whom were subjected to police violence, is based on data compiled by the specialised news website OVD-Info, the Russian Journalists and Media Workers Union (JMWU) and information gathered directly by RSF.

“The police deliberately targeted certain media, going so far as to try to enter a private apartment, to cut off a video feed of the demonstrations, and in a sign of the totally disproportionate nature of the crackdown, even clearly-identified reporters wearing ‘press’ vests or armbands were held for several hours,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“The aim was clearly to prevent them from showing the scale of support for a government opponent. We call on the Russian authorities to end this blatant obstruction of the freedom to inform and we urge the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Teresa Ribeiro, to condemn the violence and arbitrary arrests. We also call on the European Union to adopt new sanctions against Russian officials.”

Multiple obstructions of the right to inform
Dozhd (Rain TV), an independent TV channel that is experienced in providing live coverage of demonstrations, was censored in mid-transmission when police cut the power supply to a Moscow apartment from which a Dozhd crew was broadcasting and then arrested reporter Aleksei Korostelev and cameraman Sergei Novikov on the pretext of verifying their identity. Another Dozhd journalist, Eduard Birmistrov, was arrested in Saint Petersburg although he was wearing a yellow vest and had his press card around his neck.

Cases of police deliberately obstructing journalists were filmed or reported throughout the day. They included the filmed arrest of Ivan Petrov, a reporter for the photo agency Tardigrada in Saint Petersburg, and the arrest of The Insider reporter Vera Ryabitskaya, who was beaten with a baton and dragged by her hair into a police van.

In Moscow, riot police hit Elizaveta Kirpanova, a reporter for the independent triweekly Novaya Gazeta, with their batons for several minutes, dealing some of the blows to her head, although she was clearly identifiable by her “press” vest and badge, while a baton blow smashed the camera lens of her photographer colleague Viktoria Odisonova.

Ekaterina Grobman, a reporter for VTimes, an independent news website recently founded by journalists who used to work for the daily newspaper Vedomosti, was hit when being arrested despite her “press” badge. Police also used violence against two journalists with the leading Riga-based news site Meduza, beating Kristina Safonova as she was filming a protest and grabbing Evgenyi Feldman by the neck. Nikita Stupin, a reporter for the AvtokazLive website, was tasered.
The police had already tried to intimidate journalists and media outlets in the run-up to the 23 January demonstrations in support for Navalny, who was arrested on his arrival in Russia on 17 January after several months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attempt. Navalny’s team has called for more protests on 31 January.
Russia is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Daphne Caruana Galizia PRIZE

Brussels 19.10.2020 The European Parliament has launched Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder commemorating the third time the assassination of the Maltese investigative journalist, the prize will reward journalism reflecting EU principles and values.

The purpose of the prize is to distinguish outstanding journalism that reflects the European Union’s principles and values, as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. The European Parliament considers that protecting press freedom around the world, and particularly that of investigative journalists whilst exercising their duties, is in the vital interest of democratic societies.

Even though the prize is initiated and supported by Parliament, it will be managed by an independent EU-based media partner in order to protect the independence of the prize and the work of the media.

The European Parliament will soon begin selecting an independent organisation to establish the detailed criteria for awarding the prize and decide on who will sit on the jury. A call for tender to select such an organisation will be launched before the end of 2020.

The call for nominees for the prize will be launched around 03 May 2021 – World Press Freedom Day. The annual award ceremony will take each year around the anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017. She focused on investigative journalism, reporting on government corruption, allegations of money laundering and organised crime.

The launch took place online on Friday 16 October on the EP’s Facebook page. It was led by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala (Greens, FI), and MEP David Casa (EPP, MT). They were joined online by the murdered journalist’s son, Andrew Caruana Galizia, from Malta.

EU reacts on attack on Russian opposition blogger

The attack on Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov, 22, did not pass unnoticed by the European diplomacy: «We wish Mister Zhukov a speedy recovery, and expect the reponsible for this brutal and coward attack will be brought to justice» the European External Action Service spokesperson said during the daily conference with Brussels press corps.
He added that on many occassion the EU proposed the resumption of the intrrupted human righs dialog, however it was rejected by the Russian counterparts.

On Sunday evening, August 30, Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov has been attacked and severly beaten by two unknown by him individuals. His supporters posted a photo on Facebook of his bloodied and swollen face, later he was trasported to a hosptial to examin his head injuries. The attack happened near his home.

Shortly before the violent incident Zhukov informed via his YouTube channel that he had been rejected for a master’s course on cinematography at Moscow’s prestigious Higher School of Economics, after initially being accepted for it. He linked that rejection to this political activity.

Separately, Mr Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he was against linking the attack on Zhukov to the suspected poisoning of Russia’s most famous campaigner against President Vladimir Putin, the investigative blogger Alexei Navalny.

“This is a handsome guy Yegor Zhukov, a journalist of Echo.
He was beaten in front of his own entrance. Hardly by mistake. Now, apparently, opposition representatives can be poisoned, beaten, tortured. It is not yet allowed to burn on bonfires, I wonder?” Wrties on his Twitter Russian opposition politician Gennady Goudkov.

The first blow came from behind, to the back of the head, after which Yegor fell and they have beaten him mostly on the ground and aimed at the head, for 20-30 seconds. There are practically no injuries on other parts of the body, and the head and face are broken”, Yegor Zhukov lawyer Murad Musaev said. “The police officers took up this case quite actively and yesterday, practically all night long, various operational and investigative actions were carried out. We hope that the subject of a criminal investigation in this case will be not only yesterday’s attack, but also the attempted attack on July 24 this year,” he added.

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

Azerbaijan blocks OSCE representative mandate

Harlem Désir, an influential figure who has worked fearlessly for the protection of the free press, will no longer serve as Representative on Freedom of the Media at OSCE after Azerbaijan and Tajikistan blocked the renewal of his mandate.

For the past three years Désir has been an outspoken representative at the OSCE (Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe). Nowadays his reappointment has been blocked by two of the worst-scoring countries in terms of world press freedom.

International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this was the most disruptive behaviour yet from Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

“The work of the Representative on Freedom of Media is absolutely crucial to the protection of media freedom across the OSCE’s 57 Member States, especially in the worst offenders, including the two States that have now blocked Harlem Désir’s reappointment. They can now effectively evade OSCE scrutiny,” RSF’s Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, said.

The blocking of Désir candidacy by the two OSCE participating states raises the question of whether countries with a dramatic record of undermining free press should be allowed to have such power in international fora.

“Azerbaijan has form for this, having behaved similarly disruptively at the Council of Europe for years. How long will these institutions allow themselves to be hijacked by States that don’t share their values?” RSF added.

Russian defense reporter accused of espionage

The arrest of former journalist has caused major outcry among independent media outlets in Russia. Ivan Safronov, accused of spying for the Czech Republic and the United States, was arrested on July 7 by Russia’s security service, the FSB, which has accused him of state treason, the charges foreseing prison sententse from 12 up to 20 years.

Until two months ago, Safronov was a reporter covering Russia’s defense and space industries for a leading state newspaper, Vedomosti, having spent a decade covering the same subject for Kommersant newspaper. Since May, he has been a communications adviser for the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

Safronov’s lawyer told reporters on July 7 the FSB accuses him of passing secret information to Czech intelligence about Russian arms supplies to Africa and military activities in the Middle East. A Moscow court ordered his arrest for two months in pretrial detention in the city’s Lefortovo jail.

Former colleagues and journalists from other publications protested against his arrest outside FSB headquarters in Moscow on July 7, and more than two dozen were detained by police. Three of Russia’s top news outlets, including his two former papers, published protests prominently on their sites, saying the arrest was intended to discourage the objective reporting in Russia.

Kommersant, where Safronov worked for a decade, wrote that the accusations seemed “absurd” and called him a “patriot.” Another leading outlet, RBC, wrote that his arrest was “a signal” to Russian media and society to avoid casting light on shady activities of powerfl groups of people.

Treason cases are classified, meaning Safronov’s trial will be held behind closed doors as even the charges brought against him are likely to remain obscure.

Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer, who defends Safronov at Court, told reporters the FSB alleges his client was recruited in 2012 by Czech intelligence and in 2017 allegedly was given the task of passing along intelligence about the arms deliveries and military operations. That information allegedly was shared with the United States, added Pavlov, who told reporters materials for the case filled seven volumes, suggesting the FSB had been building a case against Safronov for quite some time.

The Czech Foreign ministry on July 8 declined to comment.

Safronov, 30, is known as for breaking stories on Russia’s defense sector and had worked in the Kremlin media pool, which travels with President Putin. Last year, he repeatedly was interrogated by the FSB over an article he wrote about the sale of Russian warplanes to Egypt.

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