Freedom of Expression in the News- Weekly Round Up: 13 – 19 August

Angola: Journalist arrested for reporting on ‘mass fainting’.

Angolan journalist Adão Tiago was detained following a report on Radio Ecclesia on the fainting of 20 students at the local school where he teaches English. Toajo questioned the national wave of ‘mass fainting’ since April 2011. Over 800 people, most of them teenagers, fainted after complaining of sore throats and eyes, shortness of breath and coughs. The media has been blamed for exacerbating the problem by creating mass hysteria. Tiago was released after 23 hours of questioning.

Northern Ireland: News organisations claim police are putting journalists at risk

Chief Constable Matt Baggott was warned by Northern Irish editors that demands from police for media riot footage could endanger journalists. This followed a court order that media companies, including the BBC, must hand over images of the recent riots in Belfast. Seven media groups were concerned that such an order impinged on their duty to be impartial and they feared reprisals from rioters.

Vietnam: Blogger jailed for attempted subversion

A French Vietnamese professor was found guilty of trying to overthrow the government and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He was charged for being a member of a banned pro-democracy group – US based Viet Tan – and editing an anti-communist blog, where he posted 33 articles against the current one-party community government.

Tajikistan: Trial for BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov

The trial of a BBC journalist started this week in Khujand city, Tajikistan after being held in detention for over a month. He was accused of associating with the banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir but has repeatedly claimed his innocence. He argues the contact was necessary as part of his work reporting on the region. The case triggered an international outcry by various groups and diplomats perceiving the arrest as an attempt to cripple independent media and discourage coverage of sensitive political and religious issues. The journalist has the BBC’s full support.

Egypt: Military council drops charges against two activists

The Egyptian military council dropped charges against two high-profile activists, following a domestic and international outcry. Both had been indicted for criticizing the military on social networking websites. One of them was Asmaa Mahfouz, 26, a key player in the ousting of Mubarak in February. She was charged with slander and inciting violence after she posted comments that violence could ensue if justice was not enforced in Egypt. Their release was made public on the council’s Facebook page.

Freedom House denounces deportations ahead of SADC Summit

Three civic leaders and two journalists from Mozambique traveling to Angola to attend the Southern Africa Civil Society Forum (August 16-18) were deported despite being in possession of the required legal documentation to enter the country. The action is believed to be a consequence of the concurrent Summit for Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).



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