Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
United States9 May 2008

President George W. Bush urged to call for press freedom during his middle east visit

Reporters Without Borders has written to US President George W. Bush urging him to raise the issue of censorship on his 13-18 May visit to counterparts in the Middle East and to obtain guarantees on freedom of information for their citizens.

“We believe it is imperative that the United States of America, through its President, remind its key allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, of the importance of the right to inform and to be informed, and do everything it can to promote a greater freedom of expression in those countries,” the worldwide press freedom organization said in its May 7 letter.

“ Reporters, bloggers, and citizen journalists are crucial witnesses to the events occurring throughout the region. A vigorous press capable of informing their people and of holding those in power accountable is crucial to the future of the peace talks and to the welfare of the entire region” said the organization’s Secretary-General Robert Ménard.

(JPEG)
Kareem Amer

In its letter, Reporters Without Borders urges the US president to press for the release of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, who was sentenced to four years in prison on 22 February 2007 for “inciting hatred of Islam” and “insulting President Hosni Mubarak” on his blog.

A state of emergency declared in Egypt after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat is still in force and the authorities constantly harass journalists, often using the courts to bring the media to heel. Ibrahim Issa, editor of the independent weekly al Dustur, was sentenced to six months in prison on 26 March for publishing “false news, damaging the country’s interests and national security”.

(JPEG)
King Abdallah Ibn al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)

Live broadcasts have been banned on public television in Saudi Arabia since February 2008 to prevent viewers from airing their grievances. The country also has one of the world’s most filtered Internet networks. Moreover, without any legal framework to defend freedom of expression, Saudi journalists never challenge the government and self-censorship is the rule. The authorities control over the news led to the arrest of blogger Fuad al Farhan, on 10 December 2007, for discussing the “advantages and disadvantages” of being a Muslim on his blog. He has spent five months in prison for exercising his right to free expression online.

The worldwide press freedom organisation also urged President Bush to seek more information about the circumstances of the death of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shanaa, killed in the Gaza Strip on 16 April in a “mistaken shooting” by an Israeli tank.

(JPEG)
Israeli Defence Forces

“The Israeli Army must clearly identify those responsible for the shooting and punish them. Israeli soldiers, who are guilty of negligence or responsible for deliberately shooting at journalists, have been exonerated by superiors on several occasions in the past. These practices are unacceptable in a country that purports to apply democratic principles”, the organisation added.

The Israeli Defence Forces feature on Reporters Without Borders’ list of press freedom ‘predators” released on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. Several journalists are injured every year by real or rubber bullets, or by shards from stun grenades or teargas grenades fired indiscriminately by the Israeli Army.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel (outside Israeli territory) are ranked respectively 148th, 146th and 103rd on Reporters Without Borders worldwide Press Freedom Index which keeps a watch on a total of 169 countries.

PDF - 124.7 kb
Letter to G W. Bush


In this country
14 May - United States
Arraignment of suspected mastermind of Chauncey Bailey’s murder postponed again
14 May - United States
Obama opposes release of torture photos
6 May - United States
“To combat Internet censorship, companies cannot be left to act on their own”
4 May - United States
Yusuf Bey IV indicted in Chauncey Bailey’s murder
2 May - United States
Reporters Without Borders welcomes President’s statement in honor of World Press Freedom Day

in the annual report
United States - Annual Report 2008
United States - Annual report 2007
United States - Annual report 2006


reports
14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press
archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Cuba
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Cuba
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro