Tuesday 14th of July 2020

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Why Were So Many Journalists Murdered in 2018?


To date, 34 of them were killed in retaliation for their work, nearly doubling last year's number.

 

In February, gunmen burst into the home of an investigative reporter in Slovakia and fatally shot him in the chest. In April, ISIS suicide bombers targeted the press corps in Kabul, killing nine people in a single attack. In June, a disgruntled reader entered the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Maryland and gunned down four journalists and a sales assistant. And in October, Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and Saudi exile, was murdered and dismembered by government agents in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.


All told, at least 34 journalists were murdered in 2018, an 89 percent increase over the previous year. The number of journalists in jail is also at record highs—251 by the most recent count. Together, these statistics tell a damning story about the current era, the worst in recent history in which to be a reporter.


Journalists who take on powerful interests have always faced dangers. But even war reporters were once protected by the symbiotic relationship they had with those they covered. If guerrilla fighters or rogue governments wanted to communicate with the world, they had to talk to the press. Killing journalists, quite simply, undermined their ability to get their message out. That dynamic changed with the advent of the internet. By the mid-2000s, Mexican drug cartels had become savvy online users, as had terrorist networks like Al Qaeda. A decade later, the Islamic State developed an even more sophisticated communications operation, with sharp social media strategies, slickly produced YouTube videos, and even a glossy magazine, Dabiq, which published stories outlining the religious arguments for slavery and urging Muslims in the West to join the fight in the Levant. The group almost never interacted with journalists, except when they appeared as props in their elaborately staged execution videos. As governments have pushed ISIS back from its Syrian stronghold, the attacks the group once launched on journalists have become less frequent. Organized crime networks like the Mexican cartels and the European mafia are now the growing threat. And sometimes, as with Khashoggi, a state murders one of its own.


There is no single explanation for why journalists are being killed and imprisoned. But the disappointing response of the United States government to these crimes—its abrogation of its traditional role as model for a free press—helps explain why the perpetrators are acting with such impunity. 

 

There was a time, not that long ago, when the White House acted when a journalist was killed abroad. In 2002, the Bush administration pressured Pakistani authorities to bring Al Qaeda operatives who’d killed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl to justice. Omar Sheikh, a key figure in the murder and a British national, was convicted in a Pakistani court that year and remains in prison. When Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in the entryway of her Moscow apartment building in October 2006, President George W. Bush personally phoned Vladimir Putin to express his dismay. The Obama administration kept up the pressure, raising the killing of journalists with Russian officials and sending diplomats to monitor the murder trials.


President Donald Trump has changed course. He spends more of his energy attacking journalists than he does defending their rights. His lack of concern for their fate was first apparent when MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked him in 2016 about journalists being murdered in Russia. “Our country does plenty of killing, too,” Trump said. Perhaps the most telling recent example of the president’s attitude is his remark about whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about Khashoggi’s murder. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” he said, a comment that appears in the official White House statement, which goes on to call Saudi Arabia “a great ally in our very important fight against Iran” and the United States its “steadfast partner.”


Repressive leaders around the world are using Trump’s tactics. After President Trump called CNN and The New York Times “fake news,” the president of the Philippines used the same language to describe the Filipino news web site Rappler, which has exposed corruption in the Duterte government. Maria Ressa, Rappler’s editor, pointed out that when Trump rescinded the accreditation of CNN’s Jim Acosta, he was mimicking President Duterte’s actions earlier in the year with a Filipino reporter. Many other countries, such as Egypt, Russia, and Singapore, have embraced the term “fake news” and used it to justify restrictions on the media. In fact, the number of journalists imprisoned on charges of publishing “false news” (the term tracked by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the organization I lead) has more than tripled since Trump took office, from nine to 28.


A new generation of populist leaders now define themselves in opposition to the media. They attack their own journalists and are largely indifferent to the fate of reporters in the rest of the world. This attitude has consequences, or rather prevents consequences for people who deserve them. More than 85 percent of murders of journalists go unpunished, according to the 2018 Impunity Index, which was compiled by the CPJ. The key to fighting impunity is international pressure. And it’s been sorely lacking. Journalists face new forms of violence and repression, and, for now at least, few leaders, certainly not Donald Trump, are willing to stand up and defend them. 

 

Joel Simon @Joelcpj

Joel Simon is executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. His book We Want to Negotiate: The Secret World of Kidnappings, Hostages and Ransom is out this month [December 2018].

 

Joel Simon/December 20, 2018

 

Why Were So Many Journalists Murdered in 2018?

 

To date, 34 of them were killed in retaliation for their work, nearly doubling last year's number.

 

 

Some journalists are killed by governments, some are killed by private enterprises and some are killed by criminals. The origin of the murders of journalists are often blurred, due to various "interests" fighting for the same turf... For example, Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya (also Politkovskaja) was murdered in the entryway [according to some report, she was murdered in the lift] of her Moscow apartment building in October 2006, she was writing articles opposed to the Chechen war launched by Putin. Here the dynamics were complexed by the fact the West was supporting the rebels (allied with Al Qaeda according to some reports) in Chechnya, that the rebels were doing some atrocities, and that Chechnya would have gone into a worse civil war than what happened in Ukraine — should it be left to its own device. Her murder does not mean that Putin and his apparatchik killed her. She could have been equally murdered by rebels who thought of a way to embarrass the Putin government. This has been done before, and the life of one journalist is not worth much in these circumstances. See Khashoggi...

 

murdering the news gatherers...

NEW YORK — The number of journalists killed in retaliation for their work nearly doubled this year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The New York-based organization found that at least 34 journalists were targeted and killed for their work as of Dec. 14. In all, at least 53 died while doing dangerous work. That compares with 18 retaliation killings out of 47 deaths documented by the committee in 2017.

The committee also said the imprisonment of journalists has been on the rise.

The U.S. was among the top five deadliest countries for journalists this year for the first time, with six dead.

“The context for the crisis is varied and complex, and closely tied to changes in technology that have allowed more people to practice journalism even as it has made journalists expendable to the political and criminal groups who once needed the news media to spread their message,” the committee said in its annual report.

The report came a day after the media freedom group Reporters Without Borders issued its own tally, saying the U.S. was among the top five deadliest countries for journalists this year for the first time, with six dead. Four of those were journalists killed by a gunman in a June attack on the newspaper Capital Gazette in Maryland. In addition, another two journalists died while covering a storm.

The shooting, in which another newspaper employee was also killed, was the deadliest single attack on the media in recent U.S. history.

The Paris-based group documented 63 professional journalists worldwide who died in 2018.

Read more:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/53-journalists-killed-for-their-work...

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Some loosely used report suggest that so far during Putin's tenure 56 journalists have been killed... As mentioned above, this does not have to implicate Putin and his government directly. Like everywhere in the world, there are mafias, criminal organisations and alien official secret services that can be doing the deeds. Over a period of 20 years (Putin's mandate) this average at 2.8 journalist per year... And do these murders include those performed by other countries in Russia? The truth is more than just a scary number "under Putin, 56 journalists were murdered"...

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collateral murder...

From Dr. Binoy Kampmark 

 

When the superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia against Julian Assange on May 23, 2019, there was one glaring omission. It was an achievement, it might even be said the achievement, that gave the WikiLeaks publisher and the organisation justified notoriety.

Collateral Murder, as the leaked video came to be called, featured the murderous exploits by the crew of Crazy Horse 1-8, an Apache helicopter that slew 11 people on July 12, 2007 in east Baghdad. Among the dead were Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and a driver and fixer, Saeed Chmagh.

As WikiLeaks announced at the time, “Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.”

It is worth remembering at the time that the current stable of media outlets, including the New York Times, preferred to see something rather different: that the video was purposely edited by WikiLeaks to convey maximum public impact while giving the impression of US venality in battle. Patriotism, and the blinding of the record, comes first.

This conveniently sidestepped the vacillations taking place in the Pentagon over the incident and its recording. Dean Yates, who was Reuters Baghdad chief at the time, recalls in horrid vividness the unfolding events, including the seizure of Namir’s cameras and the US military statement: “Firefight in New Baghdad. US, Iraqi forces kill 9 insurgents, detain 13.” 

As Yates, who has been painfully silent over this episode, told the Guardian

“The US assertions that Namir and Saeed were killed during a firefight was all lies. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I updated my story to take in the US military’s statement.” 

On the return of the tampered cameras, no evidence of insurgent activity, or clashes with US forces, were evident. Yates and a Reuters colleague subsequently met two US generals responsible for overseeing the investigation, all off record, of course. They were told of the request by Crazy Horse 1-8 to engage “military-aged males” supposedly armed and acting “suspiciously”. 

Photographs of AK-47s and an RPG [Rocket-propelled grenade] launcher, where produced. Yates was left wondering “how much of that meeting was carefully choreographed so we could go away with a certain impression of what happened.” For a time, he conceded, “it worked” with poisonous effect. 

What niggled was the revealing of some footage from the camera of Crazy Horse 1-8, a miserly three minutes. Cue the permission sought by the Apache to engage on seeing Namir crouching with his long-lens camera, supposedly mistaken for an RPG.

The appearance of the van later in the scene, ostensibly to assist, was airily dismissed by the generals as an act of aid for insurgents. Yates, disturbed, was left with the mistaken impression that Namir had somehow been responsible for his own demise and those of his companions. 

In the meantime, Reuters persisted in their vain attempts to secure the full video, even as they continued good faith off-the-record meetings with the US military for reasons of safety. Yates wished to break the arrangement on the video; his superiors thought otherwise.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder began to show. Sleeplessness crept it. When the video was released on April 5, 2010, Yates was with his family walking in Cradle Mountain national park, Tasmania.

The video casts a shadow over the indictment, despite being a screaming omission. It is crude, expressive, and unequivocal in disclosing a war crime and its cold-blooded execution. It codifies a form of deliberate, incautious violence. It reveals breathe taking cruelty at play: “Look at those dead bastards; “Nice”; “Good shoot’n”. 

As Christian Christensen remarked:

These particular images were, in many ways, the crystallization of the horrors of war.”

Barrister Greg Barns, a tireless advisor to the Australian Assange Campaign claimed it to be “very much part of the broader prosecution case [because of what it illustrates about the US rules of engagement] and it is one of the many reasons to oppose what is happening to Assange”.

Australian politicians otherwise unaccustomed to distract themselves from the teat of the US imperium have also noted the potency of the video, and the act of evading it in the indictment.

“The omission of the leaked Collateral Murder footage from the indictment surprised me,” suggested Australian Greens Senator Peter Whish Wilson of the Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home Group,“but on reflection of course it’s not in the US government’s interests to highlight their own injustices, deceit and crimes.”

The effort to indict Assange for espionage charges is fatuous but dangerously calculating: to bury a narrative; to make history, at least as it is told by the leakers, disappear.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2020/06/18/the-narrative-of-the-leakers-collateral-murder-and-the-assange-indictment/

 

Read also:

 

the fluidity of disinterested "justice" in the magna carta country...

 

and many other posts on this subject on this site...