Turkish Journalist Sedef Kabas Tops March Ranking Of The One Free Press Coalition’s “10 Most Urgent” Press Freedom Cases
The March 2022 “10 Most Urgent” List Highlights Women Journalists Facing Unjust Retaliation Around the World
NEW YORK – March 1, 2022 – Turkish journalist Sedef Kabas, who is currently awaiting trial on two criminal insult charges and facing a separate civil suit seeking over $18K in damages, tops the March ranking of the One Free Press Coalition’s “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom cases. The “10 Most Urgent” list, issued this week by a united group of pre-eminent editors and publishers, spotlights journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases are seeking justice.
Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, this month’s list highlights 10 cases of women journalists from around the globe who have faced retaliation or threats because of their reporting. While some of the threats faced by these journalists are widespread press freedom issues, women journalists face unique challenges. In particular, women journalists face a greater amount of harassment online, as well as in the workplace, with IWMF estimating that one third of female journalists have considered changing their jobs because of threats received. A 2020 UNESCO report found that, globally, 73% of women journalists have faced online harassment, and that harassment has turned into physical threats with serious impacts on mental health in some cases.
Journalists seeking guidance on digital and psychosocial safety can find them here, including tools for handling online harassment.
Published today at www.onefreepresscoalition.com and by all Coalition members, the 37th “10 Most Urgent” list includes the following women journalists, ranked in order of urgency:
1. Sedef Kabas (Turkey)
Authorities detained Kabaş, a freelance journalist and former television anchor, on January 22 for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during an appearance on a political debate show. Kabas was also charged for “insult of a public official.” Prosecutors asked to jail Kabas for up to 11 years and eight months on both charges. This past February, while Kabaş was in detention awaiting trial on both criminal insult charges, President Erdoğan separately filed a civil suit seeking $18,405 in damages.
2. Hala Fuad Badhawi (Yemen)
In December 2021, military intelligence forces in Hadramout province detained Badhawi and she is currently being held in the central province prison. Colleagues believe Badhawi was detained because of her writing on corruption in the province. CPJ was told she will likely be referred to prosecutors on charges of membership in a terrorist cell, incitement to destabilize local security, and smuggling improvised explosive devices.
3. Elena Milashina (Russia)
An investigative reporter at Novaya Gazeta, Milashina has been forced to flee her home after threats from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. At least five journalists at the outlet have been killed since CPJ first started collecting data in 1992. Milashina is seriously concerned for her safety, and this is not the first time she has faced threats, as she and human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina were beaten in the Chechen capital last March.
4. Nomthandazo Maseko (Eswatini)
Maseko, a reporter for the privately owned news website Swati Newsweek, was assaulted by correctional services staff after livestreaming a protest by members of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (Swalimo) activist group outside a local prison. When officers spotted her in her car, they hauled her out, slapped, kicked, and beat her with sticks, and an unidentified officer pointed a gun at her while threatining to shoot.
5. Rana Ayyub (India)
Washington Post columnist and freelance journalist Ayyub has long been a victim of online trolling and retaliatory legal threats, but began receiving a renewed onslaught of threats on Twitter after she tweeted her criticism of Saudi Arabia’s government role in the ongoing Yemen war, receiving over 26,000 tweets in response, including rape and death threats.
6. Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam)
In December, Vietnamese authorities sentenced journalist Trang to nine years in prison. Trang covers human rights topics, including police abuses and environmental issues. Trang has faced harassment in the past for her reporting. Days before her arrest in October 2020, Trang released a letter titled, “Just in case I am imprisoned.”
7. Julia Gavarrete (El Salvador)
El Faro reporter Gavarrete is one of more than 30 journalists in El Salvador who discovered recently that they were a target of Pegasus spyware surveillance. Gavarrete covers politics, health, environment and gender for El Faro, and the outlet has been singled out alongside other independent outlets by President Nayib Bukele and other Salvadoran officials.
8. Kalúa Salazar (Nicaragua)
Salazar, editor-in-chief of radio and television outlet La Costeñísima, has faced ongoing legal battles, harassment and surveillance from authorities, including physical attacks that have prevented her from leaving her home. Salazar told CPJ that she believes the harassment is tied to the outlet’s coverage and a desire to silence the work of La Costeñisima, one of the few independent media outlets in Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
9. Lourdes Maldonado (Mexico)
Maldonado, a veteran broadcast journalist, was shot dead in Tijuana this January. Maldonado had previously been attacked because of her work and was registered in the Mexican government’s program to protect journalists. She is one of five journalists who have been killed in Mexico since the start of 2022.
10. Maria Ressa (Philippines)
Journalist Maria Ressa, a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize awardee, faces extreme threats in the Philippines, including state-orchestrated attacks against her and Rappler, the news organization that she founded. This follows her conviction on a criminal cyber libel charge, part of ongoing efforts from authorities in the Philippines to silence any critical reporting.
The One Free Press Coalition is comprised of 32 prominent international members including: Agencia Efe; Al Jazeera Media Network, AméricaEconomía; The Associated Press; Bloomberg News; The Boston Globe; Corriere Della Sera; De Standaard; Deutsche Welle; Estadão; EURACTIV; The Financial Times; Forbes; Fortune; HuffPost; India Today; Insider Inc.; Le Temps; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Quartz; Radio Free Asia; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; Republik; Reuters; The Straits Times; Süddeutsche Zeitung; TIME; TV Azteca; Voice of America; The Washington Post; and Yahoo News.
One Free Press Coalition partners with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to identify the most-urgent cases for the list, which is updated and published on the first business day of every month.
Members of the public are also encouraged to join the conversation using the hashtag #OneFreePress and following developments on Twitter @OneFreePress.
One Free Press Coalition
The One Free Press Coalition every month spotlights the “10 Most Urgent” journalists who press freedoms are under threat worldwide. The Coalition uses the collective voices of participating news organizations to spotlight brave journalists whose voices are being silenced or have been silenced by “standing up for journalists under attack for pursuing the truth.” To see the “10 Most Urgent” list every month and to view a complete list of participating news organizations and supporting partners, please visit onefreepresscoalition.com or @OneFreePress on Twitter.
One Free Press Coalition PR: [email protected]
Committee to Protect Journalists: Bebe Santa-Wood, [email protected]