Governments Claim National Security to Silence Journalists

II Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Governments in the Middle East are using accusations of national security to try and silence western journalists from reporting on government corruption and other abuses of power.

Three journalists for Vice News were detained in Turkey on charges of terrorism for their reports that allegedly promoted Kurdish militants.  A Dutch journalist was also detained on the same charges after being caught covering a Kurdish protest group.

“I’m in custody in Yuksekova,” Frederike Geerdink tweeted.

The Turkish government denied she was arrested for her reporting but for being in an area where fighting was taking place.

“Frederike has not been arrested for journalism. She was in a security zone where there was fighting. Because of that, we could not guarantee her safety, so she has been detained and investigations are continuing,” a government representative told Reuters.

Journalism watchdog groups dismissed the explanation, noting that Geerdink was arrested in January on similar charges of “illegal propaganda” for which she was acquitted in April.

“The Netherlands has been concerned about freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Turkey for some time,” Dutch embassy spokesman Roel van der Meij said. “This remains an important point in our relations with Turkey.”

In Egypt, three Al-Jazeera reporters are being tried on charges they filed false news reports to “promote terrorism.”

“What we see in terms of worrying trends that’s been picking up for a while is the use of overbroad anti-terror laws to prevent coverage and detain journalists,” said Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, to the New York Times.

Mahoney cited many examples of abuse of journalists taking place around the world that largely go unreported in American media.

In Azerbaijan, an investigative journalist who contributed to the US funded Radio Free Europe was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for reporting on alleged corruption by the nation’s president.

“I don’t think anything will ever really improve unless there is real pressure from the West,” Gulnara Akhundova, who works for International Media Support told the Times. “What we need is real sanctions.”

Leave a Reply