Thursday marked the one-year-anniversary of the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The murder by Islamic militants of eight cartoonists and journalists, followed by the terror attacks in Paris in November in which a freelance rock critic was one of the 130 victims, led to France being listed by CPJ as the second-most deadly country for journalists, behind only Syria.
The threat to journalists from Islamic militant groups was not just documented in France. Throughout 2015, CPJ research shows 30 journalists in eight countries were killed by groups such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. This CPJ StoryMap details some of their cases.
The impact of the Charlie Hebdo attack on the magazine's remaining staff, who live under police protection, was summed by Caroline Fourest, a French journalist and contributor to Charlie Hebdo, who spoke with CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney C. Radsch. "They are not free for sure, they will never have their lives back," she told Radsch. "They will try to survive through this week and live with the fact that they are not free anymore because they wanted to defend freedom of the press for all."
In the wake of threats from extremist groups worldwide, governments have called for increased surveillance powers and for social media companies to remove extremist propaganda. This has raised concerns among rights groups about the potential impact on free expression. In a statement released January 7, more than 80 press freedom organizations, including CPJ, called for governments to uphold their commitment to press freedom, combat impunity, and repeal repressive laws. A copy of the statement can be viewed here.
Journalists are also at risk from broad anti-terror legislation. CPJ's annual prison census, released in December 2015, shows that 111 journalists were jailed on anti-state charges, often related to terrorism. Some, like Iraqi journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, who was imprisoned on terror charges after covering clashes with the PKK in Turkey, had been reporting on activities of groups designated terrorist organizations by authorities.
The arrest of Rasool, who worked with VICE News, garnered international attention, with a petition calling for his release attracting more than 88,800 supporters. He was released on bail last week after spending 131 days in jail. However, charges have not been dropped and a Turkish court has banned him from traveling until a verdict is issued in his case.
Four of the six journalists featured in CPJ's Press Uncuffed campaign were also jailed on anti-state charges. For details on how to support them, click here.