Turkey, December 5
Turkish authorities seek arrest of journalist Dundar over 2013 protests
Turkish authorities seek arrest of journalist Dundar over 2013 protests https://t.co/zIygjrgvA4
— Can Dündar (@candundaradasi) December 5, 2018
After the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016, President Erdogan has cracked down on the media and imprisoned over one hundred journalists in recent years. In December, Erdogan sought the arrest of journalists who protested with hundreds of thousands of others against Erdogan’s government in 2013.
Journalist and former editor, Can Dundar, of opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet, has been charged with acts of terrorism, like many of his peers in Turkey. He has since left the country but continues to speak out against Erdogan’s treatment of journalists.
United Kingdom, December 10
UK government spent most on Facebook political advertising
UK government spent most on Facebook political advertising https://t.co/CR3jQgDwAl pic.twitter.com/yabSl4XFKY
— tweetpolitics (@tweetonpolitics) December 10, 2018
A report published by Facebook revealed that in early December, the U.K. government was the highest spending political advertiser in the U.K., allocating close to £97,000 (about $125,000) for advertisements in support of the Brexit Movement.
According to figures provided by Facebook, the ruling Conservative Party spent £40,000 on advertisements between December 2nd and December 8th, with anti-Brexit campaign the People’s Vote spending more than £47,000 during the same period.
The report is part of Facebook’s U.K. Aid Library, which launched in October 2018 and aims to lessen public concern over “dark-ads” on the social media platform.
United States, December 14
RSF’s 2018 round-up of deadly attacks and abuses against journalists – figures up in all categories
2018 is the deadliest year for journalists in the United States since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. At this point this year, the United States is the third deadliest country globally after Afghanistan and Syria. https://t.co/9AOdoXljhP
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) August 14, 2018
In 2018, the United States joined the ranks of deadliest countries for journalists for the first time, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Last June, five journalists were killed when a shooting occurred at the Capital Gazette in Maryland. After the incident, Reporters Without Borders included the United States in the list of dangerous countries for journalists including Afghanistan, Syria and Mexico.
China, December 16
China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor
Chinese re-education camps in #Xinjiang do not stop at aiming to detain and indocrinate 1 million Uyghur Muslims—now, a system of forced labor is emerging there too. Why is China on the UN Human Rights Council?
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) January 14, 2019
Reporting from The New York Times revealed that a recent surge in Communist Party propaganda may be attempting to hide a system of forced labor as part of an effort to “control and indoctrinate” a Muslim ethnic minority population of more than 12 million in Xinjiang, China.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the country have been detained and placed in concentration camps in the past year. The Chinese government recently began featuring these detainees on television as “models of repentance,” receiving job training and opportunities to escape poverty.
But accounts from the region and official documents have suggested that these workers are sent to these factories with little choice but to accept the jobs and follow orders.
The camps demonstrate attempts by the Chinese government to encourage citizens to reject religious piety and, instead, pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.
Several governments and international institutions have called on China to close the camps, citing human rights violations. However, the Chinese government is continuing to run what it describes in official documents as “vocational training centers.”
Israel, December 17
Facebook temporarily bans Israeli PM’s son over posts
Facebook temporarily bans Israeli PM's son over posts – https://t.co/deu3HROYYq
— Kenny_ANTI_gop (@Hope012015) December 17, 2018
Facebook temporarily banned Prime Minister Netanyahu’s son’s account over incendiary posts about Palestinians and Muslims.
Facebook officially accused the 27-year-old of hate speech and suspended the account for 24 hours. In response, Netanyahu called the situation “unbelievable” while his son called Facebook “thought police.”
The slew of posts began after Netanyahu’s son called for the avenging of the deaths of Israeli soldiers that had been killed in the West Bank. After the post was taken down, Yair Netanyahu posted a screenshot of the original post and encouraged others to share it even though the content violated Facebook’s community standards.
Russia, December 17
Russian disinformation teams targeted Robert S. Mueller III, says report prepared for Senate
How Russia Hacked U.S. Politics With Instagram Marketing https://t.co/hzLABJ4TTN
— i-intelligence (@i_intelligence) December 19, 2018
The Washington Post uncovered that Russia’s disinformation campaign specifically targeted special councillor Robert Muller after President Trump was elected.
The Russian disinformation team created fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to create the narrative that Muller was corrupt and fabricated evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. One Instagram post claimed Muller was friendly with “radical Islamic groups.”
The Washington Post also found that this latest incident of Russian interference showed a broader problem with the vulnerability of social media. YouTube unintentionally gave access to more than 1,100 disinformation videos while Paypal helped raise money for political merchandise.
Greece, December 18
Outrage at ‘anti-democratic’ bomb blast at Athens TV station
Outrage at 'anti-democratic' bomb blast at Athens TV station https://t.co/MaQscSzppi #mediafreedom
— Elena Lazarou (@ElenLazarou) December 18, 2018
A makeshift bomb was set off at the media group, Skai, in Athens, Greece. No one was injured because warning calls were made in time, although the explosion caused extensive damage to the group’s headquarters.
While no individual or group has claimed responsibility, European Union Economics Chief Pierre Moscovici called the event “an attack against our way of life, our principles and our values.”
European Commission Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas added that the European Union “condemns all attacks on the freedom of expression and our free press cornerstones of our values.”
The attack comes amid tension between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist-dominated coalition and Skai over accusations of anti-government bias in reporting.
Myanmar, December 23
Myanmar court hears arguments in appeal case of jailed Reuters reporters
Myanmar court hears arguments in appeal case of jailed @Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo https://t.co/qHxt93Y7Bp Follow updates on the case: https://t.co/UWHW8QxYD8 pic.twitter.com/29yh2OUX0B
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 24, 2018
A Myanmar court held oral arguments in an appeal of two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to seven years in prison for breaking the country’s Official Secrets Act.
While the court later rejected the appeal, the case has garnered criticism internationally since charges were first filed against the journalists in July 2018. Officials from the United Nations and European Union have called for the journalists to be released in the name of press freedom.
Prior to their arrest, the two journalists were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine State during a military crackdown that began in August 2017.
Government officials within the country claim that the journalists had collected confidential documents and that their publishing would present a threat to national security.
However, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler called the charges against the journalists “baseless,” adding that the journalists were “doing their jobs in an independent and impartial way.”
Pakistan, December 26
Pakistan’s journalists complain of increasing censorship
Pakistan's journalists complain of increasing censorship https://t.co/2xDus9Fojo pic.twitter.com/IsfZVEUZsW
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) December 26, 2018
Several Pakistani journalists and press freedom advocates are bringing attention to what they claim are attempts by the national government to silence critical media coverage.
These reporters and activists have cited the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence’s supposed involvement in attempts to quell media coverage critical of the national government.
These claims come amid Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decrease in the government’s advertising budget, thus limiting a main source of revenue for private newspapers and television stations.
Increased censorship has also been seen in the closure of several websites, including the U.S. State Department’s Voice of America following a report on a tribal movement critical of military operations in regions surrounding Afghanistan.
Journalists are now speaking out against this censorship, claiming it places an unnecessary strain on their reporting and ability to do their job.
“Today we don’t know what will annoy them,” Pakistani journalist Qazi Salauddin said of the military. “Today we have to do self-censorship and that is the worst kind of censorship, because it is done out of fear.”
North Korea, December 28
North Korea defector hack: Personal data of almost 1,000 leaked
North Korea defector hack: Personal data of almost 1,000 leaked https://t.co/ezr194zP7Y
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 28, 2018
The personal data of close to 1,000 North Korean defectors were leaked after a computer hacking at a South Korean resettlement center, according to the South Korean Ministry of Unification.
The ministry said that a personal computer at the center was “infected with a malicious code,” although the identity of the hacker and the origin of the cyber-attack have not yet been confirmed.
While South Korean authorities said that the North Korean government does not know the identities of all defected citizens, analysts say that the leak could endanger the defectors’ family members who still live in North Korea.
Egypt, December 31
Amal Fathy: Egypt court imposes jail term over harassment video
Amal Fathy: Egypt court imposes jail term over harassment video https://t.co/a2Wa2ekSbw
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 31, 2018
After claiming that Egyptian authorities have failed to address sexual harassment in the country, 34-year-old human rights activist Amal Fathy was given a two-year prison sentence for “spreading fake news.”
Fathy, a sexual harassment survivor, recounted her experiences and grievances with the government in a video published on Facebook in May. Four months later, Egyptian authorities charged her under claims that her statements were false and a threat to national security. In late December 2018, an appeals court upheld the two-year sentence handed down by a lower court in September 2018.
Several human rights activists have called out the Egyptian government for its sentencing on the case, with Amnesty International calling it an “outright injustice.”
“The fact that a survivor of sexual harassment is being punished with a two-year prison sentence simply for speaking out about her experience is utterly disgraceful,” Najia Bounaim, the human rights group’s North Africa campaigns director, said.
Saudi Arabia, January 1
Netflix Drops Hasan Minhaj Episode In Saudi Arabia At Government’s Request
.@hasanminhaj of @patriotact has been a strong, honest and (funny) voice challenging Saudi Arabia + Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of #khashoggi’s murder. He brought awareness about Yemen.
Quite outrageous that @netflix has pulled one of his episodes critical of Saudi Arabia.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 1, 2019
Netflix took down an episode of Hasan Minaj’s show Patriot Act, which discussed the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi Arabian government requested that Netflix take action since the episode critiqued the Middle Eastern nation for the attack.
The Saudi government was able to convince the streaming service to take down the episode after citing a law that prohibits the “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.” The episode’s content is still available on Youtube and has not been taken down.