Group Names Top Leaders Persecuting Journalists

Article excerpt

Journalists face "relentless hostility" from national leaders of a variety of political persuasions who are determined to keep the truth concealed, according to press-freedom groups commemorating tomorrow's World Press Freedom Day.

Yesterday the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) spotlighted the national leaders of China, Cuba, Albania, Burma, Nigeria, Turkey, Belarus, Ethiopia and Indonesia as noteworthy for "their ruthless campaigns of suppression of journalists."

"These individuals are characterized by their relentless hostility to the very concept of a free and independent press," said Bill Orme, CPJ executive director. "They have deliberately engaged in hundreds of press-freedom violations ranging from censorship, harassment and physical attack to imprisonment and even assassination."

Although not a national leader, Algeria's Antar Zouabri, head of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), outranked all nine others as the reporter's worst enemy in the CPJ report for the third year in a row.

The Algerian extremists have warned: "Those who fight with the pen shall die by the sword," and it is good to its word. Under Mr. Zouabri, following in the steps of his predecessor, Abu Abdul Rahman Amin, who was killed last year, the GIA has killed 59 journalists since the country's civil war began in 1992.

Cuba, under President Fidel Castro, is singled out as "the only country in the Western Hemisphere that tolerates no free or independent domestic journalism."

China's Jiang Zemin, called the "overseer of the Tiananmen Square massacre," is continuing to wage a battle "against all independent reporting," the CPJ report says. …