22 Palestinian journalists incarcerated by Israel: NGO

            By Nour Abu Aisha <br>

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Twenty-two Palestinian journalists are currently imprisoned in Israel, including three women, the Journalists Support Committee (JSC), a rights watchdog, said Tuesday.

In a statement issued on the eve of Palestinian Prisoners' Day, which is marked on April 17 of each year, the JSC noted that four of the 17 detained reporters were languishing in “administrative detention”.

Under Israel’s longstanding policy of administrative detention, prisoners can be held indefinitely without trial or charge.

“The Israeli occupation arrests [Palestinian] journalists for their opinions and then hauls them before military courts using racist laws,” the JSC statement read.

According to the NGO, the practice violates international rights conventions guaranteeing the freedom of the press.

The JSC went on to condemn Israel’s practice of arresting journalists — or banning them from certain areas — as happened earlier this year to Anadolu Agency photographer Mustafa Kharouf.

Kharouf was detained by Israeli police on Jan. 22. On March 31, an Israeli court extended his detention until May 5.

Because he was born in Algeria, Israeli prosecutors are calling for Kharouf’s expulsion from the occupied West Bank to neighboring Jordan — despite the fact that his family hails from Jerusalem.

Kharouf holds a Jordanian passport that allows him to travel to neighboring Arab countries but does not grant him citizenship or residence rights in Jordan.

Kharouf has worked for Anadolu Agency as a photographer since August of last year.

Turkey trains Kenyan journalists in Ankara

             By Magdalene Mukami and Andrew Wasike</p>    <p>NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Journalists from Kenya kicked-off a four-week training course in Ankara on Monday, organized by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) in association with the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).</p>  <p>Four Kenyan journalists and eight from as many countries across the world began receiving journalism training course in video, audio and photo production and editing.</p>  <p> The one-month training is fully sponsored by TIKA and journalists will be taught a course on media information that explores all forms of media from digital communications to film and print.</p>  <p>Hubah Ovah Abdi, a female Kenyan journalist, told Anadolu Agency the opportunity for her to be a journalist from a sub-Sharan Africa country is rare.</p>  <p>“I always believe that every day is a learning process especially for a journalist, and this is a one in million chance for me being a Kenyan journalist,” she said. “I want to better improve my reporting in my country and the Turkish people have given me this opportunity and I am thankful.”</p>  <p> In a statement from TIKA Nairobi office, TIKA noted all the journalists were encouraged “to bring their cameras and other devices with them, to capture events from the beginning of the journey to the training and production of broadcast material, which will also continue during social programs.”</p>  <p>The journalists were welcomed in Turkey by Aksana Coskun from the TIKA Ankara office who said the training “should improve your reporting and journalistic work once you go back to your countries.”</p>  <p> The journalists will also have a chance to visit Turkish museums and share cultures with Turks and journalist from across the world.

Algerian journos protest restrictions on press freedoms

            <p>By Hassan Jebril</p>    <p>ALGIERS (AA) - Dozens of Algerian journalists on Thursday demonstrated in capital Algiers to protest stepped-up restrictions on press freedoms.</p>    <p>According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene, journalists gathered in central Algiers to protest what they described as “media blackouts and rampant censorship by the authorities”.</p>    <p>The area was eventually cordoned off by police, who arrested at least 15 demonstrators, according to witnesses.</p>    <p>On Tuesday, employees of Algeria’s state radio broadcasting agency staged a sit-in outside the agency’s headquarters to protest a government ban on covering rallies against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s planned bid for a fifth term in office.</p>    <p>Earlier this month, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front officially nominated the 81-year-old Bouteflika -- who has ruled Algeria since 1999 -- to run in presidential elections slated for April 18.</p>    <p>Opposition leaders have repeatedly urged the aging head of state -- who in 2013 was treated for a blood clot in the brain -- to refrain from contesting the upcoming poll.</p>    <p>Anti-Bouteflika demonstrations have since been reported in several Algerian provinces, including Annaba, Setif, Kalime, Jijel, Bejaia,Tizi Ouzou, Buira, Bumerdas, Tiaret, Relizane, Vahran and Ouargla.</p> 

Broadcast journalists in Algeria protest censorship

                             By Hassan Jebril</p>    <p>ALGIERS (AA) – Journalists at Algeria’s state-run radio agency staged a sit-in at the agency’s headquarters to protest a ban on covering rallies against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s planned bid for a fifth term in office.</p>    <p>More that 150 journalists on Tuesday gathered outside the agency’s headquarters in Algiers, where they chanted slogans against media censorship and demanded the right to free expression.</p>    <p>Last Friday, Algerians demonstrated in several cities, including the capital, to protest Bouteflika’s stated intention to contest presidential elections slated for April 18.</p>    <p>According to local media reports, demonstrations were reported in a number of provinces, including Annaba, Setif, Kalime, Jijel, Bejaia,Tizi Ouzou, Buira, Bumerdas, Tiaret, Relizane, Vahran and Ouargla.</p>    <p>Some demonstrators chanted slogans against Bouteflika’s planned bid for a fifth term; others explicitly called for the overthrow of his regime.</p>    <p>Earlier this month, Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front officially nominated the 81-year-old Bouteflika -- who has ruled Algeria since 1999 -- to run in the upcoming poll.</p>    <p>Opposition leaders, for their part, have repeatedly urged the aging head of state -- who in 2013 was treated for a blood clot in the brain -- to refrain from contesting the presidential election.

'Greek court ruling blow to freedom of speech'

             By Mehmet Hatipoglu </p>  <p>KOMOTINI, Greece (AA) - Turkish minority journalists in Greece are facing over a year in prison for criticizing clerics they do not recognize has exposed the hollow promises made by Athens, said one of the journalists sentenced in the case.</p>  <p>&quot;These sentences are a blow to freedom of speech,&quot; said Cengiz Omer, the owner of the Millet newspaper, currently facing 15 months in prison for criticizing mufti clerics appointed by the state, whose authority he does not recognize, as the local Turks elect their own muftis.</p>  <p>&quot;This decision once again proves the Greek state has no intention of taking any steps on religious freedom for the Muslim Turkish minority in Western Thrace,&quot; he told Anadolu Agency, referring to a northeastern Greek region with a large Turkish Muslim minority.</p>  <p>Last June Omer and Millet Editor-in-Chief Feyzullah Hasankahya got 20-month prison sentences for allegedly insulting the Greek state-appointed muftis in Komotini (Gumulcine) and Xanthi (Iskece), cities in Western Thrace.</p>  <p>Last Friday, the Thrace Court of Appeals reduced their sentences to 15 months -- a ruling taken just after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid an official visit to Turkey, pointed out Omer.</p>    <p>Omer said they are being punished for using their right to criticize.</p>  <p>He said they will appeal their cases to the Greek Supreme Court.</p>  <p>The Western Thrace region is home to a Muslim Turkish minority of around 150,000, with muftis having jurisdiction over their family and inheritance issues.</p>  <p>The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens between Greece and the Ottoman Empire and was confirmed in 1920.</p>  <p>But in 1991, Greece annulled this law and started appointing the muftis itself.</p>  <p>The majority of Muslim Turks in Western Thrace do not recognize the appointed muftis and instead elect their own, who are not recognized by the Greek state.

Sudan to release detained journalists 'soon': Official

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Sudanese authorities will release all detained journalists "in the coming few hours", according to a Sudanese official on Saturday.

"All journalists held during recent incidents will be released in the coming few hours," Mamoun Hasan Ibrahim, a state minister at the Information Ministry, said in statements carried by the official SUNA news agency.

He, however, did not give any further details.

On Wednesday, President Omar al-Bashir pledged to set free all journalists arrested by security forces during recent anti-regime protests in the country.

Since popular demonstrations erupted across Sudan on Dec. 19, several journalists have been arrested — or summoned for questioning — by the security services, according to the non-governmental Network of Sudanese Journalists.

The NGO puts the total number of detained journalists at 13, including Adam Mahdi, who has reportedly been slapped with a three-month prison term.

Sudanese officials say around 31 people have been killed since the protests began almost two months ago, although the opposition puts the number at closer to 50.

Last month, al-Bashir — in power since 1989 — pledged to carry out urgent economic reforms amid continued calls by the opposition to protest.

A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of some three quarters of its oil output — its main source of foreign currency — following the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Sudan's al-Bashir vows to release detained journalists

            KHARTOUM (AA) - President Omar al-Bashir has pledged to release all journalists detained by Sudanese security forces since protests erupted across the country in mid-December.</p>    <p>Al-Bashir made the remarks at a Wednesday meeting with the heads of Sudanese media and press agencies.</p>    <p>According to the official Sudanese News Agency, al-Bashir further vowed to resolve “all issues related to press and media”, even voicing his readiness to ease the tax burden on the domestic media sector.</p>    <p>Since popular demonstrations erupted across Sudan on Dec. 19, several journalists have been arrested -- or summoned for questioning -- by the security services, according to the non-governmental Network of Sudanese Journalists.</p>    <p>The NGO puts the total number of detained journalists at 13, including Adam Mahdi, who has reportedly been slapped with a three-month prison term.</p>    <p>Sudanese officials say around 31 people have been killed since the protests began almost two months ago, although the opposition puts the number at closer to 50. <br>

Last month, al-Bashir — in power since 1989 — pledged to carry out urgent economic reforms amid continued calls by the opposition to protest.

A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of some three quarters of its oil output — its main source of foreign currency — following the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

Egypt journos voice opposition to constitutional change

            <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Egyptian journalists on Monday began collecting signatures for a petition against a proposed constitutional change that would extend presidential terms from four to six years. </p>    <p>On Sunday, the Support Egypt Coalition, Egypt's largest parliamentary bloc, lodged an official request with the assembly to amend the country's national charter.</p>    <p>The coalition, which holds 317 out of 596 parliamentary seats, also reportedly wants to amend the constitution to allow the formation of an upper house of parliament. </p>    <p>Supporters of Egypt’s regime have expressed support for the move, which, they say, would contribute to the country’s “stability”. </p>    <p>Opponents of the move, by contrast, including many journalists, say the proposed changes -- if implemented -- would “set the country back years”.</p>    <p>Ratified in 2014, Egypt’s current constitution states that “texts pertaining to the re-election of the president… or the principles of freedom and equality stipulated in the constitution, may not be amended, unless the amendment brings more guarantees”. </p>    <p>President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected in the same year the new charter was ratified -- and one year after leading a military coup against his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi. </p>    <p>In June of last year, al-Sisi was re-elected to a second presidential term, which is set to expire in 2022. </p>    <p>According to the constitution in its current form, al-Sisi cannot run for a third term in office. </p>    <p>The presidency has yet to comment on the proposed constitutional adjustments, but al-Sisi has said in previous televised remarks that he had no intention to run for a third term.</p> 

Spain calls for release of journos held in Venezuela

             By Senhan Bolelli</p>    <p>MADRID, Turkey (AA) - Spain Thursday called for the release of a national news agency staff who were arrested in Venezuela following anti-government demonstrations.</p>      <p>In a statement, the Prime Ministry condemned the detention of three journalists, two Colombian and Spanish, and a driver who were arrested in the capital Caracas on late Wednesday.</p>    <p>According to Spain's national news agency EFE, its staffers were arrested when the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, SEBIN, raided the hotel they stayed.</p>    <p>Commenting on the incident, Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said his country &quot;rejects the arbitrary detention of two journalists and a photojournalist of EFE Agency&quot;.</p>    <p>&quot;We demand immediate release and respect for their lives,&quot; Trujillo tweeted.</p>    <p>Meanwhile, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza defended his country's authorities, saying some journalists entered the country without work permits and some sought an access to the presidential palace without any accreditation.</p>    <p>&quot;As in any other country in the world, journalists can't assign themselves an accreditation,&quot; Arreaza said on Twitter.</p>    <p>Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when President Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycott by the opposition. </p>    <p>Last week, Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself president and drew international attention.</p>    <p>In the wake of demonstrations and unrest in Venezuela, at least 268 protesters have been arrested across the country since Jan. 21.

Israel killed 2 Palestinian journalists in 2018: NGO

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Two Palestinian journalists were killed and scores injured by Israeli army fire in 2018, according to a Palestinian NGO on Monday.

Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein were killed in April while covering anti-occupation protests near Gaza-Israel buffer zone, the Gaza Center for Media Freedom said in a statement.

It said a total of 262 journalists were also injured by Israeli forces last year.

The report cited 668 violations committed by Israeli authorities against Palestinian journalists and media institutions in 2018, including 39 arrests.

“Israel carried out 36 raids on media institutions,” the NGO said, adding that Israeli forces confiscated or destroyed equipment in 30 cases and prevented journalists from covering or travelling abroad for media coverage in 43 cases.

The NGO documented four cases in which Israel shut down media and printing establishments and 9 house arrests for Palestinian journalists.