OSCE Representative expresses concern about journalists’ safety in Ukraine
VIENNA, 11 May 2016—OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed concern about the safety of journalists and media workers following an incident where personal information of journalists was leaked.
This week a Kyiv-based website “Mirotvorets” revealed personal information of more than 4,000 representatives of various Ukrainian and international media outlets, including CNN, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, BBC, New York Times, Vice News and Al Jazeera, who were accredited by the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”. The website alleged that these journalists “co-operated with terrorist organization” and violated Ukrainian legislation.
“This is a very alarming development which could further endanger the safety situation for journalists,” Mijatović said. “Journalists report on issues of public interest and they should not be harassed for doing their job.”
Mijatović noted concern expressed by media community in and around Ukraine about the leaked list, and said it was worrying that some journalists on the list already received threats.
CPJ urges Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to condemn threats to journalists
May 24, 2016
His Excellency Petro Poroshenko,
President of Ukraine
Bankova st, 11
Sent via e-mail and facsimile: firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com; +380 44 255 6161
Dear President Poroshenko:
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, press freedom advocacy group, write to express our support for Ukrainian prosecutors’ investigation into a Ukrainian website’s defamation of thousands of local and international journalists and human rights activists as “terrorist accomplices,” and to express our shock that instead of condemning the act that puts our colleagues’ lives at risk, senior Ukrainian government officials have praised this deliberate attempt to intimidate journalists and potentially to put them at risk.
A group of hackers on May 7 announced on a website called Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) that they had breached computers pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine used to keep track of journalists they had allowed to work in the region, and published a database containing the names, affiliations, and contact information of more than 7,000 individuals. The database included 4,508 local and international journalists and media workers who have reported from the conflict zone. According to CPJ research, the separatists have been collecting journalists’ contact information as part of an accreditation process even though their authority over eastern Ukraine is not internationally recognized.
Human rights groups report that journalists have been threatened following the publication of their contact details. Ukrainian journalist Roman Stepanovych, for example, told the group Mapping Media Freedom that he had received threatening emails since the list’s publication.
We are troubled that Ukrainian officials, including Anton Geraschenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, and Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister, praised the publication of the list in statements published on their social media accounts. In a post to Facebook, Geraschenko praised Mirotvorets for publishing the data,accused the journalists on the list of aiding terrorists and of spreading Russian propaganda, and suggested that Ukraine should take tough measures, including censorship, in response.
We are shocked that Avakov, who, as interior minister is ultimately responsible for investigating the incident and protecting journalists, praised the website and blamed the journalists for registering with separatists.
“Do not blame Myrotvorets in this case,” Avakov wrote on Facebook. “The journalists made their choice when they handed their own personal data to the bandits from the occupying regime.”
The publication of the journalists’ contact information, and the unfounded accusations that accompanied it, drew domestic and international outcry. Local and international reporters and press freedom advocates noted that reporting on a conflict is not a crime. CPJ unreservedly agrees that the journalists did nothing wrong in reporting on a conflict of international concern.
As Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, wrote in a May 13 open letter to you, the release of the journalists’ information violated Ukraine’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the data-protection standards of the Council of Europe. In a May 24 meeting with Avakov,European Union ambassadors to Ukraine Jan Tombinski and Christof Weil urged the minister to ensure the removal of journalists’ data from the website, to prosecute those responsible for the leak, and to protect reporters in light of the threats they have received since the publication of their personal information.
We applaud Ukrainian prosecutors’ May 11 announcement that they had opened a preliminary investigation into the website, and we call on them to complete their investigation thoroughly. We call on you to support this investigation, and to make clear your government’s committment to press freedom and the safety of journalists.
We view this is especially urgent because Myrotvorets continues to release journalists’ personal information.
In a statement published on May 20, the creators of Myrotvorets wrote: “Many journalists demanded an apology from us, and now we understand the reason for this. The staff of [Myrotvorets] offer their sincere apologies in regards to the list’s not being fresh.”
The statement said that the website initially published data retrieved in December 2015, whereas the new list, which it said consists of contact details for 5,412 reporters, among them 2,082 Russian journalists, 1,816 international correspondents, and 1,514 Ukrainian journalists, was collected in February 2016.
On May 24, Myrotvorets released yet another list, this time also including the home addresses for 239 Ukrainian and international journalists working in Russia, news reports said.
Announcing today’s release, the website said that the list includes journalists who “cooperate with the aggressor state that funds international terrorism and has occupied a part of Ukrainian territory.”
We call on you to condemn the unfounded and damaging allegations published onMyrotvorets, and to clarify publicly that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry is dedicated to protecting journalists and apprehending the people responsible for threatening them, in contrast to Interior Minister Avokov’s previous statements.
Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine
Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
Yuriy Lutsenko, Prosecutor General of Ukraine
Valeriya Lutkovska, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States
Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
Quelle: Committee to Protect Journalists, <https://cpj.org/x/6899>
OSCE Representative welcomes start of investigation to identify those behind disclosing journalists’ personal data in Ukraine
VIENNA, 2 June 2016—Noting the investigation launched in Kyiv today, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, reiterated her call for a swift and transparent judicial procedure to identify those responsible of the disclosure of personal data of journalists accredited in the east of Ukraine.
“I am hopeful that the investigation will bring those responsible for leaking and publishing personal data of the journalists on Mirotvorets website to justice,” Mijatović said, referring to an investigation just started under the recently enforced article of the Penal Code of Ukraine on obstruction of the lawful professional activity of a journalist.
Kyiv police today requested that the journalists listed on Mirotvorets would file formal complaints if they indeed have been intimidated or received threats in order to bring the investigation forward.
“Publishing this data could seriously endanger journalists’ safety,” Mijatović said. “Journalists in Ukraine should be able to carry out their work in the Donbas region and elsewhere free from threats, harassment and intimidation.”