Freelance journalists and bloggers did not have a good year in 2009. According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
” At least 60 freelance journalists are behind bars worldwide, nearly double the number from just three years ago. CPJ research shows the number of jailed freelancers has grown along with two trends: The Internet has enabled individual journalists to publish on their own, and some news organizations, watchful of costs, rely increasingly on freelancers rather than staffers for international coverage. Freelance journalists are especially vulnerable to imprisonment because they often do not have the legal and monetary support that news organizations can provide to staffers.”
Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen is among the journalists being held for his work. He is a freelancer whose 25-minute long documentary Leaving Fear Behind prompted Chinese authorities to arrest him and subsequently charge him for subversion. According to the New York Times
“Out of 40 hours of footage and 108 interviews came “Leaving Fear Behind,” a 25-minute documentary that is an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government. Although given the choice to conceal their identities, most of his subjects spoke uncloaked and freely expressed their disdain for the Han Chinese migrants who are flooding the region and their love for the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959.”
“Nguyen Tien Trung, now facing a possible death penalty under article 89 of the criminal code after the charges against him were changed to “trying to overthrow the people’s government.” Arrested more than five months ago, he is due to be tried at the end of the month.
“We call for Nguyen Tien Trung’s immediate and unconditional release as the charges against him are entirely fabricated,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Trung is a pacifist who has never endangered the Vietnamese state. He just exercised his right to free expression, a right he learned to use in France.”
We can only hope that 2010 better than this year, with more freedom for journalists and bloggers worldwide.