India punishes critics by revoking visas and residency permits

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi often draws crowds of supporters from the Indian diaspora on his foreign visits. But back home, his administration has been revoking visas and residency permits of foreign nationals of Indian origin as well as spouses of Indian citizens. For those denied access or kicked out of India, the experience can be traumatic.


Vanessa Dougnac was at home in her New Delhi apartment on January 18, when she received a hand-delivered envelope that raised her spirits.

The French journalist glanced at the letterhead bearing the insignia of the Indian interior ministry’s Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and immediately thought this meant good news.

“Then I read the letter. It was totally the opposite. It was really, really bad news,” she recounted. 

Dougnac, 51, had lived in India for a quarter-century, or most of her adult life. For 23 years, she served as the India-based freelance correspondent for a number of French publications. Along the way, she covered stories across the country, married an Indian national, raised a son, and mastered the ropes in the place she came to call home.

But in India, things that were once fairly straightforward were now getting complicated – and stressful.

The official letter, delivered on January 18, informed the veteran French journalist that her Indian residency had been revoked. 

Dougnac had joined the growing list of overseas critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist policies being banned from India, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

They are part of the Modi administration’s broader crackdown on Indian citizenship laws, which have snowballed in various forms. But the intent of the “ever-expanding arsenal of laws and policies” is singular: to “target and punish dissenting voices”, said Amnesty International in a statement noting the international human rights contraventions that have increased during Modi’s 10 years in power.

With the upcoming 2024 elections widely predicted to propel Modi into his next decade in power, experts warn that India’s secular democracy is being reshaped as a Hindu-first majoritarian nation intolerant to dissent and minority religious communities. 

Citizenship lies at the heart of the reshaping, with the government pushing through laws and regulations on myriad fronts, upending lives and plunging dissenters into an omnipresent state of dread.

Diaspora with dollars to invest home

Dougnac was one of nearly 4 million people holding an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, which comes as a light blue, passport-lookalike and confers on the holder visa and residency rights.

The OCI is a form of permanent residency granted to people of Indian origin and their spouses. © Handout

Since India does not permit dual citizenship, OCI cards are provided for the equivalent of $275 to foreign nationals of Indian origin and the spouses of Indian nationals or OCI card-holders.

The residency status is the latest iteration of a decades-long bid by successive governments to tap into the economic potential of the Indian diaspora, the largest in the world, clocking nearly 18 million in 2020, according to UN figures. It’s also among the wealthiest, with strong ties to the motherland. In 2022, for instance, India’s inward remittances hit a record of almost $108 billion, around 3% of GDP, more than in any other country.

Attracting the diaspora’s dollars without offering citizenship rights historically entails acronyms in India. NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) before the 1990s gave way to PIOs (Person of Indian Origin) before the nomenclature settled on the current OCI. The latest overseas “citizen” of India is a misnomer since holders do not have voting rights or citizenship guarantees. But since the OCI privileges were an improvement on the earlier NRI and PIO categories, few made any fuss.  

That was until the government began tinkering with citizenship and visa regulations after Modi was re-elected in 2019 to a second term in office.

Many acronyms, few rights 

Just months after Modi’s May 2019 re-election, the Indian parliament, dominated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed a controversial citizenship amendment law, which gained notoriety as the country erupted in what was commonly called “anti-CAA” (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests.

File photo of anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, taken January 18, 2020.
File photo of anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, taken January 18, 2020. © Altaf Qadri, AP

The new law, which offers citizenship to non-Muslim migrants and refugees from neighbouring countries, was widely criticised for discriminating against Muslims, an allegation the Modi government denies.

While the anti-CAA protests drew international press coverage, the insertion of a subclause covering OCI cancellations passed largely unnoticed.

As Modi nudged past the half-way mark of his second term, the regulations got tighter. By 2021, the government required its overseas “citizens” to apply for “special permission” to “undertake” research, journalistic, missionary or mountaineering “activities”.

So on January 18, when Dougnac received a letter from the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO), she initially thought she had finally received her journalist permit, which was denied in September 2022, for no stated reason.

For the freelance journalist, the denial of a journalist permit meant a precarious dip in her income and she was eager to get back to work.

But that was not to be. The FRRO letter revoking Dougnac’s OCI instead accused her and her articles of being “malicious” and of harming “the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”. The notice put the onus on the freelance journalist, requiring her to respond to why her OCI should not be cancelled. 

Dougnac has launched a petition in the Delhi High Court, adding to the legal appeals and challenges launched by several others in a similar state. But nearly a month after she received her notification, Dougnac was forced to leave the country she had made her home for 25 years and return to France. 

In a statement released February 16, the French journalist noted that it had become “clear that I cannot keep living in India and earning my livelihood. I am fighting these accusations before the competent forums and I have full faith in the legal process. But I can’t afford to wait for its outcome. The proceedings with respect to my OCI status have shattered me,” she noted.

‘Showing animus’ to governments, not country

The list of shattered lives has been increasing over the past few months, perpetuating a climate of fear among overseas Indians. An investigative report published on February 12 by Indian news site Article 14 found that more than 102 OCIs were cancelled under section 7D between 2014 and 2023.

Many targeted OCI-holders prefer not to speak to the press out of fear of scuppering their appeals process and being permanently deprived of the ability to travel to a country where many have families, including aging parents and ailing loved ones.

Some high-profile cases do make the news, such as British-American writer and journalist Aatish Taseer, whose OCI was revoked in 2019, shortly after Time magazine published his excoriating cover story, “India’s Divider in Chief”, on Modi’s brand of Hindutva populism.

Indian authorities said Taseer’s OCI was revoked because he “attempted to conceal” the fact that his biological father was a Pakistani national. The journalist, who was brought up in India by his single mother and wrote a critically acclaimed book in 2009 on his journey to meet his father, Pakistan’s former Punjab governor Salman Taseer – who was assassinated two years after his son’s book was published – dismissed the claim.

The official cancellation explanations for the recent spate of OCI scraps include ill-defined allegations of “showing animus” towards India, or “attempting to destabilise the social fabric” of the country. 

“In some cases, the authorities have openly cited criticism of BJP government policies as evidence to revoke the visa status,” noted Human Rights Watch, citing the case of octogenarian British activist Amrit Wilson, whose OCI was cancelled due to her social media posts on the Kashmir crisis and a 2020-2021 farmers protest movement.

Indian authorities note that governments across the world have the discretion to grant or refuse visas to their countries. It’s a point that Meenakshi Ganguly, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, acknowledges. “Of course, every government has the right to determine who gets visas or not. But those rights cannot be based on discriminatory ideas,” she noted. “Any democracy relies on a foundational principle of permitting dissent. That is what distinguishes it from authoritarianism. Now all dissent and all ideas may not be accepted by the state. But the fact that those opinions are put forward should not be seen immediately as something that is against the country, it is against government policies, and governments change.”

‘I miss India’

In its attempts to ensure the government does not change after the 2024 general election, the Modi administration has been pushing through key campaign promises that are popular with the BJP’s Hindu nationalist base.

On March 11, just weeks ahead of the elections, the Indian government announced the implementation of the new citizenship law. While parliament approved the CAA in 2019, the Modi government held off on the implementation following deadly protests against a law that was widely viewed as discriminatory against Muslims.

Responding to the move, the US expressed “concern” with a State Department spokesperson noting that Washington is “closely monitoring how this act will be implemented”.

The concern was echoed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “As we said in 2019, we are concerned that India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 (CAA) is fundamentally discriminatory in nature and in breach of India’s international human rights obligations,” said a spokesperson.

The Modi administration’s response to the expressions of concern was forthright. The citizenship law was an “internal matter”, an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters in New Delhi, noting that the US State Department’s statement was “misplaced, misinformed and unwarranted”. 

But Ganguly believes the changes in citizenship and residency laws warrant the attention of India’s democratic allies, particularly those measures that affect their own nationals of Indian origins. “It needs attention from foreign governments, because there is a lot of interest in the Indian market and in strategic partnerships. Those are legitimate interests. But when they want to do business with India, foreign governments need to be aware that any claims of partnerships between democracies is seriously undermined if the government is going to be so repressive on freedom of speech and in cracking down on its critics,” she noted.

As India heads for critical elections, Dougnac is in France, watching the coverage from thousands of miles away. “I covered elections in India for 20 years. Now for the first time, I will not be there to cover it. I miss India,” she said. 

While her appeal works its way through the Indian courts, the French journalist confesses she’s still in a state of shock. “Really, it’s too emotional for me,” she confessed. “I led a life filled with adventures and interactions across the subcontinent, and had the opportunity to witness over two decades of India’s history. Now I’m in France, I feel like I’m in exile in my own country.”

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‘A cold cell for being a journalist’: Husband of US-Russian national Alsu Kurmasheva calls for her release

Alsu Kurmasheva is a dual US-Russian citizen and journalist who has been detained by Russia since October 18, charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent” despite having travelled to Russia for a family emergency. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Her husband has called for the State Department to designate her as “wrongfully detained”. “She is a US citizen and has the same rights as any US citizen,” he says.

Alsu Kurmasheva’s arrest is the most egregious instance to date of the abusive use of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against independent press,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in an October statement on her case.

Russia’s expanded law on foreign agents, which now vaguely defines them as anyone “under foreign influence”, has come under fire from human rights groups and media organisations since it entered into force on December 1, 2022. The law’s previous iteration required prosecutors to prove a “foreign agent” had received financial or other material assistance from abroad; the new measures give authorities much greater latitude.

Kurmasheva, an editor with the Tatar-Bashkir Service of US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – sister station to Voice of America – lives in Prague with her husband and two teenage daughters. She traveled to Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Tatarstan, on May 20 to visit her ailing mother. She was awaiting her flight home at Kazan airport on June 2 when her name was called out over the loudspeaker. Authorities briefly took her into custody and confiscated both her US and Russian passports, preventing her from leaving the country.  

“At that point she wasn’t a suspect, but they took both passports and her phone,” said her husband, Pavel Butorin. “It wasn’t until a couple of days later that she was charged with not registering her US passport,” which is now a criminal offense in Russia. 

Kurmasheva completed the necessary paperwork but was made to remain in Kazan for the next four months, when she was eventually fined 10,000 rubles (about $105) on October 11 for failing to register her passport initially. She was still awaiting the return of her travel documents on October 18 when “big men in black” came to her door and took her away, Butorin said. 

She has been in detention ever since. 

No official word from Russia

Kurmasheva was formally charged on October 26 with the much more serious offence of failing to register as a foreign agent under the expanded law. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. 

A Russian court ordered late last month that Kurmasheva remain in detention until December 5. 

“This offense that she has been charged with is not a violent crime,” Butorin said. “But the judge denied the request for house arrest pending trial.” 

The decision to charge her under the foreign agent statute is all the more surprising because she was travelling not as a journalist but on a family-related matter, he said. 

“She was there in her personal capacity on what was supposed to be a short trip, two weeks at the most, to help her mom.”

He suspects there is a “clear connection” between Kurmasheva’s detention and her role as a journalist, notably since Russia has designated the Tatar-Bashkir Service for which she works as a “foreign agent” media organisation. Much of her career, however, has focused on advancing Tatar language and culture

“She’s not an agent of any government, certainly not an agent of the US government,” Butorin said. “She’s a journalist. And we want her released as soon as possible.”

Butorin, who also works in media, is director of Current Time, RFE/RL’s 24-hour Russian-language TV and digital news platform. 

He said he hopes the State Department will see fit to designate Kurmasheva as a “wrongfully detained person”, which would allow her case to be transferred to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA), unlocking both US resources and expertise. SPEHA was involved in the release of both Basketball star Brittney Griner and Marine veteran Trevor Reed from Russian detention last year.

A State Department spokesperson said it is “closely following” Kurmasheva’s detention and is continuing to push for consular access, but that “Russian authorities have not yet responded to our requests”.

Moreover, the State Department said it has “not yet been officially notified by the Russian Government of her detention”.

Asked whether Kurmasheva’s dual nationality was complicating her case, the spokesperson noted only that Russia is among the nations that may refuse to acknowledge the US citizenship of a dual national.

“Many countries do not recognize dual nationality” even if they do not expressly prohibit it, the spokesperson said in an email.

As a result, some “do not grant access to … US nationals in detention if they are also nationals of the country where they are detained”. 

Calls to #FreeAlsu have been making the rounds on social media. © Courtesy RFE/RL

Cold and overcrowded

Since Russia’s law on foreign agents first came into effect in 2012, Moscow has used it to punish government critics including civil society groups, rights NGOs, media outlets and activists. Russia has also been accused of detaining Americans simply to use them as bargaining chips in exchange for Russians held by the United States: Griner’s freedom was traded for that of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Kurmasheva has been granted access to a lawyer but not visits or phone calls with her family, although her husband said she has been allowed to exchange (censored) letters with them over the prison’s official online system, “a paid system that takes only Russian cards”.

Only some of the conditions of her detention are known. Her prison is likely overcrowded and is certainly cold, Butorin said, noting that it is currently near 0°C (32°F) in Kazan and that Kurmasheva is not allowed to receive extra blankets from family or friends. 

“We’ve been without Alsu for close to six months now,” he said. “It’s a very unsettling situation.” 

As “free-thinking, independent girls”, his daughters are also struggling with the harsh reality of their mother’s plight. 

“It’s hard for them to comprehend that their mother is being held in a cold Russian prison cell just for being a journalist.”

Nevertheless, they are looking to the future.

“We have Taylor Swift tickets for the Eras Tour, and we have a ticket with Alsu’s name on it,” Butorin said. “I want us to go together as a family.” 

Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023.
Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023. © Pavel Butorin courtesy RFE/RL

Harassment of US citizens

“This appears to be another case of the Russian government harassing US citizens,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in October of Kurmasheva’s detention.   

Numerous US lawmakers, the UN human rights office, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the president of the European Parliament are among the international bodies demanding she be freed. 

Butorin said he would like to see Muslim nations joining these calls, given that Kurmasheva is a proud Tatar, part of a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in Russia.  

“I would very much like to see more involvement notably from Turkey, given Alsu’s Turkic origins, as well as the involvement of other Muslim nations in lobbying for her release,” he said. 

Media organisations have also joined the calls for her freedom. “We urge the U.S. government to immediately designate Alsu Kurmasheva’s imprisonment as an unlawful and wrongful detention. The Biden administration is taking too long to make this important designation,” the National Press Club said in a statement last week. 

Kurmasheva is the second US journalist currently being held by Russia, after Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained on espionage charges in March – the first time Russia had accused a US journalist of spying since the Cold War.

The State Department classified Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” in April. 


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How Indian authorities ‘weaponised’ a New York Times report to target the press

NewsClick, a defiantly critical news site, has been in the Indian government’s sights over the past few years. But there was little to show after extensive financial probes – until the New York Times published a report which enabled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to use the press to attack the press. 

Shortly after breakfast time on Tuesday, October 3, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta was outside his home in Gurgaon, a suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi, seeing his son off for the day when the police showed up at his place.

“Nine cops arrived at 6:30 in the morning,” recounted the renowned investigative journalist and writer in a phone interview with FRANCE 24. “I was surprised. I asked them, why have you come? They said, we want to ask you a few questions.”

True to their word, the police did have relatively few questions. But they were repeated over 12 hours at two venues, according to Guha Thakurta.  

After around two hours of questioning at his Gurgaon home, the veteran journalist was taken to the Delhi police’s Special Cell – the Indian capital’s counter-terrorism unit – and questioned again before he emerged around 6:30pm local time to a phalanx of news camera teams.

Guha Thakurta was among 46 people questioned during sweeping media raids that dominated the national news cycle, made international headlines, and sparked a series of condemnations from press freedom groups across the world.

The crackdown targeted NewsClick, an independent news site founded in 2009 known for its hard-hitting coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist policies. The list of those questioned included the NewsClick’s founder-editor, staff, former staffers, and freelance writers, as well as non-journalist contributors such as activists, a historian and a stand-up comedian. The police seized computers, mobile phones and documents during the raids. 

After an entire day of questioning, NewsClick’s founder-editor Prabir Purkayastha and human resources chief Amit Chakravarthy were arrested under the country’s draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), also known as the “anti-terror law” in India. The two men remain in custody while the others were released by Tuesday night. NewsClick’s New Delhi office has been shut down and put under a police seal.

Since Modi came to power in 2014, India has been nosediving in the international press freedom rankings, settling at 161 out of 180 countries on the 2023 Reporters Without Borders index. Some high-profile cases of media clampdowns make the news; many more pass unnoticed outside human rights circles.

Read moreAmid threats, Indian TV anchor battles on, but for how long?

What makes the latest raids noteworthy though is that they are linked to a New York Times report on a global network receiving funds from US tech billionaire Neville Roy Singham, allegedly to publish Chinese propaganda. NewsClick was one of the news organisations named as funding recipient. The report did not suggest the Indian news site had committed any crime.

NewsClick has denied the allegations in the report. The news site maintains that it does not publish any news or information at the behest of any Chinese entity, nor does it take directions from Singham on its content. A police investigation into the site’s alleged Chinese funding is currently underway.

In its report, “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul”, the New York Times unravelled a shadowy network allegedly propagating Chinese government talking points by funding left-leaning organisations across the globe via US NGOs. “Years of research have shown how disinformation, both homegrown and foreign-backed, influences mainstream conservative discourse. Mr. Singham’s network shows what that process looks like on the left,” noted the US daily. 

But in India, the process of press clampdowns and intimidation of the left looks very different. 

Years of assaults on liberal democratic values under the Modi administration have been propelled by a government discourse that vilifies dissenters as treasonous “anti-nationals”. 

The labelling of journalists, academics, activists and opposition figures includes vague associations, without evidence, to minor Maoist peasant uprisings in rural India. Disgraced dissenters are then booked under repressive anti-terror laws bereft of basic safeguards, according to international rights groups.

On the international stage, though, many of the violations pass unnoticed – or more precisely, unmentioned – since India is viewed in the West as a counterweight to China.

With the Ukraine war exposing splits between the so-called Global North and South, the focus in many Western capitals is on disinformation networks that lead to Moscow and Beijing. This is particularly marked as the US heads to the polls in 2024 with Donald Trump as the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

But India is also heading to critical general elections next year. As Modi makes a bid for a third term, there are fears that his campaign will once again instrumentalise deteriorating ties with a neighbouring country to whip up a nationalist wave. In an ironic twist, the Modi government’s weaponisation of a report by a leading US daily – functioning under press freedoms enshrined in a mature democracy – is now threatening the very values that the West professes to uphold.

Same questions asked again – and again

The scale and planning of Tuesday’s raids sent an immediate signal across India that the state’s investigation of NewsClick – which has dragged on for more than two years without any charges – had gone up a notch.

“What happened is unprecedented. We’ve seen the police take coordinated action across the national capital region and also outside Delhi. Literally hundreds of police participated, they were summoned very early in the morning or probably late the previous night,” said Guha Thakurta.

The police’s questions appeared to show little understanding of the role of journalists in a democracy. “I was asked if I was an employee of NewsClick. I said no, I’m a consultant,” he explained.

The veteran journalist was then asked if he had covered a series of recent anti-government protests, including a farmers’ strike and demonstrations against a controversial citizenship law. “They were very polite. But the fact is, they kept asking the same set of questions. They were asked by different people, different officials, at various levels,” recounted Guha Thakurta.

Condemnations from press rights groups followed immediately, with the Press Club of India saying it was “deeply concerned” over the raids and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists calling it “an act of sheer harassment and intimidation”.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (L) speaks to writer Arundhati Roy (R) and Aproorvanand, a Delhi University professor (centre) during a protest at Press Club of India in New Delhi on October 4, 2023. © Altaf Qadri, AP

In Washington DC, a State Department spokesperson was asked if the US was aware of concerns about NewsClick’s China ties alleged by the New York Times.

“We are aware of those concerns and have seen that reporting,” Vedant Patel told reporters, adding that he could not comment on the veracity of the claims. “Separately,” he noted, “the US government strongly supports the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy, and we raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, with countries around the world.”

There are no known legal proceedings in the US against Singham based on the New York Times report. In India, commentators note that even if the funding allegations against NewsClick turn out to be true, any Chinese funding of an investment by a listed US company in a business venture is legal.

Social media sites meanwhile are awash with links to news reports on Modi’s private fund, the PM CARES Fund, receiving funding from Chinese companies.

Investigating Adani and stories untouched by Indian media

The questioning of NewsClick freelancers, editorial consultants and contributors – who are not responsible for funding or financial decisions – has raised eyebrows, since many have done in-depth reporting on issues that are either ignored or superficially covered by the country’s mainstream media.

Guha Thakurta, for instance, is considered one of India’s leading, and certainly bravest, investigative journalists. A former editor of the once-prestigious policy journal Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Guha Thakurta resigned from the post in 2017 following differences with the publisher after he co-authored an article on the Adani Group.

The conglomerate, led by Modi-ally Gautam Adani, was the subject of a high-profile investigation by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research, which accused the group of using opaque funds to invest in its own stocks. The company denies any wrongdoing. Adani denies any improper relationship with the Indian prime minister.

Guha Thakurta was the only Indian journalist whose work was mentioned in the Hindenburg report. The 68-year-old journalist is also the author of the book, “Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis”, which investigated irregularities by the Ambani business dynasty, which also has close links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Paranjoy [Guha Thakurta] is the only person in the Indian media doing any serious investigation of the Adani Group,” said Kavita Krishnan, a women’s rights activist and former leader of a leftist political party. “He has nothing to do with Chinese propaganda. He was questioned because he’s refusing to be a propagandist for the Indian government.”

Krishnan was under the spotlight last year when she wrote an article chastising the Indian left for supporting Modi’s neutral position on the Ukraine war. In her latest piece, published on Friday, Krishnan slammed the New York Times for failing to provide context in its coverage and ignoring her warnings that the Modi administration would use the Chinese funding allegations to crack down on NewsClick.

In its response to Krishnan’s article, published in independent Indian news site Scroll, the New York Times said it “published a thoroughly reported story showing the [Singham] network’s ties to Chinese interests. We would find it deeply troubling and unacceptable if any government were to use our reporting as an excuse to silence journalists.”

Krishnan is not mollified by the response. “The New York Times story is being weaponised by the Indian government,” explained Krishnan. “Because it’s the New York Times, the government is able to ride on its credibility to create a hysteria, a frenzy that this is evidence of journalists funded by China.”

Funding probes give way to terrorism questioning

The terrorist allegations following Tuesday’s raids are a new, disturbing twist to the Indian state’s ongoing NewsClick probes.

Since 2021, the news site has been investigated by numerous government agencies, including the finance ministry’s Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Delhi police’s Economic Offences Wing and the income tax department. 

After more than two years, none of the enforcement agencies have filed money laundering complaints or legal charges against NewsClick.

By invoking the anti-terror UAPA in its NewsClick investigations, the government has increased its capacity to legally harass and silence a small, underfunded news site, according to experts.

But in a statement released after the raids, NewsClick vowed to keep up the fight to survive. “We have full faith in the courts and the judicial process. We will fight for our journalistic freedom and our lives in accordance with the Constitution of India,” said the organisation.

‘The China connection’

As the NewsClick case looks set to go into the courts, the ruling BJP is already scoring political points off the controversy.

The politicisation started just days after the New York Times report was published, when a BJP parliamentarian claimed, without providing evidence, that China was financing NewsClick as well as the opposition Congress party.

On Tuesday, as the police were rounding up Guha Thakurta and dozens of others, the BJP was already linking NewsClick with Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi.

“Chinese Gandhi” said a BJP post on X (formerly known as Twitter) displaying overlapping circles representing the opposition party, NewsClick and China.

The instrumentalisation of the China allegations comes amid setbacks in India-China ties after Xi Jinping skipped the G20 summit hosted by New Delhi last month.

Anti-China sentiment is rising exponentially in India, according to the Pew Research Center, firing up a Hindu nationalist base that does not take kindly to signs of New Delhi’s weakness on foreign policy. In the lead-up to India’s last general elections in 2019, Indian air strikes on Pakistan just months before the vote swept Modi to a landmark victory.

Krishnan hopes the China funding allegations do not turn into an election issue ahead of the 2024 vote. “I trust that the Modi government will not succeed in using this in its favour as an election issue because everyone in India can see is that this is an unprecedented crackdown on journalism,” she said. “I think the election issue will be the crackdown on journalists, and not allegations of China funding.”

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Iranian ‘hack’ targets citizens who send videos to foreign broadcasters

Hardline media outlets in Iran claim the country’s security forces hacked the Telegram channel of Iran International, a Persian-language broadcaster that has extensively covered the year-old “Woman Life Freedom” protests. The outlets claim the regime intercepted messages in which Iranian citizens sent amateur images related to the protests to the UK-based broadcaster for publication. The channel denies it was hacked, and a FRANCE 24 review of the supposedly intercepted messages found no evidence that any of the amateur content was ever broadcast by Iran International.

With a news blackout in place in Iran on the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini last September, many Iranians have turned to Persian-language media broadcasting from overseas. With independent media barred from working in Iran, such channels rely heavily on amateur images published on social media or sent in by Iranian citizens. Videos filmed by citizens and sent to these media outlets outside Iran have become the main source for many Iranians of independent information about what is happening inside their country.

In what appears to be an attempt to discourage these ties, media affiliated with Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have targeted Iran International, publishing what they say are messages in which Iranian citizens sent amateur videos for publication by the UK-based channel. Launched in the UK in 2017, the channel, which reportedly receives funding from Saudi sources, is one of the favourite destinations for amateur videos shot inside Iran. Iranian authorities have branded it a “terrorist organisation”.

Media affiliated with the IRGC, including the Fars News Agency, have published at least six online videos saying an unspecified “group of hackers” intercepted messages sent to Iran International.


Iran International denies the hacking. “I can state categorically that our Telegram account has not been hacked, or compromised in any way. It never has been. Such claims from the IRGC or its associates are false and are designed to frighten and intimidate people,” spokesperson Adam Baillie told FRANCE 24. “We are characterised by the Iranian authorities as a terrorist channel, which provides quasi-legal cover for threats against our staff and the harassment, often brutal, of their families in Iran.”

The designation of Iran International as a terrorist organisation means that Iranians accused of sending information to the channel could face severe penalties in Iranian courts.

A Fars News Agency alert about contacting Iran International television: “Alert to people who cooperate with enemy media”. © Observers


Alert to people who cooperate with enemy media

Media affiliated with the IRGC, including the Fars News Agency, have published at least six online videos saying an unspecified “group of hackers” intercepted messages sent to Iran International. The videos, posted since mid-September, feature amateur images supposedly sent to the UK-based channel via Telegram, along with screenshots of the senders’ messages and usernames with the account name blurred. The amateur images show protests and other anti-regime initiatives such as strikes by shopkeepers. 

One video, published on Telegram on September 15, showed screenshots of messages sent by a user named “Milad” in which he sent a video of an anti-regime protest along with this caption: “Aryashahr (a neighbourhood in Tehran), 17th or 18th Aban (September 8 or 9, 2022). Regime agents savagely beat up a young man.” FRANCE 24 was unable to confirm the sender’s identity or the context of the video, but Iranian web users suggested the claims of a hack were fabricated.

In a video published on X, formerly Twitter, on September 19, demonstrators chant: “The mullahs must go”.


Fars News Agency’s claim is BS

Iranian web users have been skeptical about the claims of a hack. “As someone who has sent many photos and videos [to Iran International], I can confirm Fars News Agency’s claim is BS,” said one tweet posted on September 20.


“If they had hacked the channel, they would have shown off about it by announcing they had hacked it and changing the profile picture,” another user wrote, referring to a common practice when the Iranian security forces hack into anti-regime accounts.

A third user wrote: “Hacking? That’s a joke! The IRGC fanboys can’t do anything more complex than basic HTML coding.”


Hacking Telegram is very difficult

Amin Sabeti is an Iranian cybersecurity expert based in London. He closely follows the activities of hackers close to the Islamic republic’s regime.

“In general, hacking the servers of a messaging app like Telegram is a very difficult task, not just for Iranians, but for any hacker in the world. The screenshots of the user messages supposedly sent to Iran International’s Telegram account are in a format that would only be visible by the Iran International Telegram account owner. I closely follow hackers working for the Iranian regime and I have never seen any indication that they are capable of directly hacking Telegram’s servers to access any account.

All the Iranian hackers have done so far is to trap the “end user”, using various techniques like phishing. For example, they send emails to account holders pretending to be from the Telegram company saying that someone is trying to hack your account or change your password.

There are two sides to the question of the safety of Iranians who turn to foreign media such as the BBC or Iran International. Concerning the news organisations, I know that the security measures of these media outlets are really good. They are up-to-date in keeping their accounts secure. That is why we have never had such a case so far.

The only possible problem, however, could be the Iranians who contact these news organisations, because they too need to protect their accounts. They need to update their apps and software, and make sure they do not have malware on their phones. And once they have sent their messages, they need to delete them themselves.”


No trace of the videos on Iran International accounts 

FRANCE 24 analysed the six video reports published by Fars and other IRGC-affiliated Telegram accounts. The IRGC reports featured more than 30 amateur videos supposedly sent to Iran International. The FRANCE 24 team then searched for other publications of the videos on social media, including archives of Iran International’s Telegram, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram accounts over the last 12 months.  

Of the around 30 videos supposedly sent to Iran International by Iranian citizens:

  • None were published on Iran International’s social media accounts, including Telegram, X and Instagram.
  • Reverse image searches found no publication of the videos on other social media accounts. 
  • In at least in one case, the video could not have been recorded on the date it claimed because the environment is not the same as it was during the 2022 protests.

Video supposedly filmed in November 2022 was filmed in 2023

One video, published by Fars News on September 20, featured messages supposedly sent to Iran International in November 2022 by a Telegram user called “Nilo0o”. The supposed user sent a video showing closed businesses on a street with a caption saying: “General strike by the population in Rasht on 17 November 2022.” 

The video was filmed in the Golsar neighbourhood in the city of Rasht. It shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street between alleys 92 and 96, in a complex called the Blanca Palace. 


The video shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street in a complex called the Blanca Palace.
The video shows a bank, Melal Credit Institution, on Golsar Street in a complex called the Blanca Palace. © Observers


But other information indicates that the Golsar branch of the bank moved to that location in 2023. A video of Golsar Street filmed in January 2023 shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex. 


This photo shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex.
This photo shows the same location vacant, with a banner giving contact information for the complex. © Observers


Yellow Pages information indicate that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109.


This photo shows that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109.
This photo shows that Melal Credit had a branch at a different location on Golsar Street, 500 metres away near alley 109. © Observers


A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!” 

A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!”
A posting by a business at that location in February 2023 said: ““I am the new owner at alley 109, pls Bank update your contact info!” © Observers

The video supposedly intercepted by hackers could not have been filmed in November 2022.

If the regime succeeds in cutting this line, we will have a total information freeze

Bahram [not his real name] is an Iranian journalist who has been arrested or interrogated multiple times in recent years over his reporting on current affairs in Iran. He says that with widespread censorship in Iran, many Iranians turn to overseas broadcasters like Iran International for reliable news.

Iranians now record everything with their mobile phones: strikes, protests, police violence … and send the videos to organisations that will publish them. The amateur videos people send to overseas broadcasters are our only source of information. If the regime succeeds in cutting this line of communication, we will have a total information freeze in our country. We will not know what is going on: we’ll know absolutely nothing.

The regime has done its best to drive us into such a blackout. They have blocked social media, but people use VPN proxy servers to get access.

They have tried to discredit these media or activists through propaganda smear campaigns. Now the latest attempt is to scare people. They’re saying: “If you send them something, we will find you, so don’t send them anything.” However, I am not sure it will ultimately benefit the regime. Maybe in the short term people will hesitate for a few days to send videos to this or that media or activist, but in the long term I think nothing will change. You will not give up your water source, no matter how tiny it is, in a desert.

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France’s Murdoch? Right-wing media swoop threatens ‘pillar of French democracy’

The shock appointment of a far-right editor to run one of France’s best-known mainstream newspapers has sparked calls for urgent steps to protect the pluralism and independence of the French press, while underscoring a sharp rightwards shift of the country’s media landscape under billionaire Vincent Bolloré.

Since June 22, journalists at the Journal du Dimanche – known as the JDD – have voted daily to down tools in an unprecedented strike action that has kept France’s best-known Sunday paper off the shelves for the first time in its 75-year history.

The walkout by more than 95% of staff followed the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune, the former editor-in-chief of a far-right magazine that was convicted of publishing racist hate speech under his tenure.

Lejeune, 34, was officially tapped by the JDD’s owner Arnaud Lagardère, though his nomination is widely seen as the work of billionaire Vincent Bolloré, France’s most dreaded corporate raider, whose takeover of the Lagardère Group won the conditional support of EU regulators in June.

Following the appointment, eight former editors of the JDD wrote a letter blasting a “provocation and proof that the far right is taking hold in the media”. They expressed outrage that the identity of the paper was being “erased” by Bolloré, who has a track record of gutting staff and overhauling the editorial line at the news outlets he has purchased in recent years.

Almost three weeks into the strike, the beleaguered newsroom has appealed to President Emmanuel Macron to take a stand, framing the tussle at the JDD as part of a wider battle for press freedom.

“When the JDD, the newspaper of temperance and balance, goes on strike, it means the situation is truly bleak,” they wrote in a letter to Macron on Saturday, pleading with the government not to let their paper “die in silence”.

They added: “Beyond the JDD, what is at stake is the independence of the press and the journalists who produce it – a pillar of democracy.”

‘Hateful attacks and fake news’

Staff at the JDD have described Lejeune’s appointment as a negation of the paper’s values of moderation and journalistic rigour, pointing to his close ties with far-right political figures and his record at the helm of the arch-conservative weekly Valeurs Actuelles.

“Under Geoffroy Lejeune, Valeurs Actuelles spread hateful attacks and fake news,” the paper’s union of journalists wrote in a statement at the start of the strike. “We refuse to let the JDD follow this path.”

Staff at the Journal du Dimanche stand outside the newspaper’s building in Paris on July 5, 2023, the 13th day of their strike. © Alain Jocard, AFP

In his press release announcing Lejeune’s appointment on June 23, Lagardère praised a “raw talent of French journalism (…) with a mission to embody journalistic excellence: namely facts, investigation and the duty to inform” – a description labelled an “oxymoron” by French daily Le Monde, which argued that the young editor had “taken radical opinion journalism to the extreme”.

During his time at Valeurs Actuelles, Lejeune boosted the weekly’s notoriety by pushing provocative headlines and caustic attacks on politicians and intellectuals. In 2021, the magazine was found guilty of racist hate speech after it published a fictional story and cartoons depicting a Black MP as a slave in chains.

The paper’s staples are immigration, crime, Islamism and the plight of white males. Its preferred targets include “woke” teachers, liberal elites and the likes of Jewish financier George Soros.

In the run up to last year’s presidential election, Lejeune endorsed the extreme-right candidate Eric Zemmour, formerly a star pundit at Bolloré’s television channels. He is also a close friend of Marion Maréchal, the niece of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who ditched her aunt’s National Rally party last year to support Zemmour’s presidential run instead.

All of which makes him anathema to the JDD’s striking newsroom, which noted that Valeurs Actuelles’ own shareholders had described Lejeune as “too pro-Zemmour” upon firing him last month.

“Our newspaper has always strived to remain impartial and apolitical, offering a platform to both left and right,” said Bertrand Gréco, a JDD journalist for the past 26 years and a union representative.

“This nomination implies a radical change of editorial line,” Gréco added. “It means a newspaper recognised for its informative content will become an opinion paper – and one that spreads not just any opinion, since Lejeune is a champion of the far right.”

The Murdoch parallel

The JDD’s weekly sales of around 140,000 belie an outsize influence in a country where few newspapers top the 100,000 mark.

The title’s prime position as the only nationwide Sunday paper has long made it the go-to outlet for politicians eager to tout a new policy, bill or election run. It also makes it a prize catch for Bolloré, a corporate raider whose transport, media and advertising empire stretches across Europe and Africa.

A deeply conservative Catholic from Brittany, in western France, Bolloré has been gradually expanding his media assets to take in TV channels, the magazine Paris Match, radio station Europe 1 and latterly the JDD.

After acquiring news channel iTélé, part of the Canal+ group, he provoked a record strike of 31 days in 2016, got rid of most of the staff and turned it into a conservative platform that critics have dubbed “France’s Fox News”.

That platform, renamed CNews, “is no longer a news channel – it’s an opinion channel”, said Pauline Ades-Mevel, chief editor at the media freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who previously worked for iTéléShe described the turmoil at the JDD as an “aftershock of what has already happened at the other media organisations taken over by Bolloré.”

Read morePushing far-right agenda, French news networks shape election debate

Bolloré’s aggressive expansion into media has prompted comparisons with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose myriad news outlets in Australia, Britain and the United States have fundamentally altered the media and political landscapes of those countries.

Historian David Colon, a professor at Sciences-Po Paris who has written a book about Murdoch’s media empire, pointed to parallels between the tycoons’ respective holdings, most notably in the synergy between publishing houses, newspapers, radio stations and television networks.

“When it comes to media concentration, the key factor is not the number of titles you own or the size of their readership, but rather the diversity of the mediums,” he explained. “It’s this cross-ownership that allows you to set the agenda and rapidly influence public debate.”

In both cases, Colon pointed to a clear intent to push the debate in a socially conservative direction. Unlike Bolloré, however, Murdoch “would never allow his personal convictions to take precedence over the commercial success of his ventures”, Colon cautioned – whereas the losses posted by the French tycoon’s media assets suggest their motive is primarily ideological.

‘Concerns us all’

The tycoon’s purported ideological objectives have prompted mounting alarm among academics, politicians and other public figures, many of whom have voiced support for the strike action at France’s flagship Sunday paper.

“For the first time in France since the (post-war) liberation, a large national media will be run by a far-right personality. This is a dangerous precedent which concerns us all,” said an open-letter to Le Monde signed by hundreds of figures including actor Mathieu Amalric, writer Leïla Slimani, rapper and producer JoeyStarr and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Lejeune’s appointment “heralds the kind of forced transformation that Bolloré is accustomed to”, the letter added, citing the “brutal measures” enacted at his other media assets.

Another op-ed, signed by Nobel literature laureate Annie Ernaux and a host of prominent academics, urged legislators to put in place a legal framework that ensures “journalists are able to work independently – and, in particular, independently of the wishes of their shareholders”.

Alone among Macron’s ministers, Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak voiced her concern at Lejeune’s nomination in a tweet posted shortly after his appointment, which prompted a flurry of racist slurs levelled at the French-Lebanese dual national.

“Legally speaking, the JDD can become what it wants, as long as it respects the law,” she wrote. “But for our Republic’s values, how can you not be alarmed?”

The fact that shareholders can “legally” impose their choice of editors is at the very heart of the problem, according to Daphné Ronfard of the media advocacy group Un Bout des Médias. She blamed a lax legal framework, the bulk of which dates back to 1986, for allowing the likes of Bolloré to concentrate media resources and dictate their will.

“We need a new framework that can limit concentration and guarantee the independence of journalists, which is crucial to democracy,” Ronfard explained. “Editorial content should not be shaped by shareholders with political motives – which, in Bolloré’s case, are all too obvious.”

Her association has come up with a series of proposals designed to ensure journalists have their say on the appointment of editors, which it hopes to push once the government convenes long-awaited consultations on freedom of information in France – a pledge from Macron’s re-election campaign last year.

Pandora’s box

In the run-up to the 2022 presidential race, the French Senate played host to a circus of billionaires appearing in turn to deny the obvious: that ownership of France’s main private media outlets buys them influence and protects their interests.

Bolloré was the first to testify before a parliamentary committee tasked with investigating concentration in the media. True to form, he struck a faux-naïf tone as he belittled his television assets and denied any political motive behind his multiple purchases in the media.

“I have no power to appoint people to these channels,” he swore when quizzed about his role in the many resignations and high-profile firings that rattled the Canal+ media group following his takeover in 2015. He added: “Some journalists have left, others have returned. It’s like the ocean tide, back home in Brittany.”

Regarding CNews and its rolling coverage of Zemmour’s presidential run, Bolloré flatly denied it pursued any “ideological agenda”.

Eric Zemmour, a far-right pundit and former presidential candidate, dominated media coverage in the run-up to the 2022 campaign.
Eric Zemmour, a far-right pundit and former presidential candidate, dominated media coverage in the run-up to the 2022 campaign. © Thomas Samson, AFP

Much like Valeurs Actuelles, CNews has positioned itself as a straight-talking alternative to mainstream media stifled by political correctness, claiming to serve the French public what it really wants: stories on crime, immigration and Islam. Critics, however, say the channel has repeatedly violated the terms of a licensing agreement that applies to France’s four free-to-air news networks, requiring them to provide balanced coverage.

Zemmour’s sulphurous statements have resulted in multiple convictions for inciting hate speech and repeatedly landed CNews in hot water. In 2021, France’s broadcast regulator fined CNews €200,000 for speech inciting racial hatred after Zemmour branded child migrants “thieves, murderers and rapists”. Arcom, the regulator, has also admonished the network for failing to ensure political balance in its broadcasting.

The punishment amounted to too little too late, according to former Arcom member Joseph Daniel, who argued in a scathing op-ed that the regulator had repeatedly missed opportunities to flag and sanction the network’s failure to respect public broadcasting rules.

By allowing CNews to become an “opinion channel”, Daniel wrote at the time, “(Arcom) opened a dangerous pandora’s box for news networks that are freely available to the public and constitute a key element of our democracy.”

‘Hurting democracy’

Arcom’s failure to crack down hard on CNews mirrors a wider complacency by French authorities regarding media regulations, said Sciences-Po’s Colon, who voiced dismay at the government’s reluctance to wade into the battle for the JDD.

He pointed to a French specificity in the provision of public subsidies for newspapers, a long-established tradition intended to safeguard the democratic role of a vibrant press. Those subsidies, he argued, give the French state a certain leverage to ensure press freedom is preserved.

“The state would be perfectly entitled to make public subsidies conditional on compliance with a certain number of basic principles of journalistic ethics and deontology,” he explained, adding that shareholders “should not be allowed to impose an editor who is rejected by 97% of staff”.

“We’re talking about public money: Should it be used to serve the political whims of a billionaire or to defend quality journalism in the service of the general interest?” he asked. “The answer to that question is of fundamental importance to our democracy.”

On Sunday, Macron’s Education Minister Pap Ndiaye stepped into the fray by stating his support for the JDD strikers and arguing that a “manifest far-right bias” at CNews was “hurting democracy”. That in turn triggered a barrage of criticism from the right and far-right, which accused the minister of undermining media pluralism and being out of touch with a public that has itself shifted to the right.

The latter argument is missing the point of the dispute roiling the Journal du Dimanche, said Ades-Mevel of Reporters Without Borders.

“Of course all political stripes should be represented in the media, but that is not what Bolloré is up to. He is taking over mainstream publications to use them as channels for his agenda,” she explained.

“We’re not arguing that the far right is not entitled to a newspaper,” added the JDD’s Gréco. “What we’re saying is that they shouldn’t come grab an existing paper that has its own history, journalists and values.”

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Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower who exposed Vietnam War secrets, dies at 92

Daniel Ellsberg, the U.S. military analyst whose change of heart on the Vietnam War led him to leak the classified “Pentagon Papers,” revealing U.S. government deception about the war and setting off a major freedom-of-the-press battle, died on Friday at the age of 92, his family said in a statement.

Issued on: Modified:

Ellsberg, who had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in February, died at his home in Kensington, California, the family said.

Long before Edward Snowden and Wikileaks were revealing government secrets in the name of transparency, Ellsberg let Americans know that their government was capable of misleading and even lying to them. In his later years Ellsberg would become an advocate for whistleblowers and leakers and his “Pentagon Papers” leak was portrayed in the 2017 movie “The Post.”

Ellsberg secretly went to the media in 1971 in hopes of expediting the end of the Vietnam War. It made him the target of a smear campaign by the Nixon White House. Henry Kissinger, who was then the president’s national security adviser, referred to him as “the most dangerous man in America who must be stopped at all costs.”

When he went to Saigon for the State Department in the mid-1960s, Ellsberg had an impressive resume. He had earned three degrees from Harvard, served in the Marine Corps and worked at the Pentagon and the RAND Corporation, the influential policy research think tank.

He was a dedicated Cold War warrior and hawk on Vietnam at the time. But Ellsberg, in his 2003 book, “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers,” said he was only one week into a two-year tour of duty in Saigon when he realized the United States was in a war it would not win.

Meanwhile at the behest of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Pentagon officials had secretly been putting together a 7,000-page report covering U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 through 1967. When it was finished in 1969, two of the 15 published copies went to the RAND Corporation, where Ellsberg was once again working.

Anti-war rallies

With his new perspective on the war, Ellsberg started attending peace rallies. He said he was inspired to copy the “Pentagon Papers” after hearing an anti-war protester say he was looking forward to going to prison for resisting the draft.

Ellsberg began sneaking the top-secret study out of the RAND office and copying it at night on a rented Xerox machine – using his 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter as helpers. He took the documents with him when he moved to Boston for a job at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ended up sitting on them for a year and a half before passing pages to the New York Times.

The Times ran its first installment of the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971, and the administration of President Richard Nixon moved quickly to get a judge to stop further publication.

Nixon’s claim of executive authority and invocation of the Espionage Act set off a freedom-of-the-press fight over the extreme censorship of prior restraint.

Ellsberg’s next move was to give the “Pentagon Papers” to the Washington Post and more than a dozen other newspapers. In New York Times v. U.S., the Supreme Court ruled less than three weeks after first publication that the press had the right to publish the papers, and the Times resumed doing so.

The study said the U.S. officials had concluded that the war probably could not be won and that President John F. Kennedy approved of plans for a coup to overthrow the South Vietnamese leader. It also said Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, had plans to expand the war, including bombing in North Vietnam, despite saying during the 1964 campaign that he would not. The papers also revealed the secret U.S. bombing in Cambodia and Laos and that casualty figures were higher than reported.

On the run

The Times never said who leaked the papers but the FBI quickly figured it out. Ellsberg remained underground for about two weeks before surrendering in Boston.

“I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public,” Ellsberg said at the time. “I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.”

He would say that he regretted not leaking the papers sooner.

Even though the “Pentagon Papers” did not cover Nixon’s handling of Vietnam, the White House’s “plumbers” unit, which would later pull off the Watergate break-in that led to Nixon’s downfall, was ordered to stop further leaks and discredit Ellsberg.

Two and a half months after first publication, two men who later figured prominently in Watergate – G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt – broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to search for incriminating evidence.

Ellsberg and a RAND colleague were eventually charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy. But at their 1973 trial, the case was dismissed on the grounds of government misconduct when the break-in was revealed.

In his later years, Ellsberg, who was born April 7, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, became a writer and lecturer in the campaign for government transparency and against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He said Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency who gave journalists thousands of classified documents on government information-gathering before fleeing the country, had done nothing wrong. He also said he considered Army Private Chelsea Manning a hero for turning over a trove of government files to WikiLeaks.

His books include “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner” in 2017 and “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers” in 2002.

The once-top-secret papers that Ellsberg shepherded into the mainstream can be read online at

Ellsberg had been married twice, first to Carol Cummings, with whom he had two children. That marriage ended in divorce.

His second marriage was to Patricia Marx, with whom he a son.


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Lech Walesa joins hundreds of thousands of Poles in anti-govt march in Warsaw

An enormous anti-government march took place in Poland’s capital Sunday, with citizens traveling from across the country to voice their anger at a right-wing administration that has eroded democratic norms and created fears the nation is following Hungary and Turkey down the path to autocracy.

The local government in Warsaw estimated that 500,000 people joined the march, which was led by the opposition party to which the city’s mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, belongs. It was not possible to verify that figure.

Large crowds gathered in Krakow and other cities across the nation of 38 million, showing frustration with a government that critics accuse of violating the constitution and eroding fundamental rights in Poland, a country long hailed as model of peaceful and democratic change.

Former President Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement that played a historic role in toppling communism in Poland, stood on a stage with the leader of the opposition Civic Platform party, former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The crowd cheered on the two men, both of whom are reviled by the ruling Law and Justice party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and at times chanted “Democracy!” and “Constitution!”

Tusk had called on Poles to march with him for the sake of the nation’s future — a message that resonated for Radek Tusinski, 49, who rallied with his wife and two young children. A handmade sign reading “I cannot give up freedom” was attached to their baby stroller.

Tuskinski said he worries about the creeping return of an authoritarian system similar to what he remembers from his childhood.

“We want a free country for our children,” he said.

Supporters of the march have warned that the election might be the nation’s last chance to stop the erosion of democracy under the ruling party, Law and Justice, amid growing fears that the fall election might not be fair.

In power since 2015, Law and Justice has found a popular formula, combining higher social spending with socially conservative policies and support for the church in the mostly Catholic nation.

However, critics have warned for years that the party is reversing many of the achievements made since Poland emerged from communist rule in 1989.

Even the United States government has intervened at times when it felt the government was eroding press freedom and academic freedom in the area of Holocaust research.

Critics point mainly to the party’s step-by-step takeover of the judiciary and media. It uses state media for heavy-handed propaganda to tarnish opponents. Law and Justice also tapped into animosity against minorities, particularly LGBTQ+ people, whose struggle for rights the party depicts as a threat to families and national identity. A clampdown on abortion rights has triggered mass protests.

Critics fear that the party could eventually force the country to leave the European Union, a 27-member union founded on democratic ideals.

March participants carried EU and Polish flags, with some also holding up rainbow flags.

Some also voiced anger at the double-digit inflation in the country. The government blames Russia’s war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, but economists say its spending policies have accelerated spiraling prices.

Barbara Dec, 26, and her grandmother left their hometown of Zielona Gora at 4:30 a.m. and traveled seven hours on a bus organized by Civic Platform to protest. They planned to return home immediately after the Warsaw event.

Dec held up a cardboard sign that read, “I am afraid to have children in Poland.”

“Women have lost the right to have an abortion even when the fetus is terminally ill, and some women have died,” she explained. “And I am also afraid I couldn’t manage financially.”

Alarm over press freedom

The march was held on the 34th anniversary of the first partly free elections, a democratic breakthrough in the toppling of communism across Eastern Europe. It was seen as a test for Tusk’s Civic Platform, a centrist and pro-European party which has trailed behind Law and Justice in polls.

However, the passage of a controversial law last month appeared to mobilize greater support for Tusk. Poland is expected to hold a general election in October, though a date has not yet been set.

The law allows for the creation of a commission to investigate Russian influence in Poland. Critics argue that the commission would have unconstitutional powers, including the capacity to exclude officials from public life for a decade. They fear it will be used by the ruling party to remove Tusk and other opponents from public life.

Amid uproar in Poland and criticism from the U.S. and the EU, President Andrzej Duda, who signed the law on May 29, proposed amendments to it on Friday. In the meantime, the law will take effect with no guarantees lawmakers in parliament will weaken the commission’s powers.

Some Poles say it could come to resemble the investigations of Joseph McCarthy, the U.S. senator whose anti-communist campaign in the early 1950s led to hysteria and political persecution.

That fear was underlined last weekend when Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, was asked by a reporter if he still had trust in the defense minister in connection with a Russian missile that fell in Poland in December.

“I am forced … to view you as a representative of the Kremlin,” he replied. “Because only the Kremlin wants this man to stop being the minister of national defense.”

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders expressed concerns that the commission might be used to “wage a witch-hunt against journalists” and “could serve as a new weapon for this type of attack, in which doubt is cast on journalists’ probity in an attempt to smear their reputation.”

Tusk, who is also a former EU council president, had called for the march weeks ago, urging people to demonstrate “against high prices, theft and lies, for free elections and a democratic, European Poland.”

Initially some opposition figures planned to stay away. But after Duda signed the law, other opposition leaders announced they would join in.

Law and Justice sought to discourage participation in the march with a video spot using Auschwitz as a theme — drawing criticism from the state museum that preserves the site of the Nazi German death camp.


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Iranian journalists remain imprisoned for reporting on Mahsa Amini’s death

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Iran is one of the most repressive countries in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report released Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders, which ranked it 177th of 180 nations. Since the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in Tehran, 72 journalists have been arrested and 25 remain imprisoned, most of them women. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the cases of two journalists who remain behind bars over their reporting on the young Kurdish woman’s death.    

Two distraught parents embraced in the empty corridor of a hospital in Kasra, Tehran. They had just learned that their 22-year-old daughter Mahsa Amini had died, three days after being arrested by the morality police for “improperly” wearing her hijab.

Journalist Niloofar Hamedi has been held for more than seven months by the Iranian authorities for capturing this silent moment in a photograph and making it public. A correspondent for the reformist daily newspaper “Shargh”, Hamedi was the first to break the news of the young Kurdish woman’s death on September 16, 2022, by posting the photograph on Twitter.

The post provoked an unprecedented wave of unrest and several months of demonstrations against the Iranian authorities.

Arrested at her home by intelligence agents on September 20, the 31-year-old journalist was not given a trial before being put behind bars, according to Jonathan Dagher, head of the Middle East Office of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières or RSF), which published its annual report on press freedom on Wednesday.

Journalist Elahe Mohammadi, 35, is also being held at Qarchak prison south of Tehran. A writer for the reformist daily newspaper “Hammihan”, she was arrested on September 29 for going to Amini’s home town of Saqez in Iranian Kurdistan to cover the young woman’s funeral, which gave rise to the first demonstrations following her death.

The Iranian judiciary confirmed in April that the two women were indicted on charges including collaborating with the United States, undermining national security and spreading anti-state propaganda. The two women were formally accused in October of being agents for the CIA.



Symbols of the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ movement

Denouncing these “grotesque accusations”, RSF has demanded the release of the two journalists. In Iran, charges of espionage are punishable by death.

Hamedi and Mohammadi’s cases are of particular concern: “Both have become emblematic of the repression of press freedom in Iran, but also of the (Women, Life, Freedom) movement. They are journalists and women. So they are symbols on many levels. That’s why the Iranian government treats them much more severely,” says Dagher. “Iran tends to punish journalists who are the first to reveal information more severely, and make an example of them for other women and journalists,” adds Dagher.

Nine other female journalists are being held by the authorities, including eight arrested since the uprising that followed Amini’s death. “This is unprecedented in the country and one of the highest figures in the world,” says Dagher, noting that female journalists are being targeted “because they play an important role in covering this movement, especially in giving a voice to women who are at the forefront of the protest”.

RSF says a total of 72 Iranian journalists have been arrested since Amini’s death on September 16, with 25 still behind bars. The incarcerations earn Iran seventh place among the countries detaining the most journalists, with China in the top spot followed by Myanmar, Vietnam, Belarus, Turkey and Syria.

Released but under pressure

But even for released journalists, “deliverance can become a threat in itself, with sentences that act like swords of Damocles hanging over their heads”, says Dagher.

This is the case for Nazila Maroofian, another female journalist who investigated Amini’s death. She was sentenced without trial to a two-year suspended prison term for “spreading false news” and “anti-government propaganda” after spending 71 days in prison. Maroofian, who is from the same city as Amini, was targeted by the Iranian authorities for publishing an interview with her father on the news website “Mostaghel Online”.

Others were released in exchange for signed confessions – “statements of remorse”, or promises not to cover certain events or stories – reports RSF.

One of these journalists was Ali Pourtabatabaei, who worked for a local news website in Qom, located 140km south of Tehran, and was one of the first to reveal that young girls were being poisoned using an unidentified gas in schools across the city in November 2022.

Pourtabatabaei was arrested on March 5 amid controversy over the ongoing wave of poisonings. After several weeks in detention, “on the day of his release, the government asked journalists not to cover this story because it was upsetting the public, demanding that they rely only on official sources for all information”, says Dagher.  

Under these conditions, many Iranian journalists have been forced to flee the country. To manage the influx and provide assistance, RSF set up a crisis unit. Several have since settled in France, others in Canada, the United States and Turkey. But even there they are not safe from intimidation.

“Their families continue to be pressured in Iran,” says Dagher, who has collected several personal accounts to this effect. Other journalists have been informed by foreign intelligence services that they are potential kidnapping targets and so have been strongly advised not to travel to countries bordering Iran, including Turkey.

This article has been translated from the original in French.

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African, international news outlets appeal for press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso

FRANCE 24 and its sister radio RFI have joined a group of 30 African and international news organisations and monitors in an appeal for press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso. The news outlets and rights groups call on the authorities of these two countries and the international community to put an end to the pressure and threats against national and foreign journalists. They urge the transitional governments in Mali and Burkina Faso to respect their countries’ international commitments to uphold freedom of expression, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The open letter, whose signatories include Jeune Afrique, Mali’s Joliba TV News and Burkina Faso’s L’Observateur Paalga, coincides with World Press Freedom Day on May 3. It is addressed to the Malian and Burkinabe authorities, as well as the wider international community.

The signatories voice their concern about threats to freedom of expression and the press amid increasing pressure and death threats targeting national and foreign journalists in both countries. “Measures taken by the authorities in Burkina Faso, especially in recent months, are liable to undermine the public’s fundamental right to be informed,” they write in the collective text. “Freedom begins where ignorance ends,” they add, recalling the recent arrests and imprisonment of journalists and opinion leaders in Mali.

>> Read more: Armed groups, juntas create dangers for journalists in Sahel

“In both Burkina Faso and Mali, these attacks are increasingly amplified on social media by ‘influencers’ who support the military regimes in these two countries, who play the role of dispensers of justice and issue death threats against journalists and opinion leaders they regard as overly independent,” reads the letter, signed by several press freedom watchdogs – such as the International Francophone Press Union (UPF) and the Union of West African Journalists (UJAO) – and rights advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch.

The “establishment of a regime of terror”, to quote L’Observateur Paalga, “is accompanied by a wave of fake news flooding social media with falsehoods”, the signatories add, noting that “the victims of these ‘influencers’ are the people of Mali and Burkina Faso, who are deprived of a democratic debate.”


Acknowledging the “complexity of the political, geopolitical and military context” in both counties, as well as their “crucial duty to inform the public”, the 30 signatories add: “The fight against terrorism must not in any way serve as a pretext for imposing a new reporting standard and restricting the fundamental rights of the Malian and Burkinabe public to seek and access news and information through professional and independent media.”

The open letter was drafted under the coordination of the Sub-Saharan Africa bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Open letter on protecting journalists and defending freedom of expression and press freedom in Mali and Burkina Faso

For the attention of:

● The President of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union

● The President of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS

● The President of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of WAEMU

● The Chair of the African Union Commission

● The President of the ECOWAS Commission

● The President of the WAEMU Commission

● The President of the Pan-African Parliament

● The UN Secretary-General

● The President of the UN Human Rights Council

● The Director-General of UNESCO

● The Secretary-General of the OIF

● The heads of the media regulatory bodies of the 15 ECOWAS countries

● The President of the Francophone Network of Media Regulators

● The President of the Platform of Broadcasting Regulators of WAEMU member countries and Guinea

● The Ministers of Communication of the 15 ECOWAS member countries

● The Chair of the African Broadcasting Union

What with calls for journalists and opinion leaders to be murdered, threats and intimidation against the national press, grotesquely fabricated accusations against journalists, the suspension of local broadcasting by French international news outlets RFI and FRANCE 24, and the expulsion of reporters with the French newspapers Libération and Le Monde – the threats to freedom of expression and press freedom are very worrying in Burkina Faso. Measures taken by this country’s authorities, especially in recent months, are liable to undermine the public’s fundamental right to be informed. Freedom begins where ignorance ends.

Journalists and opinion leaders are increasingly subjected to harassment and intimidation in Mali as well. In November-December 2022, television network Joliba TV was suspended by the High Authority for Communication (HAC) after it broadcast an editorial deemed critical of the authorities. This year, the Maison de la Presse in Bamako was ransacked on February 20, while Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, a radio columnist better known by the pseudonym Ras Bath, was charged and imprisoned on March 13 for denouncing former Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga’s “assassination”. Rokia Doumbia, the influencer also known as “Rose vie chère”, was arrested on March 15 for referring to inflation and the transitional government’s “failure”. The journalist Aliou Touré was abducted by masked gunmen on April 6 and was not found until four days later.

Here too, the international press is far from being spared. In February 2022, a Jeune Afrique reporter was deported from Bamako. A month later, RFI and FRANCE 24 were silenced throughout Mali.

In both Burkina Faso and Mali, these attacks are increasingly amplified on social media by “influencers” who support the military regimes in these two countries, who play the role of dispensers of justice and issue death threats against journalists and opinion leaders they regard as overly independent. Lies are now being added to the violence. The “establishment of a regime of terror”, as Burkinabe daily L’Observateur Paalga wrote, is accompanied by a wave of fake news flooding social media with falsehoods. The victims of these “influencers” are the people of Mali and Burkina Faso, who are deprived of a democratic debate.

Amid what is a serious security crisis in both countries, journalists are all aware of their crucial duty to inform the public. They also understand the complexity of the political, geopolitical and military context. They also live and suffer the serious consequences of this security crisis. Like all citizens, they want a quick return to peace. However, the fight against terrorism must not in any way serve as a pretext for imposing a new reporting standard and restricting the fundamental rights of the Malian and Burkinabe public to seek and access news and information through professional and independent media.

In Burkina Faso, the situation of journalists has become so critical that even the entity in charge of regulation is alarmed. In a press release published on March 29, the Superior Council for Communication (CSC) said it “notes with regret the recurrence of threats against media outlets and media actors” and asked the authorities to “take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the media and journalists in the course of their work.”

On April 6, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said he was “deeply troubled” by the restrictions on the media in Burkina Faso. “In this period of transition, protection of independent voices is more necessary than ever,” he added.

On February 20, Alioune Tine, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, said he was “extremely concerned about the restriction of civic space and freedom of expression and association” in Mali.

In the light of all these facts, we, the signatories of this open letter,

● Urge the authorities of Mali and Burkina Faso to put an end to all measures that undermine press freedom.

● Note a lack of protection by the security forces and silence from the judiciary in response to the intimidation campaigns and death threats against journalists in these two countries. While respecting the independence of justice, we call on prosecutors and police officers to respond more to such acts, which are punishable under criminal law.

● Call on the authorities of these two countries to guarantee the protection and safety of all media professionals who are the victims of threats, intimidation, harassment and physical attacks.

● Call on the authorities to carry out impartial, effective and independent investigations to shed light on abuses committed against journalists, and to identify and prosecute those responsible.

● Call on both governments to respect the international obligations signed and ratified by their countries regarding freedom of expression and press freedom, in particular the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

● Call on the national authorities and pan-African and international bodies to whom this open letter is addressed to support this initiative at the highest level. Access to news and information is a fundamental right of peoples. On World Press Freedom Day, it is essential to defend and protect it.



1. AfrikaJom Center

2. Burkina Faso Journalists Association (AJB)

3. Association of Online Press Publishers and Professionals (APPEL Senegal)

4. Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism (CENOZO)

5. Norbert Zongo National Press Centre (CNP-NZ Burkina Faso)

6. Courrier confidentiel (Burkina Faso)

7. Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)

8. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

9. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

10. France 24 (France)

11. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

12. Human Rights Watch (HRW)

13. International Press Institute (IPI)

14. Jeune Afrique (France)

15. Joliba TV News (Mali)

16. Le Pays (Burkina Faso)

17. Le Monde (Burkina Faso)

18. (Burkina Faso)

19. Le Reporter (Burkina Faso)

20. L’Événement (Burkina Faso)

21. Libération (France)

22. L’Observateur Paalga (Burkina Faso)

23. Radio France Internationale (RFI)

24. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

25. Burkina Faso Society of Privately-owned Press Publishers (SEP)

26. Omega Médias (Burkina Faso)

27. International Francophone Press Union (UPF)

28. Union of West African Journalists (UJAO)

29. (Burkina Faso)

30. Wakat Sera (Burkina Faso)

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Former correspondents in Russia call for release of journalist Evan Gershkovich

“We call on the Russian authorities to drop these charges and immediately release Evan Gershkovich.” Instigated by Elena Volochine, a FRANCE 24 reporter and Shaun Walker, The Guardian’s correspondent in Central and Eastern Europe, 301 former correspondents in Russia, from 22 different countries, signed an open letter published on April 24 and addressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to demand Gershkovich’s release. Accused of espionage and incarcerated in Russia since March 30, the 31-year-old US journalist could face between 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted.

A collective of journalists and members of Russian civil society also called for the liberation of Gershkovich in a letter published on April 4 by the independent news website Meduza.

“What is happening to Evan could have happened to any of us”, said Volochine, who reported in Russia between 2012 and 2022. “This reminds me of my worst nightmares. The Russian leaders live in a parallel reality, and those who look for the truth on the war in Ukraine are considered traitors or spies. I felt an increase in these kinds of speeches since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and this is what led me to leave the country. Russian leaders need to hear us and know the entire world is watching them.”

Gershkovich’s plight brings these journalists back in time, reminding them of what they thought was a bygone era. “I signed this letter because I myself had been accused of espionage by the Soviet Union, which was completely false,” said Nicolas Miletitch, an AFP correspondent in Moscow from 1978 until he was expelled in 1981. “The USSR expelled me, accusing me of being an agent of the CIA, of an intelligence service, of an anti-Soviet organisation whose name I never heard and French intelligence services all at the same time. These accusations were false, of course, and I have strong reason to believe that those against Evan Gershkovich are also false.”

On the other hand, Miletitch did help the resistance movement in the USSR by leaving the Soviet Union with samizdat works banned by the regime to circulate them in the West. He also contributed Maggi cubes and multivitamin tablets to an organisation that provided aid to political prisoners. His supplies were sent to prisoners in the Gulag.

The US journalist Jeff Trimble, who arrived a few years later in Moscow to manage the local office of the magazine U.S. News & World Report between 1986 and 1991, also experienced a similar situation.

“I arrived in Moscow in 1986 to replace Nick Daniloff, the former bureau chief, who had been accused of espionage and arrested by the Soviet authorities”, Trimble said. “I want to do everything in my power to release Evan and support journalists working in Russia today in circumstances far more difficult and threatening than those I faced myself in the final years of the Soviet Union.”

These memories from another time resonate with a sinister echo today: Gershkovich is the first American journalist imprisoned in Russia since the Cold War.

We have all worked in Russia as foreign correspondents, some for a few months, others for decades. We are shocked and appalled by the arrest of our colleague Evan Gershkovich and the charges brought against him.

Evan Gershkovich has a long and impressive record of journalistic work. We have no doubt that the only purpose and intention of his work was to inform his readers about the current reality in Russia. Seeking out information, even if it means upsetting political interests, does not make Evan a criminal or a spy, it makes him a journalist. Journalism is not a crime.

The arrest sends a disturbing and dangerous signal about Russia’s disregard for independent media and shows indifference to the fate of a young, talented and honest journalist. 

We call on the Russian authorities to drop these charges and immediately release Evan Gershkovich.

  • Abdujalil Abdurasulov, BBC (temporary assignments 2008-2018)

  • Sabine Adler, Deutschlandradio (1999-2005)

  • Zita Affentranger, Tages Anzeiger (2001-2006)

  • Manel Alías Tort, TV3, Catalunya Radio (2015-2021)

  • Marta Allevato, AGI (2011-2018)

  • Tamara Alteresco, Radio Canada (2018-2022)

  • Derek Andersen, Moscow Times (2010-2012)

  • Maria Antonova, AFP (2010-2020)

  • Guy Archer, Moscow Times (1998-2001, 2018), Capital Perspective (2000-2002)

  • Chloe Arnold, Moscow Times (1995-1998), BBC (2005-2007), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2007-2009), BBC (2017-2019)

  • Tomas Avenarius, Süddeutsche Zeitung (1999-2006)

  • Lucy Ash, BBC, Scotland on Sunday (1990-1994)

  • Golineh Atai, ARD (2013-2018)

  • Sabra Ayres, Cox Newspapers (2003-2007), Los Angeles Times (2017-2020) 

  • Robert Baag, Deutschlandradio (1994-1999, 2006-2012)

  • Peter Baker, Washington Post (2001-2004)

  • Mattia Bernardo Bagnoli, ANSA (2015-2021)

  • Tony Barbieri, Baltimore Sun (1979-1983)

  • Cenk Başlamışlı, Milliyet (1989-2010)

  • Héloïse Bargain, Moscow Times (2019-2020)

  • Ellen Barry, Moscow Times (1993-1995), New York Times (2008-2013)

  • Anastasia Becchio, RFI (2010-2013)

  • Jean-François Bélanger, CBC/Radio-Canada (2010-2014)

  • Lucia Bellinello, Russia Beyond (2011-2019)

  • Catherine Belton, Moscow Times, BusinessWeek, Financial Times (1998-2014)

  • Vanora Bennett, Reuters (1991-1995), Los Angeles Times (1996-1998)

  • Marc Bennetts, Washington Times (2013-2019), Sunday Times (2019-2022)

  • Stéphane Bentura, AFP (1989-1994), Paris Match (1997-1998) 

  • Michele Berdy, Moscow Times (2002-2022)

  • Tomasz Bielecki, Gazeta Wyborcza (2004-2008)

  • Wiktoria Bieliaszyn, Krytyka Polityczna, Gazeta Wyborcza (temporary assignments 2018-2020)

  • Michael Binyon, The Times (1978-1982)

  • Douglas Birch, Baltimore Sun (2001-2005), AP (2006-2010)

  • Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post (2014-2016)

  • Kevin Bishop, NBC (1987-1993), BBC (1993-1994, 2000-2003, 2013-2014)

  • Andrew Boag, Moscow Times (2001-2004)

  • Carroll Bogert, Newsweek (1989-1993)

  • Celestine Bohlen, Washington Post (1984-1988), New York Times (1991-1994, 1998-2001)

  • Ksenia Bolshakova, FRANCE 24 (2010-2016)

  • Sunny Bosco, AFP (1997), Moscow Times (1998-2003)

  • Etienne Bouche, Sud-Ouest (2013-2020)

  • Michael Brissenden, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1994-1997)

  • Anja Broeker, ARD (2000-2005)

  • Daniel Broessler, Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2004-2008)

  • Arnout Brouwers, De Volkskrant (2006-2013)

  • Ben Brown, BBC (1991-1994)

  • Frank Brown, Moscow Times (1994-1997), Jerusalem Report (1998-2003), Newsweek (2003-2005)

  • Sarah Brown, NBC, AP (1993-1999)

  • Oliver Bullough, Reuters (2002-2006)

  • Justin Burke, Christian Science Monitor (1990-1993)

  • Clementine Cecil, Times (2001-2004)

  • Patrick Chaboudez, RTS, Tribune de Genève (1990-1995)

  • Guy Chazan, Wall Street Journal (1999-2007)

  • C.J. Chivers, New York Times, Esquire (2004-2008)

  • Bruce Clark, Times (1990-1993)

  • Victoria Clark, Observer (1993-1996)

  • Stanley Cloud, Time Magazine (1969-1970)

  • Charles Clover, Financial Times (2008-2013)

  • Fred Coleman, AP (1964-1967), Newsweek (1976-1979, 1988-1992)

  • Shura Collinson, St Petersburg Times (2007-2013), Moscow Times (2014-2016)

  • Ann Cooper, NPR (1987-1991)

  • Eve Conant, NBC News (1995-1997), Feature Story News (1997-1998), Voice of America (1998-2001), Newsweek Magazine, (2001-2003)

  • A. Craig Copetas, Village Voice, Regardie’s (1983-1991), Wall Street Journal (1997-2000)

  • Isabelle Cornaz, RTS (2014-2019)

  • Susan Cornwell, Reuters (1987-1990)

  • Sophia Coudenhove, Moscow Times (1994-1997)

  • Alan Cullison, AP, Wall Street Journal (1995-2015)

  • Maria Michela D’Alessandro, Il Caffè settimanale (2016-2018)

  • Naira Davlashyan, AFP, AP (2010-2018)

  • Max Delany, AFP (2014-2017)

  • Dominique Derda, France Télévisions (1993-1997, 2000-2004, 2015-2019)

  • Ruth Dickhoven, ARD/WDR (2001-2006)

  • Robyn Dixon, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (1993-1997), Los Angeles Times (1999-2003), Washington Post (2019-2023)

  • Yana Dlugy, AFP (2003-2006), Newsweek (1997-1999)

  • Michael Dobbs, Washington Post (1988-1993)

  • Veronika Dorman, Libération (2009-2016)

  • Elisabeth Gesine Dornblueth, Deutschlandradio (2012-2017)

  • Martin von den Driesch, Oldenburgische Volkszeitung (1994-2005)

  • Emile Ducke, YPT (2017-2022)

  • Pascal Dumont, Moscow Times (2014-2016), La Dame de Pique (2016-2017), CBC (2017-2020)

  • Jonny Dymond, BBC News (2004-2017)

  • Miriam Elder, AFP (2002-2003), Moscow Times, Guardian (2006-2013)

  • Dinda Elliott, Newsweek (1992-1994)

  • Will Englund, Baltimore Sun (1991-1995, 1997-2001), Washington Post (2010-2014, 2019)  

  • David Ensor, ABC News (1992-1996)

  • Steven Erlanger, Boston Globe (1985-1987), New York Times (1991-1995)

  • Jon Fasman, Moscow Times (2002)

  • Esther Fein, New York Times (1987-1991)

  • Amie Ferris-Rotman, Reuters (2007-2011), Wall Street Journal (2016-2017), Washington Post (2017-2019)

  • David Filipov, Moscow Times (1992-1994), Boston Globe (1994-2004), Washington Post (2016-2018)

  • Peter Finn, Washington Post (2004-2008)

  • Peter A. Fischer, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (2001-2007)

  • Rose Flemming, Berlingske (1990-1996), Jyllands-Posten (1999-2004)

  • William Flemming, Moscow Times (2001-2004)

  • Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor (1994-1998)

  • Henry Foy, Financial Times (2017-2021)

  • Enrico Franceschini, La Repubblica (1990-1997)

  • Mark Franchetti, Sunday Times (1997-2016)

  • Stig Fredrikson, TT Sweden (1972-1976)

  • Carlotta Gall, Moscow Times (1994-1999), Financial Times (1998-1999), New York Times (1994, 1999)

  • Paolo Garimberti, La Stampa (1970-1976)

  • Moritz Gathmann, Tagesspiegel (2008-2013)

  • Maria Georgieva, Svenska Dagbladet (2016-2022)

  • Susan Glasser, Washington Post (2001-2004)

  • David Jan Godfroid, NOS (2004-2008, 2012-2021)

  • Carey Goldberg, AP (1989-90), Los Angeles Times (1990-1995)

  • David Greene, NPR (2009-2012)

  • Thielko Griess, Deutschlandfunk (2017-2021)

  • Jennifer Griffin, Fox News (1996-1999)

  • Rosemary Griffin, Platts (2012-2022)

  • Thomas Grove, Reuters, Wall Street Journal (2010-2021)

  • Orla Guerin, BBC (1999)

  • Peter Gysling, SRF (1990-1994, 2008-2015)

  • Julian Hans, Süddeutsche Zeitung (2013-2019)

  • Andrew Harding, BBC (1996-2000)

  • Luke Harding, Guardian (2007-2011)

  • Jens Hartmann, Springer Auslandsdienst (1996-2003), Die Welt (2004-2011)

  • Laurie Hays, Wall Street Journal (1990-1993)

  • Xiaoqing He, Moscow Times (2017-2019)

  • Thomas Heine, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten (1991-1995, 2010-2012), Politiken (2014-17)

  • Kysia Hekster, NOS (2008-2012)

  • Andrew Higgins, Independent (1992-1995), Wall Street Journal (1998-2003), New York Times (2016-2021)

  • Jenny Hill, BBC (2022)

  • Nick Holdsworth, Times Higher Education Supplement, Sunday Telegraph, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, FRANCE 24 (1996-2022)

  • Gabor Horvath, Nepszabadsag (1993-1997)

  • Gerald Hosp, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (2007-2012)

  • Ben Hoyle, Times (2013-2015)

  • Dorothea Hülsmeier, dpa (1995-2000)

  • Adi Ignatius, Wall Street Journal (1992-1994)

  • Julia Ioffe, New Yorker, Foreign Policy, (2009-2012)

  • Polina Ivanova, Reuters (2017-2021), Financial Times (2021-2023)

  • Andrew Jack, Financial Times (1998-2004)

  • Marie Jégo, Le Monde (2005-2014)

  • Morten Jentoft, NRK (1996-2000, 2014-2018)

  • Lenka Kabrhelova, Czech Public Radio (2008-2013)

  • Robert Kaiser, Washington Post (1971-1974)

  • John Kampfner, Daily Telegraph (1991-1994)

  • Shigenori Kanehira, Tokyo Broadcasting System (1991-1994)

  • Georgi Kantchev, Wall Street Journal (2019-2021)

  • Fred Kaplan, Boston Globe (1992-1995)

  • Miroslav Karas, Czech Television (2012-2016, 2018-2020)

  • Henrik Kaufholz, Politiken (1995-1997)

  • Bill Keller, New York Times (1986-1991)

  • Takashi Kida, Asahi Shimbun (2001-2003, 2017-2022)

  • Lucian Kim, Moscow Times (2003-2005), Bloomberg (2006-2010), National Public Radio (2016-2021)

  • Matilde Kimer, Danish Broadcasting Corporation (2009-2022)

  • Horst Kläuser, ARD / WDR (2002-2008)

  • Robin Knight, US News & World Report (1976-1979)

  • Andrew Kramer, AP (1999-2001), New York Times (2005-2022)

  • Michel Krielaars, NRC Handelsblad (2007-2012)

  • Olaf Koens, Geassocieerde Persdiensten, RTL Nieuws, De Volkskrant (2007-2015)

  • Akiyoshi Komaki, Asahi Shimbun (2005-2008, 2013-2017)

  • Albina Kovalyova, Reuters (2010-2011), NBC (2013-2014), AP (2015), BBC, NBC, Channel 4 (2016)

  • Simon Kruse, Berlingske (2006-2018)

  • Matthew Kupfer, Moscow Times (2016-2017)

  • Anatoly Kurmanaev, Wall Street Journal (2018)

  • Kathy Lally, Baltimore Sun (1991-1995, 1997-2001), Washington Post (2010-2014)

  • Bert Lanting, De Volkskrant, (1994-1998)

  • Isabelle Lasserre, Le Figaro (1994-1998)

  • Maria Levitov, Moscow Times (2004-2006), Bloomberg (2007-2010)

  • Clifford Levy, New York Times (2007-2011)

  • Udo Lielischkies, ARD (1999-2005, 2012-2019)

  • Jesper Lindau, Swedish Radio (2018-2021)

  • John Lloyd, Financial Times (1990-1996)

  • Nicola Lombardozzi, La Repubblica (2009-2017)

  • Edward Lucas, Economist (1998-2002)

  • Alec Luhn, Nation (2013-15), Guardian (2015-17), Daily Telegraph (2017-2020), VICE News (2021-22)

  • Mark MacKinnon, Globe and Mail (2002-2005)

  • Kumiko Makihara, Moscow Times (1995-1997)

  • Isabelle Mandraud, Le Monde (2014-2019)

  • Judith Matloff, Christian Science Monitor (1997-2000)

  • Seamus Martin, Irish Times (1991-1994, 1996-2000)

  • Owen Matthews, Moscow Times (1995-1997), Newsweek Magazine (1997-2019)

  • William Mauldin, Moscow Times (2006), Bloomberg (2007-2009), Wall Street Journal (2009-2012)

  • Walter Mayr, Der Spiegel (2002-2006)

  • Daniel McLaughlin, Reuters (2000-2001), Daily Telegraph (2003-2004)

  • Caroline McGregor, Moscow Times (2002-2004)

  • James Meek, Guardian (1994-1999)

  • Andrew Meier, Time (1995-2001), NYT Magazine (2008-2012)

  • Nicolas Miletitch, AFP (1978-1981, 1998-2001, 2010-2018) 

  • Andrew Miller, Economist (2004-2007)

  • Laura Mills, AP (2012-2015), Wall Street Journal (2015-2017)

  • Alison Mitchell, Newsday (1989-1991)

  • Jan Moláček, Czech Television (2005-2006)

  • Fen Montaigne, Philadelphia Inquirer, (1989-1993)

  • Davide Monteleone, Contrasto (2002-2005), VII Photo (2010-2013), National Geographic (2016-2021)

  • Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times (2001-2006)

  • Seth Mydans, AP (1976-1979), Newsweek (1980-1981), New York Times (1984-1985, 2003-2004)

  • Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, (2002-2007, 2013-2015)

  • David Nauer, Tages-Anzeiger (2006-2009), SRF (2016-2021)

  • Aliide Naylor, Moscow Times, RT (2011-2015)

  • Anna Nemtsova, Washington Post (2001-2005), Newsweek (2005-2014), Daily Beast (2021-2022)

  • Jussi Niemeläinen, Helsingin Sanomat (2010-2014, 2018-2021)

  • Fabrice Nodé-Langlois, Le Figaro (2006-2009)

  • Julian Nundy, Reuters (1971-1974)

  • Conor O’Clery, Irish Times (1987-1991)

  • Takeshi Oda, Nihon Keizai Shimbun (1987-1991)

  • Kevin O’Flynn, Moscow Times (1996-2015), Reuters (2015-2018) 

  • Kenichi Ogata, Japan (1996-1999, 2006-2010, 2012-2016)

  • Roland Oliphant, Daily Telegraph (2013-2017)

  • Lynne Olson, AP (1974-1976)

  • Peter Osnos, Washington Post (1974-1977)

  • Arkady Ostrovsky, Financial Times (2003-2007), Economist (2007-2015)

  • Simon Ostrovsky, Moscow Times (2001-2004)

  • Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times (1997-2000)

  • Jeremy Page, Reuters, The Times (2002-2006)

  • Philip Pan, Washington Post (2008-2010)

  • Tom Parfitt, Sunday Telegraph (2003-2005), Guardian (2005-2012), Daily Telegraph (2012-2015), The Times (2015-2022)

  • John Parker, Economist (1988-1993)

  • Robert Parsons, BBC (1993-2002)

  • Harold Piper, Baltimore Sun (1975-1979)

  • Muriel Pomponne, RFI (2013-2017)

  • Alessandra Prentice, Reuters (2013-2014)

  • Peter Pringle, The Independent (1990-1993)

  • Francesco Quintano, ANSA (1990-1996)

  • Manfred Quiring, Berliner Zeitung (1982-1987, 1991-1995), Die Welt (1998-2010)

  • Maarten Rabaey, De Morgen (temporary assignments 1998-2018)

  • Samuel Rachlin, Danish Broadcasting Corporation (1977-1984), TV2 Denmark (1998-2006)

  • Wacław Radziwinowicz, Gazeta Wyborcza (1997-2016)

  • Leonid Ragozin, BBC (1998-2007, 2010-2013) 

  • Sarah Rainsford, BBC (2000-2005, 2014-2021)

  • Eleanor Randolph, The Washington Post (1990-1993)

  • Heide Rasche, ARD (2011-2014)

  • David Remnick, Washington Post (1988-1992)

  • Maura Reynolds, AP (1996-1998), Los Angeles Times (1998-2002)

  • Matt Robinson, Reuters (2009-2010)

  • Emil Rottbøll, Berlingske (2020-2023)

  • Angus Roxburgh, Sunday Times (1987-1989), BBC (1991-1997)

  • Elisabeth Rubinfien, Wall Street Journal (1990-1994)

  • Andreas Rüesch, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (1998-2002)

  • Raymond Saint-Pierre, CBC/Radio-Canada (2015-2018)

  • Claudio Salvalaggio, ANSA, (2006-2015)

  • Rebecca Santana, Voice of America, Cox Newspapers (1999-2004)

  • Simon Saradzhyan, Moscow Tribune (1993-1998), Moscow Times (1998-2008)

  • David Satter, Financial Times (1976-1982), Radio Liberty (2013)

  • Pjotr Sauer, Moscow Times (2018-2022), Guardian (2022)

  • Nurbek Savitahunov, Moscow Times (2017-2019)

  • Serge Schmemann, AP (1980-1981), New York Times (1981-1986, 1991-1994)

  • Susanne Scholl, ORF (1991-2009)

  • Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, (2006-2012)

  • Antonella Scott, Il Sole 24 Ore (2008-2011)

  • Max Seddon, Financial Times (2016-2023)

  • Corinne Seminoff, CBS (1986-1989), CBC (1989-1994, 2017-2022)

  • Lucia Sgueglia, Lettera 22 (2007-2017)

  • Scott Shane, Baltimore Sun (1988-1991)

  • Evgeniy Shapovalov, CNN (2022-2023)

  • David Shipler, New York Times (1975-1979)

  • Claire Shipman, CNN (1989-1993)

  • Elizabeth Shogren, Dallas Morning News (1988-1990), Los Angeles Times (1990-1992) 

  • Daisy Sindelar, Moscow Times (1994-1996, 1999-2001), St Petersburg Times (1998-1999)

  • Michael Slackman, Newsday (1998-2000)

  • Hubert Smeets, NRC Handelsblad (1990-1993)

  • Julia Smirnova, Die Welt (2012-2017)

  • Hedrick Smith, New York Times (1971-1974), PBS (1988-1990)

  • Sebastian Smith, AFP (1994-1997, 2005-2008)

  • Daniel Sneider, Christian Science Monitor (1990-1994) 

  • Noah Sneider, Economist (2013-2020)

  • Deborah Snow, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1992-1994)

  • Paul Sonne, Wall Street Journal (2013-2016)

  • Nick Spicer, CBC (2004-2007)

  • Alessandra Stanley, New York Times (1994-1998)

  • Laura Starink, NRC Handelsblad (1987-1991)

  • Iuliia Stashevska, AP (2014-2019)

  • Deborah Stead, BusinessWeek (1991-1993)

  • Michael Steen, Reuters (1999-2000)

  • Briar Stewart, CBC (2022-2023)

  • Satoshi Takayama, Asahi Shimbun (1978-1983)

  • John Thornhill, Financial Times (1994-2000)

  • Katrin Tichomirova, Berliner Zeitung (2003-2008)

  • Ugo Tramballi, Il Giornale (1987-1991)

  • Jeff Trimble, U.S. News & World Report (1986-1991)

  • Christian F. Trippe, Deutsche Welle (1999-2002)

  • Anton Troianovski, Washington Post (2018-2019), New York Times (2019-2023)

  • Nikolaus von Twickel, Moscow Times (2007-2013), dpa (2013-2014) 

  • Paolo Francesco Valentino, Corriere della Sera (1990-1995)

  • Daniel Vallot, RFI (2017-2021)

  • Tom Vennink, De Volkskrant (2015-2021)

  • Natacha Vesnitch, FRANCE 24 (2017-2021)

  • Birgit Virnich, ARD (2014-2019)

  • Elena Volochine, i-TELE, (2012-2016), FRANCE 24 (2016-2022)

  • Pavel Vondra, Czech Television (2011-2012)

  • Patrick Wack, LAIF (2021-2023)

  • Shaun Walker, Independent (2007-2013), Guardian (2013-2019)

  • Greg Walters, Moscow Times (2003-2005), Dow Jones Newswires (2005-2007), Bloomberg News (2007-2008)

  • Olivia Ward, Toronto Star (1992-2002)

  • Pieter Waterdrinker, De Telegraaf, (1996-2020)

  • Courtney Weaver, Moscow Times (2008-2009), Financial Times (2009-2015)

  • Will Webster, Reuters (1997-2014)

  • Emma Wells, BBC (2011-2016)

  • John Wendle, Moscow Times, Time Magazine (2007-2009)

  • Jeanne Whalen, Moscow Times (1997-1999), Wall Street Journal (1999-2004)

  • Mark Whitehouse, Moscow Times (1993-1998), Wall Street Journal (1998-2003)

  • Craig R. Whitney, New York Times (1977-1980, 1989-1992)

  • Carol J. Williams, AP (1984-1988), Los Angeles Times (1994-1998)

  • Geoff Winestock, Moscow Times (1992-1994), Journal of Commerce of the United States (1994-1996), Moscow Times (1996-1999)

  • Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC (2007-2010)

  • Helen Womack, Reuters (1985-1988), Independent (1990-2000), Age (2003-2015)

  • Allan Woods, Toronto Star (2021-2022)

  • Joshua Yaffa, New Yorker (2012-2022)

  • Geoffrey York, Globe and Mail (1994-2002)

  • Sonja Zekri, Süddeutsche Zeitung (2008-2011)

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