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Friday, November 16, 2001
WORLD'S WORST ENEMIES
OF THE FREE PRESS
Compiled by Bulldog News Staff
Illustrations by Mick Stern, Committee To Protect Journalists

    FRESNO STATE - The Bulldog Newspaper Foundation today named the Worst Enemies of the Free Press for 2001, focusing attention on individual leaders who are responsible for the world's worst abuses against the media. They are:   

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Islamic in Iran. Khamenei's fiery April 2000 sermon against the press inspired an unsparing campaign of repression against Iran's reformist media that continues to this day. Courts have banned more than 30 papers and jailed the country's best-known liberal journalists. When parliament debated reversing harsh provisions of Iran's notorious press law, Khamenei stopped things cold, declaring that any easing of the rules was not "in the interests of the system and the revolution."
Charles Taylor, President of Liberia. He became president in 1997, Taylor has beenclamping down on the independent press. He has jailed outspoken journalists on trumped-up charges, censored some media outfits at will, and forced others out of business through abusive tax audits. The popular Star Radio was effectively banned in March 2000. Since August, at least eight journalists have been jailed in Liberia on baseless charges of espionage.
Jiang Zemin, President of The People's Republic of China. Zemin presides over the world's most elaborate system of media control. Twenty-two journalists were jailed for their work in China last year. Wary of the Internet's potential power to break the state's information monopoly, Jiang has poured huge resources into policing online content.
Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe's government has launched an all-out war against independent media, using weapons that range from lawsuits to physical violence. Since January 1999, two local journalists have been tortured and two foreign correspondents expelled, while the secret service screens e-mail and Internet communications to preserve "national security."
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. Putin has presided over an alarming assault on press freedom in Russia. The Kremlin imposed censorship in Chechnya, orchestrated legal harassment against private media outlets, and granted sweeping powers of surveillance to the security services. Despite Putin's professed goal of imposing the rule of law, numerous violent attacks on journalists have been carried out with impunity across Russia.
Carlos Castaño, Leader of The United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Even against the violent backdrop of Colombia's escalating civil war, in which all sides have targeted journalists, Carlos Castaño stands out as a ruthless enemy of the press. The leader of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the ultra-violent right-wing paramilitary organization, Castaño has been formally charged with ordering the 1999 murder of commentator and political satirist Jaime Garzón.
Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine. Leonid Kuchma's government has stepped up its habitual censorship of opposition newspapers and increased attacks and threats against independent journalists. The disappearance and presumed murder of Internet editor Georgy Gongadze late last year brought the plight of Ukrainian journalists into sharp focus.
Fidel Castro, President of Cuba. Fidel Castro's government continues its scorched-earth assault on independent Cuban journalists by interrogating and detaining reporters, monitoring and interrupting their telephone calls, restricting their travel, and routinely putting them under house arrest to prevent coverage of certain events. A new tactic of intimidation involves arresting journalists and releasing them hundreds of miles from their homes.
Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia. For more than a decade, Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali has brought Tunisia's press to almost total submission through censorship and crude intimidation. Newspapers were closed. Journalists have been dismissed from their jobs, denied accreditation, put under police surveillance, and prevented from leaving the country. Some have been subjected to physical abuse.
Mohamad Mahathir, Prime Minister of Malaysia. Mahathir is openly contemptuous of press freedom. He has manipulated Malaysian media to cement his hold on power and has signaled plans to introduce even more stringent controls on a severely constricted media such as: legislation to regulate the Internet news venue where traditional media outlets are overwhelmingly controlled by Mahathir's political allies.

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