Media group calls 4 Mideast chiefs press predators

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2011 1:02 PM
Media group calls 4 Mideast chiefs press predators

The presidents of Syria and Yemen had prominent spots on a list of press freedom "predators" issued Tuesday by media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, along with a new arrival, the king of Bahrain.

The Paris-based group says its 2011 list is made up of 38 politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that are hostile to civil liberties and direct organizers of campaigns of violence against journalists.

Newcomers to the annual list, released on World Press Freedom Day, include Bahrain's King Hamad Ben Aissa Al Khalifa and Honduran businessman and landowner Miguel Facusse Barjum.

Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen have seen numerous cases of arbitrary detention and deportation of foreign correspondents, whom authorities are attempting to prevent from reporting on repression there, the group said.

All four of these countries have also seen journalists murdered by authorities, including Mahamed Al-Nabous, shot by government snipers in the Libyan city of Benghazi on March 19, and two journalists directly targeted by Yemeni security forces on March 18, the group said.

Reporters Without Borders said threats and physical attacks against journalists had increased in Syria since since a protest movement began in mid-March 2011.

Others on the advocacy group's list include Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The group also labeled as "press predators" the Israel Defence Forces and the security forces of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, as well as organized crime syndicates in Italy and Mexico.

Tunisia, where the press was muzzled for decades, was removed from the Reporters Without Borders list because the North African country's autocratic president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, a month after Tunisians began an uprising that sparked pro-democracy movements in the Arab world.