23 Journalists From Around The World Who Are Currently Imprisoned

At this very moment there are a total of 211 journalists imprisoned worldwide. Owing to the CPJ (Committee To Protect Journalists), we have an ongoing catalog of all jailed journalists, as well as all news related to injustices towards journalists. Sadly, it probably won’t come as a surprise that the countries with the highest number of incarcerated journalists are China (32), Iran (35), and Turkey (40). Below, a less-than-thorough list of these valorous activists.

1. Faramaz Novruzoglu (Faramaz Allahverdiyev), Azerbaijan.

Youtube.com/Obyektiv Tv
Youtube.com/Obyektiv Tv

Charged with “incitement to mass disorder and illegal border crossing,” Faramaz Novruzoglu. Authorities said that Faramaz called for a “mass disobedience” on Facebook and also illegally crossed the border into Turkey, both of which Faramaz denied. Faramaz said that they had no proof for the Facebook allegations, and as for the other charges, Faramaz himself has proof (his passport) that he was traveling other places during the time he allegedly illegally crossed the border.

Faramaz claims that this is all a cover-up and it’s really his journalism that got him arrested, work which was published to the independent newspaper Milletim and was deemed critical. In particular, he believes it was his coverage of “high-level corruption in the export of Azerbaijani crude oil and the import of Russian timber.” According to director of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom And Safety, Emin Huseynoy, authorities provided zero substantial evidence. In August 2012, Faramaz was sentenced to 4 ½ years in jail.

2. Nijat Aliyev, Azerbaijan.

Youtube.com/Obyektiv Tv
Youtube.com/Obyektiv Tv

Nijat, editor-in-chief of the independent news site Azadxeber, was charged with illegal drug possession and arrested in 2012. Since his arrest, authorities have extended his imprisonment many times. Nijat and his deputy, Parvin Zeynalov, believe that the arrest is actually due to Nijat’s critical reporting on the government’s policies on religion, such as anti-Islamic activity. Nijat has also claimed that the drug possession charges are false; his lawyer reported that authorities tortured Nijat into admitting he had drugs in his possession, threatened to plant narcotics in his aparmtnet and threatened to file more serious charges. Last we’ve heard of Nijat was in September 2013, only stating that he was being held in pretrial detention.

3. Hilal Mamedov, Azerbaijan


Mamedov was arrested in June of 2012 for possession of five grams of heroin in addition to 30 grams of heroin found in his home after his arrest—drugs which Mamedov’s family claim police planted on him. Mamedov was the editor of minority newspaper Talyshi Sado, which covered things like the issues that affect the Talysh ethnic minority group in Azerbaijan. Many people also believe it’s because of Mamedov’s investigation of Talyshi Sado’s former editor Novruzali Mamedov’s death in prison. In September 2013, Mamedov was sentenced to five years in jail.

4. Abduljalil Alsingace, Bahrain.

Mohamed CJ
Mohamed CJ

As a result of the pro-reform portests that were rervived in February 2011 the Bahrain government arrested in a slew of high-profile government critics, including Alsingace. In June of the same year, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for “plotting to topple the monarchy.” Alsingace had a blog Al-Faseela that covred human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. On January 7, 2013, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, upheld the sentences.

5. Kong Youping, China.

Kong is an essayist and poet arrested in 2003for online articles he wrote that supported democratic reforms, his appeal for the government to release writer Liu Di from prison, and a call “for a reversal of the government’s ‘counterrevolutionary’ ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.” An excerpt from one of kong’s essays: , “In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus four years’ deprivation of political rights in 2004.

6. Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui),China.

Yang was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2006 for “subverting state authority.” Specifically, it was his participation in a fictitious online election and the fact that he sent money to a Chinese dissident overseas, a rather charitable act. Despite being awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2008, his sentence was upheld. And reports from family members claim that Yang is receiving poor treatment in jail for his tuberculosis, arthritis and diabetes.

7. Qi Chonghuai, China.


In 2007, Qi was arrested for fraud and extortion and in 2008 was sentenced to four years in prison. In particular, it was his critical coverage of the Shandong province, yet authorities claimed Qi’s arrest came after Qi stole money from local officials while reporting. It just so happens that these “local officials” he stole from were also supremely threatened by Qi’s reporting. According to Qi, “police beat him during questioning in 2007 and again during a break in his trial.” Less than three weeks before he was to be released in 2011, he was sentenced with another 8 years in jail on more erroneous charges.

8. Liu Xiaobo, China.

Blatant World
Blatant World

Liu had been an advocate of political reform for years when he was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison. His sentence came in tandem with Charter 08, a document Lui published that promoted “universal values, human rights, and democratic reform in China.” They also mentioned six of his articles as evidence. Interestingly, diplomats from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Sweden were denied access to Liu’s trial. In October 2010, Liu received the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu Xia, Liu’s wife, has been kept under house arrest in Beijing since her husband was arrested and recently two journalists were violently attacked as they were on their way to film her in her home.

9. Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, China.

Tsang is an online writer in Gannan who ran the Tibetan cultural issues website Chomei. In 2009, he was charged with disclosing state secrets and convicted to 15 years in prison. He served the first four years in Dingxi prison, but was transferred in 2013 to another prison in Gansu where conditions are severely worse and extremely detrimental to his health. His family is allowed to visit him once every two months, but they can only speak through a glass screen, and are not allowed to converse in their language, Tibetan.

10. Tan Zuoren, China.


Tan is an environmentalist and activist who was arrested on charges of “inciting subversion” for his posts that apparently “criticized the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.” But it’s widely known that what Tan was REALLY arrested for is his investigation of the deaths of schoolchildren who were killed in a May 2008 earthquake. Tan was about to release a piece about the death tolls and the poorly built schools that resulted in the deaths. In February 2010, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison and many people including Ai Weiwei were detained during his trial so as to not allow them to testify. Recent reports from Tan’s wife claim that Tan has contracted gout in prison and is not receiving medical attention.

11. Memetjan Abdulla, China.

In July 2009, Abdulla, the editor of the state-run China national Radio’s Uighur service was convicted of “instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region through postings on the Uighut-language website Salkin, which he managed in his spare time.” Then, in August 2010, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

12. Gulmire Imin, China.

In 2009 there began riots in Urumqi over the death of migrant workers in Guangdong province. It was a riot that turned violent and resulted in the arrest of Gulmire Imin. She was charged with “separatism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration” and was charged with life imprisonment.

13. Dilshat Parhat (Dilixiati Paerhati), China.

When he was officially arrested in 2009, the government “issued no formal notice of his arrest.” Dilshat edited the well-known Uighur-language website Diyarim and was one of the many writers who was arrested after the riots in 2009. In 2010, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

14. Chen Wei, China.

After the anonymous online calls that asked for a nonviolent “Jasmine Revolution” in China, Chen, along with countless other activists, was arrested. In 2011, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting subversion,” and this was after a long time of Chen’s lawyer being denied access to visit Chen in prison.

15. Roger Shuler, United States.

Shuler was arrested on “contempt of court charges” after releasing reports that Robert Riley, Jr., son of a former Alabama governor, had cheated on his wife. Following his arrest, “leading press freedom and civil rights groups said the injunction contradicted decades of First Amendment jurisprudence and did so in complete secrecy, as all records in the case were initially sealed by the court.” The judge told Shuler that he would remain in prison until he deleted his statements that claimed the extramarital affair, and Shuler apparently responded, saying he couldn’t “remove the content from a jail cell.”

16. Sudhir Dhawale, India.

Sudhir founded and edited a Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi. A Mumbai-based political activist and journalist, Sudhir was arrested in January of 2011 with “sedition under section 124A of the Indian penal code, waging war against the state under sections 121 and 121A under the Indian penal code, and alleged involvement with a terrorist group under sections 17, 20, and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act” However, allies of Sudhir’s tell a different story. According to them, Sudhir was arrested because of his vocal opposition to the state-supported and anti-Maoist militia present in Chhattisgarth state.

17. Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, Iran.

In 2008, Mohammad—head of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and managing editor of the weekly Payam-e-Mardom was arrested by plainclothes security officials—was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was charged with “acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state,” and suffered significant health problems in prison thereafter. According to his family, after finally being permitted to see him, Mohammad’s heart was clearly declining and he was suffering from dizziness and speech and vision impairment. His health only got worse in 2012 when he began a hunger strike because authorities wouldn’t let him see his son who has leukemia. After getting sick to the point of hospitalization, authorities released him on a temporary bail to see his son of $250,000. In 2013, Mohammad was charged again, apparently writing letters to senior officials.

18. Kayvan Samimi, Iran.

In 2009, Samimi—65 years old and the former manager of the monthly Nameh—was sentenced a 15-year ban on his work and 6 years in prison, where he was treated horrifically. In 2010, he was put in solitary confinement for speaking out about shoddy prison conditions and was then transferred to another jail which reportedly houses violent criminals. Apparently he was put in solitary again 2012 and suffered from exacerbated liver problems that he’s always had. And since being sentenced, he hasn’t been permitted a day of furlough.

19. Mohammad Davari, Iran.

Youtube.com/Committee to Protect Journalists
Youtube.com/Committee to Protect Journalists

In may 2010, Davari was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Authorities cited his involvement in “propagating against the regime” and “disrupting national security” as the reason for why he was arrested, but it’s common knowledge that the real reason he was arrested was because of his coverage of the apparent rape and abuse that took place in Kahrizak Detention Center against its inmates. In fact, with the help of Davari and his team, the Detention Center was closed in July 2009 because of the rampant abuse that took place there. Davari also received the International Press Freedom Award in November 2010.

While in prison in 2011, Davari was sentenced to an extra year in prison for his “participation in teacher protests in 2006.” He suffered from severe psychological conditions, as well as chest and heart pains while in jail, all while being denied furlough. Then in 2013, he suffered from a heart attack after finding out about his brother’s death. At this point he was released on furlough, but only for a very short period of time.

20. Abolfazl Abedini Nasr, Iran.


Abedini wrote for the provincial weekly Bahar Ahvaz, mostly about labor issues. And so it should come as little surprise that he was arrested in April of 2010 and sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges including “contact with enemy states.” Abedini was not even allowed a defense lawyer in trial, and so the court naturally upheld the verdict. In 2010, it was reported that Abedini had been severely beaten in prison, and so was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran. Then in 2011, he was sentenced to an additional year in prison for “propagating against the regime.”

21. Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (Siamak Mehr), Iran.

Pourshajari, a blogger who lives outside of Tehran, was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to three years in prison. His charges were “propagating against the regime” and “insulting the supreme leader,” but it was really his criticism of Iran’s theological state that got him arrested. Pourshajari wrote about his arrest; about the computer hard drive, satellite receiver and copious documents that were stolen, and how he was then taken to Rajaee Shah Prison where he was tortured and the subject of a mock execution. Not only was he not allowed visitors of phone calls, but he wasn’t allowed access to a lawyer either. In 2012 he was sentenced to an additional year in prison and has not once appealed, knowing that such action is futile in this convoluted judicial system. He also suffered a heart attack in 2012 and his daughter announced that he would die in prison if he wasn’t allowed adequate medical surgery on his heart.

22. Hatice Duman, Iran.

Duman is serving a life sentence at Gebze Women’s Closed Prison in Kocaeli. He was charged with “being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist community Party, or MLKP, producing propaganda, and ‘attempting to change the constitutional order by force.’” The Committee To Protect Journalists believes these claims are entirely unfounded. And even Duman’s lawyer, Keleş Öztürk, believes that Duman’s arrest is only because she went against administration policies. Duman was also charged “with seizing weapons and forgery,” though this claim only came from her husband, who was questioned under torture. In 2012, Duman’s life sentence was upheld.

23. Şükrü Sak, Iran.

In 2012, Sak was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in prison for a conviction that dated back to 1999. He was convicted of being a member of the İslamic Great East Raiders Front, for allegedly staging protests, and for his access to “organizational documents.” As evidence, the court pointed to Sak’s handwritten notes and the nature of the magazine he was editing at the time, the Islamist weekly Baran. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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