Freedom Alert

Egyptian prisoner Essam Atta was reportedly tortured in Cairo’s Tora Prison and died in a Cairo hospital on October 27. Though security officials deny that he was tortured, Atta had called his family and described his torture in detail before his death.

Turkmenistan released Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev under “presidential amnesty” after previously sentencing him to five years in jail for “encouraging a relative to commit suicide.” The charges were widely thought to be a sham and in reality brought because of his journalistic activities.

Freedom House applauds the Brazilian Senate’s passage of the Freedom of Information Law on October 25, a landmark step towards improving press freedom in Brazil.  The bill would secure citizens the right to information on public agencies, including budgets, salaries, staffing, and internal reports, as well as protections to whistleblowers.

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Radio journalist Wilson Cabrera was notified of a judicial order against him just minutes before boarding a plane to Washington D.C. for the 143rd Assembly of the Inter American Court of Human Rights.

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Freedom House applauds the Brazilian Senate’s passage of the Freedom of Information Law on October 25, a landmark step towards improving press freedom in Brazil.

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In a move widely considered to be political, Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission handed down a fine of $2 million dollars against Globovision, the only remaining independent television station critical of Hugo Chavez.

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Freedom House is gravely concerned by the ongoing harassment of Zimbabwean civil society leader and diamond activist Farai Maguwu, who was harshly interrogated by plain-clothes police at Harare International Airport upon re-entry into Zimbabwe on Monday, in clear defiance of a recent court decision ordering security services to desist from harassing him.

Freedom House mourns the loss of Laura Pollan, Cuban activist and founder of the group Ladies in White, who died on October 16 at the age of 63. Pollan made a lasting contribution to democracy and human rights in Cuba as one of the leading voices pressing for change.

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Freedom House denounces the ruling of a Ukrainian court on Tuesday convicting former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko of abuse of power and sentencing her to seven years’ imprisonment.

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Freedom House joins Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in calling for the veto of the Ros-Lehtinen U.N. Reform Bill. If passed, the bill would threaten national security, foreign policy and efforts to monitor human rights situations worldwide.

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