Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

Imprisoned, disappeared, or hacked to death, because internet

The following is a list of individuals known to have been put in danger by their internet activities.

UPDATES (added from the top):

Osama Al-Najjar, 25 year old from UAE, objected on Twitter to the arrest of his father as one of the UAE 94. He remains in prison in Abu Dhabi seven months after completing his sentence. The UAE 94 are Islamists with ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood which is banned in the UAE. Added 11/29/2017.

Naima Al-Matrood, Saudi internet activist, she was sentenced to six years on prison on 10 November 2017, “violating public order by creating two social networking accounts on Twitter and Facebook to demand the release of some detainees”, arrested in Dammam (eastern Shiite region) but tried in the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh (central Sunni region). Identified by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) which objects to trying activists in courts like SCC that handle “terrorism” cases. GCHR has offices in Copenhagen and Beirut; it is a non-profit. Added 11/29/2017.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (“Mother Mushroom”) from Vietnam, sentenced to 10 years in prison after posting to Facebook about a toxic waste spill. On Nov 27, 2017, another critic of the steel mill spill, Nguyen Van Hoa was given 10 years. Added 11/28/2017.

14 Saudi Shiites from the eastern provinces, using Facebook and their Blackberries to photograph and/or send photographs of demonstrations. Tortured to extract confessions and sentenced to death. Some or possibly all underage juveniles.   Added 8/6/2017.

Bassel Khartabil’s death confirmed. Added 8/4/2017

Noura_Ghazi_el_20_de_octubre_de_2011 1I note in passing that Khartabil’s wife Noura Ghazi is a human rights attorney in her own right, and comes from a family with a history of defending civil rights. The article I wrote for her on simple.wiki back in March 2016 has gotten over 160 page views in the last 3 days, so people are turning to Wikipedia for information about her, but she still has no article of her own on the English or Arabic Wikipedia.

Bassel_Safadi,_Seoul,_2010 1Beyond that, while it is interesting to have a martyr to the open source cause, this does nothing to propel forward the work that Kartabil was doing, in particular with #NEWPALMRYA. I note that there is now a memorial fund for continuing this work, but no one seems to have stopped to think of the implications for any people working on such a project. Khartabil is not the first martyr to the enemies of the middle east’s non-Islamic cultural heritage. Palmyra’s 81-year-old director of antiquities, Khaled al-Asaad, died horribly and his body was publicly displayed for days. I know firsthand the WMF’s cavalier attitude to volunteer safety, as I myself have been doxed repeatedly by Wikimedians in a position of authority, who had absolutely no excuse for doing so, other than believing they could get away with it. It’s time to tighten up the privacy policies and enforcement before we find ourselves with more Bassels.

Taimoor Raza, Pakistan, sentenced to death for blasphemy based on Facebook. Raza is Shia, Pakistan is predominately Sunni. VOA, Guardian, etc. Added 6/12/2017.

Ahmad Al Shamri, Saudi Arabia, (now on enwiki) death sentence about atheism on Twitter. WaPo, &c, &c  Added 4/27/2017.

Sina Dehghan, Iran, “interrogated”, promised to be freed if he signed a confession; after he signed, he was sentenced to death.  Accused of using LINE instant messaging application to make critical comments about Koran and Islam.  In 2015, LINE (WP article) announced that it added end-to-end encryption, however in 2016 was given an ultimatum by Iran ‘to cooperate in censorship or face blocking’. Via JWF.  Added 4/13/2017.

Merzoug Touati, Algerian blogger, imprisoned after an interview with an Israeli official over Skype. From JWF, lots of other sources in French.  added 2/10/2017

Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain, Twitter, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), opposes war in Yemen https://www.rt.com/news/372069-activist-rajab-bahrain-released/

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Iran, Facebook, wrote an unpublished short story about stoning,  JWF, &c. &c. added 12/28/2016

abdelaziz-bouteflika-on-twitter

In 2006, Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced a change in the constitution to allow the president to remain in office indefinitely.

Mohamed Tamalt, Algerian blogger, imprisoned under Algeria’s cybercrime law after a poem on FB about president Abdellaziz Boueflika, died in a coma after a 3 month hunger strike.  JWF. Guardian. Abdelaziz has limited speech and mobility due to health problems and is represented publicly by his deputies. Reported 12/11/2016.

Max Bokayev ( Макс Боқаев ) and Talgat Ayan ( Талғат Аян ) , Kazakhstan, sentenced on November 28, 2016 to 5 years after organizing protests on FB. JWFin Kazakh added 12/04/2016

Souad al-Shammary, سعاد الشمري Saudi Islamic scholar and women’s rights activist, imprisoned at Jiddah’s Briman prison on October 28, 2014 without trial, released January 29, 2015 at the same time Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman granted general amnesty for a large number of prisoners. Co-founded (BBCNews, the Guardian) Free Saudi Liberals Network with Raif Badawi, who is still imprisoned. For some reason this two-year-old story is re-emerging now.  ABCWorld Religion News, short profile on Front Line DefendersThe New Yorker, Middle East Eye, Al-Arabiya (2014), Pravda (in Russian, re-tweeting from AP Nov 2016).  New York Times and WaPo,  (Nov 2016 republished from the AP) arwiki (same person?) Added 11/19/2016.  This is curious, as of 4/18/2017, a number of these articles, including ABC News, Washington Post, and New York Times have been scrubbed.  Mission accomplished? Ah, but it says she threatened to sue Sheik Adel al-Kalbani [link] [link] [link] after Al Kalbani prayed that Suad lose the use of her hand and her eyesight.

Majed Al-Anizi,  ماجد العنزي Saudi YouNow  “يو ناو” video blogger, details and timeline unclear, arrested sometime before Abu Sin, probably October 2016. Saudi Gazette, al bawaba, al Arabiya English. Video of a conversation with an American named Katie went viral on Snapchat السناب شات , raising a very big buzz on social networking sites, especially Twitter (Ar) HuffPo. Added 10/23/2016

Abu Sin, أبوسن screen name of a Saudi Arabian video blogger, who faces three years in prison after appearing in video chats with Californian Christina Crockett @christinac842 Arrested while livestreaming from a car.   Video of arrest: (police car appears at about 7:00)Guardian, Saudi Gazette, and multiple others. Released on bail 10/6/16. Added 10/5/2016.

Nahed Hattar, ناهض حتّر , ناهض حتر Jordanian writer, arrested August 2016 after posting a cartoon to Facebook, killed in Amman on his way to court. BBCNews, Jordan Times, al-Rai and al-Jazeera (Arabic language) , Article 150 & 273 & 278 (Ar), of Jordanian penal code. https://twitter.com/clifferdson/status/779981072545161217 (added 9/25/2016)

Roya Saberinejad Nobakht, Farsi: رویا صابری نژاد نوبخت a British/Iranian, arrested at the airport when she went back to Iran to visit her parents in 2013, imprisoned  in Evin Prison, after she posted on Facebook that Iran was “too Islamic”. JIMAC, Guardian, Jimmy Wales Foundation, Independent, MEN.  Article on Farsi WP.  (Added 8/24/2016).

Scott Richards on FBqambar camp richardsScott Richards, سكوت ريتشاردز , a British/Australian  in Dubai, arrested  after raising money on Facebook for blankets for a refugee camp in Afghanistan where 100 children froze to deathBBC, Time, the Independent, ABC (Australia), the Telegraph, Grunaid.  Richards’ wife is allowed to bring him money once a week so he can buy water.  Refugee camp donations here.  Ar: BBC HuffPo Added August 19, 2016. Released on bail 23/Aug/2016. Charges dropped Sept 2016 https://7days.ae/charity-case-scott-richards-dubai-dropped

Tarek Alghorani - We wish to detain or we want prisoners.jpgTarek Alghorani, Syrian blogger.  In 2008 was sentenced to 7 years after blogging about the president, Bashar al-Assad, tortured in Sednaya Prison, released in 2011. Now lives in Tunis.

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, محمد الشيخ ولد امخيطير  Mauritania blogger, sentenced to death for an article about Mohammad. H/T: Jimmy Wales Foundation.   Added 4/26/2016

Nazimuddin Samad, নাজিমুদ্দিন সামাদ।  Bangladesh, criticized Islamicism on Facebook, hacked with a machete and shot to death.   The Guardian. #NazimuddinSamadAmnesty International. BBC News. One in a series of attacks. CNN. (Added 4/7/2016)

Alaa Brinji علاء برنجي Saudi journalist, Twitter. BBC News. The IndependentAmnesty International. Under arrest since May 13 May 2014 (Reporters Without Borders) (Added 3/27/2016)

Their Weapons vs Our Weapons - Egypt, 2011 - photo Suzee In The City.jpgEsraa el-Taweel اسراء_الطويل , Egyptian activist and photojournalist. Disappeared, discovered in prison, wrote a letter detailing conditions for women in prison that was smuggled out, then released. Charges included “spreading false news through her social media account”. Prison letters published by her sister on FB at “اسراء الطويل فين – Where is Esraa Eltaweel“. (added 1/28/2016)

Hossein Ronaghi حسین رونقی, Iranian blogger in prison and denied medical treatment. (added 1/26/2016)

Keywan Karimi کیوان کریمی, Iranian film maker. Imprisoned in Iran. Petition from filmmakers. (added 1/26/2016)

Graffiti in Syria - A salute to the freedom of the mediaZahra Kazemi زهرا کاظمی , Canadian-Iranian photojournalist.  She was tortured to death in prison. (added 1/26/2016)

Sattar Beheshti ستار بهشتی was an Iranian blogger who died in prison after posting to Facebook. (added 1/19/2016)

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki (حسین رونقی), Iranian blogger. His father, Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki, was sentenced to 4 months in prison after giving interviews about his son. (added 1/19/2016)

Samar_Badawi_with_Hillary_Rodham_Clinton_and_Michelle_Obama_at_2012_IWOC_Award

Samar Badawi accepts the International Women of Courage Award from Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2012.

Samar Badawi سمر بدوي, Saudi activist for voting and driving rights, sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, and former wife of Waleed Abulkhair. It is thought she was accused of Tweeting from Waleed Abu al-Khair’s Twitter account. Released the next day, on Jan 13. Added Jan. 12, 2016

Ruqia Hassan  رقية حسن محمد , Syrian journalist from Raqqan who posted to Facebook under the pen name  Nissan Ibrahim نيسان ابراهيم , killed in September 2015 by ISIS. Also NYT. Added 1/6/2016

Vadim Tyumentsev, Вадим Тюменцев 5-year jail term in Russia for posts on YouTube and Vkontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook.myanmar green uniform

Color of Burma’s new army uniforms compared to Aung San Suu Kyi’s longi

Chaw Sandi Tun jailed in Myanmar/Burma after a photo appeared on her Facebook page comparing the color of the new army uniforms to Aung San Suu Kyi’s longi. (She says her FB was hacked, IME not at all surprising to have some external interference to FB in Asia.) H/T JWF. Added 12/31/2015.  [Image on right]

Igor Sychev, Игоря Сычева ethnic Russian blogger from Kazakhstan Казахстан
who moderated an unnamed social networking site that published a poll on whether the region should join Russia. Sentenced to 5 years in jail. H/T JWF. Added 12/31/2015.

Yermek Tachibekov, Ермек Тайчибеков  pro-Russian blogger jailed/on trial in Kazakhstan. Russian WP. Added 12/31/2015.

Hamid Buyabes, Hamid Turki Buyabs  حامد تركي بويابس editor in chief  رئيس تحرير of the Kuwait people’s newspaper جريدة الشعب الكويتية   jailed in Kuwait for comments about Saudi Arabia on Twitter, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – ANHRI. H/T JWF.  On February 7, 2017, according to ANHRI,  acquitted of the “state security” charge, fined 10 thousand dinars (33 thousand and four hundred dollars) over the case of “misusing the phone”. Added 12/31/2015.

Nadia Vera, activist with #Yo Soy 132, was murdered, on July 31, 2015, along with photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, who had taken a controversial photo of a political figure, Yesenia Quiroz, Mile Virginia Martín, and Alejandra Negrete. Added 12/5/2015.

•Sara al-Drees (ar:سارة الدريس) jailed in Kuwait. TwitterBio at International Prize for Arabic Fiction.  Arabic Wikipedia. Simple English Wikipedia. H/T Jimbo at Jimmy Wales Foundation.  Added 11/27/2015.

•Four individuals in Hong Kong believed disappeared by China: Gui Minhai, Lui Bo, Cheung Jiping, and Lam Wingkei .  They are associated with a bookstore and publishing house that produces books critical of China, and are listed here because of China’s lack of internet access.

Faisal Arefin Dipon, hacked to death in Bangladesh.  WP: link  Added October 31, 2015.

jimbo wikimania venezuelaB

Jimmy Wales shows an endangering photo at Wikimania 2015

Anonymous photographer in Venezuela, per Jimmy Wales’ speech at Wikimania 2015.

This individual had to leave the country after they started receiving threats, also threats to their family. This individual was not politically active, but was only uploading photographs.

Niloy Chakrabarti, whose pen name was Niloy Neel – the fourth Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death by Islamists – was killed August 7, 2015.  Before his death, he had requested police protection. Two suspects have been arrested, one of them out on bail after being charged with attempted murder of blogger Asif Mohiuddin in 2013.

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This is the original piece (below), as of May 2015. Updates are added at the top.

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Samira Salih al-Nuaimi – lawyer and human rights activist. In 2014 she used Twitter to criticize the Islamic State for destroying mosques and shrines. Kidnapped and tortured for five days, then executed by firing squad.

free raif

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi – blogger, created website Free Saudi Liberals, jailed in 2015 for “insulting Islam through electronic channels”.

Waleed Abulkhair – Raif Badawi’s attorney. Imprisoned.

Hamza Kashgari – jailed for Twitter posts about the Prophet’s birthday. Released in 2013.

Iman al-Qahtani – female Saudi journalist who covered the 2013 trial of Saudi dissidents Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamidin. In Saudi Arabia, trials are not public, and women are not allowed in the same meeting room with men (this is prohibited “mingling”). Last message on Twitter, while trying to leave the country, saying she had been subjected to a travel ban. Disappeared in 2013.

Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani – Saudi dissident (ACPRA). Imprisoned.

Abdullah al-Hamid – Saudi dissident (ACPRA). Imprisoned.

Mohammed al-Bajadi – Saudi dissident (ACPRA). Imprisoned.

Matrouk al-Faleh – Saudi attorney for ACPRA’s  Abdullah al-Hamid and his brother Issa al-Hamid. Imprisoned.

Abdulaziz al-Hussan – Saudi attorney for ACPRA’s Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid. Exiled in Indiana. Twitter.

Ananta Bijoy Das – Bangladesh, secularist blogger. Hacked to death by four attackers in masks.

Avijit Roy – blogger. A Bangladeshi-born US citizen. Stabbed to death.

Washiqur Rahman – Bangladesh, atheist blogger. Hacked to death.

Nguyen Van Hai, Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai – Vietnamese anti-corruption bloggers.  Jailed.

35 bloggers jailed in Vietnam.

A group of Ethiopian bloggers – jailed. Twitter.

Austin Tice – American freelance journalist missing in Syria. Twitter.

Four reporters in Myanmar/Burma – Unity Journal.

Ghazi Beji and Jabeur Mejri – Tunisia. Posting nude cartoons of Mohammed. Beji escaped to Europe, Mejri released from prison in 2014.

Philip Blackwood (New Zealand), U Tun Thurein and U Htut Ko Ko Lwin (Burma) – imprisoned for posting an image of Buddha wearing headphones to promote Buddha Bar. Facebook.

buddha bar arrest

Philip Blackwood arrested in Burma

Missing but for “wrong religion”, rather than internet activity:

  • Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi
  • Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim

“Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun reported in June in Moscow that former US Justice Minister Ramsey Clark had confirmed that one of the bishops had been treated in a clinic in Ankara and later returned to the abductors. The Turkish security forces know where the bishops are, says Hassoun.

“In December 2015, reports circulated that both bishops had been killed. In October 2016 news reappeared, according to which the bishops lived in Rakka. A Syrian clergyman, who has been involved for years in the liberation of abducted Christians in Syria, confirmed this message from the Catholic News Agency (KNA).

“But even in this case, any evidence such as photos or personal explanations of the abducted are missing.” [Source]

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Wikipedia, the 2015 Voltaire Lecture, and death by machete

Earlier this year, in Bangladesh, Bonya Ahmed survived a machete attack that killed her husband, blogger Avijit Roy. Last month she delivered the 2015 Voltaire Lecture to the British Humanist Association in London.

God bless the Humanists, they have provided a transcript: https://humanism.org.uk/fighting-machetes-with-pens-a-full-transcript-of-the-2015-voltaire-lecture/

First, the WP articles:

Avijit Roy was not the only blogger attacked; there were 8 total. Here are their Wikipedia articles, or lack thereof.

Now, some parallels to Wikipedia.  Bonya Ahmed narates:

“We were stabbed repeatedly with machetes on the side of the road. The area was surrounded by police officers and video cameras and thousands and thousands of people. Nobody came to help us, the police stood by.”

Does this not sound like Arbcom, telling women tat if they don’t want to be attacked, to keep a lower profile?

“Two men were arrested at the scene by bystanders….”

…not by the police.  This would suggest the  government is complicit.  And who defends women at en.wp?  Not the admin corps, not the arbitration committee. Time and time again, it’s the ordinary bystanders. (I should know, I was one.)

“They said they killed Washiqur despite never having read his blog themselves, but under orders from someone at their madrasas.”

Internet “brigaders” or meatpuppets these days get their marching orders from Reddit.

“At this point, perhaps, Sheikh Hasina could have slapped down the Islamists. She could have said that no, people have a right to demonstrate, to write, to question, to criticize. But instead, this is what she said: We do not need a new blasphemy law, because we already have a law against ‘hurting religious sentiments’ and we can prosecute the bloggers under that law! So the authorities received the list of suspect bloggers, officials promised to investigate, and then they arrested four of those bloggers from the list and pursued them through the courts.”

The real crime is discussion, the attempt at dialogue, at trying to reach for a consensus.  Asking questions is not okay.  Because, what if vested power can’t think of a reasonable answer?  The questions themselves must be suppressed, the questioners killed.

The Arbcom could have protected the Gender Gap Task Force as it protected the Classical Music and Opera projects in the Infoboxes case, but it chose not to.  The Arbcom could have declared hands off on hate speech directed against women, as it did against gays in the Manning Naming Dispute case, but it chose not to.  When those in authority refuse to curtail hate speech that demonizes particular groups, can violence be far behind?

“So, what happens when you give bullies what they want? What happens when you accede to crazy demands? Soon there were one-hundred thousand Islamists marching on the streets of Dhaka demanding not just ‘death to atheist bloggers’, but for the cancellation of planned new education reforms that would have helped girls into education, and yet the government again made concessions.”

Ah, when the bullies arrive, the girls are the first to go.  Why am I not surprised.

“Even more ridiculously, it seems that you could now get 14 years for criticizing religion online, while 2 years if you do so in print media.”

Yup, it is casual conversation on talk pages–not guest posts in the Signpost–that must be brutally suppressed.

The solution?

“What we are left with is us, ourselves: my thoughts and feelings, my losses as well as my triumphs, the meaning in my life, these are all important, because they are all that counts. And It makes no sense until we extend this realization as far as it will go in the human family. It is not just ourselves, but each other, every trafficked slave, every murdered writer, every lost and lonely mind, that are important and have value.”

Make it so.  We can start by doing away with primitive expressions of contempt for anyone who is not of our tribe.

Oh, and Bonya Ahmed?  Her Wikipedia article is non-existent. The Google juice for that directs to her husband’s article.  laughing