Politics & Society

Index Index – International free speech round up 31/01/13

A woman who said she was raped by state security forces and the journalist who interviewed her were charged by police on 29 January in Somalia. Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim could face four years imprisonment for insulting a government body and two years for inducing false evidence. Abdiaziz has been charged with insulting a government body, simulating a criminal offence and making a false accusation. The alleged rape victim’s husband and two others who introduced her to the journalist were charged with assisting her to secure a profit for the rape allegation and assisting her to evade investigation. The sentences are five and four year terms respectively. The next hearing will be held on 2 February. Abdiaziz had interviewed the woman on 8 January after she said she was raped by soldiers at a displaced persons camp in Mogadishu. He was detained by the Central Investigations Department of the police two days later.

lawtonjm - Flickr

Non-thinker (2012) by Aida Makoto – A less controversial piece from the Japanese artist

The New York Times has claimed it was hacked by Chinese officials over a period of four months. The attacks are thought to have come from hackers connected to the military in a possible retaliation to a series of stories run by the newspaper —  alluding to the vast wealth accumulated by premier of the state council Wen Jiabao. The hackers entered into the Times’s systems, accessing information on the personal computers of 53 employees, including China correspondents. Mandiant, an internet security company hired by the newspaper on 7 November, said the attacks were likely to have been part of a spy campaign, after discovering that the computers used for the attacks were the same used for Chinese military attacks on US military contractors in the past. Hackers began attacking the Times on 13 September, around the time the Wen Jiabao story was in its final pre-publishing stages.

A former policeman in the Ukraine has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an investigative journalist, it was reported on 30 January. Oleksiy Pukache was the fourth person to be charged with the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, after his dismembered body was discovered in 2000. The other three were sentenced to 12 and 13 years. As Pukache was sentenced, he announced that equal blame for the murder should be placed on the country’s former president Leonid Kuchma and then presidential chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Gongadze’s headless body was found in the woods six weeks after he was kidnapped in Kiev — a case which caused huge demonstrations and helped prompt the 2004 Orange Revolution. A lawsuit taken out against Kuchma in March 2011 was dismissed when prosecutors deemed it unlawful.

A Chinese man who was sent to a labour camp for making a joke about politician Bo Xilai has received minor damages after his compensation appeal was rejected. Fang Hong was sentenced to re-education for a year in 2011 for posting a poem online mocking the disgraced politician and his then police chief Wang Lijun. Chongqing’s Dianjiang county court rejected Fang’s request for around £37,400 in psychological damages, instead offering him just over £5,800, as well as rejecting his appeal for a public apology. This was the first known case of officials compensating for Bo-era abuses. Fang said he would ask his lawyers about appealing the ruling, but critics said his initial appeal was rejected to prevent a stream of further claims. Fang was freed in 2012 following the fall of Bo — whose wife Gu Kailai was convicted of the murder of British Businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011.

An art exhibition in Japan depicting cannibalism and Sadomasochism has prompted a debate over artistic freedom of expression. Aida Makoto’s  Monument for Nothing exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo on 29 January caused protests from Japanese organisation People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence, who wrote to museum director Nanjo Fumio to demand Makoto’s work be removed. Some of the artists pieces, depicted a giant blender filled with naked women, as well as Japanese pensioners playing croquet with severed heads. Makoto is said to use pornography to prompt people to look beneath Japan’s calm exterior and examine the darker elements of Japanese culture.

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