Media watchdog names 40 `predators of the press`

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders named the world`s 40 worst "predators of the press".

Paris: Media watchdog Reporters Without
Borders on Monday named the world`s 40 worst "predators of the
press" including politicians, religious leaders and militias
to mark World Press Freedom Day.

"They are powerful, dangerous, violent and above the
law", the Paris-based watchdog RSF said. "These predators of
press freedom have the power to censor, imprison, kidnap,
torture and, in the worst cases, murder journalists".

Seventeen presidents and several heads of government are
on the list, including China`s Hu Jintao, Iran`s Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, Rwanda`s Paul Kagame, Cuba`s Raoul Castro and
Russia`s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

New entrants on the annually updated list of "predators"
include Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

The Taliban leader, "whose influence extends to Pakistan
as well as Afghanistan, has joined the list because the holy
war he is waging is also directed at the press," RSF said.

Mullah Omar`s "thugs threaten local reporters who do not
relay his propaganda", while around 40 Taliban attacks
directly targeted journalists and news media in 2009, it said.

"The threats to journalists reinforce the Taliban`s sway
over the population and create news black holes in the south
and east of Afghanistan and in western Pakistan," RSF said.

Chechnya`s pro-Kremlin President Ramzan Kadyrov was also
added to the list.

Under Kadyrov, the watchdog said "anyone questioning
(his) policies... is exposed to deadly reprisals," citing the
murders of reporter Anna Politkovskaya and human rights
activist Natalia Estemirova.

"Often referred to as `Putin`s guard dog`, Ramzan Kadyrov
shares the Russian prime minister`s taste for crude language
and strong action," RSF said.

Yemen`s President Ali Abdulah Saleh was branded a
"predator" after Sanaa set up a special court for press
offences in what RSF said was a bid "to limit coverage of
dirty wars being waged in the north and south of the country."

The entry on Saleh noted: "Eight independent newspapers
are currently subject to a printing ban for `separatism`."

Private militias in the Philippines were also added
following the massacre of around 50 people, including 30
journalists, by "the local governor`s thugs" in Maguindanao
province on in November last year.

"In Latin America, violence still comes from the same
infernal quartet: drug traffickers, the Cuban dictatorship,
(Colombian guerrilla group) FARC and paramilitary groups," it

Italian organised crime, the Basque separatist group ETA
and Somalia`s Islamist militias were also listed.

Bureau Report