The international journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been accused of receiving money from the US State Department and Cuban exile groups and of pursuing a political agenda.
The claims of political bias, published in a report in Washington this week, were denied by the group on Wednesday.
RSF was set up in France in 1979 by Robert Menard, who still heads the organization. It monitors abuses of journalists and has offices throughout the world.
Its Web site highlights countries where journalists are killed, jailed or intimidated as a result of their work, and currently features stories on Uzbekistan, Gambia and Ukraine.
The attack on RSF came in reports published by the Washington-based non-profit organization the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and the US Newspaper Guild journal. Both were written by journalist Diana Barahona.
She claimed that RSF was failing to follow the non-partisan example of Medecins sans Frontieres -- Doctors Without Borders -- and suggested that it was part of a "neocon crusade against the Castro regime."
The reports suggested that RSF had highlighted Cuba rather than countries that were more dangerous for journalists, such as Colombia.
Barahona also claimed RSF was "on the payroll of the US state department" and had received money from the Center for a Free Cuba, an exile group. The reports suggested that Menard had campaigned to have Cuban government accounts at European banks frozen in the same way as "the bank accounts of terrorists."
Jeff Julliard of RSF denied the allegations of a political agenda from its headquarters in Paris on Wednesday.
"We have no political agenda," he said. "We are not a political organization."
He also denied that RSF received money from the US state department directly, but confirmed that it had received a grant of US$40,000 from the conservative National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED's Web site states that it receives annual funding from "the US Congress through the state department."
This money, he said, had been used exclusively for a project to help journalists threatened in Africa and none of the money had been used elsewhere.
Julliard said that RSF had also received money from the Center for a Free Cuba and that money had been given to the families of journalists jailed in Cuba. Two-thirds of RSF's funds came from the sales of photography books and the rest of its money was from private donors.
He added that, while Menard had called for the freezing of Cuban bank accounts in Europe, RSF had made similar calls regarding the accounts of other governments which mistreated journalists, such as Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
RSF believed that this was a legitimate tactic to put pressure on the authorities. He added that, while RSF was very critical of Cuba, it had published more reports about abuses in China. Its main current concern was the position of journalists in Iraq. It had also campaigned on the issue of protection of sources in the US.
Aidan White of the International Federation of Journalists, based in Brussels, said on Wednesday: "The RSF is a fantastically successful organization in terms of exposing those governments that treat journalists in pretty nasty ways. You can only applaud their efforts and the more that is done the better." However, "sometimes there have been moments when our community and their network have not seen eye to eye. Sometimes there is not as much cooperation as there could be."
A spokesman for the UK's National Union of Journalists in London said on Wednesday: "It is very dangerous when press freedom organizations get themselves politically compromised by accepting payment from any government. It is really vital that all such organizations are truly independent."
With YouTube videos “debunking” allegations of human rights abuses and diatribes on Western “conspiracies” against China, an unlikely set of foreigners is loudly defending Beijing against international critics. They are teachers and business owners from the UK, Colombia and Singapore, a collage of YouTubers garnering fame for their video takedowns of what they say are unfair accusations against Beijing. Videos alternate between praise of China’s rapid development and rebuttals of negative foreign reports about the country. Experts say they are being deployed as a weapon in the information war against China’s critics, with hundreds of videos reaching millions of viewers. “I am trying to
Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators are difficult to find and there is no longer enough space at the main cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Mauritius. Barely three weeks before it fully opens its doors to international travelers at the start of the peak tourist season, the island nation is struggling with an alarming explosion in COVID-19 infections and deaths. In just two months, cases have jumped more than fivefold to more than 12,600 as of Friday, by far the largest increase across Africa during this period, data compiled by Agence France-Presse showed. Since the pandemic started, Mauritius has recorded 1,005 cases of COVID-19 per
ELEVATED PARTNERSHIP: The agreement enables Japan to share its equipment and technology, as the countries deepen defense ties amid China worries Japan is to give defense equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed on Saturday, as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China’s growing military influence. Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates the countries’ defense partnership “to a new level,” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, is to be worked out in subsequent talks, the ministry said. Kishi’s meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phan Van Giang in Hanoi
A city in southern China that is trying to contain a COVID-19 outbreak told the public on Sunday not to leave, suspended bus and train services, and closed cinemas, bars and other facilities. Anyone needing to leave Putian, a city of 2.9 million people in China’s Fujian Province, for an essential trip must have proof of a negative coronavirus test within the past 48 hours, the city government said. China declared the virus under control early last year, but has suffered outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. Authorities say that most cases have been traced to travelers arriving from