Jeffrey Gedmin

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The day after Christmas, armed police in Azerbaijan’s capital raided and ransacked the bureau of congressionally funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). After being detained for several hours, RFE/RL reporters and editors were released, although at least 10 have since been summoned to a prosecutor’s office for questioning. Police are going to the homes of former employees as well, taking people off for interrogation in the night. Authorities in Azerbaijan say the measures are part of an ongoing investigation connected to Azeri laws on foreign funding of nongovernmental organizations.

The government of strongman Ilham Aliyev has been intensifying its campaign against civil society groups and independent media, and against RFE/RL specifically: Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has been jailed since Dec.…  Seguir leyendo »

A decade ago in Berlin, a well-informed source cautioned me, half tongue-in-cheek, against holding meetings in a certain hotel not far from the Brandenburg Gate. It seems that an U.S. trade delegation had stayed there not long before and prepared a negotiating strategy late into the night, only to sense in talks the next day that, as my friend put it, “It was as if the Germans had been a fly on the wall the previous evening.”

Nations spy on each other. Allies spy on allies, too, even if they don’t like to admit it. The United States, France and Israel may lead the pack in this regard, but even Germany spies on its friends, the United States included.…  Seguir leyendo »

This spring, Pakistan’s Parliament signed into law an amendment that purged the country’s 1973 Constitution of all democracy-limiting provisions. The work that led up to the agreement — negotiations that included industrialists, landowners and Islamists, as well as Baluchi and Pashtun tribal leaders — was itself a feat of democratic consensus building.

“This is a landmark in Pakistan’s constitutional history,” a leading parliamentarian told one of us at that time. Can Pakistan become a democracy?

Through one lens the picture looks bleak. Terrorism, poverty, crippling energy shortages and weak civilian institutions are reminders that a stable democratic system and a durable democratic culture will be difficult to establish.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last fall, Alisher Saipov, a human rights reporter for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was denounced by Uzbekistan's state-controlled media. Not long afterward, the 26-year-old journalist was fatally shot in front of his office in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Human rights groups believe that Saipov, an ethnic Uzbek who was born in Kyrgyzstan and lived there, was killed by the ruthless security services of neighboring Uzbekistan.

Last month, the Uzbek media were again stirring up trouble. State television smeared the entire Uzbek service of RFE/RL, denouncing its journalists as criminals and airing broadcasters' photographs as well as private information about their family members, including home addresses.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our reporter Parnaz Azima finally made it out of Iran yesterday. Iranian authorities, who had blocked her exit from the country since January, returned her passport two weeks ago but then proceeded to create a series of bureaucratic obstacles that prevented her from returning to her family and colleagues. Azima, who has U.S. and Iranian dual citizenship, works for Radio Farda, the Persian-language broadcast service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the congressionally funded broadcasters based in Prague.

Azima is one of Iran's best-known literary translators. She is famous for her translations of Ernest Hemingway's works. In January she traveled to Tehran to visit her ailing 94-year-old mother and unwittingly became ensnared in a larger game being played by Iran's regime.…  Seguir leyendo »