Watchdog names 40 ‘predators of the press’

PARIS, May 3, 2010 (AFP) – Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders named Monday 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 Raul 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