In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. Today, the coalition is issuing its monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice.
This “10 Most Urgent” list focuses on missing journalists. Globally 64 journalists are missing, according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which launched a #MissingNotForgotten campaign on August 30 to share their stories and to pressure authorities to continue investigating their disappearances. The pandemic has slowed or stopped several of the cases’ investigations.
Here’s September’s list, ranked in order of urgency:
Prageeth Eknelygoda, a cartoonist and columnist for online news outlet Lanka eNews, was last seen by his wife and two teenage sons as he left his house for work 10 years ago. Ahead of the 2010 presidential election, staff of Lanka eNews faced intimidation for its opposition to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. Last year the attorney general indicted seven individuals over Eknelygoda’s abduction, and the trial is ongoing. In the past six months, Eknelygoda’s wife, Sandya, said she believed witnesses in the case were being intimidated, and threats to her and surveillance of her family had increased.
Daysi Lizeth Mina Huamán was last seen waiting for a bus on January 26, on her way to meet her boyfriend after voting in Peru’s congressional elections and filing a report for television broadcaster Cable VRAEM in the central city of Ayacucho. About a week after the disappearance, family members found her identity card and other personal documents along the side of a road between the bus stop and her destination.
In December 2014, members of the Islamic State militant group abducted two freelance journalists working for the Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw TV. The journalists had been driving to interview a local political leader when armed men stopped the vehicle, examined the occupants’ phones and laptops, and forced them at gunpoint to drive to the town of Tel Hamis, where they were imprisoned. An Islamic State court sentenced them to death by beheading. Cameraman Massoud Aqeel, who was later released in a prisoner swap, last saw reporter Farhad Hamo being taken away from Raqqa’s prison in March 2015.
4. Vladijmir Legagneur (Haiti)
Investigation stalled two years after photojournalist’s disappearance.
Freelance photojournalist Vladjimir Legagneur was last seen by his wife in March 2018 after he left their Port-au-Prince home. According to a colleague, Legagneur was working on an independent project in Grand-Ravine, known for high rates of violent gang activity. A police spokesperson said he “feared a fatal outcome” after skeletal remains and a hat were found that month near the site of Legagneur’s disappearance, but officials never announced conclusive results from collected evidence and DNA tests. There is no indication of any further investigation.
María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, a mother of two, was last seen leaving her home in the central state of Michoacán in November 2009. She reported for regional news outlets, including Zamora-based daily El Diario de Zamora and regional daily Cambio de Michoacán, and tended to focus on organized crime and local corruption, sometimes omitting her byline out of awareness of possible reprisal. In the weeks before she vanished, Aguilar’s coverage included police abuse allegations and the military’s anti-cartel efforts. According to CPJ data, at least 14 journalists are currently missing in Mexico.