15:21 Jun. 1, 2016
NYT journalist writes that Ukraine must not sacrifice press freedom in its struggle to survive war
In July 2014, I went to Donetsk, a separatist-controlled region in eastern Ukraine, to cover the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It was a dangerous place at the time. The Ukrainian military and the rebels were shelling each other, and temperamental men with Kalashnikovs who had been known to kidnap journalists were everywhere.
Like many foreign reporters, I was there to relay what was happening to the remains of the downed flight's 298 passengers and crew members. Before I went to the crash site, I obtained accreditation from the separatists. This did not guarantee that I would be safe, but it was the only way to get past the armed checkpoints.
Now Ukraine has labeled me an accomplice in terrorism.
On May 7, the website Mirotvorets ("Peacemaker"), courtesy of anonymous hackers, published part of the separatists' accreditation records. My name, email address and phone number were among those of more than 4,000 journalists, including freelancers like me, as well as correspondents from this newspaper, Reuters, the BBC and other outlets. We were collectively labeled "terrorist collaborators" for gaining accreditation from the separatists. The list's publishers claimed not to know what the consequences would be of releasing this information, but it seemed clear that the intent was to encourage people to take action against the journalists on their own.