Some of you may have heard about today's news from Moscow relating to the death of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, though it was hardly the lead item anywhere. Politkovskaya was murdered in October of 2006 while investigating corruption in her country, gunned down outside her apartment. She left behind two young children and many unanswered questions about who ordered her death and what she was investigating. A court in Moscow today acquited three men charged in her murder.
I mention the case of this brave Russian journalist because it's important for all who write about crime online, who investigate it and who offer up their perspectives to remember that we are dealing with unsavory elements who can be quite forceful in their reactions to our activities.
I think also of the Italian journalist Ilaria Alpi, who was murdered in Somalia in the early 1990s, along with her cameraman, while looking into the issue of toxic waste dumping off Somalia. Or the various Somali journalists killed or threatened in recent years, such as Sahal Abdulle, plus the plight of Kenyan anti-piracy expert Andrew Mwangura.
My point is that reporting on criminal activities, including piracy, is fraught with risks that many who blog about the issues never realize. I doubt most folks who write about piracy-related things have ever been faced with an armed man in a remote part of Southeast Asia, but I have. And I got lucky that night. Anna Politkovskaya didn't.
It's a small reality check about the reality of what we're dealing with here, and the possible consequences. But we cannot cease all our various efforts to continue to publicize the threat posed by criminals such as pirates. It is absolutely vital that the online community keeps this issue in the pubic domain. Do not shirk the responsibilities we face, nor become cowardly against our opponents.
There's a website for Anna Politkovskaya here.