Okke Ornstein in the news

Protesters demand the release of Okke Ornstein

Journalists aren’t supposed to be the subject of news themselves, but that’s exactly what happened to Ornstein when he became one of the 259 journalists worldwide who were imprisoned in 2016.

Okke Ornstein was detained and arrested upon arriving at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. He faced a 20-month sentence for libel and slander pertaining to articles he posted on his Bananama Republic blog about the dubious business activities of a Canadian citizen in Panama.

It wasn’t the first time that Ornstein faced threats in Panama for his reporting. In 2003, the free press organization IFEX expressed concerns about threats against him and another journalist for exposing fraud. His work continues to draw smear campaigns by shady types who don’t want the journalism spotlight shining on their nefarious activities.

Organizations that called for Ornstein’s release: Transparency International, the International Federation of Journalists, NVJ (Dutch Association of Journalists), the Committee to Protect Journalists, La Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, Fahmy Foundation, Reporters Without Borders.

News coverage — some of it — of Ornstein’s prosecution, detention, and subsequent release: