Legal Environment: 4
Political Influences: 12
Economic Pressures: 5
Total Score: 21
Life Expectancy: 80
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (94 percent), other (6 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Mediterranean and Nordic
Freedom of speech is protected by law and is generally respected in practice. However, concerns for press freedom include antiterror legislation and high awards in defamation suits against journalists. In November 2005, the national court began hearing appeals by journalists of the Basque-language daily Euskalunon Egunkaria who were charged in December 2004 by lower court judge Juan Del Olmo with creating an "illegal association" and some of them with "membership of a terrorist group" as well. In 2003, the newspaper was shut down under suspicion of collaborating with the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA, or Basque Fatherland and Freedom). The journalists, who are all free on bail, face prison terms ranging from 1 to 14 years. According to Reporters Sans Frontieres, the same judge had the Egunkaria group's accounts frozen and demanded that the company be liquidated. In October 2005, more than 60 members of the Spanish Parliament called on the government to drop the entire case against Egunkaria. In the past, the ETA has waged a campaign of fear targeted against journalists who oppose its separatist views in the disputed region, but there were no known attacks on journalists in the country by the ETA in 2005.
Media run into difficulties after reporting on certain taboo subjects, especially terrorism. In fact, the year was dominated by disputes between the media and the government over this subject. In a high-profile case, Spain jailed Tayseer Alouni, a former Al-Jazeera journalist, for collaborating with a terrorist organization. Alouni, a Syrian-born Spanish citizen and former prominent and popular correspondent for the Qatar-based news network, was sentenced in September 2005 to seven years in prison for acting as a financial courier to al-Qaeda. Alouni has denied the charges. Spain has a free and lively press, with more than 100 newspapers that cover a wide range of perspectives and are active in investigating high-level corruption. However, daily newspaper ownership is concentrated within large media groups like Prisa and Zeta. The internet is unrestricted by the government, but the percentage of the population that accessed the internet in 2005 was one of the lowest in Western Europe at only 38 percent of the population.
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