JOURNALISTS can expect to face harassment and the threat of being targeted by cyber attacks while in Russia covering the World Cup, a shocking alert has claimed.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to defending freedom of the press, has released a safety alert to all reporters in Russia covering the games.
They warn journalists should be prepared for their hotels to be bugged and computers and phones to be targeted by hackers.
CPJ’s Emergencies Director, María Salazar-Ferro, told Express.co.uk: “Digital safety is the main concern for any journalist traveling to Russia to cover the World Cup.
“All reporters should assume that they are being monitored by local authorities, though those traveling from countries or working with outlets that have been critical of Russia are more likely to be under surveillance.”
While FIFA rules make it difficult for Vladimir Putin to block any individual journalist or specific media outlets from visiting the country to report on the games, the CPJ believe there is a risk of harassment and even a major data theft.
Advise issued to journalists reads: “Do not connect your devices to unknown computers and do not use phone chargers offered to you by others.
“It is common for hotel rooms and public areas to be bugged for sound and/or video; bear this in mind when in conversation or using a laptop.
“Avoid logging into personal accounts or any accounts that are not relevant for your work when in Russia.”
The organisation even warns security may be at risk in official media centres at stadiums hosting games in the tournament.
It said: “Public Wi-Fi spots, including in your hotel room and at media centres, are highly likely to be compromised. Use a mobile hotspot when possible.”