Tag Archives: Press Freedom

US Lawmakers Want to Bar Using Espionage Act to Target Journalists

“When one journalist is prosecuted for doing his or her job, that’s a threat to all journalists,” said Rep. Ro Khanna.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 7-27-2022 by Common Dreams

A trio of congressional lawmakers reintroduced the Espionage Reform Act on Wednesday to prevent reporters from being prosecuted for publishing classified information—a common journalistic practice used to expose government wrongdoing.

Unveiled by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), the measure aims to narrow the scope of the 105-year-old Espionage Act and similar laws enacted during the First World War—ostensibly to protect the United States from spies but, according to critics, to criminalize anti-war dissent, resulting in the imprisonment of nearly a thousand people, including leading socialist Eugene Debs. Continue reading

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‘Fox News Model’ Fomenting Divisions Within Democratic Societies, Global Watchdog Warns

“The ‘Fox News-ization’ of the media poses a fatal danger for democracies because it undermines the basis of civil harmony and tolerant public debate,” said the leader of Reporters Without Borders.

By Kenny Stancil   Published 5-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Members of Truth Tuesdays and Rise and Resist gathered at the first weekly “Fox Lies Democracy Dies” protest outside the NewsCorp Building in New York City on November 23, 2021. Photo: Diane Greene Lent/flickr/CC

A global press freedom watchdog group warned Tuesday in its annual report that media polarization within and between countries—driven by the rapid spread of right-wing disinformation on social media and the proliferation of pro-authoritarian propaganda—is “fueling increased tension” and escalating the likelihood of violence.

The 20th World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) assesses the state of journalism around the globe. The 2022 edition details the “disastrous effects of news and information chaos”—the product of “a globalized and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda.” Continue reading

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2021 Saw Record ‘Surge’ of 488 Journalists Detained Worldwide, Report Reveals

“The extremely high number of journalists in arbitrary detention is the work of three dictatorial regimes.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-16-2021 by Common Dreams

The president of IJAVN Pham Chi Dung (right), its vice president Nguyen Tuong Thuy (left), and its editor Le Huu Minh Tuan (center, back) are seen during their trial in Ho Chi Minh City’s people’s court in Vietnam. (Photo: Luat Khoa/RSF)

Reporters Without Borders announced Thursday that this year has featured a 20% surge in the number of journalists arbitrarily detained worldwide, documenting at least 488 cases, the highest figure since the global press freedom group began its annual roundup in 1995.

There are also at least 65 journalists being held hostage around the world, according to the group, also known by its French name, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF). Continue reading

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Incarceration of Journalists Hits All-Time High Amid ‘Growing Intolerance of Independent Reporting’

“This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-9-2021 by Common Dreams

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an imprisoned journalist, a native of Philadelphia, and author of ten books penned in prison. He’s been in prison for 39 years. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

Nearly 300 journalists are currently languishing behind bars around the globe—an all-time high in recorded history—according to a new report published Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which described 2021 as “an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom.”

The U.S.-based nonprofit’s annual prison census found that 293 reporters were incarcerated worldwide as of December 1, up from the previous record-high of 280 last year. Continue reading

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Nobel Peace Prize for journalists serves as reminder that freedom of the press is under threat from strongmen and social media

When the reporter becomes the story.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

 

Kathy Kiely, University of Missouri-Columbia

Thirty-two years ago next month, I was in Germany reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event then heralded as a triumph of Western democratic liberalism and even “the end of history.”

But democracy isn’t doing so well across the globe now. Nothing underscores how far we have come from that moment of irrational exuberance than the powerful warning the Nobel Prize Committee felt compelled to issue on Oct. 8, 2021 in awarding its coveted Peace Prize to two reporters. Continue reading

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Press Freedom Advocates Condemn ‘Reckless’ US Shutdown of Iranian News Sites

“These are not actions of good faith negotiators.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2021

Attempts in the United States to access some websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government were met with this message on June 22, 2021. (Photo: screenshot)

Press freedom advocates fumed Tuesday as U.S. authorities without immediate explanation reportedly blocked stateside access to numerous news websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government.

An unnamed U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that around three dozen websites were seized due to their alleged dissemination of “disinformation.” Continue reading

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Israeli Bombs Destroy Gaza Media Center; AP, Al-Jazeera, Others Taken Out

Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting.

By Common Dreams  Published 5-15-2021

Photo: Evakatrina/Twitter

Israeli bombs destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting from Gaza amid its military bombardment. The  Israeli air raid totally demolished the structure. Continue reading

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‘An Outrage’: Trump-Appointed Head of Global News Agency Won’t Extend Visas for Foreign Journalists

“It is appalling that the VOA’s new boss could be so reckless about the safety of journalists,” said PEN America.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-10-2020

Photo: Voice of America (Public Domain)

Dozens of foreign journalists are expected to be sent back to their home countries from the U.S. following a decision on Thursday by the newly appointed head of the federal government’s global news agency to not renew their visas.

As Common Dreams reported, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) was taken over last month by Michael Pack, a close ally of Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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‘Targeted by My Own Government’: Journalists Sue Trump DHS Over ‘Coordinated Attack’ on Press Freedom

“This interference effectively prevented me and other journalists from carrying out our reporting at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-21-2019

“When I saw my photo crossed out in a secret government database, I realized the secondary screening and interrogation wasn’t random,” said photojournalist Bing Guan. “I was being targeted by my own government for reporting on conditions at the border.” (Image: NBC7 San Diego via ACLU)

Five journalists who were tracked, detained, and interrogated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for reporting on conditions at the southern border in 2018 and 2019 brought a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday for what the ACLU called an “unprecedented, coordinated attack on the freedom of the press.”

The national ACLU, joined by chapters in New York and California, filed the suit (pdf) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of Bing Guan, Go Nakamura, Mark Abramson, Kitra Cahana, and Ariana Drehsler. The five are all U.S. citizens who traveled to Mexico as professional photojournalists. Continue reading

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