Violence is the most basic and blunt form of press censorship. To kill or imprison a journalist is to silence the public’s source of news. To date, 33 journalists around the world have been killed this year and another 494 are currently imprisoned, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Put another way, thus far in 2022, on average, once per week somewhere in the world a journalist is killed for reporting the news. Sometimes these cases make headlines, as was true in October 2018 when Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist who reported for the Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, was murdered by agents of the Saudi government, and in May 2022 when Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed—almost certainly by Israeli soldiers—in the occupied West Bank while reporting for Al Jazeera.
Freedom of the Press
The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday called for authorities to drop charges against members of the news media who were arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests across the United States. More than 600 attacks against the press during the protests, ongoing since the end of May, have been reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, and many detained journalists were released without charges, according to CPJ.
In its push to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the U.K., the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday published a superseding indictment aimed at broadening “the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged.” The names of certain organizations and individuals are masked, including that of a paid FBI informant who stole money from WikiLeaks and later confessed to having sex with nine underage boys in exchange for money and other valuables. A decent chunk of the filing relates to Chelsea Manning, her interactions with Assange and other possible ties to known WikiLeaks associates, which serve as the foundation for the bulk of the charges against Assange, including multiple counts of espionage.
The Justice Department on Wednesday said it had filed a second superseding indictment against imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, adding to existing computer intrusion charges. “The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019,” the DOJ said in a press release. “It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged,” the release said. “According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks.”
Journalist and photographer Linda Tirado was standing near a police line in Minneapolis May 29, covering the George Floyd protests engulfing the city. All of a sudden, her face “exploded” in her own words. She had been shot from close range in the eye, permanently blinding her. Her goggles shattered and tear gas entered the wound, causing even more pain. The police had shot her. Protestors pulled her away from her attackers, put her into a vehicle and drove her to the hospital where they were unable to save her eye, but were able to give her a $58,000 bill, likely the first of many. Now, in a wide-ranging interview with writer Luke O’Neil, she spoke out about the ordeal, brutal policing, and the state of America today.
On Monday, Free Press Action released a comprehensive series of policy recommendations that Congress should adopt to save local journalism and put tens of thousands of reporters back to work during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal, What a Journalism-Recovery Package Should Look Like During the COVID-19 Crisis, includes billions in direct and indirect subsidies to journalists, as well as increases in federal support for public-media institutions that would protect a significant number of local reporting jobs. Among the immediate recommendations are direct emergency payments to newsroom workers, news-outlet tax credits to retain and boost the number of newsroom jobs, increased public-media funding, and accelerated federal-ad spending.
Hearings in the extradition of WikiLeaks founder, publisher, and editor Julian Assange will resume in September after being postponed from May 18 because of the coronavirus outbreak which would have prevented lawyers from attending the hearing. he parties agreed September 7 as the earliest date for the hearings to resume, although an exact date and an appropriate venue were yet to be decided. Assange was not able to attend Monday's hearing via videolink because he was ill. Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief called the hearing a disgrace and said it was unacceptable for Assange to be held in prison until September.
For the first time in history, a publisher and editor has been charged under the Espionage Act. The prosecution of Julian Assange is an attack on Freedom of the Press that will make it less likely that the media will critically cover actions of the government especially when it comes to military and intelligence activities. This indictment is a blow to our right to know and undermines Constitutional guarantees. The superseding indictment announced today against Assange includes 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act involving the unlawful obtaining and disclosure of national defense information.
Suzie Dawson is a long time political activist who deserves our support. She is currently leading efforts to defend Julian Assange for his work as publisher of Wikileaks. See Unity4J at https://twitter.com/Unity4J and join the weekly Friday night web vigils. In the article below she describes the character assassination attacks against her. Dawson is a New Zealand journalist who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.
Lawyers for Julian Assange have filed an urgent application to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), based in Washington D.C., to direct the Trump Administration to unseal the charges it has secretly filed against Mr. Assange. Assange's lawyers are also asking the Commission to compel Ecuador to cease its espionage activities against Mr. Assange, to stop the isolation imposed on him and to protect him from U.S. extradition.
UN human rights experts today repeated a demand that the UK abides by its international obligations and immediately allows Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been for over 6 years, fearing arrest by British authorities if he leaves, and extradition to the US.
I have contacted the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) several times by phone, email and through Twitter over the past few weeks, asking them why I have not found any comment from them denouncing Moreno’s silencing of Assange, explicitly on political grounds. When I finally reached a CPJ official by phone, I was told me they have “reported” on Assange’s case. No kidding. What they haven’t ever done is denounce Moreno’s ruthlessness towards Assange.
More than 300 media outlets are standing up to what they describe as Donald Trump's war on the free press and declaring in unison, 'We are not the enemy.' Below is a statement from the executive director of the Institute for Nonprofit News, Sue Cross. Websites like Popular Resistance, are part of the people's media. We cover issues not widely covered in the corporate media, i.e. the popular movement for transformative change in the US and around the world. Social media is a major part of the people's media but it relies on corporations like Facebook and Google to provide access. There is a crisis in 21st Century journalism and it is bigger than Trump rhetoric, as bad as his rhetoric is.
Assange has ended up standing at a crossroads in the history of our freedoms: specifically, at what point does the right of the people to know outweigh the right of the government to keep information from view? The question isn’t new, but it has become acute in the digital age when physical documents no longer need to be copied one-by-one, can be acquired by hackers on the other side of the world, and are far removed from the traditions, obstacles, safeguards, and often-dangerous self-restraint of traditional journalism. If Assange becomes the first successful prosecution of a third party under the Espionage Act, whether as a journalist or not, the government will turn that precedent into a weapon to attack the media’s role in any national security case. On the other hand, if Assange leaves London for asylum in Ecuador, that will empower new journalists to provide evidence when a government serves its people poorly and has no interest in being held accountable.