Citizens, journalists, artists, human rights organisations and journalists’ unions gathered on January 29th in Brussels to call on the Belgian government to do its utmost to protect Julian Assange and impede his extradition to the United States.
The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) joined the two Belgian civil society organisations, Carta Academica and Belgium4Assange, in two public actions organised in Brussels to defend freedom of expression, freedom of the press and our right to know in general, and Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Sarah Harrison and Edward Snowden in particular.
The change of year has not meant a change of circumstances for the 177 journalists who, according to The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), spent New Year’s Eve in prison. Following reports from the EFJ national affiliates, 177 journalists spent New Year’s Eve in prison in Europe: 159 in Turkey; 11 in Azerbaijan; 5 in Russia; 2 in Ukraine. In Turkey, a significant number of journalists continued to be detained on charges related to alleged terrorism, while others convicted in 2018 received heavy imprisonment sentences, including life sentences. According to the EFJ no progress has been recorded concerning journalists currently serving life-imprisonment or very long imprisonment sentences and they have issued a strong call for release of all imprisoned journalists in Europe.
A report published by the US Pew Research Centre http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2018/05/10185248/PJ_2018.05.14_Western-Europe_FINAL.pdf found that less that half the adults in the UK say that the news media is doing a good job at getting the facts right, the worst trustworthiness rate in Western Europe! The report was published at the same time as the House of Commons rejected the call to hold part two of the Leveson Inquiry into the conduct of the media which included a number of new provisions including an investigation into the dissemination of information and news, including false news stories.