Biden Demands Release of Imprisoned American Journalists

On World Press Freedom Day, President Biden called for the release of imprisoned journalists, including three American reporters detained in Russia and Syria. He condemned the imprisonment of over 300 journalists worldwide in 2023, one of the deadliest years on record.

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Biden Demands Release of Imprisoned American Journalists

Biden Demands Release of Imprisoned American Journalists

On World Press Freedom Day, US President Joe Biden called for the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists imprisoned for doing their jobs, including three American reporters detained in Russia and Syria. The President emphasized the importance of a free press in democracy and condemned the imprisonment of over 300 journalists worldwide in 2023, one of the deadliest years for journalists on record.

Why this matters: The persecution of journalists has far-reaching consequences for global democracy and freedom of expression, as it can lead to the suppression of critical information and the erosion of trust in institutions. Moreover, the detention of journalists can embolden authoritarian regimes and create a chilling effect on investigative reporting, ultimately threatening the accountability of those in power.

Among the detained American journalists are Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal jailed in Russia since March 2023 on espionage charges, which he, his employer, and the US government deny. Alsu Kurmasheva, a Prague-based editor at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has also been jailed in Russia for over six months, accused of failing to self-register as a "foreign agent" and spreading false information about the Russian military.

President Biden declared, "Journalism should not be a crime anywhere on Earth." He announced that the US administration will soon take concrete steps, including sanctions and visa bans, against those who take abusive actions to silence the press. The President emphasized that the repression of press freedom is a "grave threat" to America's national security.

The President also mentioned Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist kidnapped and held in Syria since 2012. The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has contributed to 2023 being the deadliest period for journalists since the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) began gathering data in 1992, with at least 97 journalists killed.

Press freedom experts are concerned about the safety of reporters and potentially harmful effects on press freedom in the lead-up to national elections in 2024, in which about half of the world's population will vote. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its annual press freedom index, ranking 180 countries and territories in terms of media freedom, with Norway and Denmark topping the list this year.

As President Biden stated,"We're so proud of him. I can't believe he's holding up so well. And he works so, so hard to be able to keep his spirits up,"referring to detained journalist Evan Gershkovich. The President's call for the release of imprisoned journalists on World Press Freedom Day underscores the critical role of a free press in democracy and the urgent need to protect journalists worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • President Biden calls for immediate release of imprisoned journalists worldwide.
  • Over 300 journalists imprisoned globally in 2023, one of the deadliest years on record.
  • Three American journalists detained in Russia and Syria, including Evan Gershkovich and Austin Tice.
  • Biden announces sanctions and visa bans against those who silence the press.
  • 2023 is deadliest year for journalists, with at least 97 killed, mostly in Israel-Hamas conflict.