Tuesday, October 31, 2006

North Korea and United States re: Press Freedom

Reporters Without Borders has issued its fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index and North Korea has won the distinction of being the worst violator of press freedom (listed at the bottom of the Index at 168th place). Not a surprise.

The United States is at 53rd place, having fallen nine places since last year. And this is after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index (2002).

Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts, which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognize the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Among them, freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

“The steady erosion of press freedom in the United States, France and Japan is extremely alarming,” Reporters Without Borders said.

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