Journalists group outgoing director warns of increasing threats to media

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The outgoing director of the Committee to Protect Journalists is warning of increasing threats against the media, The New York Times reported Wednesday. 

Joel Simon said in an interview that he’s worried about the growing number of journalists being detained and imprisoned, noting that governments are being more aggressive toward members of the media.

“Governments are increasingly taking aggressive action toward journalists, and there are very few consequences,” Simon told the Times. “During the Trump administration, we saw a connection in governments appropriating ‘fake news’ and use it to justify imprisoning journalists. We’ve also seen governments brazenly use violence.”

Simon cited the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, in 2018 and the forcing down of a plane carrying Roman Protasevich, an anti-government activist, by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in May. 

Simon also said he found it problematic that journalists covering protests and demonstrations in the U.S. have been arrested.

“When journalists get arrested at protests in the United States, those images echo around the world and they send a message to so many places that this is the way police behave even in democratic countries,” Simon said. “And therefore, arresting journalists at protests in Moscow or covering protests in Myanmar, which we’re seeing now, is less shocking and generates less attention.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization founded in 1981, defends the rights of journalists around the world. The Times reported that 274 journalists were imprisoned and 22 were killed in 2020.

Simon, who joined the organization in 1997 and became director in 2006, will be succeeded by a person chosen by the committee’s board chairwoman, Kathleen Carroll.

Tags Belarus Jamal Khashoggi The Committee to Protect Journalists

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