The public’s right to know is in grave jeopardy as journalists – locally, nationally and globally – face shocking levels of government interference and intimidation.
The recent detention of the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald at Britain’s Heathrow Airport, and the seizure of his laptop, cellphone and other materials, is only the latest high-profile example of authorities’ abuse of power.
In the United States, revelations about federal authorities tracking journalists’ cell phone records and even their movements have had a chilling effect on reporters and potential whistleblowers. A New York Times reporter is being threatened with jail if he refuses to disclose the source of a leak.
In cities across the country, police have become almost brazen in arresting photographers and journalists simply doing their jobs at crime scenes and public protests. In July, a Guild-represented photojournalist in Detroit was arrested for photographing an arrest scene on a public street. She was detained for 6.5 hours and her cell phone, which she was using to take photos, was confiscated. When it was returned, her SIM card was missing.
The United States should be ashamed of the example it is setting for the rest of the world with regard to press freedoms and the public’s right to know. One has to wonder if Britain would have detained David Miranda in the absence of the U.S. campaign to crack down on truth-tellers.
We will not stand by and allow the United States to go further down this dangerous road. We will redouble our efforts to fight these attacks on freedom, engaging our members, our allies and the public at large.
We will make sure the public fully understands that this fight isn’t about special treatment for journalists, that everyone’s freedoms are under assault.