The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday said it was concerned that the British government had denied accreditation to Russian journalists who wanted to attend the global conference on media freedom taking place in London.
The CPJ said it has written to the British MP Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, to register its concern.
Joel Simon, CPJ Executive Director, wrote to Hunt saying: “I am writing to express my concern at your government’s decision to deny accreditation to the Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik to cover the global conference on media freedom taking place in London this week based on ‘their active role in spreading disinformation’.
“As you know, the CPJ defends the rights of journalists around the world to report the news and has been actively involved in supporting the conference which gets underway tomorrow.
“While we are well aware that both RT and Sputnik have broadcast disinformation, some of which has undermined democratic elections and put journalists at risk, we do not believe excluding them from covering the conference is an appropriate response.
“To the contrary, for the British government to deny access to RT and Sputnik, or any other news outlet, based on its determination that they constitute propaganda actually empowers autocratic governments around the world who use a similar rationale to justify repression of critical journalism.”
Simon noted that in November 2018, CPJ was awarded the Chatham House Prize in recognition of “our contribution” to the improvement of international relations.
He said in his acceptance speech, he noted: “There is a deliberate strategy underway to tempt the freedom of expression community, and liberal democracies more generally, to betray our principles.
“Adopting an ends-justify-the-means rationale to limit free expression only gives solace to tyrants and empowers those that seek to set this trap.”
In his letter to the British secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, Simon said by denying RT and Sputnik accreditation based on a determination that these outlets are a form of propaganda, “your government risks undermining the very principles of free expression that the conference was intended to promote. We urge you to reconsider your decision”.
On Friday, the UK Foreign Office announced that it had denied Russian media outlets accreditation to the global conference.
However, the British government has not yet made a public comment on the CPJ letter, dated July 9.
– African News Agency (ANA)