World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2023
Journalism is not a crime
Journalists are the eyes and ears of society. With their work, they meet the need for democratic liberties, a need that can never be erased. They must be able to speak and write about matters of public interest without fear of interference, arrest or other forms of reprisal or persecution. Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International Writers in Prison Committee
The case of Australian publisher and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has become emblematic of the campaign for press freedom, particularly where journalists and publishers hold dear their right to reveal ‘inconvenient truths’ in the public interest. The threat to press freedom if the US prosecute the charges of espionage against Assange is undeniable.
On April 11 this year Julian Assange awoke to his fourth year of incarceration in the hellhole of His Majesty’s Belmarsh Prison. Let’s not forget that behind the prison walls is a man whose ‘crime’ was to expose the wrongdoings of state power. After serving a 50 weeks sentence for violating his bail terms Mr Assange has been held without charge, awaiting the outcome of his final appeal against extradition to the United States to face espionage charges.
PEN International has repeatedly called for the US to drop the charges against Julian Assange and withdraw the extradition request, and for the UK to stop the extradition and immediately release him from prison.
Prime Minister Albanesese put out a call that “Enough is enough”, however we have not seen any encouraging results. Assange supporters continue to call for urgent and decisive political intervention at the top level.
Julian Assange is an honorary member of PEN Melbourne.
Do you want to campaign for Julian Assange? Go to:
Journalists are the eyes and ears of society. With their work, they meet the need for democratic liberties, a need that can never be erased. They must be able to speak and write about matters of public interest without fear of interference, arrest or other forms of reprisal or persecution. Jimmy Lai is no exception to this. We stand by his side today and every day. Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Imprisoned Writers Committee
Take action today to free Jimmy Lai
Jimmy Lai is a veteran human rights activist, writer, and owner of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper, which was once regarded as Hong Kong’s most prolific pro-democracy news outlet before it was forced to close by the authorities on 24 June 2021. Lai has been continuously imprisoned since December 2020 following his initial detention in August 2020 on multiple charges for his journalism and activism. He is currently facing a potential life sentence. PEN International calls on the Hong Kong authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jimmy Lai, and to drop all charges against him. We also call on the authorities to abide by their international human rights obligations and uphold the right to freedom of expression for all.
Please take a few moments to write a message of solidarity and support to Jimmy Lai. Ask your members and supporter to do the same. Share our campaign posts on your social media, and encourage others to write messages of support to Jimmy Lai. Please use the hashtags #FreeJimmyLai #JimmyLai #WorldPressFreedomDay when posting. Please note: this solidarity action is in collaboration with English PEN’s PENWrites campaign.