Park Jung-kyu, Chairman of Free Press Forum(FPF) / CEO of WikiLeaks Korea
Whether in the East or the West, during the Middle Ages when regimes were maintained by force, citizens were not allowed to criticize the regime for their misdeeds.
With the spread of democracy in the 20th century, the voices of citizens were heard in newspapers and broadcast, and in the recent 30 years, the internet has expanded rapidly as well, leading to a "golden age of the press”.
However, today, freedom of the press is under serious attack around the world. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 363 journalists were imprisoned worldwide at the end of last year for their efforts to report the truth.
Journalists are under serious threats in many parts of the world, and the strategic spread of disinformation to take them down is rampant.
‘Truth’ is threatened by disinformation and hate speech that seek to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and between science and conspiracy.
Journalists are routinely harassed, threatened, detained, and imprisoned.
Evan Gershkovich, reporter at The Wall Street Journal, has been detained in Russia since his arrest in April on espionage charges. The Russian authorities allege that he collected classified information on the activities of companies in Russia's military industrial complex at the direction of the United States.
Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, chairman of Next Media Group, which publishes the anti-China newspaper, Apple Daily, has been arrested by Chinese police for leading the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Australian citizen Julian Assange is currently imprisoned in the Belmarsh Prison in London and he fights against extradition to the United States. In 2010, Assange exposed classified US government documents and revealed its crimes. As a result, the US government filed charges against him and requested the UK government to extradite him.
In a statement released this year, organizations including the International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, and Australia's Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) called Assange's detention "the most dangerous threat to press freedom today. The prosecution of Assange has shaken America's reputation as one of the safest places in the world for freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
The bigger problem is that 'censorship' is becoming increasingly common around the world. Governments are legislating censorship in order to preserve power and prevent their corruption from being exposed.
The world's freedom depends on freedom of the press. The press is the foundation of democracy and justice, and the lifeblood of human rights.Without freedom of the press, humanity cannot progress.