“Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truths. The theme of this 26th celebration is “media for democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”.”

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

At least 95 journalists were killed last year during the course of their work, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).-BBC

Julian Assange

“Today the US extradition case against our publisher Julian Assange formally begins in British courts, but this extradition case actually started in 2010”. (Wikileaks Facebook). He has been given a 50 weeks prison sentence by a U.K. Court (two short of the maximum possible sentence) for skipping bail which it is widely regarded as giving enough time to facilitate the extradition process to the US. Although the charges relate to a hacking offence (assisting Chelsea Manning to obtain military documents. At present she is also in jail for refusing to give evidence against Assange), the US is likely to add other more serious charges, such as spying, which would mean a much longer prison sentence or even the death penalty, once Assange is extradited. “I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many people,” said Assange.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K. Labour Party tweeted: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”

IFJ executive committee adopts motion in support of Julian Assange.

Noam Chomsky for Democracy Now! “Well, the Assange arrest is scandalous in several respects. One of them is just the effort of governments—and it’s not just the U.S. government. The British are cooperating. Ecuador, of course, is now cooperating. Sweden, before, had cooperated. The efforts to silence a journalist who was producing materials that people in power didn’t want the rascal multitude to know about—OK?—that’s basically what happened. WikiLeaks was producing things that people ought to know about those in power. People in power don’t like that, so therefore we have to silence it. OK? This is the kind of thing, the kind of scandal, that takes place, unfortunately, over and over.”

“UN calls for Julian Assange’s release from UK high-security jail

“The WikiLeaks publisher was jailed for 50 weeks on Wednesday for breaking bail conditions imposed seven years earlier by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“The UN working group on arbitrary detention (WGAD) said it was deeply concerned by the “disproportionate sentence” imposed on Assange for violating the terms of his bail, which it described as a “minor violation”. The Guardian