Human Rights

US highlights press freedom issues abroad, but not at home: Psaki

Jen-PsakiThe United States will keep on highlighting issues related to media freedom around the world, but will not emphasize on similar issues inside the country since the US does not have these problems, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says.

Psaki made the remarks on Friday as the State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign, which she said will focus on “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.”

She said that the issue of American whistleblowers falls in a “separate category” and the State Department will not discuss it.

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee asked Psaki if she believes there are some problems linked to freedom of press in the US that should be discussed as well.

“We highlight, as we often do, where we see issues with media freedom around the world,” Psaki told Lee.

“Otherwise harassed?” Lee asked. “Does that include those who may have been targeted, harassed, imprisoned, or otherwise, whatever, by the United States government?”

She did not provide a clear answer, so Lee asked explicitly whether Washington regards “attempting to prosecute American journalists as an infringement on press freedom?”

Psaki said she was “not sure” what the AP journalist was referring to exactly. So, Lee said there are in many such cases, but he was particularly referring to the “James Risen case.”

On Friday, the Justice Department called on the Supreme Court to reject New York Times correspondent James Risen’s petition on reporter’s privilege, which could send Risen to prison for not disclosing his source.

Lee asked Psaki if the State Department regards Risen’s case “as an infringement on press freedom or not,” saying, “And I would suspect that you do not, but I want to make sure that’s the case.”

“As you know, and I’ll of course refer to the Department of Justice, but the leaking of classified information is in a separate category. What we’re talking about here, as you all know, and unfortunately we have to talk about on a regular basis here, is the targeting of journalists,” Psaki answered, adding that that she is referring to “the arrests, the imprisonment, for simply exercising their ability to tell a story.”

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