Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Press Freedom Under Fire: "In 2002, a full 1,420 journalists were kidnapped, beaten or detained across the globe, and RSF concludes, "The fight against terrorism launched by the United States and its allies after the 11 September attacks damaged freedom of the press. Many governments stepped up and justified their repression of opposition or independent voices using anti-terrorism as an excuse."

"Just last month, Austrian lifestyle-magazine reporter Peter Krobath flew to Los Angeles to interview Ben Affleck about his latest film. Despite having media credentials and a press junket invitation, Krobath was detained at LAX and interrogated for five hours. He was then body-searched, handcuffed, placed in isolation and taken to a downtown prison where he spent the night in a cell with 45 others, including convicted criminals. Only after the Austrian consulate intervened was Krobath released from prison and placed on the first flight back to Vienna. Krobath's crime? He didn't have a special visa for foreign journalists planning to cover news stories in the States. The catch? No embassies or consulates had been told about this new regulation, so foreign media groups couldn't prepare their staff members."

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