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Reactions Abound When Trump's Request Have Journalist Jailed For Leaks Is Revealed

President Trump’s contempt for the free press is well known, but his desire to jail reporters who publish classified information has been described as “scary” and “bone-chilling.”

According to a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey about a meeting he had with Trump in February, Trump asked him to squelch an investigation of ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and the president also requested that Comey brings charges against journalists who publish classified information.

An excerpt from the memo: “Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.”

Joel Simon, who has been the executive director of Committee to Protect Journalists (an independent nonprofit dedicated to defending the rights of journalists around the world) since 2006, has been a leader in trying to protect press freedom in the digital space.
He recently spoke to a major media outlet about how Trump’s latest comments have changed from his anti-media campaign rhetoric and the consequences for the state of journalism in the US.

When asked about Trump’s statement regarding arresting journalists, Simon replied “…my immediate reaction is that it’s crazy and scary. It suggests that the kind of rhetorical attacks on the media that have become sort of background noise at this point — actually, there was an attempt by the president to translate those ideas into actions that could affect the ability of journalists to do their work.”

Simon was also asked if he still felt that President Trump was an “unprecedented threat to press freedom”: “Well, his language is unprecedented in terms of the way he talks about the media and views its role. The damage done by that language to rights of journalists around the world is very significant because he’s normalizing the kind of language that autocratic leaders generally use when they talk about the media. And when he met with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan yesterday, he completed what we call the “Press Freedom Violators” trifecta. He’s now met with the three leading jailers of journalists: He’s met with Erdoğan of Turkey, [President Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi of Egpyt and [President] Xi [Jinping] of China.”

Simon concluded with a warning of the importance of remaining vigilant about Trump’s attacks on the press: “In terms of journalists in the United States, let’s acknowledge that the attacks have been rhetorical. Journalists find that chilling, but for the most part they’re able to do their jobs. But this is an escalation, or a potential escalation, so the threat is very real. This is a reminder, and what hasn’t been borne out, yet it still something we need to be cognizant of.”

Source: Yahoo
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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