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Freedom of the Press: The Story of 4 Freed Journalists

Freedom of the PressThe work of journalists is vital in many societies. Unfortunately, journalists often put themselves at risk, even facing prosecution. The fact that reporters can face imprisonment for sharing information that authorities don’t want published underscores the necessity of their work. The lack of freedom of press continues to be a pressing issue, with 363 cases reported last year. On the bright side, however, there have been uplifting developments for freedom of the press, as journalists continue to push for freedom.

Roman Pratasevich’s Story

Roman Pratasevich, a journalist, reported on protests against the Belarusian government. This was considered a dictatorship despite the low poverty rate in the country. While covering the events, he used social media to share information. Following this, authorities diverted his plane and placed him under house arrest in 2021, charging him with 1500 offenses. Initially, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, but he was later pardoned and released.

Ali Latifi

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in 2021, the situation has become perilous for reporters. More than 200 press freedom violations have been documented. Ali Latifi, a renowned Afghan-American journalist, was recently detained for meeting with the brother of Afghanistan’s former leader. He was imprisoned in Kabul but was released after one day, following negotiations. Advocacy groups for press freedom celebrated his release while emphasizing that his arrest should never have happened.

Olivier Dubois

In March, pro-freedom of the press groups achieved a major victory when journalist Olivier Dubois and NGO leader Jeffrey Woodke were freed in Mali. Woodke had been imprisoned since 2016 and Dubois since 2021, both held captive by religious extremists affiliated with al-Qaeda. Reporters Without Borders made Dubois’s release a top priority, especially since he is a French journalist. Large rallies and advertisements were organized in support of Dubois’s freedom, with the government of Niger playing a role in the release. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed their freedom, prioritizing the release of political prisoners.

Siddique Kappan’s Case in India

In 2020, Indian Muslim journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested and his detainment involved various political factors, including his religion. He was traveling to report on the assault of a young Dalit woman. Dalits, who are traditionally from the lower class, face higher levels of poverty. While Kappan’s bail was granted by the courts, he remained imprisoned. In February, he was finally released after alleging torture and mistreatment during captivity. Despite the hardships he faced, Kappan remains determined to continue his work as a journalist.

Looking Ahead

Among these cases of freed journalists, a common theme emerges. Many of them were fighting against poverty and injustice in their societies. Although not all problems have been resolved, there are ongoing efforts that seek to address these issues.

– Josh Sobchak
Photo: Flickr