The crackdown of the past few days reveals that at least two of the core fears expressed by lawyers and the media industry were well-founded: first, the demise of source confidentiality and, secondly, a chilling effect on public interest journalism.
The 2019 Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence and created “an intense climate of fear” worldwide. According to the Paris-based nonprofit, 12 reporters have been killed so far this year and 172 are in jail. In the last decade, according to the group, 702 journalists have been killed, including 63 last year.
Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with a slew of Espionage Act violations that could keep him in prison for the rest of his life.
Thirty-nine journalists have been detained in Venezuela this year, far more than in any other Latin American country, according to the Caracas-based Institute for Press and Society. In this repressive environment, journalists are finding ways to avoid censorship and still cover the country’s crisis.
There has rightly been plenty of condemnation for the arrest of journalist Maria Ressa in the Philippines on February 13. Her news organisation, Rappler – which has been critical of the government – has been targeted and maligned for at least a year by an authoritarian but sensitive regime up to its neck in human rights violations.