Trump’s rhetoric ‘makes journalists vulnerable to abuse,’ says Amal Clooney | freedom of the press
Lawyer Amal Clooney has joined Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in criticizing Donald Trump’s attacks on the media, saying the US president has emboldened individuals who wish to persecute journalists.
“The country of James Madison today has a leader who vilifies the media, making honest journalists around the world more vulnerable to abuse,” Clooney said, referring to the former president who helped ensure that the freedom of speech is enshrined in the US Constitution.
Hunt, who appeared alongside Clooney at a media freedom conference in central London, also criticized Trump for calling journalists “enemies of the people”.
“I wouldn’t use the language used by President Trump and I wouldn’t agree with him,” he said. “We must remember that what we say can have an impact in other countries where we cannot take freedom of the press for granted.”
The couple were speaking at the Global Media Freedom Conference, an event organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in coordination with the Canadian government.
Hunt, who will likely be in his final weeks as foreign secretary regardless of the outcome of the Tory leadership race, said he hoped the event would become annual and announced additional funding of £600,000 a year to provide support and training to journalists around the world. world. “Freedom of the media is not a western value but a universal value. It frees a society from abuse of power,” he said.
However, the event also showed some of the contradictions inherent in the government calling for freedom of the press while maintaining close relations with governments like that of Saudi Arabia, which was implicated in the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“We have to be honest that we have a lot of priorities,” admitted Hunt. “It’s our job to create jobs for people and protect security. How you get results will differ by country. In some countries it is right to denounce publicly, in others through private contacts. The main thing is that you do something, not nothing.
He said a free press leads to better government and on Sunday defended the Mail’s right to publish the leaked diplomatic cables that led to the departure of US Ambassador Kim Darroch: “I deplore these leaks. I defend to the end the right of the press to publish them if it receives them.
Clooney, who was appointed earlier this year by Hunt as the UK government’s media freedom envoy, also said the UK itself was far from perfect, pointing to the recent arrest of two Northern Irish journalists who were investigating police collusion with murderers.
She also said governments must exert appropriate diplomatic pressure on other countries that persecute journalists and not just pretend to defend press freedom. “Signing pledges and making speeches is not enough. States must ensure that when a journalist is attacked, that crime is investigated and held accountable.
“Last year, when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured to death and dismembered by Saudi officials in Istanbul, world leaders responded with a simple collective shrug.”
In a sign of the changing media environment, the conference was held in a building in London’s docks that once housed the printing presses of the Daily Mail, but has since been converted into clubbing and event space.
Kremlin-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik were banned from the event by the Foreign Office, although representatives of Canadian anti-Islam outlet Rebel Media were present, repeatedly painting messages of support for their employee Tommy Robinson – his real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who faces jail after being found in contempt of court for reporting on a trial, on an ‘interactive mural’ celebrating freedom of the press .