"Freedom House": Governments around the world are increasing repression of journalists

Authoritarian regimes are increasingly reaching beyond their borders to attack, intimidate and detain journalists in an effort to control information and stamp out dissent, according to a new report released today by Freedom House.

The report found that between 2014 and 2023, at least 112 acts of transnational repression were committed against journalists by 26 governments, including those of Belarus, Cambodia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Physical attacks, illegal deportations, detentions and online harassment against family members are among the tactics used by authoritarian regimes to prosecute journalists working from exile.

"The latest chapter in a growing authoritarian playbook is to go after exiled journalists who tell the truth about the regime's priorities, performance and misdeeds," said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

The new analysis comes at a time when attacks on free and independent media are increasing globally, and more journalists are being forced to work from exile.

The report is based on interviews with more than a dozen exiled journalists and reveals how transnational repression has affected their lives and significantly hindered their crucial work.

Expelled journalists live with the threat of physical harm, arrest and kidnapping, which hampers their ability to travel, communicate with sources and report on sensitive issues.

Digital threats such as cyber attacks, surveillance and harassment affect their ability to reach their audience.

Meanwhile, smear campaigns undermine their credibility, and the intimidation of family members has major psychological consequences.

Attempts by autocrats to silence journalists in exile may increase the cost of maintaining diaspora media and create obstacles to resettlement in a safe third country, the report noted.

Among other things, Freedom House recommends supporting journalists and media in exile, establishing clear pathways for exiled journalists to obtain permanent legal status in host countries, developing a plan to spread awareness of transnational repression, and invests in psychological support for journalists affected by transnational repression.

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