"Today, I lend my voice of support and admiration to all those brave men and women of the press who labor to expose truth and enhance accountability around the world” President Obama said on May 1.
“These words are a great recognition of the work of journalists and foster the promotion of press freedom around the world. The President’s tribute to the courageous reporters currently in jail will bring more international attention to their cases. This statement comes a day after the Senate passed a resolution on that issue” the organization said. “We hope these words will be followed by concrete action in response to the threats journalists face.”
In his statement given in honor of World Press Freedom Day, President Obama says: “In every corner of the globe, there are journalists in jail or being actively harassed: from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, Burma to Uzbekistan, Cuba to Eritrea. Emblematic examples of this distressing reality are figures like J.S. Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka, or Shi Tao and Hu Jia in China. We are also especially concerned about the citizens from our own country currently under detention abroad: individuals such as Roxana Saberi in Iran, and Euna Lee and Laura Ling in North Korea.”
Reporters Without Borders wrote to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton on February 17, 2009, a day after the US State Department issued its annual report on human rights, to draw their attention to the situation of journalists in a number of countries. In the letter, Reporters Without Borders called upon "the country of the First Amendment to actively participate in promoting human rights within the international community, and especially in those regions of the planet in which these rights are being repeatedly violated." It added: "The consistency and credibility of U.S. foreign policy will depend upon the ability of your administration to demonstrate the same vigilance in relations with your partners and allies." The letter also stressed the importance of upholding press freedom standards in the United States, where a journalist’s murder is yet to be punished and confidentiality of sources has been increasingly threatened by federal courts these past years.
On April 30, the U.S Senate unanimously passed the resolution S.Res.124, which “celebrates the fundamental right of freedom of the press, commends journalists around the world for their work holding government accountable and strengthening civil society and pays tribute to those journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty.” It is sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and ten other Senators : Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Richard Lugar (R-IN), John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).
According to Reporters Without Borders, 60 journalists were killed and 929 were physically attacked or threatened in 2008.
On May 3, members of Reporters Without Borders USA will start a hunger strike in New York to call for the release of Roxana Saberi, Euna Lee and Laura Ling.
Read the Reporters Without Borders 2009 report on the United States