50 World Leaders and the ‘Free Press’


While the leaders line up in Paris posturing as the ‘great and the good’, Daniel Wickham points out that the idea of them as ‘staunch defenders of the free press’ doesn’t really stand up to any scrutiny. Here’s our top twenty ‘stories behind the story’. Click on the links to story behind each case.

1) King Abdullah of Jordan, which last year sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 15 years in prison with hard labour

2) Prime Minister of Davutoglu of Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world

3) Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forced killed 7 journalists in Gaza last yr (second highest after Syria)

4) Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt, which as well as AJ staff has detained journalist Shawkan for around 500 days

5) Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, which last year jailed a journalist for “insulting a government servant”

6) Foreign Minister Lamamra of Algeria, which has detained journalist Abdessami Abdelhai for 15 months without charge

7) The Foreign Minister of the UAE, which in 2013 held a journo incommunicado for a month on suspicion of MB links

8) Prime Minister Jomaa of Tunisia, which recently jailed blogger Yassine Ayan for 3 years for “defaming the army”

9) The PMs of Georgia and Bulgaria, both of whom have a record of attacking & beating journos

10) The Attorney General of the US, where police in Ferguson have recently detained and assaulted WashPost reporters


11) Prime Minister Samaras of Greece, where riot police beat & injured two journalists at a protest in June last year

12) Sec-Gen of NATO, who are yet to be held to account for deliberately bombing and killing 16 Serbian journos in ’99

13) President Keita of Mali, where journalists are expelled for covering human rights abuses

14) The Foreign Minister of Bahrain, 2nd biggest jailer of journos in the world per capita (they also torture them)

15) Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, which jailed a man for 15 ys for writing the Jasmine poem

16) Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had several journalists jailed for insulting him in 2013

17) Prime Minister Cerar of Slovenia, which sentenced a blogger to six months in prison for “defamation” in 2013

18) Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, where “blasphemy” is considered a criminal offense

19) Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland, which raided a magazine to seize recordings embarrassing for the ruling party

20) PM Cameron of the UK, where authorities destroyed documents obtained by The Guardian and threatened prosecution


Comments (18)

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  1. Tanasescu says:

    This is sad šŸ™

  2. Alison Brown says:

    Thank you. Spot on. Having worked for Amnesty for 30 years now, looking at this line up was sickening. Not to be mean spirited but it’s all about presentation. Let’s hope they’re reminded of their very visual commitment to freedom of expression when they get home.

  3. Sisyphus47 says:

    Reblogged this on Where do We go from Here? and commented:
    Hypocrites, liars, and some of them are war criminals!

  4. Peter A Bell says:

    Were any of those journalists jailed for using txtspk and unexplained acronyms in articles?

    1. David L says:

      Peter, I believe this was lifted from a series of Tweets, hence all the abbreviations.

    2. David Lee says:

      Peter, I believe these came from a series of Tweets, hence all the abbreviations.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        They were. I think the substance of the piece is far more important than any stylistic differences …

  5. Charles Murphy (no relation) says:

    Their audacity and mendacity beggar belief

  6. Barbara McKenzie says:

    You seem to have forgotten France …

    French cartoonist Sine on trial on charges of anti-Semitism over Sarkozy jibe

  7. Dr Ew says:

    Article printed in last Thursday’s National anticipated some of this cant and hypocrisy:


  8. Bravefart says:

    The terrible tragedy perpetrated this week by Algerian French men was an echo of the carnage experienced by their parents generation. For instance the events of 1961 when the Paris Police murdered and threw into the Seine between 40 and 200 Algerian anti-colonial demonstrators. An event that was denied by the French state until the late 90s.

  9. Xan says:

    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, cabinet member of the Spanish government which presided over the closure of an entire newspaper, Euskaldunon Egunkaria, in 2003, on the charges that some of the people who worked there were involved in supporting terrorism. These charges were later dropped on the basis of their being no evidence to support the allegation. The newspaper’s editor was tortured while in custody.


  10. Brilliant as usual.
    The ParisĀ“killings may be in fact another black operation, like the ones launched by the USA in their 50s to influence the European elections by blaming communist parties. Those operations were called as operation gladioĀ“.

    The real aims behind Paris massacre are:
    1) To shift public opinion in France and the EU in favour of USA-UK militar imperialism. France usually stood against the Anglo-american militar invasion, I beg your pardon, Ā“interventionsĀ“ in the Middle East. The attack has caused that most of the French public opinion is now in favour of retaliation against ISIS-Al Qaeda.

    2) To approve harder legislations that erode even more our right to privacy and other civil liberties.

    3) To radicalise the French Jewish community (usually critical to IsraelĀ“s foreign policy) in favour of Israel. Why did Netanyahu attend the Ā“rallyĀ“and visit the jewish communities if Holland explicitly advised him not to?

    1. Douglas Robertson says:

      Yes it is very crucial to understand the presentation of a photograph. These two images of the same event were taken to take forward two distinct political agendas. As Pierre Bourdieu argues photography is a core tool in sociology because the image offered tells so much about the person and social construction of society they wish to present to the world. These two images are an object lesson in that truth.

  11. Russia banned LGBT “propaganda” in 2013, and of course in 2014, officials arrested a journalist for interviewing an advocate of Siberian independence. And US journalist Barrett Brown is STILL in jail in Texas, after investigating security companies aiming to smear Assange, among other things. Brown was held for many months without charge and then faced 105 yrs for sharing a link.

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