Anyone who genuinely cares about freedom of expression and protecting the human rights of journalists should be outraged over the arrests this week in Georgia of journalist Kaelyn Forde and cameraman Jon Conway, employees of the state-owned cable news outlet Russia Today.
You may not like the editorial line of the station, or you may hold some reservations over an entity which is more like a Ministry of Information than a news source, but these are still working journalists entitled to their basic rights to perform their jobs. Russia Today has been having a field day with the news (they are claiming police brutality and abuse in addition to the arrest, and coming up with stories like “US police target journalists,” and “US police disregard civil liberties“), and no doubt looking to draw out some absurd rationalizing from their antagonists with regard to the arrests – and unfortunately, there have already been quite a few ill-advised comments about how the arrests may have been justified, or otherwise entering into morally bankrupt debates about how some journalists “are asking for” beatings and arrests, or how it’s “surprising” that this or that journalist got beat up or arrested because their coverage was seen as pro-government.
Coming just two days after a massive rally in support of journalists’ rights following the beating of Oleg Kashin, all the same people who came out to protest should equally denounce these arrests.
Click here to read the Committee to Protect Journalists statement of support for the RT employees, and their demand to the Georgia police for an internal investigation. If the Benning police had any clue what they are doing, they would immediately drop these charges and make a public apology to the journalists. Instead, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the situation worse.