CPJ speaks at a press conference alongside the family of Shireen Abu Akleh outside of the U.S. Congress. (Credit: CPJ)

CPJ joins lawmakers and family of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in renewed calls for a U.S. investigation into her killing

The Committee to Protect Journalists continues to call on the Biden Administration to uphold its previous commitments to press freedom and human rights

Washington, D.C. — Three members of the Abu Akleh family––brother Anton, niece Lina, and nephew Victor –– joined members of Congress, the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) and the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) at a news conference on Thursday to renew their calls for a credible and transparent U.S. investigation that leads to meaningful accountability for the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank in May.

The news conference capped a week of meetings for the Abu Akleh family in Washington, D.C. with members of Congress and Biden administration officials, including at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. State Department.

After the family met on Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, CPJ reiterated its support for the Abu Akleh family and their post-meeting statement calling for “nothing short of a US investigation that leads to real accountability.” The family also met this week with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Senators Chris Van Hollen, Bob Menendez, Cory Booker, and Jeff Merkley. Representatives Jim McGovern, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Joaquin Castro, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Ro Khanna, Betty McCollum also met with the family. More than 80 members of Congress have signed multiple letters of support.

Several members of Congress joined the Abu Akleh family at the press conference, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, André Carson, Ilhan Omar, Marie Newman, Ayanna Pressley and Betty McCollum to echo the demands for accountability and justice for Shireen.

Last month, CPJ wrote to President Biden to demand a U.S.-led investigation into Shireen’s killing but have yet to receive a response.


Below are quotes from Thursday’s press conference on Capitol Hill, which can be viewed here.

“We came to Washington, D.C., to demand accountability for the murder of our beloved Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli soldier,” said Anton “Tony” Abu Akleh, brother of Shireen Abu Akleh. “The Biden administration’s response thus far has been wholly insufficient, but we are leaving Washington with more congressional allies, who will carry our fight forward on the Hill. We also hope that a more open channel of communication with the State Department will advance our search for justice.” 

“I believe that this was an attack on the fourth estate, the free press, which is vitally important to our society. We need answers to hold the perpetrators fully accountable,” said Rep. André Carson (D-IN). “We are urging our colleagues to see this as a free press issue. To put aside Israeli and Palestinian politics and to see this for what it is: an attack on independent reporting.”

“Standing up for the freedom of the press and the rights of American citizens cannot be a priority only when it’s convenient. The United States must defend these values and hold both our friends and foes accountable in protecting them. That’s why we must pursue a full, independent, and transparent investigation into the shooting death of Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in a written statement. “As President Biden and Secretary Blinken have respectively expressed, we need a ‘full and transparent accounting’ and an ‘independent, credible investigation.’ Summarizing prior investigations conducted by parties to the conflict does not represent the independent investigation that is necessary to ensure public confidence in the results.”

“This fight for justice is about my aunt Shireen Abu Akleh, an iconic Palestinian American journalist who was a voice for Palestine. President Biden still hasn’t agreed to meet with our family,” said Victor Abu Akleh, nephew of Shireen Abu Akleh. “We need him to hear from us directly so that he understands the pain our family and too many other Palestinians have endured. President Biden has the power to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. We need him to follow his words with meaningful action, which will show that he stands with journalists and the American people, no matter the perpetrator.”  

“I am grateful to stand here today with the family of Shireen Abu Akleh in our demand for a full, transparent, independent investigation. One month ago, we wrote to President Biden making this demand. We detailed the numerous, flagrant press freedom violations taking place in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We received no response,” said Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, CPJ Advocacy and Communications Director.  “Today, we remind President Biden of his own global commitments, his pledge to champion democracy and a free press as a cornerstone of a world where the collective fabric of facts matters. If Biden’s words at his inauguration: to lead by “the power of our example,” are true, then anything less than a full investigation into Shireen’s killing, is simply unacceptable.” 

“Shireen was here in the U.S. just last Christmas. She loved life, and she made life better for all of us. The person who killed Shireen will spend the holidays seated around the table with their family, but for every year going forward, a seat will be missing that can never be filled again at ours,” said Lina Abu Akleh, niece of Shireen Abu Akleh. “Our hearts break, but we will not stop fighting until Shireen gets justice, and we will pursue accountability wherever it may take us.”