U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP/ Kevin Dietsch)

New US Justice Department guidelines on source protection ‘an important step to protect press freedom’

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On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the revision of the Justice Department’s regulations to restrict federal prosecutors’ ability to obtain journalists’ phone and email records in government leak investigations with narrow exceptions. The Department of Justice said this decision codifies Garland’s July 2021 policy change to extend the protections.

“This is an important step to protect press freedom in the United States. These significant restraints to the Justice Department’s ability to subpoena journalists’ source material send a powerful message about the importance of reporters’ ability to protect their sources,” said CPJ U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. CPJ and other press freedom organizations have long been advocating for this decision.

In a new feature published today, CPJ’s Europe Representative Attila Mong explores how the conditions to enable critical reporting in Greece have deteriorated in recent years.

During a fact-finding mission to Greece last month, Mong spoke with journalists on the ground about the unsolved journalist killings in the country, how the threat of violence has chilled reporting, journalist concerns about surveillance, and how the new government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is especially sensitive to critical reporting. Read the article here.

Global press freedom updates

  • Haitian journalist Roberson Alphonse survives shooting attack in Port-au-Prince, missing radio host found dead in Les Cayes
  • Honduran journalist Edwin Josué Andino shot, killed in Comayagüela
  • Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif shot dead in Kenya
  • Radio Cefod journalist Orédjé Narcisse shot dead in Chad
  • At least 11 journalists in custody after police raids in Turkey. Separately in the country, pro-government Turkish daily Sabah publishes locations of exiled journalists: “an unethical and irresponsible act that could lead to serious harm”
  • CPJ welcomes final sentencing over Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack
  • CPJ condemns harassment, bomb threat against Iranian American journalist Negar Mortazavi
  • Vietnamese journalist Le Manh Ha harshly sentenced to 8 years in prison
  • Belarus court sentences journalist Siarhei Satsuk to 8 years in prison
  • Jailed Tajik journalist Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda describes severe physical abuse, forced confession in letter
  • Proposed amendments to Georgia’s broadcasting law raise censorship fears
  • Guinea-Bissau journalist goes into hiding after armed men seek to arrest him
  • Brazilian state assembly investigates journalists, outlets reporting on abortion case
  • CPJ condemns Myanmar military junta’s harassment of The Irrawaddy


Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, arrives at the Court of Final Appeal by prison van in Hong Kong on February 9, 2021. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

A court in Hong Kong on Tuesday convicted CPJ’s 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Awardee Jimmy Lai, the founder of the Next Digital Limited media company and the shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, of fraud for allegedly violating the terms of the lease of Next Digital’s headquarters.

Jimmy Lai’s conviction “on trumped-up fraud charges shows that Hong Kong will stop at nothing to silence one of its fiercest media critics,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “Lai is clearly being targeted for his journalism, and the persecution must stop. Hong Kong authorities should let Lai go free and drop all charges against him.”

Lai has been behind bars since December 2020, serving a 20-month prison term for two other charges relating to his alleged involvement with unauthorized demonstrations. He is awaiting trial on national security charges, for which he faces life imprisonment; proceedings are expected to begin on December 1.

CPJ’s European Union Representative and Advocacy Manager Tom Gibson on Wednesday participated in a panel discussion concerning journalist safety organized by the European Parliament and World Press Photo in Brussels.

On November 28 and 29, Gibson will participate in the second edition of the U.K. Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Conference, hosted by the Foreign Policy Centre, Justice for Journalists Foundation, and the International Bar Association.

The conference will feature talks by investigative journalists who have been SLAPPed and explore how stronger regulatory action, direct support for those subject to SLAPPs, and wider cultural shifts could help make SLAPPs an unattractive choice for those seeking to avoid public scrutiny. Register for the conference here.

What we are reading (and watching)

A closer look | CPJ’s most-read features in October

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