Sen. Leahy: In the 44 Years in the Senate I Have Never Been More Concerned About Press Freedom

‘Including I deeply regret to say in our own country’

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LEAHY: “I will be brief, Mr. President. I just want to say, in the 44 years I’ve served the United States Senate, I’ve never been so concerned about the state of press freedom around the world, including I deeply regret to say in our own country. I was brought up in a family that owned a weekly newspaper, owned a printing business, spoke of the First Amendment as being the most important part of our Constitution because it promised freedom of speech, promised diversity of religion, and that promise is a democracy. But the premeditated murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi authorities and then their ridiculous, ridiculous, transparent attempt to cover it up has shocked the consciences of people everywhere. Yesterday by voting to discharge Senate Joint Resolution 54, the Senate showed that the Saudi royal family needs to hold accountable all those responsible for that horrific crime if it wants to ever salvage relations with the United States. Look what is happening, Mr. President, if we don’t stand up and speak out. Just a few days after Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, the body of Bulgarian journalist Victoria Marinova was discovered. Investigations suggest she was raped and beaten and strangled. I think the motive is pretty clear — she spent the past year reporting on corruption. At least 43 journalists have been killed for their work so far in 2018, according to the committee to protect journalists. 15 other journalists have also been killed, although their deaths have at least not yet been officially linked to their work. According to data compiled by Freedom House, the muzzling of journalists and independent news media is at its worst point in over a decade. Similarly, according to the committee to protect journalists, the number of reporters jailed for their work — jailed for being reporters — is at a level not seen since the 1990s."

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