Obama denounces attacks on press freedom

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama denounced attacks against media around the world, receiving three journalists from countries that “severely restrict” freedom of the press.

Obama’s comments come two days after a report by the human rights group Freedom House said that press freedom around the world has plummeted to the worst level in a decade, with the United States and China among the countries tightening the noose.

“Unfortunately, in too many places around the world, a free press is under attack by governments that want to avoid the truth or mistrust the ability of citizens to make their own decisions,” Obama said in the presence of Vietnamese blogger Dieu Cay, the Russian journalist Fatima Tlisova and Ethiopian journalist Lily Mengesha. “Journalists are harassed, sometimes even killed. Independent outlets are shut down. Dissent is silenced. And freedom of expression is stifled.”

Two days before World Press Freedom Day, Obama praised the role of journalists who “give all of us, as citizens, the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments. “That makes us better. It makes us stronger. It gives voice to the voiceless, exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me accountable.”