Freedom of the press – Iran vs. UK

23 Feb

A former senior journalist at the News of the World has had his charges dropped yesterday over the phone hacking scandal. Not my normal blogging focus but it was a throw-away comment the journalist in question, Neil Wallis, made to claim the moral high ground and demonstrate how wrong the politics the response to this scandal has been. It was this:

“There are 60 journalists under arrest at the moment – more journalists than are under arrest in Iran.”

Bad UK police, bad UK government – there is no freedom of the press etc. All those poor journalists who have allegedly hacked phones or committed an illegal act were just acting for the great good of national society (also sounds  a little like the society in Hot Fuzz). Right…

The reason this caught my attention is that even for an ex-News of the World journalist, this is an appalling fact placed out of context. The international NGO ‘Reporters Without Borders‘ (which advocates freedom of the press and freedom of information)  places the UK in 29th position (1st being the best) , with Iran is in 174th position. It was also noted that Iran also harasses the relatives of journalists, including the relatives of those who are abroad, and five off the bottom of the table.


2013 world press freedom mapTh


This map highlights the difference, and the categories of which freedom UK and Iran sit in. So I would like to ask Mr Wallis, are we worst that Iran in freedom of the press? I think it is lucky that he even had the opportunity for a fair trial, and an honest investigation without fear of violence and abuse for him or his family (or even friends). Rather the number of journalists current under arrest is more a result of  illegal activities that was so acceptable for so long.


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