US’ Kerry says countries without free press have ‘nothing to brag about’
AFP photoUnited States Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that a country without a free and independent press had neither anything to brag about nor the capacity to fulfill its potential.
“This begins with the recognition that no government, whatever its pretensions and whatever its accomplishments, can fairly call itself great if its citizens are not allowed to say what they believe or are denied the right to learn about events and decisions that affect their lives,” said Kerry speaking at the grand opening of The Washington Post’s new headquarters in Washington D.C.
“So let me underscore: A country without a free and independent press has nothing to brag about, nothing to teach, and no way to fulfill its potential,” he added.
Kerry added that in addition to traditional media, “independent media – reporters, broadcasters, photographers, bloggers, even cartoonists – are under constant pressure today, whether physical or political.”
“And here we are, well into the 21st century, and yet only about one person in six lives in a country where the press can truly be described as free,” Kerry said, reinforcing the critical place journalism holds in an open and democratic society.
Recently freed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian also attended the opening ceremony, thus marking his return to the newspaper, and the end of his imprisonment.
Rezaian was released from a Tehran jail in a prisoner swap this month. He said his Iranian interrogators told him over his 18 months in prison that his newspaper didn’t know of his plight and the U.S. government wouldn’t lift a finger for his release.
Choking up, Rezaian thanked those who helped secure his freedom, the Associated Press reported.
Four other Americans were allowed out of Iran as part of a deal that Kerry helped finalize.