UK: journalist Owen Jones attacked by four men

Guardian journalist Owen Jones has been physically assaulted in London while celebrating his 35th birthday with friends in the early hours of Saturday morning. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemned the outrageous attack on Owen Jones and called on the British authorities to investigate the case and bring the perpetrators to justice. After leaving a bar near King’s Cross in London on the night of Saturday 17 August, at about 3am, a group of men approached Owen Jones and his friends and began hitting him in the head from behind. According to reports, Jones fell to the ground after…

Meeting of the Advisory Board of “The illiberal Turn” Project

Dr Vaclav Stetka (PI) and Professor Sabina Mihelj (Co-I) have been awarded an ESRC standard research grant for a project titled “The Illiberal Turn? News Consumption, Political Polarisation and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe” (£817,000). The project will carry out a comparative analysis of the relationship between news consumption and political attitudes in four CEE countries – Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia, at a key point in time when the region is witnessing the rise of populist leaders, resurgence of illiberal nationalism, and a shift towards authoritarian forms of government. Scheduled to run from May 2019 until November 2021,…

Ambassador of Canada to the EU: “Journalists are modern heroes”

On 14 June, the UK Representation to the European Union (EU) and the Mission of Canada to the EU hosted the event “Thought is free: Protecting and promoting media freedom”. In two panels, six discussants shared their thoughts on media freedom, fact checking, safety of journalists, the loss of trust in media and the daily struggles of female journalists. The event was organised in the lead of the Global Conference for Media Freedom to take place on 11-11 July in London. In his opening statement, the Ambassador of Canada Dan Costello quoted journalists to be “modern heroes”, listing a worrying…

Joint Declaration of trade unions and employers’ organisations of the EU Audiovisual Sector on Brexit

The Signatories in the Audiovisual Sector express their grave concern about the potential threat to the Audiovisual industry posed by Brexit. We call on the negotiators on both sides to ensure that the interests of the Audiovisual industry across the EU and the UK be protected in the current negotiations and in particular to give special consideration to the potentially very severe damage for their business operators and workers if the future framework for the cooperation between the EU and the UK Audiovisual sector are not adapted. More specifically: There are fears that, in the film and sector, important co-production…

UK: new terror bill may restrict free speech

The United Kingdom is currently discussing a new terror bill including a wide range of anti-terrorism and border security measures. Many voices, including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), and recently the influential Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), raised concerns on the bill and its possible side effects on freedom of the press. The bill aims to close a number of loopholes in existing counter-terrorism legislation, in order to guarantee enough powers to the police and security services. However, according to the NUJ, “a number of clauses that could gravely endanger legitimate, public interest, media reporting of terrorists and…

Journalists might face up to 14 years in jail in the UK

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) back their British affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in its concerns over the proposals to update the Official Secrets Act in the United Kingdom. Due to the new way of defining espionage, including “obtaining sensitive information”, as well as “passing it on”, journalists, whom are simply working on their stories, can potentially face up to 14 years in prison by receiving some secret information. These proposals completely ignore the right of journalists to disclose information in the public interest and would also punish severely whistleblowers,…

UK Investigatory Powers Bill threatens journalistic sources and whistleblowers

The International and European Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) and (EFJ), joined their UK affiliate, The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in strongly condemning the Investigatory Powers Bill, which threatens the right to privacy, freedom of expression and investigative journalism, giving the Government sweeping spying powers. The new law gives the UK one of the most extreme spying powers in the developed world whose impact will be felt around the world. Under the “national security” pretext, the bill, which was passed by the House of Lords on 17 November will force internet and phone companies to store their users’ browsing data…

UK Bank decided to block RT accounts

State-funded Russian broadcaster RT complained on Monday that National Westminster Bank (NatWest) had withdrawn its banking services in Britain without explanation. According to a letter featured on the RT site, the bank will withdraw the card facility on November 14. ”All accounts will be closed on December 12,” the letter continues. The incident would not prevent RT from working in the United Kingdom. NatWest wrote to the UK company that supplies services to RT, rather than the television network itself. The decision to block RT accounts was taken independently by the bank, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday. The Royal Bank of Scotland…

Irish government urged to back demands for action on O’Hagan murder

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland, calling on the Irish government to apply pressure on British prime minister Theresa May for a new investigation into the murder of Sunday World journalist and NUJ activist Martin O’Hagan.  On the 15th anniversary of his death, the NUJ has called on the Irish foreign affairs minister, Charlie Flanagan, to support the call by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the authorities in the UK to intensify their efforts to find the killers. Dunja Mijatović, an…

BBC journalist’s laptop seized by UK police under Terrorism Act

The European Federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists joined their member union in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), to condemn the use by the UK police of special powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 to seize the laptop of a BBC journalist and have access to his sources. Detectives served an order obtained from a judge on the BBC and Secunder Kermani, a Newsnight reporter who has produced extensive reports on jihadis born in Britain. It is understood that the police wanted to read communications between Kermani and a man who…

UK High Court rules against data retention rules

The UK’s High Court has ruled that parts of the controversial surveillance law, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), violated article 7 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the personal data protection laws. The EFJ affiliate in the UK, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), has long been campaigning against DRIPA to ensure that the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources is protected. On Friday 17 July, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales found that UK surveillance laws are incompatible with the European convention on human rights and the EU charter…

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