DefendThePress.org – VICTORY!

From an email sent by John Stauber of Defend the Press:

VICTORY!
Late tonight the US Army announced it has dropped its subpoena of Sarah Olson in the Ehren Watada court martial.

The news broke in an article in the Honolulu Advertiser.

This is a great victory for journalist Sarah Olson and our Defend the Press coalition. It is a testament to what one determined and courageous reporter can accomplish in the face of government intimidation. These subpoenas were quite simply an effort to harass journalists who are reporting on the growing anti-war sentiment among rank and file soldiers. It strikes a blow for press freedom and for free speech.

In a news release Sarah Olson made a statement which reads in part, "Personally, I am pleased that the Army no longer seeks my participation in their prosecution of Lieutenant Watada. Far more importantly, this should be seen as a victory for the rights of journalists in the U.S. to gather and disseminate news free from government intervention, and for the rights of individuals to express personal, political opinions to journalists without fear of retribution or censure. … Journalists are subpoenaed with an alarming frequency, and when they do not cooperate they are sometimes imprisoned. Videographer Josh Wolf has languished in federal prison for over 160 days, after refusing to give federal grand jury investigators his unpublished video out takes. It is clear that we must continue to demand that the separation between press and government be strong, and that the press be a platform for all perspectives, regardless of their popularity with the current administration."

"While I am glad to see the subpoena against me in this court-martial dismissed," Olson adds, "I still worry about the US military using this tactic to chill dissenting voices and whistle blowers from coming forward in the future. We need to be vigilant at this critical time in our country's history in order to push back against these tactics."

On Thursday, February 1st, the Defend the Press coalition and Sarah Olson will hold a news conference in Washington, DC, at The National Press Club to celebrate this victory and address the ongoing fight for press freedom.

The Center for Media and Democracy founded the Defend the Press coalition on January 24, 2007. Among its supporters are notable journalists, authors and free speech activists including Phil Donahue, producer and commentator; Sydney Schanberg, author; Linda K. Foley, president, The Newspaper Guild-CWA; Larry Gross, director, School of Communication, Annenberg School, USC; Tony Kushner, playwright; Robert McChesney, founder, Free Press; Geneva Overholser, professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism; Gloria Steinem, publisher, journalist; Jerry Zremski, journalist and president, National Press Club.

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