PEN AMERICA – Defending Journalistic Freedoms

SIGN NOW: End the harassment and surveillance of journalists. Defend press freedom at our southern border.
The Trump administration’s targeting of journalists has reached a new level. Recent reports from the U.S.-Mexico border—and leaked documents from a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower—indicate that US government agencies have been tracking and monitoring over 50 individuals, mostly journalists and immigration advocates, as they report on the humanitarian situation at our southern border.
Several U.S. government entities, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Border Patrol, have reportedly participated in the tracking and monitoring of these journalists, including the creation of a U.S. government database containing sensitive personal information. Mexican government officials have also been accused of photographing the passports of journalists at the border and detaining journalists at airports ― reportedly on behalf of and in coordination with the U.S. government.

The existence of a government database monitoring legal comings and goings of law-abiding journalists is a shocking and unwarranted violation of their First Amendment rights. The conclusive reporting that this database actually exists, and that the government justifies its monitoring of these advocates as ‘routine,’ is an appalling violation of press freedom and a
threat to our most basic constitutional rights.

Whether it is tear gassing at our southern border of migrants fleeing violence in their homelands or the separation of children from their families, we are only aware of the administration’s actions thanks to the dogged reporting of brave journalists. At a time when the president has declared a national emergency on our southern border, it is particularly critical that journalists continue to be able to report freely on what is happening there without fear of retaliation. The Department of Homeland Security says it has launched an internal investigation, but congressional oversight is needed, too.

Join PEN America and our partners in demanding that Congress act immediately to hold the Trump administration accountable for these violations of freedom of the press at our southern border. Sign the petition today.

The U.S. government database reportedly contains extensive personal information about journalists like Ariana Drehsler, who has been reporting on both sides of the border on the movement of Central American migrants toward the U.S. since last fall. Several journalists have also reported being detained and interrogated for hours upon returning to the U.S. from their reporting in Mexico, including having their notes and electronic devices searched.

This is a shameful violation of press freedom and a threat to our most basic constitutional rights.

We must take immediate action to defend the rights of journalists at our southern border. Sign the petition today to demand immediate action by Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable for its actions against journalists. It’s up to us to defend our core free expression rights.

Thank you,
Nora Benavidez
Director of U.S. Free Expression Programmes – PEN America     The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa first formed as PEN NZ in 1934 and is affiliated with PEN International and supports activities of PEN centres around the world.

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