Reporters Without Borders Wrong on Press Freedom in Russia

Reporters Without Borders Wrong on Press Freedom in Russia

The France-based non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders recently released its Worldwide Press Freedom index, which ranks Russia as 147th on a list of 168 countries in terms of protecting journalists and media expression. Russia's 147th ranking is five spots behind the Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of the bloodiest conflict in the world, and just a few spots ahead of Iraq, where 85 journalists have died violently since 2003. Russia even allegedly lags nineteen spots behind Kazakhstan, where President-for-Life Nursultan Nazarbayev erected a golden statue of himself and whose government has threatened to sue the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his "Borat" comedy act.

The list goes on. The Palestinian Authority is ranked thirteen spots ahead of Russia, even though reporters have been kidnapped or threatened by Hamas for reporting weapons smuggling tunnels dug under houses, the launching of rockets at Israeli towns, and the indoctrination of children to create suicide bombers. Lebanon, where Hezbollah recently threatened reporters with death for filming rocket launchers that the militia had cynically placed in crowded neighborhoods, is ranked 107th. The list also ranks the "extra-territorial" United States, which includes the U.S. military in Iraq (not just the country's struggling new government) as 119th in press freedom, while the Israeli-administered Palestinian territories were ranked 135th -- far behind several war-torn African countries that do not have a history of press freedom or strong civilian control over their militaries.

Reporters Without Borders also claims that American journalists are less free than their counterparts in France. However, this month two French writers were ordered by a court to pay a fine for challenging a 2002 France2 TV report from the Israel-Palestine conflict. France2 continues to defend their official story that a Palestinian boy named Mohammed Al-Dura was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, even though forensic evidence suggests that the Israelis were not in position to fire the fatal shots and that Al-Dura was actually shot from point blank range, from the direction of the camera man who was filming alongside Palestinian gunmen.

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