The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which protects the independence of the U.S. government's international broadcasts, met in Prague and Washington, D.C., Wednesday and renewed their call for the release of journalists held/missing in Syria, as well as, generally, an end to the harassment of and threats to the press internationally.
Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi has been missing for 10 months. "The Board demands the immediate release of Bashar Fahmi," said BBG governor Susan McCue, "as well as the other journalists being held incommunicado in Syria, including Austin Tice and James Foley."
McCue also said that leading up to the Iranian elections, VOA journalists' families were threatened and attempts were made to disrupt satellite signals. "These attempts to deprive citizens of news and information are troubling, to say the least," she said. She also said several journalists had been threatened in recent weeks in Iraq and listed detentions, threats and harassment in other regions. "Citizens deserve free and open access to information," McCue said, calling on officials and local authorities to ensure the safety of all journalists and punish those "who threaten or harm reporters."
Fahmi was reporting from Aleppo along with cameraman Cuneyt Unal when both went missing Aug. 20 after a firefight in which Japan Press' Mika Yamamoto was killed. Unal was captured and later released, but Fahmi remains missing.
Freelance American journalist Austin Tice had filed on the Syrian conflict for a number of news outlets, including The Washington Post, CBS and Al-Jazeera English before he disappeared in mid-August 2012. Foley, a U.S. freelance journalist, was kidnapped in Syria on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22, 2012).