Government crackdowns. Foreign invasion. Military coup. Terrorist takeover. Drug cartel threats. Assassination and arrest fears.
The reasons why an increasing number of foreign journalists are making the difficult decision to flee their home countries vary. But the trendline is unmistakable and harrowing for what it tells us about global norms around intolerance for critical watchdog journalism.
As many journalists seek asylum and try to build a life abroad, the support they receive in their new locations can vary greatly and, with it, the ability of these exiled newsgatherers to continue to practice their craft.
In honor of our extended World Press Freedom Day activities, the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Team and the NPC Journalism Institute hosted a panel discussion to highlight just a few of the cases of exiled journalists from around the world and hear what life has been like since they made the decision to pursue life and freedom abroad.
María Lilly Delgado, co-founder of Traces of Impunity, a data and investigative journalism effort that highlights human rights violations in Nicaragua. Until late 2021, she worked as a freelance correspondent for Noticiero Univision, reporting on the socio-political crisis in Nicaragua until threats prompted her to go into exile in Miami.
- Muhamadjon Kabirov, editor-in-chief of Azda TV, a Tajik-language news network based in Poland, and board president of the Foundation for Intercultural Integration, which assists refugees in Poland.
- Sonny Swe, co-founder of Frontier Myanmar, an independent media organization now operating out of northern Thailand that covers Burmese news. Swe previously spent nearly a decade in prison for breaching the military junta’s censorship laws during his time running The Myanmar Times, an English-language newspaper that he also founded.
- Masrat Zahra, an independent photojournalist from the Indian-administered region of Kashmir. Her photographs of human rights violations prompted the Indian government in 2020 to charge her with “anti-national activities.” Fearing arrest if she is forced to return to India, Masrat is a Knight Wallce fellow at the University of Michigan.
- Moderator: Preethi Nallu, global director at Report for the World and the former founding editor of the news outlet Refugees Deeply
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