Japan’s Kishida Will Lead G-7 in Pushing for Protection of Journalists

From a Wall Street Journal story by Peter Landers headlined “Japan’s Kishida Says He’ll Lead G-7 in Pushing for Protection of Journalists”:

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would lead the Group of Seven nations in advocating for greater protection for journalists and the release of Russian political prisoners after Moscow detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Japan holds the presidency of the G-7 this year and Mr. Kishida will host a summit of leaders including President Biden in Hiroshima from May 19 to May 21.

“Freedom of expression constitutes the foundation of democracy and the protection of journalistic activities is vitally important,” Mr. Kishida said in a group interview with foreign journalists Thursday.

He observed that more than 40 countries including Japan have signed a statement urging Russian authorities to release those they hold on political grounds and end what the countries said was a “draconian crackdown on freedom of expression, including against members of the media.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said signers of the statement were calling for the immediate release of Mr. Gershkovich.

“As the holder of this year’s G-7 presidency, I would like to lead the response and work with all nations, starting with the G-7, that share basic democratic values so that Russia changes these kinds of actions,” Mr. Kishida said.

Mr. Gershkovich was detained in Russia on March 29 while on a reporting trip and has been accused of espionage, making him the first American journalist detained in Russia on that charge since the Cold War. On Tuesday, a Moscow court upheld his detention.

The State Department has designated Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained.”

Russia’s Federal Security Service has said, without publicly presenting evidence, that Mr. Gershkovich “collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.” The Journal vehemently denies the allegations against him and has called for his immediate release, as has Mr. Biden.

Cabinet ministers in the G-7 nations who work on media issues met last June in Bonn, Germany, and said that in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “journalists and the free media as a whole have been among the first targets.” The seven nations are the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Canada.

Mr. Kishida, who visited Ukraine in March, said in the group interview that he was calling on world leaders, including in the developing world, to join the G-7 in opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I feel that this view has been spreading, but I will continue making efforts,” he said.

Speak Your Mind