Reporters Without Borders released the 2016 edition of their annual World Press Freedom Index Wednesday, and while the United States moved up the rankings, the organization reserved harsh criticism for President Barack Obama‘s administration.
The NGO did praise the Obama administration for changing its hostage policy and for ceasing its legal battle against New York Times journalist James Risen. Those changes, along with others, contributed to the U.S. moving from 49th in press freedom to 41st.
However, “The main cause for concern for RSF continues to be the current administration’s obsessive control of information, which manifests itself through the war on whistleblowers and journalists’ sources,” they write, “as well as the lack of government transparency, which reporters have continually criticized.”
“The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative, was convicted solely on the basis of metadata in January 2015 of disclosing classified information to James Risen and is now serving a 3.5 year prison sentence,” they continue.
Reporters Without Borders also waded into the 2016 presidential election, without singling out any particular candidate. “The US presidential election has also been cause for concern. Since the primaries began last summer, journalists have seen their access to campaign events regularly restricted by candidates from both political parties and have been insulted and even bullied on social media,” they write.
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