World Press Freedom Day: How memory of Anna Politkovskaya inspired Indy's Voices in Danger project

The Independent this week launched a new section of its website – Voices In Danger – to coincide with World Press Freedom Day today.

The project is being driven by proprietor Evgeny Lebedev whose father Alexander bought the Independent titles in 2009.

Voices In Danger has the support of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists and seeks to highlight attacks on journalists around the world.

A spokesman for Evgeny told Press Gazette: “He was brought up on Anna Politkovskaya and Novaya Gazeta, his father’s newspaper.

“Anna’s death [she was murdered in 2006] was quite profoundly affecting for Evgeny and that is one of the reasons why they bought the newspapers over here.

“Alexander has been pushing for free speech for many years, which is why he is facing this trial in Moscow.”

“It was the main driver for them to buy the Evening Standard and The Independent in the first place. They were appalled by the idea that these big newspapers were going to close.”

Stories highlighted on the site include that of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a popular Sri Lankan cartoonist and dissenting voice, who disappeared three years ago. His wife believes the Government had a hand in his disappearance.

Jean Etienne Laokole is a journalist and blogger working Chad who was arrested six weeks ago on suspicion of defamation. His arrest followed the publication of two articles which were critical of the government.

Sadiye Eser, is a reporter with a left-wing newspaper in Turkey who was arrested in December and charged with being a member of a terrorist organization. She was questioned about political rallies she had covered as a journalist, effectively doing her job.

At the end of last year Reporters Without Borders said that Turkey was the country with the most journalists behind bars anywhere in the world – 42 at last count.

Evgeny’s spokesman said: “We are hoping to give these journalists a wider voice for their journalism and send a message to these governments that the world is watching – you can’t act with impunity thinking that no one is going to hold you to account.

“It is about raising the profile of these people and where people are in prison, to encourage readers to write to governments urging their release.”

Writing in The Independent Evgeny said: “Cases such as the Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti, killed while in custody, make headlines in the international news.

“But there are thousands of others under threat who receive little or no publicity. In places like the Paradise Islands of the Maldives to the economic hot-houses of India and Brazil, intimidation, censorship and imprisonment are present.

“That is why we are launching a new section of our website – Voices in Danger – which will give prominence to the plight of journalists being harassed, attacked or pressurised.

“In collaboration with Reporters Without Borders UK and other NGOs, we will feature regular case studies, interviewing the subjects where possible, and featuring some of their most powerful work.

“We want to use the Independent’s global reach and online audience of millions to put these often forgotten reporters on a major media platform.”

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