Obama Honors Daniel Pearl with Freedom of the Press Act

May 17, 2010 12:35pm

From Sunlen Miller:

With Mariane Pearl and Adam seven-year-old Adam Pearl by his side, President Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act in the Oval Office this morning declaring that the legislation “sends a strong signal” about the nation’s core values when it comes to freedom of the press.

“The loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is,” the president said of the Wall Street Journal reporter killed in 2002 in Pakistan, “and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.”

The act would require the State Department to compile a list of nations where press freedom had been violated every year, included in its annual Human Rights report. The president said that this will send a message to other countries.

“What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press,” the president said, “it also looks at countries that are — governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out, and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.”

Mr. Obama said that oftentimes other countries and governments feel they can operate against the press with impunity, “and we want to send a message that they can’t.” With this law, the president declared, the legacy of Daniel Pearl lives on.

Joining the president in the Oval Office for the bill signing were the chief sponsors of the bill — Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Adam Schiff as well as Daniel Pearl’s extended family – his mother, father, and sisters.

In the spirit of the freedom of the press, a reporter in the room attempted to ask President Obama if he would take a few questions, which solicited a smile from the president who quipped back, “You’re certainly free to ask them.”

The reporter asked if he still has confidence in BP after the devastating oil spill last month in the Gulf.

“I’m not doing a press conference today, but we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of this week,” the president answered.

-Sunlen Miller

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