International media accuses UK conservatives of undermining press freedom in open letter | Abroad

Hundreds of international media organizations issued a statement on Tuesday accusing Britain’s Conservative Party of undermining press freedom by charging journalists to cover their annual conference. French news agency AFP, American newspapers ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Washington Post’ and German newspaper ‘Der Spiegel’ have signed an open letter to this effect.

About three hundred media organizations from more than sixty countries, including China and Russia, have signed the declaration.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ruling party asked for compensation from the media in exchange for recognition for the first time at last year’s conference. Also this year, the media will pay £137 (€160) to cover the conference in Manchester in October. If they apply after August 1, the costs will increase to £880 (over €1,000).

“Dangerous Prototype”

“As a result, this decision sets a dangerous precedent for countries around the world that will use this decision to justify financial and other restrictions on media coverage of the political process,” the statement said. “Therefore, we call on the organizers of the Tory party conference to refund or recoup the costs and allow a fair and free report.”

The party itself says the expenses are necessary to cover administrative costs for the “thousands” of journalists who are absent. However, the UK-based Foreign Press Association of Foreign Media says the party has not presented any evidence that journalists are failing on such a scale.

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