Britain and Canada are leading a push to secure more protections for journalists, saying a free press “protects society from the abuse of power.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland convened a two-day conference starting Wednesday in London with politicians, officials, activists and journalists from more than 100 countries — though two Russian news outlets have been banned.
The British government said Sputnik and RT are barred because of “their active role in spreading disinformation.”
Russian state-owned RT was censured last year by Britain’s broadcast regulator for breaking U.K. impartiality rules in its coverage of the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England.
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, said: “It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of the press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media.”
The Foreign Office said Hunt would tell the conference that “media freedom is not a western but a universal value.”
He planned to say that repression of the press and corruption go hand in hand, and “at its best, a free media both protect society from the abuse of power and helps to release the full potential of a country.”