In These Times Board Statement on the Treatment of Journalist Sam Husseini
July 24, 2018
The Board of In These Times expresses its strongest disapproval of the treatment of Sam Husseini, a correspondent for The Nation, at the joint Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.
Video of the incident shows Husseini being dragged from the conference by Finnish security officers while holding a small sheet of paper, with the words “Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.” He explained to security that he hoped the paper would attract the attention of Putin or Trump so that he might be recognized to pose his question on American and Russian recalcitrance regarding the groundbreaking 2017 U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In response, Husseini was manhandled and held in isolated detention for several hours before his release without charge. Thus, Husseini was denied his right to do his job as a credentialed journalist by asking his question.
On its own, this incident may be more a case of security overreaction rather than an overt act to stifle freedom of the press. But it illustrates how state security works today to protect autocratic and unpopular leaders, and it exemplifies how the legitimate work of the free press is under attack around the world, including here in the United States.
While a free press is always a work in progress, the ideal, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, is indispensable to any country aspiring to be a democracy. By its disapproval of Husseini’s treatment, In These Times stands with its colleagues at The Nation in support of a genuinely free press.