Write now to defend the right to report

IT'S BEEN a bad summer for the right to report protest. Steve Morgan, facing serious charges in California, needs your help now.
Mark 'Sky' Covell

Mark "Sky" Covell

And on July 22 Mark "Sky" Covell, volunteering as a sub for the Indymedia alternative news service, was beaten within an inch of his life by Carabinieri in Genoa.

Mark survived, and says he is determined to "to defeat the cover-up and ensure that the truth can be reported". The Freelance understands that his NUJ membership application was in the post at the time he was attacked. See his statment here - and expect further developments.

Long-standing member Steve Morgan was arrested on 14 July while photographing a Greenpeace protest against "son of Star Wars" at Vandenburg Air Force Base. Colleagues understand that the conspiracy charges he now faces carry a minimum five-year sentence. They ask you to write your US Ambassador a short and very polite essay on the necessity of free reporting to a democracy, the particular need for protests to be reported and the difference between close reporting and participation in a protest.

The UK ambassador is:

Mr William S Farish
US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square
London W1A 1AE

In Ireland, write to:

Mr R J Egan
42 Elgin Road

Mark "Sky" Covell was not the only journalistic casualty in Genoa.

Times reporter John Elliot took up half the front page with his account of being beaten by police. Asked by the Freelance whether he planned to pursue the matter, he thought he'd have to check upstairs. We've heard nothing since.

Two Italian journalists were also arrested when the Carabinieri raided the Indymedia centre in Genoa. Lorenzo Guadagnucci suffered at least a broken arm (we ran the Italian Journalists' Union press statement through the machine translator at babelfish.altavista.com and it said he "had his arms broken off"!).

The Italian union also issued a statement protesting at reports that police were wearing identical copies of the tabards it issues to accredited photojournalists. The International Federation of Journalists issued a statement of protest with commendable swiftness. So did Amnesty International.

Last modified: 24 August 2001 - © 2001 contributors
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