A video message is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFwAe26YCoY&feature=channel_video_title
Greetings to everyone at the World Press Freedom Day conference, which the United States is proud to host this year for the first time.
I would also like to congratulate Ahmad Zeidabadi, this year’s winner of the World Press Freedom prize.
He is a widely respected journalist and a champion for freedom of expression in his native country of Iran. But unfortunately the Iranian government sentenced him to six years in prison after its disputed elections in 2009. And it has banned him for life from political or civic activities.
It’s telling that this year’s winner cannot be with you in person to receive his prize because of imprisoned in his own country. But his absence gives us fitting occasion to reflect on the principles he stands for and to stand together in celebrating the contributions that journalists make in advancing human dignity, liberty, and prosperity. By exposing abuses of power, challenging assumptions, and providing constructive outlets for new ideas and for dissent, journalists safeguard our freedoms. When a free media is in jeopardy, all other human rights are threatened.
So in that spirit, let us continue to champion those who stand for media freedom – and let us continue to expose those who deny it. Let us work together toward a world where the free flow of information and ideas remains a powerful force for progress. Thank you for what you do and what you support every day.