Standing up for a defamed reporter

I was recently asked to sign a petition regarding the case against East Timorese journalist Jose Belo:

More than 80 prominent Australian, New Zealand and Pacific reporters, editors and media academics have protested over the controversial criminal defamation case against East Timorese journalist Jose Belo.

Chief editor Belo has been charged followed publication of an article in his newspaper and online publication, Tempo Semanal, making allegations against Justice Minister Lucia Lobato.

The open protest letter, under the umbrella of the Sydney-based Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), has been signed by 85 media industry and academic people ranging from the ACIJ’s Professor Wendy Bacon to ABC Four Corners investigative journalist Liz Jackson, SBS Dateline’s Mark Davis and British-based filmmaker and author John Pilger.

It is being sent to President José Ramos-Horta, in New Zealand this week on his first official visit abroad since being wounded in a rebel attack a year ago, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

“While making no comment on the merits of [Jose Belo’s] allegations, we are disturbed by the application of criminal defamation laws against one of East Timor’s bravest and most respected journalists,” the letter says.

Read the rest of the letter and list of signatories here.

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