Obama to sign press freedom law named after Daniel Pearl

Act also calls for the secretary of state to name countries where freedom of the press is violated.

May 16, 2010 00:14
2 minute read.
Daniel Pearl.

daniel pearl 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act on Monday, meant to increase the State Department’s scrutiny of freedom of the press worldwide via its annual human rights report.

The act is named after The Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted and murdered by Muslim terrorists while on assignment in Pakistan in 2002. In the video of his murder and decapitation, Pearl famously said “My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American... My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish. My family follows Judaism.”

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The act also calls for the secretary of state to name countries where freedom of the press is violated, and what role the governments of such countries take in carrying out or combating the infringement of that freedom.

Late last month, the US Senate unanimously passed the act. After the bill was signed, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) said, “In many parts of the world, the freedom of the press is the last – or even the only – safeguard against the complete erosion of all other human rights.

“The horrific murder of Daniel Pearl that shocked the world also opened our eyes to the abuse and harassment that many journalists face, too often at the hands of government authorities. With this bill, we pay tribute to Daniel’s life and his work by shedding a bright light on this repression, and hope to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again,” Dodd continued.

“Freedom of expression cannot exist where journalists are not safe from persecution and attack. Our government must promote freedom of the press by putting on center stage those countries in which journalists are killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, threatened or censored,” he said.

The bill will be signed into law by President Obama at a ceremony at the White House in which Pearl’s mother, Ruth, sisters Tamara and Michelle, son Adam Daniel and widow, Mariane, will take part.    

Pearl’s father, Tel Aviv-born UCLA professor Judea Pearl, told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend: “We believe this act is very much in the spirit of Danny, and might actually bring some good to the civilized world and, by osmosis, to Israel and the Jewish people.”

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