Forum to tackle increasing terrorism against the media


An international conference is being planned to highlight and condemn the continuing terrorist attacks on journalists and others who work for the media in the Basque region of Spain.

The one-day "Terrorism Against the Media" conference, to be held on 14 September in Bilbao, will focus on violence in the Basque region but will also include reports from journalists working in violent conditions elsewhere in the world.

It is being organised by the World Association of Newspapers and two Spanish press associations.

Timothy Balding, director general of the WAN, said: "The objective of the meeting is to highlight and condemn terrorist attacks on the media in the Basque region and to express the solidarity of the global media community with their Spanish colleagues." The programme will include testimonies from journalists in the Basque region and from journalists working in violent conditions around the world, including Colombia, Ireland and Russia.

It will also feature a discussion on freedom of information in a democratic society and how to protect it. The conference follows a WAN and World Editors Forum mission to the Basque country in March that found an alarming increase in threats, intimidation and attacks on media staff made by the Basque nationalist terror organisation, ETA and its supporters.

WAN says the attacks have made it impossible for journalists in the region to live normal lives, both privately and professionally.

In May, ETA killed Santiago Oleaga Elejabarrieta, the financial director of the daily El Diario Vasco. It was the eighth killing attributed to the ETA this year.

The group killed one of the leading journalists in the Basque region, JosŽ Luis Lopez de la Calle of the daily El Mundo.

The reporter was shot twice in the head and twice in the chest outside the door of his house in the town of Andoain on 7 May last year.

By Jon Slattery

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