IWMF Applauds Acquittal of Des Moines Register Journalist Andrea Sahouri
The IWMF is relieved by the decision in the trial against Andrea Sahouri, a Des Moines Register reporter arrested in 2020 while reporting on protests against the murder of George Floyd. Sahouri stood trial this week for “failure to disperse” and “interference with official acts;” today, the jury announced Sahouri has been acquitted on both charges.
Sahouri, whose case was featured on the One Free Press Coalition’s March 2021 list of the 10 Most Urgent Press Freedom Cases, can be clearly heard identifying herself as press in a video of her arrest. “I’m doing my job as a journalist. I’m just out here reporting as I see,” she says. Today’s ruling underscores this fact and validates journalists’ right to report on-the-ground during civil unrest.
Journalism is not a crime, yet 128 journalists were arrested or detained in the U.S. in 2020. Three have been arrested in 2021. These arrests mark an alarming disregard for press freedom in the U.S., worsened by growing distrust of the media encouraged by political radicals.
A free press is vital to a functioning democracy. Sahouri should never have been arrested – it is our hope that this is the last time a U.S.-based journalist stands trial simply for doing their job. We applaud this ruling and stand with all journalists working to report the truth during this tenuous moment in U.S. history.