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Exiled journalists are under constant threat of physical harm, detention, online harassment, and reprisals against their family members by authoritarian regimes such as China, Russia, and other oppressive governments. Even those living in democratic countries are not guaranteed safety and freedom, according to a new report by Washington-based nonprofit organization, Freedom House.
Journalists face not only direct physical threats but also digital harassment and efforts to pressure their family members still residing in their home countries. Chinese authorities, for example, have routinely threatened and detained the family members of Uyghur journalists in exile, leaving them with little to no information about their relatives’ whereabouts or condition.
The report also points out the global scale of transnational repression, identifying 26 governments worldwide engaged in such activities against reporters over the past decade. Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz has urged democratic governments, civil society organizations, and media organizations to provide better support to journalists living in exile.
The report coincided with a congressional hearing on transnational repression and authoritarians targeting dissenters abroad, where China’s campaign was singled out as one of the most sophisticated. Freedom House found that the Chinese regime accounted for about 30 percent of over 800 cases of transnational repression committed by 39 governments in 91 countries between 2014 and 2022, targeting journalists, human rights activists, and other diasporas.