Russia’s RT, Sputnik banned from UK media freedom conference
Two media outlets accused of disseminating Russian propaganda have been banned from a major London conference on media freedom, according to reports.
Television broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today) and the Sputnik website, both of which have been criticised as Kremlin mouthpieces, have been denied accreditation to the Global Conference for Media Freedom, Poland’s niezalezna.pl website has reported.
The BBC quoted a UK foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying: "We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.”
She added: “While it's not possible to accommodate all requests for accreditation, journalists from across the world's media are attending the conference, including from Russia."
The Russian embassy in London condemned the decision on RT as politically motivated discrimination and complained to the British foreign ministry, Poland’s niezalezna.pl website reported.
The Kremlin condemned the decision as absurd, niezalezna.pl added.
The two-day Global Conference for Media Freedom, which started on Wednesday, was being jointly hosted by the UK and Canadian governments.
The event has brought together delegations from over 100 countries, including 60 government ministers, and more than 1,500 journalists, academics and campaigners, according to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The British government has described the conference as “a major milestone” in a campaign by its foreign ministry “to protect journalists doing their job, and to promote the benefits of a free media worldwide.”
In an address to the conference, Hunt, who is standing for the leadership of Britain’s governing Conservative party, said on Wednesday: “The strongest safeguard against the dark side of power is accountability and scrutiny—and few institutions fulfil that role more effectively than a free media.”
He added that across the world, 99 journalists were killed last year, more than twice as many as a decade earlier, and another 348 were locked up by governments.