MEP Jaromír Štětina is a former journalist who lost his job during the Prague Spring back in 1968. For World Press Freedom Day, he reflects on how crucial freedom of expression is in countering fake news.
Back in the day, I wanted to become a journalist. I was a young boy. I got hired as a freelancer for the newspaper Mlada Fronta. I was there for 3 months, and then the Russian army arrived. We were protesting against the occupation and this marked the end of my dream of becoming a journalist because I was fired from my job, like many others. For more than 20 years, I couldn't work as a journalist. For 8 years, I worked in the mines. I felt this terrible lack of freedom and there were a lot of lies. The strength of tanks stifled the freedom of words. It makes me think of the lies coming out of the Kremlin today regarding Ukraine. The lies are spread today in such a way that the viewer or reader doubts and does not know where the truth lies. That's the main goal and the way Russia operates today in the information war against the European Union. Remember the day of media freedom, we must do our duty. Because freedom of the press is a core condition of democracy. When freedom of the press ends, so does democracy. We've seen this in the past.