European organisations urge US Congress to protect nonpartisan, independent nature of US Agency for Global Media

Defend Democracy and dozens of other European democracy and rights organisations express their concern about developments at the US Agency for Global Media. They urge US Congress’ foreign affairs committees to act urgently and decisively to maintain the fully nonpartisan, independent nature of USAGM’s journalism networks and open technology fund.

“We are writing to you as European organisations who deeply care about freedom and democracy. We are truly concerned about recent developments at the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), whose mission is ‘to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.’

Converting the USAGM networks from fully nonpartisan, fully independent media to anything else would be a big blow to independent journalism and the promotion of freedom and democracy abroad.

As Europeans, we would like to express our strong appreciation of and support for the two USAGM networks that directly impact our work and life here in Europe:

* Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
RFE/RL’s mission is ‘to promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. Its journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.’

* Open Technology Fund (OTF)
OTF ‘support[s] open technologies and communities that increase free expression, circumvent censorship, and obstruct repressive surveillance as a way to promote human rights and open societies.’

As organisations working to defend democracy and freedom while tackling foreign and domestic disinformation, we express our gratitude to independent media like RFE/RL and can only confirm the importance of the so-called double firewall: full independence and high journalism standards.

Moreover, as democracy defenders, freedom advocates and independent journalists, we could not do our work without OTF-supported open technologies (for example Signal) that keep us safe from authoritarian censorship, repressive surveillance and even physical harm.

We therefore request your urgent and decisive action to maintain USAGM’s fully nonpartisan, fully independent, high-quality journalism networks and technology fund. Not just because democracy and freedom are valuable in itself, but also because they are a matter of national security – both to the EU and to the US.


Defend Democracy, Brussels, Europe

Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland, Ireland
Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development, Lithuania
ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
Association of Independent Press (API), Moldova
Avoin yhteiskunta ry, Finland
Belarusians abroad, Belgium
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Bulgaria
Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability, Serbia
Czech League of Human Rights, Czech Republic
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Belgium
European Values Center for Security Policy, Czech Republic
EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Germany
Factology, Estonia
Fix the Status Quo, Estonia
Free Russia, Russia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
Homo Digitalis, Greece
Human Rights Watch (Brussels), Belgium
Human Rights Without Frontiers, Belgium
Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungary
International Federation for Human Rights, France
Media & Reform Centre Niš, Serbia
Media Solidarity Belarus Campaign (MediaSOL), Belarus
Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Netherlands
Open Dialogue Foundation, Poland
RECLAIM, Belgium
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), France
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, Malta
Transparency International EU, Belgium

The letter is available here.

Defend Democracy is an independent, nonpartisan, transatlantic foundation working to defend and strengthen liberal democracy against domestic, foreign and technological threats. For more information, see here.