(Washington, D.C.)—In a letter penned to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and nine other senators expressed concern over recent attacks on journalists and requested clarity on the State Department’s next steps in safeguarding the free press at home and abroad. PEN America applauds Senator Klobuchar and the other signatories for leading the Senate’s latest effort to defend journalists worldwide, and joins them in urging that the Department of State prioritize the protection of press freedoms as a central element of U.S. foreign policy.

“We are pleased to see Senator Klobuchar and her colleagues describe the urgent need for a more purposeful U.S. posture in the defense of press freedoms worldwide,” said Thomas O. Melia, director of PEN America’s Washington, D.C. office. “We know the world is a dangerous place for journalists, as we have recently marked the second anniversary of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabian agents, while Austin Tice remains a captive in Syria. As journalists worldwide continue to face threats, imprisonment, and violence for doing their jobs—a trend that has only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic—it is crucial for the U.S. State Department to firmly advocate for the rights of a free press and hold accountable those who are unwilling to do the same.”

Klobuchar was joined by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).