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Obama Honors Russian Reporter; Pledges To Free Jailed Iranian

U.S. President Barack Obama denounced attacks on the free press around the world as he hosted Russian journalist Fatima Tlisova and two others at the White House May 1.

The president deplored the death of journalists killed by terrorists in Iraq and pledged to seek the release of the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, who is imprisoned in Iran on what the United States considers spurious espionage charges.

"Unfortunately, in too many places around the world, a free press is under attack by governments that want to avoid the truth," Obama said at the White House, with Tlisova and journalists from Vietnam and Ethiopia at his side. Tlisova is a former RFE/RL reporter who left Russia after years of harassment and now covers Russia's North Caucasus for Voice of America.

"Journalists are harassed, sometimes even killed. Independent outlets are shut down," Obama said. Yet the role of journalists is to "give all of us, as citizens, the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments. . .and hold leaders like me accountable."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Voice of America