New Press Freedom Initiative to Help Free Persecuted Journalists

© Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio/Pacific Press/Sipa USA

A newly announced contribution from the Google News Initiative (GNI) for TrialWatch, will focus on championing press freedom and advocating for journalists who have been unjustly imprisoned.

TrialWatch – a Clooney Foundation for Justice initiative – is the only comprehensive, global program focused on monitoring criminal trials. Since its launch in 2019 it has been working to highlight the ways in which courts are being used to criminalize reporting and suppress freedom of expression. The $500,000 contribution from GNI is a welcome addition to TrialWatch’s work and will support its efforts in advocating for journalists around the world who have been unjustly imprisoned or targeted with laws that suppress free speech.

“It’s a dangerous time to be a journalist,” said CFJ co-presidents Amal and George Clooney. “A growing number of governments treat journalists as ideological enemies of the state, and authoritarian leaders are increasingly using courts to suppress truthful reporting. We are delighted to partner with the Google News Initiative to strengthen our ability to take on press freedom cases around the world”.

“Press freedom is the backbone of democracy and TrialWatch will continue to advocate on behalf of journalists who face injustices in the legal system.”

TrialWatch has monitored cases in over 40 countries that threaten press freedom, including cases in which journalists have been charged with criminal defamation and insult, ‘fake news,’ and national security offenses. TrialWatch has also covered crackdowns on journalists around the world, including Hong Kong, Belarus, Turkey, and India.

“Google is pleased to support the work of TrialWatch and the Clooney Foundation for Justice,” said Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google.

As well as exposing what is unfolding in courtrooms, TrialWatch analyzes and grades each trial to identify which countries are misusing the courts to suppress press freedom. Long after cases involving journalists leave the news cycle, TrialWatch advocates for the freedom of those who are unjustly imprisoned and advocates for legal reforms to prevent further abuses against the press.

Waging justice for journalists and defending press freedom is part of the TrialWatch DNA. The team is led by CFJ co-president Amal Clooney who has helped to secure the freedom of journalists arbitrarily detained for their work across the globe. She is currently lead counsel for Nobel Prize winning journalist Maria Ressa who is facing over 100 years in prison in Manila based on spurious charges and a conviction for ‘cyber-libel’.

The collaboration between CFJ and GNI comes as Ms. Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov jointly prepare to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The open societies of our world depend on a strong and free press. The future of the web that so many of us rely on is dependent on open societies, platforms and markets,” added Mr. Gingras. “It is inspiring to see the recognition of Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov in the work they do to safeguard the freedom of the press.”

About TrialWatch:

TrialWatch is an initiative of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Its mission is to expose injustice, help to free those unjustly detained and promote the rule of law around the world. TrialWatch monitors criminal trials globally against those who are most vulnerable — including journalists, protesters, women, LGBTQ+ persons and minorities — and advocates for the rights of the unfairly convicted. Over time, TrialWatch will use the data it gathers to publish a Global Justice Ranking exposing countries’ performance and use it to support advocacy for systemic change.

About GNI:

The Google News Initiative works side-by-side with publishers and journalists to build a more sustainable, diverse and innovative news ecosystem. Through programs, products and partnerships, we strive to advance the practice of quality journalism and strengthen publisher business models in the digital age.

Since 2018, our $300 million funding commitment has supported more than 7000 news partners in 120 countries and territories around the world. We’ve provided training for over 450,000 journalists on skills including digital verification, data visualization, and machine learning through in-person trainings. And we have worked to bring together industry leaders around the world, cultivating a diverse news community to spur innovation and tackle pressing issues like media literacy and misinformation.

For more information, please contact CFJ’s media team at

For more information on TrialWatch:

For more information on The Clooney Foundation for Justice: