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Obama to sign Daniel Pearl press freedom act

by Tom Tugend

May 15, 2010 | 12:46 am

President Obama will sign the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act into law on Monday, May 17, joined by six members and three generations of the Pearl family.

The act, named in honor of the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and decapitated by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002, expands the examination of press freedom worldwide in the State Department’s annual human rights report.

“Violators of press freedom throughout the world now know that they will be closely watched. This is something our son Danny fought for all his life,” Prof. Judea Pearl said before leaving Los Angeles for Washington.

Also participating in the 11 a.m. White House ceremony will be Daniel Pearl’s mother, Ruth, sisters Michelle and Tamara, widow Mariane and son Adam Daniel, who will mark his eighth birthday on May 28.

Story continues after the jump.

Judea and Ruth Pearl, reflect on the life of their son, Daniel, and last words in this webcam video shot 1/18/2007 in the kitchen of their Encino, CA home.

Adam was born three months after the killing of his father, while the reporter was pursuing an investigative story on the Al Qaeda financial network.

The new law mandates the State Department to identify countries in which there are violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in, facilitate, or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media and ensure the prosecution of individuals who attack or murder journalists.

Leading the legislative efforts to pass the bill was Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena), said Judea Pearl, an Israel-born UCLA professor emeritus in computer science and recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in artificial intelligence.

Additional key sponsors were Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) in the House and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) in the Senate.

“In many parts of the world, the freedom of the press is the last – or even the only – safeguard against the complete erosion of all human rights,” Dodd said. “With this bill, we pay tribute to Daniel’s life and his work by shedding a bright light on this repression, and hope to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again.”

Following their son’s murder, Judea and Ruth Pearl established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to further Daniel’s legacy of promoting cross-cultural understanding through a global program of journalism, music and innovative communication.

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