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CJFE calls for end to criminal prosecution of author

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a CJFE media release:

Toronto, December 9, 2003

The Ontario Attorney General must end immediately the criminal prosecution of author Stephen Williams, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said in a position paper issued today and available at:

CJFE also announced it has contributed CA$5,000 towards Williams's legal defence costs as he prepares to fight a civil suit brought against him, also by the Ontario Attorney General. We invite others to do the same.

"The Stephen Williams case should alarm anyone who believes in the right to free expression, the right to criticize public officials, and the right to write," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said.

"Williams faces 97 criminal charges and a civil lawsuit, both brought by a provincial government with deep pockets. He has already spent a night in jail - all of this because he wrote two books critical of police and prosecutors in the Bernardo-Homolka case."

In addition to calling for an end to the prosecution of Williams, the eight-page CJFE paper recommends that governments develop new, more transparent, legislation on publication bans. We note that Williams was charged with violating one or more publication bans which themselves are secret. CJFE also calls for an end to the practice of jailing people for publishing banned information where no threat to the community is posed.

CJFE is an association of 400 journalists, editors, producers, publishers, students and other advocates of free expression who work to preserve and promote media freedom and free expression.

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