Abu-Jamal sues NPR p. 19

By: Editorial Staff CELEBRATED DEATH ROW journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and his producer have sued National Public Radio for $2 million.
Their complaint, filed last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charged that when NPR pulled Abu-Jamal's reports from the program "All Things Considered" two years ago, it violated his free-speech rights and breached a contract.
Abu-Jamal's counsel contended that NPR caved to pressure from Republican presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Abu-Jamal, a former Philadelphia broadcaster and activist and past National Association of Black Journalists chapter president, was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has been on Pennsylvania's death row since 1982.
Abu-Jamal has contended that at his trial, evidence of his innocence was suppressed and prosecutors acted inappropriately.
He became a cause c?l?bre last summer as his scheduled execution drew near and supporters ? including celebrities such as Norman Mailer and Susan Sarandon, and many within NABJ's ranks ? called for a new trial. The execution was postponed, but requests for another trial were denied.
"As a publicly funded institution, NPR has a legal obligation to present a diversity of perspectives," said Debra Katz of the Washington, D.C., civil rights firm Bernabei & Katz, which is representing Abu-Jamal and the producer, Prison Radio Project.
"NPR betrayed that mission and, in doing so, violated Mumia Abu-Jamal's constitutional rights."
NPR called the censorship allegations "wholly without merit" and said it was "troubled by this attempt to use the courts to dictate to an independent news organization what material it should broadcast."
The network said it did not cancel Abu-Jamal's reports because of any outside pressure.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here