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Bulletin: summer 2011, Volume 16, Number 3

Silha Lecture Features Mark Stephens,
International Free Expression Advocate

On Oct. 4, 2011, international media lawyer and free expression advocate Mark Stephens will present the Silha Center’s 26th Annual Lecture, “Free Speech and the Digital Challenge Around the Globe: A Conversation With Mark Stephens.” Stephens specializes in defending free speech and freedom of information worldwide as head of the International and Media department for the London-based law firm Finers Stephens Innocent.

Stephens, who The Times of London has described as “one of the best advocates for freedom of expression,” has litigated high profile cases in the United Kingdom, United States, Iraq, Singapore, and Russia, among other places. In 2010 and 2011 he was involved in the proceedings to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden. (For more on the U.S. government’s pursuit of WikiLeaks in response to its release of classified government documents, see “Judges Rebuke Government on Leak Prosecutions” on page 9 of this issue of the Silha Bulletin, “Open Government Advocates Criticize Obama’s Prosecution of Leakers” in the Winter/Spring 2011 issue, and “WikiLeaks’ Document Dump Sparks Debate” in the Summer 2010 issue. Silha Center Director Jane Kirtley discussed “The WikiLeaks Quandary” in the Director’s Note in the Fall 2010 issue.)

In 2002, Stephens successfully opposed attempts to force Washington Post correspondent Jonathan Randal to testify before the Hague War Crimes Tribunal about atrocities he observed while covering the Yugoslav War in the 1990s. Stephens argued that “compelling journalists to give evidence at war crimes trials puts their lives at risk because they become automatic targets.”  (For more on the Jonathan Randal case, see “Former Washington Post Reporter Subpoenaed by International Criminal Tribunal” in the in the Summer 2002 issue of the Silha Bulletin, and “Qualified Privilege for War Correspondents Recognized by ICTY” in the Winter 2003 issue.)

Stephens is a Trustee of Index on Censorship, and Chair of the International Board of the Media Legal Defence Initiative. In June 2011, he was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to the legal profession and the arts.

The lecture will be held at 7:00 p.m. in Coffman Union Theater on the East Bank Campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and will include an opportunity for audience Q & A. The event is free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets are required.

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Silha Center activities, including the annual lecture, are made possible by a generous endowment from the late Otto Silha and his wife, Helen. For further information, please visit www.silha.umn.edu or contact the Silha Center at 612-625-3421 or silha@umn.edu.

– Elaine Hargrove
Silha Center Staff

– Patrick File
Silha Bulletin Editor

September 1, 2011