Two Russian news outlets have been banned from attending a media freedom conference in London after being accused of spreading “disinformation”.
Russian television network RT and news agency Sputnik have not been given accreditation for the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2019, which is being held in the Capital on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has organised the event, said: “We are keen that international media cover the Global Conference on Media Freedom.
“Journalists from across the world’s media are attending the Conference, including from Russia.
“We have not accredited RT and Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.”
A spokesman for RT told: “It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media; sadly, the world has learned to expect just that from the UK Foreign Office.”
The Russian Embassy in the UK reacted with anger to the Foreign Office decision, accusing it of politically motivated discrimination.
It tweeted: “Refusal of accreditation of [RT] to the Defend Media Freedom Conference in London amounts to direct politically motivated discrimination of the Russian channel”, adding, “RT channel refused accreditation to Defend Media Freedom Conference in London. What other illustration of media freedom in UK do we need?”
The Foreign Office decision comes after a ruling last December by the UK’s media regulator Ofcom that RT was in breach of broadcasting rules in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March 2018.
Following an investigation, Ofcom said “the RT news channel broke broadcasting rules by failing to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes over a six-week period”.
The media freedom conference, co-hosted with Canada, is the first of its kind and will bring together around 60 ministers and 1,000 journalists from across the globe to discuss countering disinformation, media sustainability, protection and prosecution.
Among the guest speakers expected at the conference is international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.