The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for media freedom, today expressed outrage over the killing of five newspaper employees, including four journalists, at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in the U.S. state of Maryland. 

Five staff members of the newspaper, based in Annapolis, were killed on June 28 when an attacker armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades forced his way into the paper’s office and sprayed the newsroom with bullets. 

“The attack on the Capital Gazette raises important questions about the possible consequences of the anti-media and anti-press-freedom rhetoric that political and opinion leaders in the U.S. have expressed”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said. “A thorough debate around this important point will be necessary to ensure that journalists in the U.S. are able to carry out their profession without fear of retaliation.”

She added: “The global IPI community stands with the colleagues, families and friends of the victims of the Annapolis shooting. Yesterday’s killing was an attack against free journalism worldwide.”

Media reports said the suspect, who has been arrested, had brought a defamation suit against several of the paper’s journalists in 2012 after the Capital Gazette reported on a criminal case in which the suspect plead guilty to harassing a woman on social media. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit, a ruling upheld by a higher court in 2015. 

According to IPI’s Death Watch, as many as 48 journalists have been killed in the line of duty so far in 2018. A majority of these journalists died in targeted killings for exposing corruption.