Legal Defense Fund for journalists

Almost everywhere in the world, journalists and media are subjected to growing judicial harassment. Prosecutions, long-running lawsuits, and imprisonment are part of the abusive judicial proceedings designed to silence reporters and media houses and to drain them of financial resources. Journalists and media organisations facing legal action because of their work can apply for support from the Legal Defense Fund.

With this Legal Defense Fund, we provide financial support to journalists and media organisations worldwide. We give support to journalists who face prosecution or imprisonment and who are unable to afford a lawyer or trial costs. This way, they will not be forced to withdraw their defense and accept the consequences of, often false, accusations.

Applying for legal support

Journalists, media workers, and media organisations who are at legal risk because of their profession can request non-structural support from the Legal Defense Fund. We can offer basic legal support for:

  • A lawyer or legal expert and other legal fees;
  • Support in prison;
  • Initial family assistance for detained media workers.

Besides that Free Press Unlimited engages in strategic litigation projects. Through these projects, support is given to cases that challenge repressive laws threatening the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.


When you apply, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • You are currently a practicing media worker or media organisation;
  • Your legal situation is a direct result of you being a media worker or media organisation;
  • Your situation can be confirmed by at least two trusted sources outside of yourself.

Are you a journalist and in need of legal support? Apply here for support.

The fund will do the utmost to provide the support as soon as possible. In the most urgent cases, support can be offered within 24 hours. For additional questions you can email us at legalfund@freepressunlimited.org or contact our Free Press Unlimited office on: +31 20 8000 400

Safety for journalists

Press freedom has been deteriorating worldwide at an alarming rate. With anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harassment against individual journalists. In addition to the excessive risks journalists are facing while covering war, conflict and crisis situations, their working environment has become increasingly dangerous with the global rise of authoritarian governments, political polarisation and the dissemination of misinformation. Political leaders do not shy away from attacking and thus silencing journalists for political gain. Governments practise intimidation and censorship of dissenting voices, also in the digital space. Criminal gangs threaten those who report on corruption.

As a result, journalists and media professionals are often unable to continue their work. Free Press Unlimited believes that journalists should be able to function as independent actors and function as change catalysts within society, especially under difficult circumstances like armed conflict and oppression.  

International partnerships

Together with our international partners we verify and discuss cases, coordinate joint efforts and aim to find sustainable solutions where possible. Free Press Unlimited currently coordinates its activities with the following networks. 

Journalists in Distress 

The Journalists in Distress network is a network of 22 international organisations providing assistance to journalists and includes the following partners:

Article 19 | Committee to Protect Journalists | Defend Defenders (EHAHRDP) | Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders | European Centre for Press and Media Freedom  | Freedom House | Front Line Defenders | International Federation of Journalists | International Media Support | Internews | International Women's Media Foundation | IREX Journalist Safety Network | Journalists helping journalists | Marie Colvin Circle | Media Legal Defence Initiative | Pen International | Pen America | Rory Peck Trust | Reporters Without Borders | SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR)

Read more about the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) project.

Covid-19 Response in Africa

Read more about the Covid-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information project.

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