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President Barack Obama issued a statement heralding World Press Freedom Day in May 2012, at the same time his Department of Justice was secretly obtaining phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors.

“On this World Press Freedom Day, the United States honors the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies,” Obama said in a statement on May 3, 2012.  “We pay special tribute to those journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom or personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.”

The AP disclosed on Monday that the Justice Department obtained telephone records of 20 separate lines, including all outgoing calls and personal phone numbers, in April and May of 2012. The AP is the world’s largest wire service serving newspapers, websites and broadcast media.

“We call on all governments to protect the ability of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely without retribution and to stop the use of travel bans and other indirect forms of censorship to suppress the exercise of these universal rights,” Obama said in the May 3, 2012 statement.

Obama issued a similar statement for World Press Freedom Day in 2011, 2010 and 2009, but not for 2013.

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