UK says expects United States to continue to protect media freedoms

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign affairs Dominic Raab speaks during a daily news conference to update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain May 7, 2020. Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain expects the United States to continue its tradition of protecting media freedoms, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday when asked about protests sparked by the death of a black man pinned by his neck to the street during an arrest.

The death of 46-year-old George Floyd has sparked more than a week of nationwide protest and civil strife. While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, police in some cities have used force against journalists and protesters, and protesters have clashed with police.

Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen in widely circulated video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd gasped for air, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Asked during an interview on Sky News whether he condemned police violence in the United States, Raab said: “Anyone that saw the footage of the treatment of George Floyd would have been moved and distressed as I was, and I think seeing the protests and the violence is very distressing.”

“You mention media freedoms and journalistic freedoms, of course the U.S. has a fine tradition of protecting all of those things and yes we do expect that to continue.”

Raab said Britain would “of course” raise difficult issues with the United States when it needed to.

“We want to see America come together,” he said. “We will work with our closest ally to see what more we can do, if anything, to support that process.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge