Press release

Freedom House Mourns the Passing of Fred Hiatt, Washington Post Editorial Page Editor and Formidable Rights Defender

Under Hiatt’s leadership, the Post editorial and opinion pages became a journalistic home for the world’s human rights activists and a powerful platform for challenging its despots and autocrats.

It is with deep sadness that we learned of the death of journalist and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt. Serving as editorial page editor since 2000, Hiatt was an outstanding journalist and a tireless advocate for democratic values and human rights. Under his leadership, the Post editorial and opinion pages became a journalistic home for the world’s human rights activists, and a powerful platform for challenging its despots and autocrats. His death is not only a source of personal sadness for his many friends and admirers at Freedom House; it also represents a heavy blow for the human rights and democracy movements.

Under Hiatt, the editorial page’s campaign to demand accountability for the murder of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi authorities in Turkey ensured that the egregious actions by the Saudi government were not swept under the rug. Dissidents from places as diverse as Myanmar, Hong Kong, Xinjiang Province, Egypt, North Korea, and Sudan always knew they had a sympathetic champion in Hiatt.

Freedom House awarded Hiatt its Raising Awareness Award in 2011 for his tremendous contribution to the field of journalism, particularly in highlighting threats to freedom around the world—which have only gotten worse since.

“At a time when journalists are under immense pressure and journalism is deeply embattled, Fred exemplified the best of his profession. He was deeply committed to shining a light on undemocratic forces around the world and supporting those fighting dictatorships. And he did so with the highest personal and journalistic integrity,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “He will be deeply missed not only among the journalistic community but also among democratic activists around the world who could always count on his hard-hitting, honest, and principled writing. We can honor Fred’s legacy by fighting even harder to protect journalists and human rights defenders around the world, and to ensure that our core freedoms and rights are vigorously protected.”