Journalist Okke Ornstein pardoned

Dutch journalist Okke Ornstein, who was arrested in Panama last month in connection with a 2012 conviction, has been granted a pardon by President Juan Carlos Varela. The Panamanian authorities have just released a list of detainees who are to be freed, provided that the parties concerned lodge no objections within the next 3 days. This means that Mr Ornstein should be released on Friday.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders says he is relieved and happy with the decision. ‘It will be fantastic to see Mr Ornstein released and able to celebrate Christmas with his family,’ he said.

The journalist was arrested at Panama City international airport in November upon attempting to enter the country, having been convicted of criminal defamation in 2012. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawing attention to Mr Ornstein’s case through both official and political channels ever since he was arrested. Freedom of the press and protection for journalists are paramount to the Netherlands.