The Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri Muratov; Sebastain Lai, son of Apple News (Hong Kong) founder Jimmy Lai, currently in prison for attending a Tianamen Square vigil; and Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression are among high level speakers scheduled to appear at the inaugural World Expression Forum (WEXFO) conference to be held alongside the Norwegian Festival of Literature in Lillehammer, Norway on 30 and 31 May 2022.

Muratov is scheduled to give a keynote speech on journalism in Russia entitled ‘Lessons Learned and the Way Forward’.  With the Russian state’s clampdown on independent media his address will have even more relevance.

A Spotlight-session will introduce Sebastain Lai, the son of imprisoned news publisher Jimmy Lai who, together with Apple Newsroom in Hongkong, were the recipient of the Golden Pen Award 2021.  Khan will present an overview of the current state of freedom of expression,

Bodour al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), will take part in a discussion entitled ‘Can you promote change from the inside?  Middle Eastern Experiences’.  Fellow participants will include Rasha Al Ameer, the Lebanese publisher and novelist who was Prix Voltaire laureate 2021.

Founded last year, and led by Kristenn Einarsson who heads the IPA’s Freedom to Pubish committee, WEXFO says: ‘Freedom of speech is more important than ever. War and growing authoritarian tendencies, new technologies and cancel culture affect the status of free speech in different ways. Over two days in May, the World Expression Forum (WEXFO) will gather some of the brightest minds globally, nationally and locally, to consider freedom of speech in the current context and ask “what can we do?”’

Other speakers at the Forum include Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General, Amnesty International and Maria Ressa, the Filipino-American writer and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

WEXFO is aiming high.  It says: ‘The ambition is that this event will be just as important for the development of freedom of expression as the World Economic Forum in Davos is for the development of the world economy.’