CPJ Honoring Four Third-World Journos, Former 'N.Y. Times' Columnist Anthony Lewis

By: E&P Staff The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is honoring four journalists who have faced imprisonment, violent threats and censorship with its 2009 International Press Freedom Awards, the New York City-based organization announced Wednesday.

Mustafa Haji Abdinur of Somalia; Naziha R?jiba of Tunisia; Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan; and J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka will be presented the awards at a ceremony in November.

"These are reporters who risk their personal freedom and often their lives to ensure that independent voices resonate within their nations and across the globe," CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger said in the announcement. "Their fearlessness to report the news in the face of great obstacles is an inspiration to us all."

CPJ also announced former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis will receive the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for "lifetime achievement in recognition of his continued efforts to ensure a free press around the world."

The awards will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City Nov. 24 at a black-tie dinner chaired by Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and hosted by Christiane Amanpour, a CPJ board member and CNN's chief international correspondent.

Mustafa Haji Abdinur of Somalia has seen six of his colleagues die this year on the streets of Mogadishu, either caught in the crossfire of battling insurgents or gunned down for their work, CPJ said. "

He is one of a very small number of courageous journalists still working in Mogadishu despite ongoing violence and a shattered economy," CPJ said of the Agence France-Presse correspondent in Mogadishu and editor-in-chief of independent radio station Radio Simba.

Naziha Rejiba of Tunisia is editor of the independent online news journal Kalima, which is blocked in Tunisia. "In a country where the media is heavily restricted and the government actively harasses the few independent journalists who attempt to write critically of the government, Rejiba, also known as Um Ziad, has been the target of intimidation and harassment since November 1987, when President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali came to power in a coup," CPJ said.

Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan was working as an investigative reporter for the opposition magazine Monitor in 2005 when his colleague and Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov was assassinated. Two years later he published an article accusing Azerbaijani authorities of obstructing the investigation into the killing and alleging that Huseynov's murder was ordered by high-ranking officials in Baku. "Four days later, Fatullayev began receiving death threats," CPJ said. That was followed by a libel conviction, and a series of "politicized charges including 'terrorism' for an analysis of Azerbaijan's policies toward Iran," CPJ said. He was convicted and is serving an eight-year sentence.

J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka was arrested in a March 2008 sweep of ethnic Tamil journalists. He was convicted of inciting "communal disharmony" for two articles written nearly three years earlier in a defunct magazine. Earlier this month he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


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