CPJ Welcomes Release of
Christine Anyanwu
Calls for Freeing of All Imprisoned Nigerian Journalists

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New York, N.Y., July 21, 1998

"She's here, she's here!" Word swept through CPJ's New York office as Nigerian journalist Christine Anyanwu arrived Wednesday, July 21, for a long-awaited visit. Anyanwu, recipient -- in absentia -- of a 1997 CPJ International Press Freedom Award last November, was freed on June 15 from the Nigeria prison where she had spent three grueling, tortuous years.

Publisher and editor in chief of The Sunday Magazine, Anyanwu was arrested in May 1995 and sentenced for treason on trumped-up charges that she tried to undermine Gen. Sani Abacha's government through her work as a journalist. In specific, she had published articles debunking accusations of a plot to overthrow Abacha's military regime. The articles reported that no evidence existed to support the allegations, which were a ruse to round up Abacha's political opponents.


Christine Anyanwu

 

CPJ led a campaign, organized by Africa Program Coordinator Kakuna Kerina, to gain the release of Anyanwu and other imprisoned Nigerian journalists. Anyanwu, whose health and eyesight severely deteriorated because of her harsh treatment while in jail, maintained a calm dignity as she talked to CPJ about the deprivations of her prison years and the long struggle she forsees for herself and all unjustly accused journalists to win full exoneration of their names. Although Abacha's successor, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, commuted her sentence, she is determined to seek clearance of all criminal charges against her.

CPJ Executive Director Ann K. Cooper presented Anyanwu with the plaque commemorating her award, and invited her to attend the 1998 awards ceremony in New York on November 24 to formally receive it.


Read About the 11 Journalists Still Imprisoned in Nigeria.