Four fearless journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Liberia were honored Tuesday, November 20, evening at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 22nd International Press Freedom Awards benefit dinner, an annual recognition of courageous journalism, hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill.
Award winners Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker imprisoned in China, and Azimjon Askarov, a reporter with Ferghana News serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan, were honored in absentia, their plaques to be held until they are released. Journalist and author Kati Marton, who presented the awards to Wangchen and Askarov, asked guests to join the more than 8,000 people who had signed online petitions demanding their freedom.
Mauri König, an investigative reporter with Brazil’s Gazeta do Povo, whose probing of human rights and corruption has resulted in him being attacked and threatened, received his award from Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of The Associated Press, presented the award to Mae Azango of FrontPage Africa and New Narratives. Azango’s reporting on the sensitive issue of female genital mutilation in Liberia pushed her into hiding this year. CPJ also paid homage to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, by awarding him the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his unwavering commitment to press freedom. The award was presented by Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate Group.
The awards dinner was chaired by David Boies, chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, a longtime CPJ supporter whose inspiring remarks focused on the importance of a free press and its relevance to the rule of law.
The event, held at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel, raised a record $1.6 million for CPJ’s work denouncing anti-press violations, providing assistance to targeted journalists, and advocating for press freedom worldwide. The nearly 900 distinguished guests at the event also pledged support for CPJ’s Campaign Against Impunity during a special appeal that raised just over $100,000, most of which will be matched two-to-one by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
CPJ 2012 International Press Freedom Awardees:
Mauri König, Brazil
Dhondup Wangchen, China
Azimjon Askarov, Kyrgyzstan