Press Freedom Awards 2002 – Announcement

International Press Freedom Awards

New York, October 22, 2002–The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will present its 2002 International Press Freedom Awards to four journalists–from Colombia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Eritrea–who have reported fearlessly on government malfeasance. They have survived brutal physical attack, endured death threats, defied criminal charges, and suffered imprisonment, all in reprisal for their work.

The 12th Annual International Press Freedom Awards will be presented at a dinner ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Tuesday, November 26. Thomas H. Glocer, chief executive of Reuters Group PLC, will chair the black-tie dinner, which NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw will host. Other speakers at the awards ceremony include Mike Wallace of CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Paul Steiger of The Wall Street Journal, Paula Zahn of CNN, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Josh Friedman.

2002 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardees:

Ignacio Gómez
is one of Colombia’s leading investigative journalists and press freedom activists. He has untangled a complex web of violent conspiracies despite routinely receiving death threats and narrowly escaping a kidnapping attempt. [For more information about Ignacio Gómez, click here.]

Tipu Sultan
is an award-winning free-lance reporter from Bangladesh. He was savagely beaten with iron bars and hockey sticks and left for dead after writing an article last year about a corrupt politician. Sultan miraculously survived the attack and, after extensive rehabilitation, is working again as a reporter. [For more information about Tipu Sultan, click here.]

Irina Petrushova is founder and editor-in-chief of the business weekly Respublika in Kazakhstan. Petrushova’s paper exposes government corruption, while she has endured grisly death threats, criminal charges, and Molotov cocktails that burned Respublika‘s office to the ground. [For more information about Irina Petrushova, click here.]

Fesshaye Yohannes is a writer and co-founder of Setit, a popular Eritrean newspaper. He was imprisoned last September with nine other journalists after authorities banned all of Eritrea’s independent newspapers for “jeopardizing national unity.” He is being held incommunicado without charges. [For more information about Fesshaye Yohannes, click here.]

Burton Benjamin Memorial Award:

CPJ will also honor Daniel Pearl (1963-2002), South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award. The Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, given for a lifetime of distinguished achievement for the cause of press freedom, honors the late CBS News senior producer and former CPJ chairman, who died in 1988. By giving this award to Pearl, CPJ is recognizing his courage, talent, and intelligence as a reporter.

Pearl had been South Asia bureau chief for almost two years when he was kidnapped and murdered while working on a story in Karachi, Pakistan, early this year. Pearl was 38 years old.

Throughout his career, Pearl was known as an enterprising and tenacious reporter with an eye for detail and a quick wit. A graduate of Stanford University, he worked for several small regional newspapers before joining the Wall Street Journal in 1990, where he made his reputation by writing the quirky feature stories that appear on the newspaper’s front page. He reported as a foreign correspondent from London, Paris, and Bombay.

Pearl’s wife, Mariane Pearl, will accept the award in his honor.

“Now more than ever, journalists around the world face personal danger as they try to report the truth,” said David Laventhol, chairman of CPJ’s board of directors. “CPJ is pleased to recognize these journalist heroes. They set an example for all of us.”

Ann Cooper, CPJ executive director, said of the awardees, “Through their reporting, all of these journalists have exposed corrupt and lawless officials. By holding those in power accountable, these journalists often pay a high personal price for their work.”