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Eskinder Nega has been awarded the 2014, annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
The award was presented Monday, June 9, in Turin, Italy, during the opening ceremonies of the 66th World Newspaper Congress, 21st World Editors Forum and 24th World Advertising Forum, before 1,000 publishers, chief editors, CEOs, managing directors and their guests.
“This Golden Pen is more important than food, medicine and water. It materializes the support and shows that he is not forgotten. That he is one of us. That an attack on one journalist is an attack on us all and that jailing a journalist is a crime against humanity,” Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye said, accepting the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom on behalf of imprisoned publisher and blogger Eskinder Nega.
Arrested in 2011, Eskinder is serving an 18-year jail sentence convicted on terrorism charges.
“Eskinder Nega has become an emblem of Ethiopia’s recent struggle for democracy,” World Editors Forum President Erik Bjerager said, delivering the Golden Pen. “No stranger to prison, he is also an unforgettable warning to every working Ethiopian journalist and editor that the quest to create a just, free society comes with a heavy price,” Bjerager said.
Eskinder’s former prison mate, Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye, accepted the award on the jailed journalist’s behalf, at the invitation of Eskinder’s family. Schibbye is a freelance journalist who was jailed for 14 months in Kaliti Prison, along with his photographer Johan Persson. They were pardoned and released in September 2012.