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Jailed Syrian Journalist Wins 2015 World Press Freedom Prize
Mazen Darwish, jailed since 2012 by Syrian authorities for his media work and human rights advocacy, has been awarded the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
This year’s event was hosted by Latvia and an international jury headed by Myanmar’s Ko-ko, which recommended Darwish for the prize, called for his release alongside other detained activists.
Darwish is a lawyer and press freedom advocate, according to UNESCO, and also the leader of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, CMFE. He was arrested in 2012 with two of his colleagues, Hani Al-Zitani and Hessein Ghareer.
The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was established in 1997 by the Board of the Organisation and seeks to honour and individual or organisation that has contributed to fight for press freedom. It is funded by the Cano Foundation and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation and has a monetary value of $25, 000.
It was named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a vocal Colombian journalist whose writings greatly offended drug lords and their cartels. He was assassinated in 1986.
Christina Anyanwu, then editor of The Sunday Magazine, was the first of only three African journalists to receive the award. The Nigerian journalist was also the second ever recipient of the award in 1998. She was jailed in 1995 following a reported failed coup against the government of Sani Abacha.
Held in solitary confinement in Gombe Prison, Anyanwau, now a Senator and founder of Hot FM in Abuja, was sentenced to life in prison but later reduced to 15 years following calls for her release by human rights activists and both local and foreign journalists.