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Imprisoned journalist Dawit Isaak awarded freedom prize

Published torsdag 30 mars kl 12.45
Dawit Isaak
Dawit Isaak was imprisoned in Eritrea in 2001. Credit: KALLE AHLSÉN

Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak was awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, Thursday, in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression."

Isaak, a playwright and journalist who moved to Sweden in 1987 has been imprisoned without trial in his native Eritrea for nearly 16 years.

Isaak had returned to his homeland after its independence and was one of the founders of the newspaper Setit, the country's first independent newspaper. Following the publication of a letter complaining about the lack of democratic reforms in Eritrea, and in the shadow of the terror attacks in USA in September 2001, the country's President ordered the arrest of his critics and closed all the independent press in the country. 11 politicians and 10 journalists were jailed, one of them was Dawit Isaak.

An independent international jury of media professionals chose to award him the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The head of Swedish Radio, Cilla Benkö, is President of the prize jury.

"Dawit Isaak joins a long list of courageous journalists who have persevered to shed light in the dark spaces; keeping their communities informed against all odds," she said.

"Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truth. Many have been imprisoned. Dawit Isaak has spent nearly 16 years in jail, without charge or trial. I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, 'Free Dawit Isaak Now.'"

The prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.

Isaak has a wife in Gothenburg and three children.

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