Canadian award for Guantanamo journalist

October 23rd, 2008 - 11:17 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 23 (IANS) Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has honoured former Guantanamo detainee and current Al Jazeera reporter Sami al-Haj with its annual International Press Freedom Award.Held at Guantànamo Bay for six years, Sami al-Haj was freed May 1 this year. Never formally charged, he was pressured to become an informant against Al Jazeera in exchange for a US passport and release from Guantànamo Bay.

“Al-Haj refused and instead launched a year-long hunger-strike. The US finally released him to Sudan where he is now Al Jazeera’s news producer for liberties and human rights affairs,” the CJFE said, honouring him with its 11th annual award for courage and commitment to freedom of press.

Zimbabwe journalist Shakesman Mugari was also given the award for taking on the Mugabe government for abuse of power.

Carol Off, chairperson of the award committee, said the CJFE was honouring these international journalists who “never compromised their principles and journalistic integrity”.

“Our honourees embody the true essence of journalism and anti censorship - their efforts send a strong message that the truth cannot be silenced.”

The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony in Toronto in December.

An association of over 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers and others, CJFE works to promote press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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