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Fondation de France Prize for 2006 Nominees

Press release
Paris, 8 December 2006

The Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Prize for 2006 will be awarded in Paris on 12 December. This prize is given to:

- A journalist who has demonstrated a commitment to press freedom in his or her work, in the views he or she has expressed publicly, or in the stance he or she has taken

- A news media that embodies the struggle for the right to inform and be informed

- A defender of press freedom

- A cyber-dissident who has been prevented from providing news and information on the Internet.

Here is the list of nominees in each of the four categories. You will find more information about each of them on the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org).

The "Journalist of the Year" and the winners in the three other categories are chosen by a 35-member international jury.

"Journalist of the Year" category:

1/ Dawit Isaac, Eritrea
The owner of the weekly Setit, journalist Dawit Isaac, 42, was arrested on 23 September 2001 during a round-up that followed the closure of all of Eritrea's privately-owned press. He is one of 13 detained newspaper publishers, editors and journalists who are accused by the government, without any evidence, of being "traitors" and "spies" for Ethiopia.

2/ U Win Tin, Burma
More than 17 years in prison and failing health have not broken the will of the man known by his comrades as the "Wise One." Aged 76 and now in a special cell in Insein prison near Rangoon, U Win Tin still refuses to renege on his commitment to the opposition National League for Democracy, which was robbed of a sweeping election victory in 1990. He still insists that he and all of Burma's thousands of other prisoners of conscience must be released unconditionally.

3/ Hollman Felipe Morris, Colombia

In a country torn by civil war for more than 40 years, 36-year-old journalist Hollman Morris has become one of the most respected specialists in the peace process and human rights. In 2003, he took over as producer/presenter of "Contravía" (Contrarian), a programme about the civil war and human rights initiatives. His investigative journalism has won him many enemies. A fierce critic of President Álvaro Úribe, he is in the sights of all the armed groups and has repeatedly been threatened.

Media Category

1/ Democratic Voice of Burma, Burma
A radio station founded in 1992 by pro-democracy students who had escaped the 1988 massacres, the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma launched the first independent Burmese TV station, DVB TV, in 2005. Although broadcasting TV programmes just two hours a week, it reaches all of Burma and has upset the generals in Rangoon, who are used to keeping tight control over the news carried by the Burmese media.

2/ Uthayan, Sri Lanka
Widely read in Jaffna, the daily Uthayan has maintained a relatively independent editorial line for nearly 20 years, despite the civil war raging in northern Sir Lanka. At least five of its employees have been killed this year, two of them in an attack on the newspaper on the eve of World Press Freedom Day. The press that prints the Colombo edition was the target of an arson attack in September. In Jaffna, the newspaper has twice been forced to publish communiqués at gunpoint.

3/ An-Nahar, Lebanon
Founded in August 1933, An-Nahar is Lebanon's leading Arabic-language daily newspaper. Moderate and liberal, it is viewed as a newspaper of record, one read by intellectuals, students and businessmen alike. It was spared in the recent war with Israel, which hit many of Lebanon's media and caused the death of a journalist. But it was badly hit in 2005, when Samir Kassir, who had been a columnist with the newspaper for 10 years, was killed by a car-bomb in June and Gebran Tueni, its general manager was killed by a car-bomb in December.

4/ Novaya Gazeta, Russia
Novaya Gazeta is known for its investigative journalism and for exposing corruption in the Russian government. Very critical of the Putin administration, it published many reports by Anna Politkovskaya, both on Chechnya and on the way Russian society has evolved. Politkovskaya also covered violence against journalists and other press freedom violations for the newspaper.

Cyber-dissident Category

1/ Habib Saleh, Syria
President Bashar al-Assad has turned Syria into one of the Internet's worst black holes. Online opposition publications are systematically filtered and the political police hunt down dissidents and independents journalists who use the Internet to express their views. Writer and businessman Habib Saleh, 59, is one of the victims of this crackdown on cyber-dissent. He was arrested on 29 May 2005, accused of disseminating "mendacious reports" on the Internet, and sentenced to three years in prison in an unfair trial.

2/ Yang Zili, China
A computer specialist, Yang Zili was sentenced on 28 May 2003 to eight years in prison for "subverting state authority." His crime was to have posted articles on his website, The Garden of Yang Zili's Ideas (lib.126.com), advocating political liberalism, criticising the government's crackdown on the Falungong spiritual movement and deploring the economic woes of the peasantry.


3/ Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, Cuba
The head of the independent Cubanacán Press agency, Guillermo Fariñas staged an all-out hunger strike in February 2006, taking no food or liquid, to press his demand for unrestricted Internet access for all Cubans. The authorities had to hospitalise him and forcibly put him on a drip in order to put an end to the protest, which was getting increasing attention in the international news media.

Defender of Press Freedom Category

1/ Centro de Periodismo y Etica Pública (CEPET), Mexico
Founded in Mexico by journalist Leonarda Reyes, the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) was not originally dedicated to defending free expression. But it soon made this its priority as Mexico became one of the western hemisphere's most dangerous countries for journalists from 2004 onwards.

2/ Tajigul Begmedova, Turkmenistan
Tajigul Begmedova heads the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. She founded this organisation in Bulgaria, where she has lived since March 2002 after being forced to go into exile because of increasing harassment inside Turkmenistan. Since then, she has constantly denounced human rights violations by what is one of the world's most repressive regimes for journalists.

3/ Journalist in Danger (JED), Democratic Republic of Congo
Founded by journalists Donat M'Baya Tshimanga and Tshivis Tshivuadi in 1997 and based in Kinshasa, Journalist in Danger (JED) is one of Africa's most active and respected press freedom organisations. It is tireless in reminding journalists of their responsibilities in a country where many of them are easily bribed. It is also spearheading the struggle to get the government to reform draconian legislation under which journalists are regularly imprisoned.

4/ Anwar Al Bunni, Syria
Lawyer and human rights activist Anwar Al Bunni is a founding member of the Organisation for Human Rights in Syria and president of the Prisoners of Conscience Defence Committee. He has taken many risks to expose and denounce the Baathist regime's abuses in recent years, and acts as legal representative for many of the activists who fall victim to the "Moukhabarat" (the intelligence services). He is frequently cited by international organisations, which regard him as a reliable and independent source who can help to explain the situation in Syria.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE CEREMONY

The award ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. on 12 December

A tribute will be paid to Gebran Tueni, the general manager of the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, who was murdered on 12 December 2005. Yalda Younès will perform NON, a dance number written by Zad Moultaka in homage to Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir.

Those attending will include:
- Mustapha Cherif, an Algerian philosopher, who will comment on one of the most dramatic developments for press freedom in 2006, the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.
- Fernando Castelló, president of Reporters Without Borders International
- Robert Ménard, secretary-general

ENDS

www.rsf.org

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