Famous Ethiopian blogger and journalist, Eskinder Nega, has been awarded the 2017 World Press Freedom Hero, despite his being in jail since 2011.
Nega was announced winner of the prestigious award by the International Press Institute (IPI) on Tuesday for his determination and doggedness in ensuring free exchange of ideas and information amidst intimidation.
IPI Executive Director, Barbara Trionfi while announcing the result, said the award was in recognition of Nega’s “unflinching dedication to the free exchange of ideas and information and his determination, at the expense of his freedom and separation from his family, not to remain silent in the face of the Ethiopian government’s cynical attempt to use the fight against terrorism to crush legitimate dissent.”
The Ethiopian government had accused Nega of “leading a plan to throw the country into serious political chaos through a series of terrorist acts” and allegedly criticizing the country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press.
After his arrest on September 14, 2011, a court formally convicted him on June 2012 on charges of “participation in a terrorist organisation” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of a terrorist act.”
Apart from this award which makes Nega the IPI’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero, he has received several other international awards including the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)’s Golden Pen of Freedom award in 2014 and the PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2012.