Syrian free speech fighter to get Riga press prize

Syrian journalist and human rights activist, Mazen Darwish, has been selected as the laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, the Latvian Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

The official award ceremony will take place at the Latvian National Library on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, in the middle of three days of press-related activity and parallel events, including a Special Session related to Russian-speaking media at the Media Studies Centre of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga on 2 May.

Mazen Darwish has been active as an advocate of press freedom in Syria for more than a decade, at great personal sacrifice, enduring a travel ban, harassment, repeated arrests and torture.

He has been detained by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad since February 2012.

President of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, he was one of the founders of the Voice newspaper, Media Club, the first Syrian magazine about media affairs and syriaview.net, an independent news site, which has been banned.

The winner of the prize was selected by an independent jury consisting of internationally recognised media professionals.

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was established in honor of Guillermo Cano Isaza, the editor of a Colombian newspaper, El Espectador, assassinated in 1986 for his active criticism of Colombian drug cartels.

The World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger and comes with a prize of USD 25,000.

Peter Greste, the Latvian-Australian reporter jailed in Egypt for his reporting work with Al Jazeera, is expected to be among the participants at the press freedom events.

LSM's English-language service congratulates Mazen Darwish on his deserved award and joins those calling for his immediate release by the Syrian authorities.

Read more about Mazen Darwish here.

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