Peter Wright: 'Freedom of speech must unite journalists'

A Turkish journalist jailed for republishing an interview given by his father which mentioned the Armenian genocide has won the 2008 Index on Censorship journalism award.

Arat Dink is executive editor of the Armenian newspaper Agos and was sentenced to a year in prison in October 2007 for ‘denigrating Turkishness”. His crime was to republish an interview given to Reuters by his father Hrant Dink, the former chief editor of Agos, who was assassinated by a teenage nationalist in 2007.

The award was sponsored by The Guardian and presented by Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright, who was also one of the judges.

He said: ‘Whether you are on the right or the left, whether you are Berliner or tabloid – freedom of speech and freedom of the press is the one cause that must unite all journalists.”

Talking about the journalism prize winner, Wright said: ‘His work is particularly significant because it is done in a country that seeks to be the next member of the EU.”

The new media award went to Wikileaks, a website founded by Chinese dissisdents and which is run by journalists, mathematicians and IT experts around the world. Its aim is to develop an ‘uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis”.

Among the material hosted on the site for whistle blowers is an operations manual for guards at Guantanamo Bay. Earlier this year the site defeated a bid by a Swiss bank to close it down in the US courts.

The film award went to Iraqi film Ahlaam which depicted the situation in Iraq before and during the US invasion of 2003.

Members of the team were who made the film were held at various times by Al Quaeda, other militia fighters and the US military.

The book award went to Francisco Goldman for The Art of Political Murder – a book detailing the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi two days after a church-sponsored report implicated the Guatemala government in the disappearance of 200,000 civilians.

It tells the story of how the church employed a group of men called ‘The Untouchables’to uncover the killers.

The law and campaigning award went to U Gambira – the jailed leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance.

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