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Egyptian editor wins Gebran Tueni Award for journalism.

Byline: Daily Star Staff

Summary: Ibrahim Essa, editor in chief of the Egyptian daily Al-Dustour, was awarded the 2008 Gebran Tueni Award, the annual prize of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) that honors an editor or publisher in the Arab region. The prize, which was created in memory of Tueni, the Lebanese publisher.

BEIRUT: Ibrahim Essa, editor in chief of the Egyptian daily Al-Dustour, was awarded the 2008 Gebran Tueni Award, the annual prize of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) that honors an editor or publisher in the Arab region. The prize, which was created in memory of Tueni, the Lebanese publisher and WAN Board Member who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in December 2005, recognizes Essa's commitment to freedom of the press, his courage, leadership, ambition and high managerial and professional standards, according to a statement released by WAN on Tuesday.

Essa will receive the award during the third Arab Free Press Forum, to be held in Beirut, Lebanon, next week (full details at http://www.wan-press.org/arabfreepressforum ).

Essa said he was honored to receive an award associated with Gebran Tueni and WAN because of their defense of press freedom in the Arab world and beyond.

"Moreover, the award gives a kiss of life to writers in Arab countries, where the press is suffocated," he said.

Al-Dustour, founded in 1995, was closed by the Egyptian authorities from 1998 to 2005 after it published a letter from the militant group Gamaa al-Islamiya. Its circulation has grown from 50,000 when it resumed publishing, to 120,000 today, in large part because of Essa's leadership.

Essa remains determined to provide professional and quality coverage of events, despite censorship, indictments and court cases, the WAN statement said.

He was sentenced to two months in prison in September 2008 for "propagating false news and rumors causing a general security disturbance and harming the public interest" in connection with articles concerning the health of President Hosni Mubarak. He was pardoned by Mubarak in October.

Essa is currently appealing another conviction and is free on bail pending the outcome. In September 2007, Essa, along with Adel Hammouda of the weekly Al-Fagr, Wael al-Abrashi of the weekly Soat al-Ommah, and Abdel Halim Kandeel of the weekly Al-Karama, each received one-year jail sentences for "defaming the president."

Essa and Al-Dustour journalist Sahar Zaki had earlier been sentenced to a year in prison for "insulting the president" and "spreading false rumors" for their April 2005 coverage of a legal case against Mubarak. The prison sentence was dismissed on appeal in February 2007 and the two were fined 22,500 Egyptian pounds ($4,070).

About 30 journalists work for Al-Dustour. Most of them are young and committed to independent journalism. The award carries a 10,000-euro ($12,716) scholarship to enable Essa to undertake advanced newspaper leadership training.

Tueni was a unique figure in WAN affairs for almost 20 years, as a leading member of its Press Freedom Committee, a board member for more than a decade, a regular participant in missions to press freedom "hot spots" and a constant adviser and support to the leadership of the organization on Arab and press freedom issues.

WAN and the Tueni family created the award to encourage other courageous and independent publishers, editors and newspapers in the Arab world.

The inaugural Gebran Tueni Award, presented in 2006, was made to Nadia al-Saqqaf, Editor in chief of the Yemen Times. Last year's prize went to Michel Hajji Georgiou, a senior political analyst at the French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour in Lebanon.

The Paris-based WAN defends and promotes press freedom and the interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership include 77 national associations, companies and individual executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 11 regional and world-wide press groups. - The Daily Star

Copyright 2008, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Dec 3, 2008
Words:654
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