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Six champions of free expression, including an Eritrean journalist behind bars and an organisation that exposes violence against journalists in Iraq, are this year's winners of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) - Fondation de France prizes. The awards pay tribute to organisations and individuals who commit themselves to promoting free expression, often at great risk to their lives.

Eritrean journalist Seyoum Tsehaye was chosen as journalist of the year. A prominent journalist who resigned as head of national television and then radio in protest at the authoritarian direction President Issais Afeworki was taking, Tsehaye has been in an unknown jail since 2001.

Demonstrations by Buddhist monks and the crackdown that followed put Burma at the top of the news agenda in September. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norwegian-based news agency run by Burmese exiles, won this year's media prize for being one of the most reliable sources of news during the crisis.

The Journalistic Freedom Observatory in Iraq, established in 2004, was awarded the press freedom defender prize for its role in exposing violence against journalists. Most of the founding members had themselves been victims of police brutality.

Kareem Amer, a young Egyptian blogger who is serving a four-year jail sentence for criticising Islam and the Egyptian President, is the laureate in the "cyber-dissident prevented from informing the public online" category.

Finally, less than a year to go before the Beijing Games, RSF has awarded a special "China" prize to husband-and-wife team Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan. The human rights activists are under house arrest but continue to try to keep the local and international communities informed of the damaging effects of the preparations for next year's Olympic Games.

To learn more about the winners and the runners-up, visit:

(11 December 2007)

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