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Gambian editor Pap Saine named IPI World Press Freedom Hero

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 8 July 2010 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today named Gambian publisher and editor Pap Saine an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in honour of his courageous work for press freedom in the face of attacks and harassment. Pap Saine is the publisher and editor of The Point, and a long-time Reuters correspondent for West and Central Africa.

Pap Saine co-founded the independent newspaper The Point in 1991, in collaboration with colleagues Deyda Hydara and Babucarr Gaye. Following Gaye's resignation, Saine and Hydara ran the paper together until Hydara's assassination in December 2004.

Because of his reporting, Saine has been arrested, criminally charged and imprisoned. In 2009, Saine was sentenced to two years in prison with five other journalists, who had criticized Gambian President Yahyah Jammeh's comments about Hydara's unsolved murder and press freedom. They were pardoned by the president in September, to coincide with the month of Ramadan.

In a letter written to IPI after Saine received news of his award, Saine wrote, "I believe also that in days of darkness as we fight against unfair treatment and human rights abuses, there was always a search light on us and your institute has just proven that."

On Thursday, Saine told IPI by phone: "It was a big surprise to receive this award and it will boost the morale of journalists at my paper. It is a big motivation and inspiration for journalists who are fighting for freedom of the press and the interests of justice, democracy and human rights not only in the Gambia but in all of Africa."

Pap Saine is the third journalist from West Africa to be named an IPI World Press Freedom Hero, after Kenneth Best of Liberia and Freedom Neruda of the Ivory Coast.

"Since the tragic murder of Deyda Hydara, Pap Saine has continued to lead The Point newspaper with courage and integrity," said IPI Director David Dadge. "I am proud to announce Pap Saine as IPI's 58th World Press Freedom Hero, because despite arrests, imprisonment and the loss of his friend Hydara, Saine has continued to fight for press freedom."

The nomination of Pap Saine was approved by the five-member IPI World Press Freedom Hero jury, which includes:

- Raymond Louw, editor & publisher, Southern Africa Report; IPI Fellow (Chair of the Jury)
- N. Ravi, editor, The Hindu, India; IPI board member
- Galina Sidorova, editor-in-chief, Sovershenno Secretno, Russia; IPI board member
- Ferai Tinc, columnist, Hürriyet Daily, Turkey; IPI board member
- H.D.S. Greenway, columnist and former editorial page editor, The Boston Globe, Boston, MA; IPI fellow

Saine will be one of 60 World Press Freedom Heroes honoured in a ceremony to commemorate IPI's 60th year of defending press freedom worldwide at the IPI World Congress in Vienna and Bratislava, from 11-14 September 2010.

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