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Detained Eritrean journalist is 2011 Golden Pen of Freedom Laureate


Dawit Isaak, a founder of Eritrea's first independent newspaper who has been detained incommunicado for the past nine years without charge or trial, has won the 2011 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). He turned 46 on 27 October. Sign a petition for his release.

Isaak, who has dual Eritrean-Swedish citizenship, was imprisoned following a September 2001 suppression of the independent media in Eritrea - this year's world's worse country for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The country has no private newspapers, radio or television stations.

His crime was to have printed a letter in his now-closed daily "Setit" - a letter written by a group of government ministers and generals calling for democratisation in Eritrea. Of the 14 newspaper owners, editors and journalists who were also arrested, four of them have died in jail, reports WAN-IFRA.

Eritrea is Africa's biggest jailer of journalists, with at least 19 in jail, says WAN-IFRA. Others have been forced to flee the country. The government's repressive policies have left Eritrea largely hidden from international scrutiny and with almost no local access to independent information. The few foreign correspondents in the capital, Asmara, are subject to intense monitoring by authorities.

Sign RSF's petition for journalists like Isaak who are detained illegally in Eritrea here

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