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Daniel Pearl, Raymond Louw named IPI World Press Freedom Heroes

(IPI/IFEX) - 25 August 2011 - The late U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl and South African editor Raymond Louw were today named World Press Freedom Heroes by the International Press Institute. The Vienna-based press freedom organization will formally present the awards during a special ceremony at its annual World Congress, to be held between 24-27 September 2011 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered in Pakistan in 2002 while on the trail of the so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid. Born in 1963, Pearl's career in journalism began with co-founding a college newspaper. He then progressed to the North Adams Transcript and the Berkshire Eagle in western Massachusetts, then moved on to the San Francisco Business Times.

Pearl joined the Wall Street Journal in 1990, and was appointed its South Asia Bureau Chief in 2000. His established record of investigative journalism included incisive exposes on the war on terror. It was Pearl who uncovered that the U.S. had mistakenly bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant, believing it to be a weapons factory. He also broke the story of Al Qaeda's money laundering through the Tanzanite gem market. His work included controversial investigations of NATO and UN claims of death tolls in Kosovo, as well as the marginalisation of the Serb minority in Croatia following Operation Storm in 1995.

On 23 January 2002, on his way to what he thought was a meeting with spiritual leader Sheikh Gilani, Pearl was abducted from near a Karachi hotel. An email from his abductors, which included several demands, including the release of Pakistani terror detainees in the United States, also contained this sentence:

"We give you one more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan."

Nine days later, Pearl was murdered. On 21 February 2002, a videotape was released which captured the crime on camera.

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South African editor and publisher Raymond Louw has long been a champion of press freedom and journalists' rights. Louw was the editor and publisher of SOUTHERN AFRICA REPORT, a private circulation current affairs weekly, until early 2011, when he sold the publication.

He started journalism on the "Mail" - where he was shot at while reporting on riots - and later worked on newspapers in Sussex, Cumbria, and London, England, for six years and on the Sunday Times in Johannesburg.

Between 1966 and 1977, he was editor of the noted anti-apartheid newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail. During this time he worked alongside Laurence Gandar, who was posthumously named an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in 2010. Under Louw's editorship, the Mail became known for its pioneering investigative work on apartheid and other issues.

During the apartheid era, Louw headed the Media Defense Trust, set up to defend journalists against censorship.

In the run up to South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, while chairman of the Freedom of Expression Institute, he was appointed to the Independent Media Commission to ensure state broadcasting and state-financed publications were impartial.

Raymond Louw is the Chairperson of the South African Press Council, and was one of the founding members of the South African National Editors' Forum, dedicated to promoting inclusivity and representing the concerns of the media. He is also an IPI Fellow and in 2010, was awarded the Lifetime Commitment to Press Freedom Award at the 2010 IPI World Congress in Vienna.

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Click here to read the complete press release

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