Human Interest

Chinese, Palestinian journalists, Pegasus Project awarded by RSF

Paris, Nov 18 (EFE).- Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona and the Pegasus Project consortium on Thursday were announced winners in the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) press freedom awards in three categories.

The annual awards given by the Paris-based international NGO recognize the value and impact of various journalistic works that have contributed to the defense or promotion of press freedom around the world.

“The RSF Award laureates embody the noblest journalistic qualities and also pay the highest price because of this. They deserve not only our admiration but also our support,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

The Courage Prize went to Zhang Zhan, a 38-year-old Chinese lawyer turned citizen journalist who covered the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan in early 2020.

Zhang livestreamed reports showing the city’s streets, hospitals and families of the sick, RSF said, becoming one of the main sources of independent information on the situation.

In May 2020, she was arrested and held incommunicado for several months until in December she was sentenced to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Zhang began a hunger strike to protest the sentence and mistreatment, and according to her relatives cited by local media earlier this month, her health has deteriorated to the point they now fear for her life.

In the Independence Prize, RSF rewarded the work of Palestinian Majdoleen Hassona, often harassed by Israeli and Palestinian authorities for her critical reporting.

The reporter has been held in the West Bank since August 2019 when she returned with her fiancé from Istanbul – to where she had relocated – and was informed that she is prohibited from leaving the territory “for security reasons,” which has led her to continue her work in the West Bank.

The Impact Prize went to the Pegasus Project, an investigation published by a consortium of more than 80 journalists from 17 media outlets across 11 countries, with technical support from Amnesty International’s Security Lab.

Based on a leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers targeted by Pegasus, spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group, the reporters revealed that some 200 journalists had been spied on by 11 autocratic regimes and democratic governments.

The jury for this edition was chaired by RSF president Pierre Haski, and international reporters such as France’s Raphaëlle Bacqué and India’s Rana Ayyub, Syrian lawyer Mazen Darwish and Pakistani editor Hamid Mir, among others. EFE


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