CPJ's International Press Freedom Awards
Honor Journalists from Five Countries

C-SPAN's Brian Lamb Receives Burton Benjamin Award
for Contributions to Press Freedom

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New York, N.Y., November 24--The Committee to Protect Journalists presented its 1998 International Press Freedom Awards in ceremonies in New York tonight to journalists from five countries for their courage and independence in reporting the news. But, in a turn of events underscoring the importance of the need to safeguard press freedom throughout the world, three of the recipients were unable to attend the ceremonies.

Pavel Sheremet, a television bureau chief and newspaper editor in Belarus, was prevented by the Belarusian government from leaving the country. Ruth Simon, a wire service correspondent, is in prison in Eritrea because of her reporting. And Goenawan Mohamad, Indonesia's foremost independent journalist, remained in Indonesia because of the current state of unrest there.

In New York to accept their awards personally tonight were Grémah Boucar, a radio station owner and publisher in Niger, and Gustavo Gorriti, a Peruvian investigative reporter working in Panama;

The CPJ International Press Freedom Awards honor journalists who have bravely provided news coverage and viewpoints in the face of arrest, imprisonment, violence against them and their families, and threats of death.

CPJ also honored Brian P. Lamb, C-SPAN's founder and chief executive officer, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the cause of press freedom.

In a videotaped message to the nearly 800 persons attending the CPJ gathering at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Goenawan said: "The current situation in Indonesia does not allow me to leave the countryÉToday in Indonesia a journalist has to do many things besides writingÉForces of repression remain strong, and they may strike back. For this reason a journalist has to be involved at least temporarily with a broader effort to prevent their return to power."

In his videotaped message, Sheremet said: "A year ago while in jail, I often had a feeling that I'd never get out. The investigation against me and my colleagues on a pretext impossible anywhere in the civilized world was just an example of how the government treats the mass media in Belarus. My personal experience is proof that this pressure is hard to withstand and dangerous."

A U.S. State Department statement issued Monday said, "The United States is deeply concerned that steps taken by the government of Belarus against Pavel SheremetÉare designed to silence reporting it does not like. Mr. Sheremet should be able to enjoy his fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom to travel."

Two past International Press Freedom Award winners who were recently released from prison were able to personally accept their awards tonight. They are Doan Viet Hoat of Vietnam, a 1993 award recipient who was freed in September after eight years imprisonment, and Chris Anyanwu of Nigeria, a 1997 award recipient who was released in June after more than three years in prison.

Speakers at the black-tie event included dinner co-chairmen Mortimer B. Zuckerman and Harold M. Evans. Zuckerman is editor in chief and publisher, and Evans, vice chairman and editorial director, of U.S. News & World Report, the Daily News, The Atlantic Monthly, and Fast Company. Also taking part were Anne Garrels of NPR; Tom Brokaw of NBC; Ira Glass of "This American Life"; Karen Elliott House of Dow Jones International; Peter Jennings and David Marash of ABC; Tina Rosenberg of The New York Times; Charlie Rose of "The Charlie Rose Show"; Goodloe Sutton of The Democrat Reporter, Linden, Ala.; Gene Roberts, chairman of CPJ and Ann Cooper, CPJ's executive director.

Click Here for More Information About the Award Recipients