York, N.Y., July 21, 1998
"She's here, she's here!"
Word swept through CPJ's New York office as
Nigerian journalist Christine Anyanwu arrived
Wednesday, July 21, for a long-awaited visit.
Anyanwu, recipient -- in absentia -- of a 1997
CPJ International Press Freedom Award last
November, was freed
on June 15 from the
Nigeria prison where she had spent three
grueling, tortuous years.
Publisher and editor in chief
of The Sunday Magazine, Anyanwu was
arrested in May 1995 and sentenced for treason
on trumped-up charges that she tried to
undermine Gen. Sani Abacha's government through
her work as a journalist.
In specific, she had published
articles debunking accusations of a plot to
overthrow Abacha's military regime. The articles
reported that no evidence existed to support the
allegations, which were a ruse to round up
Abacha's political opponents.
CPJ led a campaign, organized
by Africa Program Coordinator Kakuna
Kerina, to gain the
release of Anyanwu and other imprisoned Nigerian
journalists. Anyanwu, whose health and eyesight
severely deteriorated because of her harsh
treatment while in jail, maintained a calm
dignity as she talked to CPJ about the
deprivations of her prison years and the long
struggle she forsees for herself and all
unjustly accused journalists to win full
exoneration of their names. Although Abacha's
successor, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, commuted
her sentence, she is determined to seek
clearance of all criminal charges against
CPJ Executive Director Ann K.
Cooper presented Anyanwu with the plaque
commemorating her award, and invited her to
attend the 1998 awards ceremony in New York on
November 24 to formally receive it.
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