International Press Freedom Awards

Bassem Youssef, Egypt

2013 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee

(Courtesy of Univision)

To read Youssef's acceptance speech, click here.

As a window for free expression opened in Egypt with the demise of the Mubarak era in 2011, cardiac surgeon Bassem Youssef began dissecting his society with a satirical newscast produced in his living room and posted on YouTube.

At the time, Youssef's show criticized the Egyptian government's institutionalized control over editorial content by showcasing its hypocrisy. YouTube's "The B+ Show" went viral, earning him a spot on the airwaves as the host of "Al Bernameg" (The Program), a satirical newscast first televised by the independent Egyptian television station ONTV and later by Capital Broadcast Center (CBC). The show had more than 40 million viewers, with at least 3 million more following Youssef on social media channels.

In November 2013, CBC suspended Youssef's program, "Al Bernameg," minutes before its scheduled airtime, citing contractual and editorial differences. Youssef and his production company terminated their contract with CBC and said they would pursue legal action. CBC also said it would pursue legal action against the production company.

On his program, Youssef has taken on political conservatives and liberals alike, in a quest to inform and shatter stereotypes. Following a long tradition of satire that blends comedy with hard news, Youssef uses sharp humor to report on and critique government failures to improve the economy, public services, and safety, and its efforts to suppress opinion--whether in the name of religion under Morsi or in the name of security under the current military-backed government. He also addresses controversial topics and the limitations of free speech in a weekly column for independent Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk.

In 2012, the Morsi-led government pursued criminal charges against Youssef for "insulting the president," "insulting Islam," and "reporting false news." In March 2013, an arrest warrant was issued. After voluntarily appearing before prosecutors, Youssef was briefly detained, released on bail, and later fined. The criminal case did nothing to blunt his sarcastic edge. "I will not tone down my criticism," Youssef told CPJ in June 2013, just days before Morsi was ousted. "Freedom of speech is not a gift, it's a birthright."

More than two years after the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, a deeply polarized Egyptian press continues to be battered by an array of repressive tactics, including broad censorship by the new military-backed government, CPJ research shows.



2015
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)