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AFP
June 3, 2011
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Umar Cheema wins prestigious UK award

World

AFP
June 3, 2011

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LONDON: The News’ investigative reporter Umar Cheema, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and two other journalists have been declared winners of one of the prestigious British award, Martha Gellhorn Award for brave reporting.
Two other journalists honoured are Charles Clovers of Financial Times and Jonathan Cook of Independent newspaper. Julian Assange is the lead winner followed by Umar Cheema, Charles Clovers and Jonathan Cook respectively.
The award ceremony was held in London but Cheema could not attend, “because the UK High Commission in Islamabad refused to expedite his visa in time for his departure on 1st June,” said a press release issued by award committee.
Paying tributes to Cheema, the award committee said: “Umar Cheema’s work in exposing official corruption is simply astonishing. He has been harassed and tortured, yet he keeps going. This is journalism at its most compelling and courageous.”
The prize is given in honour of one of the 20th century’s greatest reporters and is awarded to a journalist “whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or ‘official drivel’, as Martha Gellhorn called it.”
About WikiLeaks founder, the citation of award committee reads: “WikiLeaks has been portrayed as a phenomenon of the hi-tech age, which it is. But it’s much more. Its goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism. WikiLeaks has given the public more scoops than most journalists can imagine: a truth-telling that has empowered people all over the world. As publisher and editor, Julian Assange represents that which journalists once prided themselves in — he’s brave, determined, independent: a true agent of people not of power.”
The judges’ decision was unanimous.
The other special award winners were Charles Clover, Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times, and Jonathan Cook,

the independent journalist based in Nazareth. The citation for Charles Clover reads: “Charles Clover’s investigation into far-right gangs in Russia and their links to the government was meticulous, insightful and brave.”
The citation for Jonathan Cook reads: “Jonathan Cook’s work on Palestine and Israel, especially his de-coding of official propaganda and his outstanding analysis of events often obfuscated in the mainstream, has made him one of the reliable truth-tellers in the Middle East.” The judges were: Dr Alexander Matthews, John Pilger, James Fox, Shirlee Matthews, Cynthia Kee & Jeremy Harding.

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