Galina Timchenko, editor of the independent Russian news website Meduza, working from Riga, Latvia and four journalists from Cuba, Iraqi Kurdistan, Ukraine and Vietnam will be honoured by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists for their work for independent reporting and press freedom.
Timchenko is getting the 2022 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award that is presented annually by CPJ’s board of directors in recognition of extraordinary and sustained commitment to press freedom. Timchenko fled Russia due to pressure from the authorities during the previous invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and set up Meduza in Riga reporting about Russia with the help of correspondents in Russia.
The other four journalists will receive CPJ’s 2022 International Press Freedom Awards. “All four have withstood immense challenges, including government crackdowns, aggression, and imprisonment to bring the public independent reporting amid rampant disinformation and war”, CPJ says.
“Our award winners exemplify the best of journalism: work that shines a light on the impacts of war, corruption, and abuse of power on everyday lives,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “We look forward to honoring these inspirational journalists, who demonstrate the central role journalism plays in serving the public good.”
“Galina Timchenko draws upon her enormous courage and ingenuity to deliver news to Meduza’s audiences, despite escalating obstacles from Russia’s government. She remains committed to free reporting, even in exile, and the CPJ board is honoured to recognize her tenacity and fierce dedication to press freedom,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ’s board.
CPJ notes that three of this year’s awardees are currently living in exile, reflecting a growing trend in which journalists are being forced to leave their home countries or risk imprisonment, violence, and even the threat of death. The awardees will be honoured during a live gala dinner in New York City on November 17, 2022.
CPJ’s 2022 awardees are:
Niyaz Abdullah (Iraqi Kurdistan): Iraqi Kurdish freelance journalist. She regularly contributes to media outlets in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, including Radio Nawa, the broadcaster NRT, and the news websites Westga, Zhyan News Network, Hawlati, and Skurd, among others. Abdullah has covered politics, civil unrest, government corruption, human rights, and ethnic and religious minorities in Iraqi Kurdistan. Abdullah faced legal harassment by security forces and local authorities, and she was detained and threatened with violence over her work. In 2021, she fled to France to escape threats against her.
Abraham Jiménez Enoa (Cuba): Freelance journalist and co-founder of the online narrative journalism magazine El Estornudo, launched in 2016. He is also a columnist for The Washington Post and Gatopardo. He is a outspoken voice within Cuba’s media community, providing fresh perspectives on challenges for independent journalists and reporting on issues rarely covered by state media, including racism in Cuba. In 2020, state security officers strip-searched and handcuffed Jiménez, interrogated him for five hours, and threatened him and his family over his writings about life in Cuba in his monthly Washington Post column. Despite authorities’ threats of legal repercussions if he continued to publish in The Washington Post, later that week Jiménez published another column, stating it could be his last given the threat of imprisonment. The persistent harassment and censorship forced Jiménez to flee to Spain in 2021, where he is currently living in exile.
Sevgil Musaieva (Ukraine): Editor-in-chief of Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine’s independent online newspaper covering politics, economics, and culture – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Musaieva has worked relentlessly since the invasion to ensure the safety of her staff and to inform the public. In June 2022, she and a colleague in her newsroom were subjected to death threats following the publication of an investigative report that was controversial in Ukraine. Under Musaieva’s leadership, Ukrainska Pravda journalists are providing critical, reliable coverage despite the dangers of war and Russia’s declared ban on the publication.
Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam): Reporter specializing in human rights and is the founder of the independent legal magazine Luat Khoa. She also edits and writes for The Vietnamese, an independent English-language website, and has reported for the exile-run Danlambao blog. On October 6, 2020, she was arrested under Article 117 of the penal code, a provision that bans making or spreading news against the state. She was held incommunicado for over a year before her December 2021 conviction in a one-day trial. Trang is currently serving a nine-year sentence as a result of that conviction, and was among at least 23 journalists held behind bars for their reporting in Vietnam at the time of CPJ’s 2021 prison census, making the country among the world’s five worst jailers of journalists.
Galina Timchenko (Russia): Editor of Meduza, an independent Russian news website based in Riga, Latvia. She was fired as editor-in-chief of the leading Russian news website Lenta.ru in 2014, to be replaced by a pro-Kremlin successor during Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine. Nearly half of Lenta.ru’s employees resigned in protest, and Timchenko and many of her colleagues fled to Latvia and went on to found Meduza to serve Russian-speaking audiences, free of censorship. The site has been blocked in Russia and labelled as a so-called “foreign agent.”