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Patricia Campos Mello (Brazilian Folha De S. Paulo Reporter) & Lucia Pineda Ubau(Nicaraguan-Costa-Rican) and Miguel Mora ( 100% News Director from Nicaragua) Honored with the 2019 International Freedom Awards By The Committee To Protect Journalist Organization in New York..!
New York, November 22, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists and press freedom supporters from around the world celebrated journalists from Brazil, India, Nicaragua, and Tanzania last night(Thursday, November 21) at the 29th annual International Press Freedom Awards in New York.
All the honorees work in developing democracies that have experienced a deterioration in their respective press freedom environments, and they have had to fight in the face of censorship and threats to bring stories and information to their communities. Earlier this week, the awardees met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pense to raise concerns about threats to press freedom around the globe, including rhetoric about “fake news” from leaders in their countries.
“This is the 29th CPJ gala. Some of you were here at the first one. You knew then that a free press is the underpinning of democracy, and that it cannot be taken for granted,” said veteran U.S. journalist and IPFA host Shep Smith. “If the events of the past decade have shown us anything it is that independent journalism is more necessary than ever.”
A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, presented the award to Lucia Pineda Ubau, news director of 100% Noticias, and Miguel Mora, the outlet’s founder and director, who were freed on June 11 after six months behind bars in Nicaragua. Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown--who earlier this year broke stories on Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking--presented the award to freelance investigative journalist Neha Dixit, who has also reported on sex trafficking scandals in India. Maxence Melo Mubyazi, a champion of online freedom of expression in Tanzania, was presented with his award by veteran journalist and former CPJ board chair Sandra Mims Rowe. Folha de S. Paulo reporter Patricia Campos Mello received her award from Colombian journalist and CPJ board memberMaria Teresa Ronderos, who is founding a Latin American cross-border investigative reporting center.
“Today, the U.S. media is under pressure from another leader who disparages and undermines journalists at every turn. As our honorees have affirmed, that rhetoric is empowering autocratic leaders around the world who are cracking down with greater ferocity,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “And so the question arises, how should journalists respond to this pressure? If the past is any indication, they should go out and report the news as they see fit. They—you—should report the news with fairness, accuracy, integrity, and rigor.”
At an emotional point early in the evening, the room gave a standing ovation to Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who attended the event. The two were released earlier this year after spending more than 500 days behind bars in Myanmar for their reporting.
The event, held at the Grand Hyatt New York, raised nearly $2.7 million, with support from the evening’s dinner chairs, the Emerson Collective’s Laurene Powell Jobs and Peter Lattman. The evening also included an appeal matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Kicking off the appeal, host Smith announced that he would personally donate $500,000 to CPJ.
During the night, CPJ also collected messages of support for imprisoned journalist and 2012 awardee Azimjon Askarov of Kyrgyzstan, which will be delivered to him in prison.
About Lucia Pineda and Miguel Mora:
Lucía Pineda Ubau has worked as a reporter for more than two decades for Nicaraguan outlets including TV Noticias and the news program "22/22," which she co-founded. She first worked at 100% Noticias from 1995 to 2001, when it was a news show, then rejoined it in 2008, when it had evolved into a 24-hour cable and digital channel. She is the news director of the outlet.
Miguel Mora is the director and founder of 100% Noticias, one of the main independent media outlets reporting on the political crisis in the country. Its journalists, especially Mora, have faced constant harassment and threats as a result of their reporting. The outlet is banned from broadcasting in Nicaragua, and the government has seized its studio and equipment.
In June, Nicaraguan authorities released Pineda and Mora after detaining them in a December 2018 raid on the newsroom of 100% Noticias. The two were rushed through court appearances for a trial that was repeatedly delayed in which they were accused of "inciting violence and hate" and "promoting terrorism," allegations that CPJ called "absurd." They were kept under surveillance and in isolation for the majority of the 172 days they spent in prison, and their health, including their eyesight, deteriorated. Although Pineda also holds Costa Rican citizenship, Nicaraguan authorities denied Costa Rican authorities access to her while she was imprisoned.
CPJ repeatedly condemned Mora and Pineda's imprisonment and called for their release and for all charges against them to be dropped. In January 2019, we sent an open letter to President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo to express alarm and concern over their imprisonment. The letter was signed by CPJ and nearly 250 journalists from all over the world, including Algeria, Romania, and Taiwan.
The imprisonment of these journalists is emblematic of the media environment in Nicaragua, where authorities have cracked down on dissent since anti-government protests began in April 2018. Outlets have been shut down, and journalists have been targeted with violence, harassment, and persecution. Dozens have fled Nicaragua. CPJ's Emergencies team has provided many of them, including colleagues of Pineda and Mora from 100% Noticias, with assistance and has distributed safety updates on the media environment in the country.