‘The True Essence of Journalism’

The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression organization has named recently-freed reporter Sami al-Haj as a recipient of its 2008 International Press Freedom Award. The Indo-Asian News Service reviews the back story (10/23/08):

Held at Guantanamo Bay for six years, Sami al-Haj was freed on May 1 this year. Never formally charged, he was pressured to become an informant against Al Jazeera in exchange for a U.S. passport and release from Guantanamo Bay.

“Al-Haj refused and instead launched a year-long hunger-strike. The U.S. finally released him to Sudan, where he is now Al Jazeera‘s news producer for liberties and human rights affairs,” the CJFE said, honoring him with its 11th annual award for courage and commitment to freedom of press.

In this context, CJFE chair Carol Off’s comments bear no risk of sounding trite: “Our honorees embody the true essence of journalism and anti-censorship–their efforts send a strong message that the truth cannot be silenced.”

Listen to FAIR’s radio show CounterSpin: Andy Worthington on Guantanamo (5/16/08).