The Maldives Independent and its former editor Zaheena Rasheed have been named the winners of Index on Censorship’s 2017 Freedom of Expression Journalism Award.
The award celebrates groups or individuals who have had impact in fighting censorship, according to the London-based free speech group.
They were presented in four categories on Wednesday in London.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a judge for the 2017 awards, hailed the Maldives Independent for continuing to report despite the hostile environment for press freedom in the country.
“Maldives Independent under the stewardship of Zaheena Rasheed has faced attacks from all sides in recent years and despite all that they’ve continued to do what they do best: tell stories, expose corruption, expose human rights abuses and attacks on a free press,” she said.
The award comes with a yearlong fellowship that offers tailored support that includes media training and fundraising advice.
Zaheena described the award as a “lifeline”.
“This recognition and the fellowship has renewed and strengthened our resolve… Most importantly, we no longer feel so alone,” she said.
Finalists in the Journalism category included Dagestan’s Daptar, Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, Serbia’s Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK).
“These winners are free speech heroes who deserve global recognition,” said Jodie Ginsberg, Index CEO. “They, like all of those nominated, face huge personal and political hurdles in their fight so that others can express themselves freely.”
Judges included Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni, Hillsborough lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, as well as Anab Jain, TED fellow and co-founder of Superflux, and Stephen Budd, chairman of the Music Managers Forum.