On Thursday, November 21, the State Department hosted journalists Janet Hinostroza of Ecuador and Nedim Sener of Turkey – two of the four winners of this year’s International Press Freedom Awards, chosen by the independent non-governmental organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Ms. Hinostroza and Mr. Sener briefed Uzra Zeya, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Mark Toner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs about press freedom challenges in their countries. U.S. officials expressed concerns about the plight of journalists worldwide and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to freedom of expression, including for members of the press, as a universal human right and a vital component of any democratic society.
The other two CPJ awardees, celebrated Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef and Nguyen Van Hai (a/k/a Dieu Cay), one of Vietnam's best known bloggers, were not present for the State Department meetings. Nguyen Van Hai could not come to the United States because he is serving a prison sentence under a law that bars “conducting propaganda against the state.” Youssef is scheduled to attend the CPJ ceremony in New York to receive his award.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal, annually recognizes the courageous service of reporters who face, or have experienced, imprisonment or other persecution for exposing realities in the countries in which they work.