2008 Gebran Tueni award goes to Egypt's Ibrahim Issa

Ibrahim Issa, editor in chief of Al Dustour, the daily independent newspaper in Egypt, has been awarded the 2008 Gebran Tueni Award, the annual prize of the World Association of Newspapers that honors an editor or publisher in the Arab region.
Ibrahim Issa. R.R.

The annual Gebran Tueni award is made in memory of Gebran Tueni, the Lebanese publisher and Board Member of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in December 2005.

In a statement released last night, the WAN said Al Dustour editor Ibrahim Issa was chosen as the recipient of the 2008 Gebran Tueni in recognition of "Issa's commitment to freedom of the press, his courage, leadership, ambition and high managerial and professional standards." Issa will receive the award during the 3rd Arab Free Press Forum, to be held in Beirut, Lebanon.

The press release quotes Issa as saying he is honored to receive an award associated with Gebran Tueni and WAN because of their defense of press freedom in the Arab world and beyond.

"Moreover, the award gives a kiss of life to writers in Arab countries, where the press is suffocated," Issa said.

Al Dustour, founded in 1995, was closed by the Egyptian authorities from 1998 to 2005 after it published a letter from the militant group Gamaa Islamiya. Its circulation has grown from 50,000 when it resumed publishing, to 120,000 today, in large part because of Issa's leadership.

Issa was sentenced to two months in prison in September 2008 for "propagating false news and rumours causing a general security disturbance and harming the public interest" in connection with articles concerning the health of
President Mubarak. He was pardoned by the President in October.

Issa is currently appealing another conviction and is free on bail pending the outcome. In September 2007, Issa, along with Adel Hammouda of the weekly al-Fagr, Wael al-Abrashi of the weekly Soat al-Ommah, and Abdel
Halim Kandeel of the weekly al-Karama, each received one-year jail sentences for "defaming the president."

Issa and Al Dustour journalist Sahar Zaki had earlier been sentenced to a year in prison for "insulting the president" and "spreading false rumours" for their April 2005 coverage of a legal case against President Mubarak. The prison sentence was dismissed on appeal in February 2007 and the two were fined 22,500 Egyptian Pounds (3,200 Euros).

The Geban Tueni award carries a 10,000 Euros scholarship to enable Issa to undertake advanced newspaper leadership training, the WAN said.

The inaugural Gebran Tueni Award, presented in 2006, was made to Nadia al-Sakkaf, editor in chief of the Yemen Times. Last year's prize went to Michel Hajji Georgiou, a senior political analyst at the French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour in Lebanon.


Despite presidential pardon, Egypt's Issa remains defiant
Posted on 14/10/2008 - 16:12
On October 6, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave outspoken editor and journalist Ibrahim Issa a presidential pardon after he had been sentenced to prison for questioning the health of the 81-year old President. MENASSAT met exclusively with Issa and talked about the state of journalism in Egypt and about what to expect if Mubarak's son Gamal inherits the presidency. Issa doustour