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Iranian Journalist Akbar Ganji Wins Abbot Award

Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji has won the prestigious House of Commons Press Gallery Speaker Abbot Award for his fight for parliamentary democracy in the Islamic republic.

Mr Ganji was arrested following his participation in an academic and cultural conference held in Berlin on April 7-9, 2000. Since his release from prison on April 21, 2006, Mr Ganji has continued to make a bold and public stand on behalf of parliamentary democracy and press freedom. He said, " What’s happening in the press is not at all acceptable and the press in Iran are undergoing their most difficult historical conditions."

Akbar Ganji after his last release in March 2006

Mr Ganji is the author of the best-selling book Dungeon of Ghosts - a collection of his newspaper articles, published in early 2000 - which implicated former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and other leading conservative figures in the ‘serial murders’ of pro-democracy politicians in 1998.

The Parliamentary Press Gallery will also make an award in recognition of the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Mother of two, Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin's actions in Chechnya, was found shot dead in a lift at her apartment block in Moscow.


The Speaker Abbot award was launched by the Parliamentary Press Gallery in 2003 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Press being allowed into the back row of the public gallery as of right. William Pitt the Younger's announcement to Parliament in May 1803 that Britain was to resume the war against France went unreported because MPs' cronies had paid for seats for the momentous occasion and the Press failed to gain admittance. Pitt was apoplectic and Speaker Abbot designated the back row of the public gallery for the sole use of the press.

It is awarded to a journalist who is considered to have made the greatest contribution internationally to the protection, promotion and perpetuation of parliamentary democracy. The object is to honour a journalist who, in the opinion of the judges, has suffered for the cause of democracy and to secure maximum exposure for his/her actions. This can be publisher, editor or reporter in any media.

The initial award, which went to Dumisani Muleya, Chief Reporter of the Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper. The winner in 2005 was Alfred Taban of the Khartoum Monitor who also broadcasts extensively on the BBC World Service.

... Payvand News - 4/27/07 ... --

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