The Pen Is Mightier

04.16.134:43 PM ET

Jailed Ethiopian Journo Wins UNESCO Prize

Reeyot Alemu been imprisoned for nearly two years for criticizing the government.

Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu continues to be hailed for her fearless reporting even as she languishes in prison, branded as a terrorist for challenging government incompetence and corruption. On Tuesday, the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was granted to Alemu in light of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.” The prize will be awarded on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, in Costa Rica.

Alemu was arrested in June 2011 and sentenced to 14 years in jail (reduced to five) under the country’s broad anti-terrorism law, which has been used to make criticism of the government a potential crime. While imprisoned in Ethiopia’s filthy Kality jail, Alemu has refused to testify against colleagues, and has undergone surgery for a breast tumor. Last year, she was honored with the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism award, and many petitions in her honor had called on late Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zanawi to grant Alemu her freedom.