An Egyptian journalist has been named winner of a category of the 2017 Civicus Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Innovations Award announced on Monday, the Madamasr news portal reports.
Khaled al-Balshy won in the category of Individual Activist. He is the chief editor of the privately-owned Al-Bedaiah news portal and a former board member of the country’s journalists group.
The award website also described Khaled as a human rights defender who braves the odds to stand for media rights despite a repressive environment for practitioners.
In a nation where media freedom is under constant attack, Khaled has boldly and relentlessly pursued the cause of free speech, despite facing personal judicial and online harassment.
“In a nation where media freedom is under constant attack, Khaled has boldly and relentlessly pursued the cause of free speech, despite facing personal judicial and online harassment.
“He established the Front to Defend Journalists and Freedoms, which has succeeded in having several journalists released from detention.
“He has also sought every available platform to shine a light on violations by the government and share these with the world, and has actively mentored younger journalists to defend their own rights and the rights of others,” the organizers added.
Balshy is no stranger to legal hurdles as he was handed a year-long suspended sentence last March, alongside with other members of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. They were sentenced over charges of “harboring fugitives.”
Other winners announced included Guyana’s Jubilante Cutting (Youth Activist winner), Mentally Aware (Civil Society Organization winner) and Europe based Guerrilla Foundation (Brave Philanthropy winner.)
The four were selected from some 300 nominations from across the globe. They will receive their awards at a ceremony on 7 December in Suva, Fiji as part of International Civil Society Week.
‘For the first time this year, the Awards were run in collaboration with The Elders – a group of independent global leaders, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 – and, specifically, their #WalkTogether campaign,’ the award site added.