Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida who is known for his reportage on civil-military tensions in the country has been named as the International Press Institute's 2019 World Press Freedom Hero.
Almeida, who is the Assistant Editor of Dawn, has been at the centre of struggle for free press in Pakistan after he was barred from leaving the country in 2016 following a story on the rift between Pakistan’s civilian government and the military establishment over the latter’s protection of some extremist groups.
He was also charged with treason last year and again banned from leaving the country after publishing an interview with former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in which he indirectly suggested the involvement of Pakistan’s military in carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.
The IPI states that Almeida was awarded for his “critical” and “tenacious coverage” of civil-military relations in Pakistan
“Cyril Almeida has demonstrated tremendous resolve in tackling – at great risk to himself – deeply contentious issues that are nevertheless of central importance to Pakistan’s democracy, not least the role of the military in shaping the country’s present and future.”Barbra Trionfi, executive director at IPI
Almeida’s publication, Dawn, and the journalist himself have been victim to severe persecution by the Pakistani state since the time the newspaper was censured for its coverage of the rift between the military and the civilian government. The story was broken by Almeida, who then went on to become part of a government investigation that demanded he expose his sources.
“I am grateful to the IPI-IMS jury for its acknowledgement of the fight to preserve and protect media freedom in Pakistan. What has been inflicted on Dawn and me is one strand of wider, systemic repression of the media in Pakistan.”Almeida, on receiving the award