Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan winner of 2018 World Press Freedom Prize

MANILA, Philippines –  Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, is the recipient of the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

Abu Zeid was selected by an independent international jury of media professionals led by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a press statement on Monday, April 23.

“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Ressa, president of the Jury.

Abu Zeid, a freelance photographer who has worked for photo agencies such as Demotix and Corbis, is one of the longest-detained journalists in Egypt.

He was arrested on August 14, 2013, when hundreds were killed as security forces cleared two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.

In 2017, the prosecutor handling his case reportedly recommended the death penalty for Abu Zeid.

In the case of Abu Zeid, UNESCO said "the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions qualified his arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

In 2015, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) deemed Egypt as the third most dangerous country for journalists, following the arrest and detention of a growing number of journalists.

The Prize will be awarded on May 2, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated in Ghana this year. This year’s theme is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law.”

UNESCO said the Prize “recognizes a person, organization, or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense or promotion of press freedom especially in the face of danger.”

The Prize is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on 17 December 1986.

Laureates of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize receive $25,000. The Prize is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland), and The Namibia Media Trust. –