TORONTO: An Egyptian journalist who endured a series of attacks by security officials for her reports on corruption and human-rights abuses was recognized in Canada on Wednesday for her courage and commitment to free speech.
Abeer Al-Askary was one of two journalists in Toronto to pick up an International Press Freedom award. A third reporter, who was found shot dead in Pakistan in June, was also honored.
I m not afraid of being arrested or even killed, Al-Askary told The Canadian Press before picking up her award at a dinner of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
We know that our journey is very long and difficult and the price of exercising free expression is very high, but I m ready to pay this price, said Al-Askary, a reporter with the independent weekly newspaper, Al-Dustour.
Egyptian security forces have repeatedly arrested Al-Askary, 30. She says they have beaten her, torn her clothes off, sexually harassed her and threatened her friends and family.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, founded in 1978 to defend the rights of journalists and media freedom, praised the Egyptian journalist for her bravery.Carol Off, chairwoman of the group s awards committee, said reporters such as Al-Askary are critical to both domestic and international news gathering.
These are the people on the front lines who are now giving us the stories, said Off. When these people can t do their work, when they re completely silenced, we will not know what s going on in these countries because they re key to us.