DW Freedom of Speech Award | DW Freedom | Speech. Expression. Media. | DW | 18.02.2021
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DW Freedom

DW Freedom of Speech Award

Since 2015, the DW Freedom of Speech Award has honored a media person or initiative that has shown outstanding promotion of freedom rights.

DW Freedom of Speech Award 2020

DW Freedom of Speech Award 2020

Promoting democratic values, human rights and the dialogue between different cultures has been at the core of DW for more than six decades. We provide high-quality journalistic content, giving people worldwide the opportunity to form their own opinions.

Since 2015, the DW Freedom of Speech Award (FoSA) has honored a media person or initiative that has shown outstanding promotion of freedom rights, especially freedom of expression and press freedom. Every year the Freedom of Speech Award ceremony is one of the highlights of DW’s Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany.  

Get to know our courageous and impressive FoSA laureates:

2020: Fact-checkers fighting the infodemic in times of COVID-19

In 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, DW honored 17 journalists from 14 countries, representing all journalists worldwide who have disappeared, were arrested or threatened because of their reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Media Forum 2020 had to be canceled due to the pandemic, but the award announcement on May 3, International Press Freedom Day, received broad coverage on DW’s TV channels, news websites and social media in 30 languages.

DW Director General Peter Limbourg: "At a moment of a global health emergency, journalism serves a crucial function and each journalist bears great responsibility. Citizens of any country have the right of access to fact-based information and critical findings."

See the list of all 2020 laureates here

2019: Anabel Hernández, Mexico

Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernández received the DW Freedom of Speech Award in 2019 for her reporting on corruption and the collusion between government officials and drug cartels in her home country. Her book "Los Señores del Narco" (Narcoland), published in 2010,  documented these illegal relations and gained Hernández international recognition. So did her 2016 investigative report “La verdadera noche de Iguala. La historia que el gobierno trató de ocultar” (The real night of Iguala. The story the government tried to hide) about the abduction and murder of 43 students in Mexico in 2014. Forced to leave her home country following severe harassment and death threats, Hernández now lives in Europe and is a regular contributor to DW’s Spanish-language service.

2018: Sadegh Zibakalam, Iran

The DW Freedom of Speech Award 2018 laureate Sadegh Zibakalam is a professor of political science at the University of Tehran. At the time, he was facing a jail sentence for speaking out against the political situation in Iran in an interview with DW. Zibakalam, a well-known – and controversial – intellectual figure in his home country, has held intense debates with government officials, repeatedly criticizing their stance on domestic and foreign policy matters. Zibakalam dedicated his award to political prisoner Abbas Amir Entezam, "who, by spending 27 years in Evin prison, symbolizes the struggle for democracy and freedom in modern Iran."

Deutschland Bonn - Deutsche Welle GMF 2017 - Freedom of Speech Award 2017: White House Correspondents' Association

Journalist Jeff Mason, former president of the WHCA, accepted the award on behalf of the association.

2017: White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), USA

In 2017, the DW Freedom of Speech Award honored a group of people for the first time, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA). Many of their members were repeatedly labeled ‘enemy of the people’ by then-President Donald Trump. "We see this award as recognizing free press worldwide and in the U.S. and as a sign of solidarity and encouragement for those colleagues who have the exciting task of reporting about the U.S. President and his policies,” DW Director General Limbourg said at the award ceremony in Bonn, Germany.

2016: Sedat Ergin, Turkey

Sedat Ergin, former editor-in-chief of the renowned Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet, received DW's second Freedom of Speech Award while being tried for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2015, Hürriyet had endured two attacks on its headquarters by pro-government mobs. "Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental values of humankind," the journalist said at the Global Media Forum. "It is an essential aspect of our existence in human societies."

Ensaf Haidar, Frau des Bloggers Raif Badawi

Ensaf Haidar holding a picture of her husband Raif Badawi

2015: Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was the first recipient of the DW Freedom of Speech Award. He fought for freedom of expression in his country for years by addressing political and societal injustice. In June 2012, he was arrested and accused of insulting Islam, religious leaders and politicians. Authorities sentenced him to 1,000 lashes (he has received 50 so far), ten years in prison and a major fine in 2014. Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children have lived in Canada since 2013 and continue to campaign for their husband and father’s unconditional release from prison.