‘Pegasus Project’, Palestinian Journalist Receives 2021 Press Freedom Awards
The 2021 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has announced today the Press Freedom Awards it granted in three categories.
As part of the 2021 Press Freedom Awards, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) granted its three awards to the Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan in the courage category, the Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona in the independence category, and the Pegasus Project in the impact category.
RSF Press Freedom Awards are granted every year to journalists or media outlets that have taken part in the defense or promotion process of freedom of the press around the world. This year marks the 29th anniversary of these awards.
Journalists and media outlets from 11 countries have been nominated for the awards granted in three categories – journalistic courage, impact, and independence.
Prize for Impact
The 2021 Prize for Impact went to Pegasus Project. This prize is granted to journalists, media outlets, or NGOs that have contributed to clear improvements in journalistic freedom, independence, and pluralism, or increased awareness of these issues.
Pegasus Project’s achievements
The Pegasus Project won this award for its role in exposing Pegasus, the spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group.
The Pegasus Project is an investigation led by more than 80 journalists from 17 media outlets in 11 different countries and coordinated by the NGO Forbidden Stories with technical support from experts at Amnesty International’s Security Lab.
Based on a leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers targeted by Pegasus spyware, the Pegasus Project revealed that nearly 200 journalists were targets of espionage by 11 governments. This investigation exposed the extent of surveillance journalists are exposed to.
Prize for Independence
The 2021 Prize for Independence went to the Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassona. This prize rewards journalists, media outlets, or NGOs that have resisted financial, political, economic, or religious pressure in a noteworthy manner.
Majdoleen Hassona’s achievements
Hassona was often harassed and prosecuted by Israeli occupation forces for her critical reporting. During a visit to the West Bank in August 2019, Israeli forces stopped her at a checkpoint and told her she was subject to a ban on leaving the territory “for security reasons.” She has been stranded in the West Bank ever since. Nevertheless, she decided to resume her work there and started reporting ongoing events from the West Bank, including the protests in June 2021 following the death of the activist Nizar Banat.
Prize for Courage
The 2021 Prize for Courage went to the Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan. This prize aims to support and salute journalists, media outlets, or NGOs that have displayed courage in the practice, defense, or promotion of journalism.
Zhang Zhan’s achievements
Journalist Zhan, who was once a lawyer, covered the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, from where the virus broke out, in February 2020. The fact that she was reporting from the heart of the pandemic’s initial epicenter entitled her to the prize of courage, as she did all that against all odds.