Free Tunisia Board adviser and supporter Professor Robert Prince
contributor to Nawaat.org winner of the AIC Media award.
A Tunisian `alternative website’ called `Nawaat.org
‘ just received `the Index on Censorship Media Award’
for its coverage on what they called `Tunileaks’, Wikileaks that dealt with Tunisia. The other nominees were the Tor Project
and Chinese internet activist Wen Yunchao. The award is supported by Google. As a part of that Tunileaks series, I wrote a two part commentary giving my take on the `Tunileaks’, and thus was, a part `of the team’ that received the Index on Censorship Media Award.
`Nawaat’ translates as `the core’. During the Ben Ali-Trabelsi dictatorship, `Nawaat’ provided an outlet for (what I consider) some of the most thoughtful and accurate critiques of the Tunisian political landscape. I came upon it by accident – as one often does doing a `Google’ search, but once I found it several years ago, returned to almost daily. I’d read the New York Times, Juan Gole’s website `Informed Comment’, the Denver Post (local paper), and inevitably `Nawaat’. Nawaat continues to play an important media role in the post Ben Ali period.
Here are the links to the pieces I wrote for the series:
I am pleased – deeply so – to have been a part of this series, and would like to believe that in a small way contributed to the revival of Tunisian democracy.
The Index on Censorship Media Award comes after Nawaat.org had received the Netizen Prize from Reporters Without Borders
earlier in the month. The Netizen Prize goes to a Netizen – a blogger, online journalist or cyber-dissident – who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet. The winner receives 2,500 euros in prize money. Google sponsors the annual award. Nawaat won against finalists from Bahrain, Belarus, Thailand, China and Vietnam. An independent jury of press specialists determined the winner.
As the Index on Censorship website commented, in giving the award to Nawaat:
Index on Censorship New Media Award, supported by Google
TuniLeaks by Nawaat
After accepting the award, Sami Ben Gharbia, co-founder of Nawaat, said: “This award is very important to us. It is given to us the very year we are celebrating the Tunisian revolution and seven years of our existence as a collective blog, which was censored from its launch by Ben Ali’s regime.”
TuniLeaks is a selection of the WikiLeaks State Department cables published by Nawaat.org, an independent group blog run by Tunisian net activists.
TuniLeaks, like its parent site Nawaat, is entirely independent and does not receive funds from any political party.
The TuniLeaks cables revealed the extent of the corruption deeply entrenched in many aspects of Tunisian life. Despite attempts to block the site, news of the cables being released swiftly spread around the country and Nawaat helped informal media networks link communities that had been cut off by government censors.
Nawaat highlights how important transparency is in a country like Tunisia, where citizens had for so many years been cut off from vital information and dialogue. “The aim is to get everyone to read, to get an idea and give meaning to the facts provided,” the website states. “The debate is open.”
The other nominees were the Tor Project and Chinese internet activist Wen Yunchao.