Journalist wins press freedom award for fighting RCMP seizure of correspondence with alleged ISIS militant

OTTAWA, May 3, 2016 /CNW/ - A Canadian journalist who is currently fighting an RCMP seizure of his correspondence with a former Calgary resident alleged to be  an ISIS militant will be honoured at the May 3  World Press Freedom Day celebration at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel.

The Ottawa-based Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) has chosen Ben Makuch, a Canadian national security reporter with Vice News, an international news organization based in New York, as the 18th winner of the Press Freedom Award.

Makuch was named winner for his commitment to fighting an RCMP production order to turn over his correspondence with Farah Mohamed Shirdon via Twitter and KIK messenger. The honour comes with a $1000 award and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

" Makuch's contact with Shirdon provided an unprecedented insight into the views and intentions of  ISIS members," wrote Patrick McGuire, Head of Content at Vice News, Canada,  in his nomination statement, adding that the order came after Makuch had written two articles based on his communication with Shirdon."Police seizure of any journalist's records would violate press freedom and set a dangerous precedent for journalism in Canada," McGuire added.

CCWPF has also decided to give two 'honourable mentions' this year. One is to one to Linda Gyulai of the Montreal Gazette who waged a seven-year court battle, with Gazette lawyer Mark Bantey, to obtain documents that exposed collusion between the office of Mayor Gérald Tremblay and municipal contractors. These records revealed how contractors interested in obtaining work for the city were solicited to purchase $1 million dollars in tickets for the cash-strapped 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal. 

The other 'honourable mention' goes to Josée Dupuis and Emmanuel Marchand of Radio-Canada  who  produced a hard-hitting exposé of the abuse of aboriginal women by police in the northern town of Val d'Or. Their work encouraged aboriginal women in other Québec communities to tell similar stories, and has resulted in a number of corrective actions.

"This story was particularly difficult to tell because of the fear that these(aboriginal)  women have towards the police,"  Jean Pelletier, Senior Director at Radio Canada said in the nomination statement, adding that it took an incredible amount of confidence-building before  they would open up to the reporters.

"Until now the CCWPF has focused on the freedom of journalists to write stories, but press freedom also includes the freedom of sources to tell their stories to reporters," said Shawn McCarthy, President of CCWPF.

International Editorial Cartoon Contest Awards

Another highlight of the luncheon celebration will be the presentation of awards to the 16th International  Editorial Cartoon Contest winners.

This year's theme "The 'Right' to be Forgotten" a reference to deleting valuable records from the Internet, drew  approximately 400  entries from around the world.
The first prize of  $1000 goes to Dale Cummings of Winnipeg. Two citations of merit with awards of $500 each will be given to RogerTweedt of France and Bruce MacKinnon of Halifax.
Editors can access the winning cartoons in high resolution at: 
For low resolution cartoons, go to:

Keynote speaker: Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault

Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada will be the keynote speaker. Legault, who was appointed to her position in June 2010, is responsible for investigating complaints about federal government institutions' handling of access to information requests. 


SOURCE Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom

For further information: CCWPF contacts: Shawn McCarthy, (613) 294-4491,; Michelle Zilio, (613) 220-4496,; Susan Korah, (613) 241-4967,; Guy Badeaux (French media), (613) 562-7506,


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Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom

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