"Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media 2003"

The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig honors Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab for their selfless struggle for the freedom of speech in the Middle East. Second Prize goes to the Ukrainian editor in chief Volodymyr Mostovy (Zerkalo Nedeli, Kiev); Third Prize for the German Netzwerk Recherche (Network Research Association).

Leipzig, 6 February, 2003

In 2003, the Leipzig "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" goes to Israel and Palestine. As the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig announced on Thursday, the first Prize of 15,000 Euro goes in equal parts to Gideon Levy who works for the prestigious paper Ha'aretz at Tel Aviv and Daoud Kuttab, Director of the Institute of Modern Media at the Palestine Ramallah. Both journalists are honored for their unremitting commitment for an objective reporting at a time and in a region where the freedom of the media is threatened by a citizen's war and violence.

"Gideon Levy is one of only a few Israeli journalists who report on the life of Palestine people under the Israeli occupation.", explained Peter Krakow, Chairman of the Media Foundation and CEO of the Sparkasse Leipzig. "For many years, Daoud Kuttab has been exposed to hostility and pressure at his own Palestine side because of placing objectivity and proper investigation above political siding" justifies Hartwig Hochstein, Vice Chairman of the Media Foundation and Chief Editor of Leipziger Volkszeitung the awarding of the first prize to two journalists.

Leipzig's Lord Mayor and Chairman of the Foundation Council Wolfgang Tiefensee underlines the mission of the journalist prize which is awarded this year for the third time: "The Media Foundation honors journalists and editors who secure and promote the freedom of speech and the press with their outstanding personal commitment. They are guardians of a great good in democracy. I'm delighted that this line impressively continues in 2003." Some days ago, the first awarding of the prize in 2001 to the US Professor of Journalism David Protess gained a special topicality. Protess got the prize for his journalistic investigation in connection with prisoners sentenced to death. Some of the condemned had been unjustly waiting for the poison injection and finally came free when the Governor of the US State of Illinois George H. Ryan pardoned them because of Protess' investigative results.

After having got congratulations from Leipzig on this success, David Protess wrote: "I'm honored to be in the company of Grigory Pasko as a prize winner." The Russian journalist Grigory Pasko who had been in prison for his critical reporting was winner of last year's first prize. There is a latest development in this case as well: According to a decision of the court dated 23 January, 2003 Grigory Pasko was released.

Second and third prize winners point the way to the future as well

This year's second prize of 10,000 Euro goes to Volodymyr Mostovy, editor in chief of the Ukrainian weekly Zerkalo Nedeli (Weekly Mirror). Despite of threats and continuous spying - according to him he got accustomed to the constant clicking in his telephone line - the journalist supports free working conditions of the upcoming press in his country.

The third prize (7,500 Euro) gets Netzwerk Recherche (Network Research Association), an association of journalists founded in 2001 promoting the investigative journalism in Germany. With grants and a mentoring program that allows experienced investigators to support younger journalists the association provides means and improves structures enabling a thorough journalism.

"Our Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media shall point the way to the future", Stephan Seeger, Director of the Foundation, stresses. "Although freedom of speech and the press is protected by law in many countries, journalists who seize their basic law for all of us are again and again impeded, pursued or even arrested. With its media award Leipzig stands for free media around the world." The awarding ceremony takes place in Leipzig's New Town Hall on 30 April , 2003 at 7 p.m. Numerous journalists are expected to attend.