Tim Pool has been an independent journalist writing about free speech since 2011. After working for Vice media as a producer, he left due to disagreements over what he has described as political bias. Since that time, he has operated independently, travelling the world and live reporting from different events. In addition, he has created several notable documentaries, including one investigating no-go zones in Sweden. Noted for his objectivity and search for the truth, Pool has been highly critical of attacks on free speech (from left and right wing organizations) and is noted for covering all sides in a fair manner. He has been described by Jay Rosen as ‘the most innovative journalist in the street’. He has a youtube channel with over 200,000 subscribers and 33 million views.
A veteran of free speech wars, Staines is a noted critic of censorship and writes regularly about British politics and libertarian ideas on his hugely popular blog, Guido Fawkes. After setting himself up as the robin hood of the British media in 2004, Staines or ‘Guido’ has existed as an independent voice ever since. With his libertarian values, Staines places freedom as the highest value for society. He is a frequent critic of tyranny and exposes corruption in politics, acting as a whistle-blower and publishing documents.
After graduating law in 2010, Borrometi has worked as a journalist uncovering mafia corruption in Italy. During this time, he has faced numerable attacks, assassination and intimidation attempts, and his investigations have dealt serious blows to organised crime in Europe. Now the president of free speech organisation Article 21, we would like to honour Borrometi’s services to his country and people. His fearless work underlines the importance of free speech and how visceral attempts to suppress it can be.
Brendan O’Neill is a British journalist and editor of spiked online and columnist for the Australian. He is a fierce defender of free speech and critic of globalisation and hawkish geopolitics. O’Neill has also criticised modern media, pointing out hypocrisy and a seemingly never-ending scandal hunger and victim worship among some quarters. He positions himself as a champion of the working class, and against modern neo-liberal imperialism. Due to Brendan’s staunch history of selflessly defending free speech principles, we feel he deserves to now be recognised and honoured.
Julie Bindel is a feminist activist and British journalist who founded law reform group, Justice for Women. A controversial figure, Julie Bindel has bravely courted criticism from many angles, but has never wavered in her support for free speech and women’s rights. Notably appearing on debates with people she virulently disagreed with, Julie is a powerful protector of freedom world-wide and supporter of the arts.
Melanie Phillips is a veteran British journalist and participant in the culture wars. A strident champion of Israel, personal responsibility and independent thought, Phillips has been a frequent critic of extreme religious suppression and supporter of individual rights. She defines herself as a ‘liberal who has been mugged by reality’. Awarded the Orwell prize for Journalism in 1996, she is also the author of ‘Guardian Angel: My story, my Britain.’ We recognise Melanie due to her bravery and continued principled stand against oppression and the group think facilitating it.
Hasan Cemal is a Turkish journalist, author and grandson of the Djemal Pasha. He worked as the editor of Cumhuriyet (1981-1992) and Sabah (1992 – 1998). During this time, he has become known for acknowledging the Armenian genocide at risk to his own safety and career, as well as criticising President Erdogan’s oppression of the press and individual rights in modern Turkey. After the assassination of his friend Hrant Dink in 2007, he published a book about the Armenian genocide to much acclaim. He was awarded the Nieman Foundation for Journalism Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism in 2015. Later that year, after criticising the president in a column, Cemal ended up under arrest and now faces a prison sentence of 4 years and 8 months. We stand with Cemal and support him in his continued defence and fight for freedom in Turkey.
Joshua Wong is a student activist and politician notable as the founding member of the group ‘scholarism’ and the umbrella movement, political movements aimed at resisting oppression by the Chinese government in Hong Kong. At their height they were able to organise a protest numbering more than 100,000 people, something unheard of in areas under CCP control. Wong is noted for his influence among the youth of Hong Kong, and his bravery in supporting democracy in the face of massive government opposition. Wong has been arrested and attacked physically numerous times and was nominated for the Nobel peace prize in 2018. For his outstanding bravery and principled fight for the freedom of the Hong Kong people, we would also like to recognise Joshua.
Zineb El Rhazoui
A Moroccan born French journalist, Zineb has written for the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo since 2011. Having already gained a reputation for speaking out against conservative religious practices, Zineb gained fame after the terrible Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015. She went on the offensive following the attack, criticising the religious views which inspired the attempt at silencing free speech. She has claimed that the term islamophobia was invented in Iran to silence criticism of the government. She is a prominent secularist and human rights campaigner, speaking around the world about various issues. Following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, she has been targeted with death threats and intimidation, yet her tireless work in speaking out has only grown. Thus, we feel she deserves to be honoured as a true defender of freedom.
Taslima Nasreen is a Bangladeshi-Swedish author who has lived in exile since 1994, following mob threats and government repression after the publishing of her book, Lajja. After a successful career as a poet, Nasreen openly criticised the oppression of women in religious Bangladeshi society (as well as other minorities) in her new book, calling for freedom of thought and human rights. For this she was forced to flee Bangladesh following attacks and threats against her life. In the years since, there has been a steady stream of bloggers who have been murdered in Bangladesh for expressing similar sentiments. She was also expelled from Kolkata by the local Islamist government, and eventually moved to Sweden in search of safety. Unfortunately she was once again targeted, this time by Al Qaeda linked terrorists, and today lives in the United States under constant protection.
Taslima continues her principled stance in favour of human rights and freedom of thought, still producing new works. Her autobiography has been the subject of various plays and dramatisations. For all these reasons, we celebrate Taslima Nasreen.