Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair on Friday, October 20, won the 2023 Freedom of Expression Award in journalism, which is awarded by the Index on Censorship.
“Zubair faced significant threats after challenging mis/disinformation propagated by influential members of the ruling party,” Index on Censorship said.
Index on Censorship is a London-based non-profit organisation campaigning for freedom of expression. The annual Freedom of Expression Awards, are handed out in four categories – arts, campaigning, journalism and trustee – to those having a “significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world,” according to the organisation.
Commenting on him receiving the award, Zubair said that the award would “serve as a flicker of hope” for his young colleagues.
“It’s both an honour and privilege to receive the [Index on Censorship] Freedom of Expression [award], especially at a time when fake news and disinformation has emerged as a Frankenstein monster here in India,” Zubair said in a video posted by the organisation.
The fact-checker expressed gratitude to those who “stood by me when I was attacked, slandered and even jailed for doing my job”.
While announcing the nominees in September, Index on Censorship highlighted Zubair’s work and his arrest in June last year. “Using both his personal Twitter account, as well as the outlet’s website, Mohammed Zubair and his colleagues have reported on inter-communal violence in India, the actions of vigilante groups, as well as the use of social media platforms to amplify hate speech.”
The other nominees in the category were Franco-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi and Bilan Media, which is Somalia’s first women-only media organisation.
Zubair was jailed for 24 days last year till he was granted bail by the Supreme Court. The Alt News co-founder is facing six cases in Uttar Pradesh and one case in Delhi in connection with allegations of promoting enmity between groups and hurting religious sentiments.