National Geographic, Chicago Tribune release statements in support of Pulitzer-winner charged with spying in Sudan
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Saturday August 26, 2006
Both National Geographic and The Chicago Tribune released statements in support of two-time Pulitzer-winning journalist Paul Salopek who was detained three weeks ago by Sudanese authorities before being charged with espionage and reporting "false news" in court on Saturday.
"Our colleague and dear friend, Paul Salopek, is one of the most accomplished and admired journalists of our time," said Tribune Editor and Senior Vice President Ann Marie Lipinski in one statement. "He is not a spy."
"Our fervent hope is that the authorities in Sudan will recognize his innocence and quickly allow Paul to return home to his wife, Linda, and to his colleagues," Lipinski said.
"Paul Salopek was on assignment for National Geographic magazine to
write a comprehensive feature article on the swath of sub-Saharan Africa
known as the Sahel," said National Geographic Magazine Editor in Chief
Chris Johns in the magazine's statement. "He had no agenda other than to fairly and accurately report
on the region."
"National Geographic magazine vigorously protests this accusation and appeals to Sudan for his immediate release and the release of two Chadians assisting him," said the magazine's statement.
Excerpts from National Geographic's statement:
Salopek and his Chadian driver and interpreter were formally charged
with criminal acts of espionage, reporting official documents, reporting
false information and entering Sudan without a visa. The men's attorney
Omer Hassan filed a motion for a continuance which was granted. The trial
is scheduled to begin September 10 in El Fashir in Northern Darfur
Salopek, 44, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and has been a
correspondent for the Chicago Tribune since 1996.
National Geographic has been diligently working with the Chicago
Tribune and many others in and out of Sudan to secure the release of
Salopek and the two men assisting him.
In 1998 Salopek won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for
his coverage of the human genome diversity project; in 2001 he won a
Pulitzer for International Reporting, recognizing his work in Africa,
including his coverage of the civil war in Congo.
Salopek was on the staff of National Geographic magazine from 1992 to
1995. In those years he contributed to a score of articles, including a
bylined feature on mountain gorillas in the wake of Rwanda's civil war
By traveling some 3,500 miles across the width of the African continent
for National Geographic magazine - from the Chad-Sudan border region to
Senegal by way of Niger, Mali, and Nigeria - Salopek is now working to
educate National Geographic readers about the various factors, human and
otherwise, that make life in the Sahel so extraordinary. These include the
geography, history, culture, environment, wildlife, natural resources,
religions, landscapes, and humanity of the region. The Chad-Sudan border
region is just one small part of a much larger coverage area.