Mohammed Zubair of AltNews wins 2023 Freedom of Expression award in Journalism

  • October 20, 2023

Groundxero | 20th October, 2023


Mohammed Zubair, one of the founding members of fact-checking website AltNews, has won the the 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards – Journalism by Index on Censorship for his fight against fake news and disinformation in India, which has led him to face attacks, slander and even jail. The Index on Censorship while announcing the award said, “We all share in his campaign for transparent and accurate news.”


Index on Censorship is a London-based nonprofit organisation that campaigns for free expression worldwide. 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.”


The other nominees for the award were Bilan Media — Somalia’s first women-only media organisation and newsroom— and Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi. During Zubair’s nomination for the award last month, the Index referred to his arrest in 2022, saying it is representative of the significant threats he has faced after challenging mis and disinformation propagated by influential members of the ruling party. 


In June 2022, Mohammed Zubair was arrested by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh state police following a tweet exposing a national spokesperson of the BJP making hateful and Islamophobic utterances on national TV. Six FIRs were lodged against Zubair, resulting in him being under arrest for 24 days. He was set free only after the Indian Supreme Court granted him bail and ordered his release, as there was no justification for keeping him in custody.


Zubair said, “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.” He said that the award would “serve as a flicker of hope” for his young colleagues, and expressed gratitude to those who “stood by me when I was attacked, slandered and even jailed for doing my job”.


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