The award was presented to Mr. Raslan in absentia by CRNI founder and Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell, in recognition of the extreme danger Mr. Raslan faces daily at the hands of the Syrian authorities, and to further spotlight his disappearance.
The June 29th award ceremony, which took place in coordination with the annual Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention, was attended by journalistic notables Pat Oliphant, the dean of American editorial cartoonists, and Victor Navasky, Publisher Emeritus of The Nation and noted author who currently chairs the Columbia Journalism Review, where he is a professor at the University’s School of Journalism.
CRNI is continuing our efforts to get Syrian authorities to produce Mr. Raslan, who has not been seen or spoken to by anyone on the outside since his arrest in October of 2012 at the offices of his newspaper, Al-Fida, in the city of Hama.
In addition to being deprived of legal counsel and all other due process rights, at least one reliable source reports that Mr Raslan has been beaten and tortured. It has also been reported that he will be tried in a new special court created to punish dissenters, where he will be brought up on charges of sedition, and insulting the integrity of the Syrian state.
The charges are derived from Akram’s cartoons critical of Pres. Bashir al-Assad and his conduct of the war currently raging in Syria. [latest update]