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SPONSORSHIP DAY 2002

Lightning operation reminds world that 110 journalists are in prison

The convoy of 20 journalists, all of them sponsors of those in jail, along with 15 Reporters Without Borders staff members, renamed the streets after the imprisoned journalists and daubed on the embassy gates the words: "When you enter here, you enter a country where news is censored."

They went first to the Burmese embassy, where they demanded news of journalists detained under the military regime. Next target was the embassy of Kazakhstan, where they called for the release of Sergei Duvanov, an opposition journalist, before going to the Chinese embassy to appeal for Gao Qinrong and 41 other journalists and cyber-dissidents to be freed.

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At the Cuban embassy, the convoy symbolically renamed the embassy "the prison of (jailed dissident journalist) Bernardo Arévalo Padrón" on the eve of the 15-16 November 12th Ibero-American Summit. Arévalo Padrón is serving a six-year sentence for accusing Cuban President Fidel Castro of breaking promises he made at the 1996 Ibero-American Summit to respect human rights.

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At the Russian embassy, they demanded the release of journalist Grigory Pasko, who is in prison for reporting that the Russian military dumped liquid radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan.

The entire operation aimed to point out that press freedom is an important matter for citizens everywhere.

Reporters Without Borders will today present the sponsoring journalists with a replica of their adopted prisoner’s press card to keep alongside their own to remind them that these colleagues are not as lucky as they are.

Details of the situation in the five targeted countries can be found on the Reporters Without Borders website, www.rsf.org, where petitions can be signed calling for the release of the journalists. www.rsf.org

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