Monday, December 21, 1998Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (formerly the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists) has awarded Nigerian journalist Ben Charles Obi a grant of US$1,500 from its Journalists in Distress Fund. Obi, who suffers from ailments incurred in prison such as diabetes, as well as from medical neglect, will use the money to fly to Los Angeles for medical treatment in January. The effort was coordinated with the Lagos-based Independent Journalism Centre (IJC) and the LA-based PEN West Centre. Obi was ordered released from prison on 20 July 1998 after the death of Abacha. He was convicted in 1995 in connection with an alleged coup plot said to be uncovered by the military government in March 1995. He was also held in a prison in Ibadan, Oyo state, far away from his family, who needed to travel to Abuja to get official permission to see him (800 kms away from Ibadan) so he did not have many visitors. CJFE, formerly known as the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, is an independent non-governmental organisation with 350 members which lobbies for media freedom worldwide and in Canada. CJFE manages the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) Clearing House, which circulates daily action alerts and a weekly "Communique" of freedom of expression news and events, as well as operating an outreach programme to groups in the developing world and the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. In addition to the Journalists in Distress Fund, CJFE also provides training for journalists worldwide and offers annual CJFE Press Freedom Awards to international and Canadian journalists. For more information, contact CJFE at 489 College St. #403, Toronto, Ontario M6G 1A5, tel: +1 416 515 9622, fax: +1 416 515 7879, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web site: www.cjfe.org.
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