Alphabetically, according to country of origin, the top five candidates are:

Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, aka “Tutul“: Bangladeshi publisher who was ferociously attacked and nearly killed by Islamist extremists in October 2015. He has been living in Europe since then, for his and his family’s safety, but vows to continue publishing internationally.

Bei Ling: Chinese publisher, writer and poet, Executive Director of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. An outspoken critic of the lack of basic freedoms in China and an advocate of Chinese social and political reform, Bei Ling lives in Taiwan.

Gui Minhai, Lee Bo, Cheung Chi Ping, Lam Wing Kee and Lui Bo, collectively known as the “Hong Kong Five“: Five publishing and book trade professionals who went missing last year from various locations, including Hong Kong and Thailand, only to resurface months later in mainland Chinese police custody.

Moe Way: Burmese poet and publisher who established a publishing house called The Eras to address the lack of poetry publishing in Burma. The Eras has continuously pushed the boundaries of Myanmar’s strict censorship laws, with Moe Way keeping the company afloat despite enormous political and financial pressure to close.

Raif Badawi: Saudi Arabian blogger and creator of the Free Saudi Liberals website. In 2013 he was convicted of insulting Islam and of apostasy, and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014 he was resentenced to 1,000 lashes, ten years in prison and a fine.

Ola Wallin, chairman of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: “We had a strong field of candidates this year, with 19 separate nominations for 15 candidates. This is at once both pleasing and disheartening since, while it reflects the growing engagement of the IPA membership and partners in the success of the Freedom to Publish Prize, it also reflects the worsening state of freedom to publish in the world.”

The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize honours a person or organization that has made a notable contribution or shown exemplary courage in the defence and promotion of the freedom to publish, an important strand of freedom of speech. The prize consists of a a certificate and financial award of 10,000 Swiss francs, and will be awarded by IPA President Richard Charkin during the 31st International Publishers Congress.

Charkin said: “There are many important awards that recognize courage. This one is different. It highlights the enormously brave work of people who face prison, torture or death for disseminating ideas, either their own or those of other people, and enabling the written expression of those ideas to be made available as widely as possible. It is part of the IPA’s job to highlight their plight and to remind people that the freedom to publish will continue to be eroded if we avert our gaze even for a moment.”

The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize is made possible through the generous support and sponsorship of:

  • Albert Bonniers Förlag
  • Elsevier
  • HarperCollins
  • Kodansha
  • Oxford University Press
  • Penguin Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Springer