Imprisoned Egyptian publisher Khaled Lotfy was awarded the International Publishers Association’s 2019 Prix Voltaire which supports defenders of freedom to publish.
Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: “The international publishing community stands with Khaled Lutfi. We must support Lutfi’s fellow publishers in Egypt so that his imprisonment does not lead to fear and self-censorship in a country of such rich literary heritage.”
José Borghino, IPA Secretary General added: “IPA calls on President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to grant Khaled Lutfi a presidential pardon.”
On February 4, Khalid Lutfi (also written Lotfy), founder of Cairo’s Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of divulging military secrets and spreading rumors for having distributed an Arabic translation of the book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph. The case started when Tanmia’s founder signed an agreement with Arab Scientific Publishers to publish an Egyptian edition of the book.
Tanmia Bookshop opened in 2011 and later spawned a highly respected publishing house. The publishing house brought out a number of acclaimed authors in translation. Tanmia also published original works in Arabic, including a children’s book version of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Think of Others,” which won an Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature.
The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee’s decision to award the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire to Khaled Lutfi honours his bravery in publishing despite the risks involved.
The presentation of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire will take place on 21 June 2019 Seoul International Book Fair.
About the IPA Prix Voltaire
The IPA Prix Voltaire is unique in honouring the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assume the same risks as the writers themselves.Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.
The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.
The sponsors of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:
- Albert Bonniers Förlag (Sweden)
- Aschehoug (Norway)
- Bonnier Media Deutschland (Germany)
- Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (Germany)
- Cappelen Damm (Norway)
- Gyldendal (Norway)
- Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (Germany)
- Natur & Kultur (Sweden)
- Norstedts (Sweden)
- Verlagsgruppe Random House (Germany)
- Storytel (Sweden)