Guillermo Zuloaga in 2009.
Guillermo Zuloaga: Zuloaga, owner of Globovisión, one the few independent television news stations still operating in Venezuela, has long been known as a vocal critic of President Hugo Chávez and his authoritarian tendencies. Since 2002, when Zuloaga refused to show images of pro-Chávez demonstrators protesting against Pedro Carmona's short-lived coup (Chávez retook power two days later), tension between Zuloaga and Chávez has been palpable. Zuloaga's station regularly reports on government corruption and attempts to clamp down on media freedom. In return, government regulatory agencies have repeatedly filed complaints against Globovisión. On March 25, Chávez took the extraordinary step of ordering military intelligence officials to arrest Zuloaga. He has since been freed, but remains unable to leave the country until an investigation into critical remarks he made about Chávez's attempts to stifle media freedom have concluded.
Iryna Vidanava: Some former Soviet republics have made modest strides in liberalizing their political culture, but Belarus is not one of them. Minsk is infamous for its harassment and intimidation of local media and curtailing freedom of speech -- both areas in which Vidanava has fought back forcefully. Vidanava is the founder and editor in chief of 34 Multimedia Magazine, a publication aimed at promoting creativity, dissent, and democratic values in Belarusian young adults. (See here for a sample of her work.) It's tough going: After years of police harassment, in 2005 Minsk finally decided to simply shut down 34 Multimedia Magazine. Yet Vidanava perseveres. In 2007, she founded CDMAG, a multimedia youth magazine published on compact disc that won the 2007 Gerd Bucerius Prize for press freedom in Eastern Europe.
Le Cong Dinh: Vietnamese lawyer Dinh has spent much of the past decade running a private law practice and defending prominent Vietnamese political dissidents and humans rights activists. His clients have included other human rights lawyers, such as Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, as well as dissident journalists like blogger Nguyen Van Hai. In 2007, Dinh landed himself in hot water with the Vietnamese authorities when he argued before a court that Article 88 of the Vietnamese penal code -- which effectively criminalizes peaceful political dissent and allows state prosecutors to charge dissidents with "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam" -- was unconstitutional and violated international human rights treaties. Ironically, it was this very provision of the penal code that the Vietnamese government used in 2009 to arrest, try, and convict Dinh, who is now serving a five-year prison sentence.
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