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Detained Pakistani journalist Zafaryab Ahmed was present in spirit only when Colby College honored America's first martyr to freedom of the press, Elijah Parish Lovejoy. At a dinner honoring 1998 Lovejoy recipient Ellen Goodman, Colby President William Cotter said, "As we observe the 196th anniversary of Elijah Lovejoy's birth, it is appropriate that we honor the ideals and the work of Mr. Ahmed," who angered his government and was charged with treason for writing about the bonded labor system and other human rights issues.
Ahmed remains in Pakistan, prohibited from traveling to Colby to serve as the inaugural fellow of the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights, a fellowship that was supposed to begin last August.
Terry Anderson, vice-chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, sent a message in support of Ahmed. "Pakistan should be proud of this journalist for achieving such international recognition, and must not allow Zafaryab Ahmed's case to languish further in an endless cycle of court appearances and postponements and deferred judgements." Anderson, a former Associated Press correspondent, spent almost seven years as a hostage imprisoned by Islamic radicals in Lebanon beginning in 1985.
Goodman added support to Ahmed's effort to gain the fundamental right to move freely. Recalling a similar effort on behalf of an imprisoned Nigerian journalist, Goodman said it is extremely important to people in jeopardy, like Ahmed, to know that the world knows about and cares about their plight.
Colby named Goodman the 46th Lovejoy award recipient and gave her an honorary doctor of laws degree Thursday. " Like Elijah Parish Lovejoy you are persistent and courageous and are driven by compassion and a deep desire for social justice," Cotter told Goodman during the convocation.