James Bettinger, director, Knight Fellowships program, (650) 725-1189; email@example.com
Two journalists added to Knight Fellowships' 2001 roster
Two journalists whose writing exposed them to danger in their home countries will spend the 2001-02 academic year at Stanford.
Ray Choto, 39, of Zimbabwe and Alfredo Molano, 57, of Colombia will be senior research fellows. They will study with 18 U.S. and international John S. Knight Fellows whose selection was announced in May.
Choto, chief writer for The Standard, in Harare, was detained and tortured by the Zimbabwean military in 1999 for refusing to disclose a source. Earlier this year, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe identified Choto and his editor as the cause of Mugabe's problems with the Zimbabwean judiciary. Choto spent the 2000-01 academic year at Stanford as an International Knight Fellow.
Molano, a sociologist, journalist and columnist for El Espectador in Bogotá, has been in exile in Barcelona, Spain, since January 1999. He began receiving threats from Colombian paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño the summer before, after he wrote an article comparing paramilitary groups to the notoriously violent anti-kidnapping group MAS, or "Death to Kidnappers." After two suspicious men loitering outside his home turned out to be soldiers dressed in civilian clothes, Molano concluded that his life was in danger and fled to Spain.
Both Mugabe and Castaño are on the Committee to Protect Journalists' list of Ten Worst Enemies of the Press. "Alfredo Molano and Ray Choto are courageous journalists who have risked their lives to report the news," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. "Those who have tried to silence them by using violence or the threat of violence have failed. We are heartened that Alfredo and Ray will continue their important work while at Stanford."
During their year at Stanford, Choto will study the global politics of human rights and Molano will research the narcotics trade and agrarian reform in Colombia. Molano also will be affiliated with Stanford's Center for Latin American Studies as a visiting scholar.
James Bettinger, director of the Knight Fellowships program at Stanford, said the presence of Choto and Molano will add an important perspective to the campus. "Many people in the United States are unaware of the serious dangers faced by thousands of courageous journalists around the world," Bettinger said. "Ray Choto and Alfredo Molano have put their lives in jeopardy with their reporting, and they can tell the story of what happens to democracies where the press is not truly free."
The Knight Fellowships program was established as the Stanford Professional Journalism Fellowships in 1966. More than 700 journalists from the United States and other countries have been journalism fellows at Stanford.