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Human Rights Watch (HRW) have announced the thirty-two recipients of this year's Hellman/Hammett grants, awarded annually to writers who have been targets of political persecution. The majority of winners are from African countries. There are also five Iranians and four Vietnamese.

The list includes: Nigerian journalists Lanre Arogundade and Niran Malaolu. Arogundade has been harassed since he was a student leader 15 years ago and has been arrested four times this year. He is currently awaiting trial on a murder charge after being held for 23 days. Malaolu was arrested in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison with no right of appeal. The groundless charges levelled against him included "information gathering" and "implication in an alleged coup plot". He got seriously ill in prison and after numerous appeals was finally released in April 1999; Colombian journalist Fabio Castillo has reported on corruption in the international drug trade for almost twenty years. Castillo has been sued and has had his life threatened on numerous occasions, forcing him into a five-year exile in Spain until 1993. In 1998 he was fired from his long-time employer "El Spectador", after the publication was purchased by associates of then-president Ernesto Samper; Algerian writer and feminist political activist Khilida Messaudi had a fatwa issued against her by Islamists in 1993. She has since survived three assassination attempts and, in 1997, was elected to Algeria's National Assembly with a small opposition party. Other grant recipients are Akinwumi Adesokan (Nigeria), Aung Htun (Burma), Gremah Boucar (Niger), Akbar Ganji (Iran), Hamid-Reza Jalei-Pour (Iran), Paschal Khoo-Thwe (Burma), Goretti Mapulanga (Zambia), Recep Marasli (Turkey), Patricia McFadden (Swaziland), Modeste Mutinga Mutuishayi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Seyeed Ebrahim Nabvi (Iran), Latif Pedram (Afghanistan), Alex Redd (Liberia), Hojatolesam Mohssen Saeidzadeh (Iran), Masahallah Shamss-Ol Vaezin (Iran), Alieu Sheriff (Sierra Leone and Gambia) and Zamira Sydykova (Kyrgyzstan). Other recipients will remain anonymous due to the dangerous situations they are in.

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