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Umar Cheema

Umar Cheema
 
 
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Profile
Umar Cheema born in July 1978 is an investigative reporter for the Pakistani newspaper The News. In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times. He also attended London School of Economics as a Chevening Scholar (Chevening Scholarship) doing MSc. in Comparative Politics (Conflict studies).

Cheema writes on corruption, politics, national security and unaccountable intelligence agencies. His bold work landed him in trouble several times. He was attacked twice other than receiving threats multiple times.  A car ran over him, after hitting twice, on a freezing night of 4 December 2004. Cheema received compound fractures and remained bed-ridden in the following six-month. After the incident, anonymous callers threatened him of dire consequences if he continued writing with the same pace on critical issues.

On 4 September 2010, he was abducted, beaten and flogged by a group of unknown assailants in military fatigues, who also shaved his head, eyebrows, and mustache, stripped him naked, and photographed him in "humiliating positions". Cheema reported that his attackers asked him if he was trying to discredit the government with his reporting, leading him to believe that they were from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency

Following the incident, The New York Times issued an editorial calling on the Pakistani government to "make clear that it will no longer abet or condone this behavior and to find out who abducted Mr. Cheema and bring them to justice." The Committee to Protect Journalists echoed the call, describing the attack as "a message sent to all journalists in Pakistan" that must be answered.For his brave journalism and willingness to publicly speak about the attack at risk of his own life, the CPJ awarded Cheema its 2011 International Press Freedom Award, "an annual recognition of courageous journalism". In his acceptance speech, Cheema thanked the group for its "recognition of the bold work Pakistani media is doing". On 14th April 2011, Cheema also received the Tully Center Free Speech Award of Syracuse University.  Cheema is a father of a son and a daughter. Adil, his son, was two years old when Cheema was abducted.
 
 
 
 
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