The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Canadian International Council (CIC) Waterloo Region Branch are pleased to welcome leading international journalists to their annual media panel, this year entitled “Journalists in Exile: The Fight for Free Expression.”

Taking place at the CIGI Auditorium on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, from 7 to 9 p.m., this year’s panelists include:

  • Michelle Shephard, National Security reporter, Toronto Star (moderator)
  • Luis Horacio Nájera, formerly a journalist in Mexico, now with The Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies
  • Aaron Berhane, formerly a journalist in Eritrea, now with Meftih Enterprise
  • Morteza Abdolalian, formerly a journalist in Iran, now with Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • Maryam Aghvami, formerly a translator in Iran for Reuters, now with Voice of America

On a daily basis, journalists around the world put their freedom, safety and reputation on the line. From exposing corrupt government practices to criticising crackdowns, reporters risk persecution and imprisonment, threats of violence and excessive force for their work. In situations of such duress, what options do journalists have to protect themselves and their families? Can exiled journalists continue to expose injustices and serve the public good back home? What challenges do exiled journalists have in adjusting to their new lives? How do exiled journalists orchestrate their escape from such danger?

Members of the public can RSVP for this event as well as the free public webcast by visiting: Members of the media can register in advance by emailing Kevin Dias, CIGI communications specialist, at [email protected]


CIGI-CIC Waterloo Region Branch Annual Media Panel: Journalists in Exile: The Fight for Free Expression


Wednesday, June 18, 2014


7-9 p.m.


CIGI Campus
67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, Ontario Canada

About the Speakers:

Michelle Shephard is the National Security Reporter at the Toronto Star and author of Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone (2011) and Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (2008). Shephard’s journalistic contributions have won her the Governor General's Michener Award for public service journalism and the National Newspaper Award, three times. She is a strong advocate for journalistic freedom and sits on the Board of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Luis Horacio Nájera is a Visiting Fellow at The Citizen Lab and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the University of Toronto. During his career as a journalist, Nájera bravely covered the drug cartels in Mexico. Following an assassination threat he obtained refugee status in Canada. He now sits on the Board of Trustees of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Aaron Berhane is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Meftih Enterprise. After fleeing arrest in Eritrea for publishing a letter critiquing the Eritrean government, Berhane sought refuge in Regina, Saskatchewan. He later moved to Toronto where he founded Meftih, an Eritrean-Canadian newspaper for the Eritrean diaspora in Toronto.

Morteza Abdolalian is an Interpreter and Translator for the Ministry of the Attorney General. During his journalistic career in the 1980s, Abdolalian was persecuted in both the Philippines and Iran for his reporting. Over the last several decades, he has been a strong advocate for human rights and free expression. He currently sits on the Board of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and manages the blog, Iran Watch Canada.

Maryam Aghvami is a Reporter and Web Editor at Voice of America. Previously the President of Journalists in Exile, Aghvami worked as a translator in Iran and in the Reuters bureau in Tehran. Due to her contributions to journalism and free expression, she is not able to return to Iran.

Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected]  

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit


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