Imprisoned Egyptian publisher wins 2019 Prix Voltaire

Imprisoned Egyptian publisher wins 2019 Prix Voltaire

Imprisoned Egyptian publisher and bookseller Khaled Lutfi has won the International Publishers Association’s 2019 Prix Voltaire which supports defenders of freedom to publish.

On 4th February, Khalid Lutfi (also written Lotfy), founder of Cairo’s Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of divulging military secrets and spreading rumours for having distributed an Arabic translation of the book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph. 

The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee’s decision to award the £7,500 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire to Khaled Lutfi "honours his bravery in publishing despite the risks involved", said organisers.

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: “The international publishing community stands with Khaled Lutfi. We must support Lutfi’s fellow publishers in Egypt so that his imprisonment does not lead to fear and self-censorship in a country of such rich literary heritage.”

José Borghino, IPA secretary general added: “IPA calls on President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to grant Khaled Lutfi a presidential pardon.”

London-based Farsi language e-book publisher Azadeh Parsapour, South Africa's NB Publishers, Turkey’s Tekin and Moe Way of The Eras poetry publishing house missed out on the award after making the shortlist last month. 

The presentation of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire will take place on 21st June at Seoul International Book Fair.