Carmen Gurruchaga | 2001 Courage in Journalism Award


El Mundo, Spain.

Gurruchaga started reporting on Basque politics and terrorism-related issues for print and broadcast outlets since she joined El Mundo in 1989. Even though she lived under constant threat of death, accompanied by personal bodyguards, and was forced to move both her home and her office several times because of repeated threats and harassment, she still continued her work as a reporter.

In December 1997, Gurruchaga was attacked with Molotov cocktails while at home with her children. No one was injured in the attack, but she was forced to relocate to Madrid. Human Rights Watch said the bombing was believed to be linked to her reporting about a fugitive Basque youth, who was acquitted by a jury in a controversial trial even though he had admitted killing two policemen.

Gurruchaga’s name was often found on “black lists” of the ETA- the “Euskadi Ta Askatasuna”, a Basque nationalist and separatist organization. Even so, she continued reporting on ETA for El Mundo and is also a regular commentator for Spanish national television channel Antena 3 and Radio Nacional de España.

She was born in 1955 in San Sebastain, a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain. Fluent in French, English and Russian, she had a keen interest in issues concerning women, young people, minorities and the problems experienced by these groups. She wrote many articles for the magazine Emakunde about the situation of women. She was also co-founder of the association “SOS Balkans”, created in 1991 to support victims of the war in former Yugoslavia.

Her coverage of the Basque conflict gained her international recognition. She was the first European Union reporter to be honored by Reporters Without Borders: she won 2000 Reporters sans Frontieres-Fondation de France prize for remaining “a symbol of resistance to ETA terrorism.” She was also among the winners of the 2001 Hellman/Hammett grants for persecuted writers.

Carmen Gurruchaga is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Spain.

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