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Umar Cheema, an award-winning investigative journalist from Pakistan, spoke at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00 p.m. Umar is known for his bravery in the face of adversity. Heralded by The New York Times for his work, Cheema has regularly faced threats. In honor of his work, he received the International Free Speech Award at Syracuse University in April 2011.

Last September, Cheema was abducted in the early morning hours and tortured by masked men. He was told not to speak about the incident or face death. After his release, Cheema immediately went on television to tell his story. An article in The New York Times paid tribute to Cheema, saying he took the biggest risk of his career: “He has done all Pakistanis a favor by refusing to be intimidated.” This was not the first attack. A car ran over him on the dark night of December, 2004, causing multiple fractures and keeping him in bed for six months.

Cheema works for The News, the largest English-language daily newspaper in Pakistan. He has broken stories on important political developments, exposed relationships between the security agencies and the private militia, and called into question the sitting government. Too, he has written about the conflicts within the Pakistan army and its intelligence agencies. In 2008, he was the only Pakistani journalist selected for two awards: the Daniel Pearl Fellowship and Britain’s Chevening Scholarship. During his Daniel Pearl Fellowship, he received on-the-job training at The New York Times. He has a master’s degree in Conflict Studies from the London School of Economics.

Cheema’s talk was sponsored by the Center for the Digital Globe.

View the International The News article about Umar Cheema’s 2011 Free Speech Award.

View the Columbia Missourian article published on April 21, 2011.

Umar Cheema has written a moving article in The New York Times about the death of a colleague.

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