Statement From National Geographic On Paul Salopek

Aug 26, 2006, 01:00 ET from National Geographic Society

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Paul Salopek, who was traveling in
 Africa to report on the culture and history of the Sahel for National
 Geographic magazine, was detained by Sudanese authorities and on Aug. 26
 charged with espionage in a North Darfur court in El Fashir, Sudan.
 National Geographic magazine vigorously protests this accusation and
 appeals to Sudan for his immediate release and the release of two Chadians
 assisting him.
     "Paul Salopek was on assignment for National Geographic magazine to
 write a comprehensive feature article on the swath of sub-Saharan Africa
 known as the Sahel," said National Geographic Magazine Editor in Chief
 Chris Johns. "He had no agenda other than to fairly and accurately report
 on the region. He is a world-recognized journalist of the highest standing,
 with a deep knowledge and respect for the continent of Africa and its
     Salopek and his Chadian driver and interpreter were formally charged
 with criminal acts of espionage, reporting official documents, reporting
 false information and entering Sudan without a visa. The men's attorney
 Omer Hassan filed a motion for a continuance which was granted. The trial
 is scheduled to begin September 10 in El Fashir in Northern Darfur
 Province, Sudan.
     Salopek, 44, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and has been a
 correspondent for the Chicago Tribune since 1996.
     National Geographic has been diligently working with the Chicago
 Tribune and many others in and out of Sudan to secure the release of
 Salopek and the two men assisting him.
     In 1998 Salopek won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for
 his coverage of the human genome diversity project; in 2001 he won a
 Pulitzer for International Reporting, recognizing his work in Africa,
 including his coverage of the civil war in Congo.
     Salopek was on the staff of National Geographic magazine from 1992 to
 1995. In those years he contributed to a score of articles, including a
 bylined feature on mountain gorillas in the wake of Rwanda's civil war
 (October 1995).
     By traveling some 3,500 miles across the width of the African continent
 for National Geographic magazine - from the Chad-Sudan border region to
 Senegal by way of Niger, Mali, and Nigeria - Salopek is now working to
 educate National Geographic readers about the various factors, human and
 otherwise, that make life in the Sahel so extraordinary. These include the
 geography, history, culture, environment, wildlife, natural resources,
 religions, landscapes, and humanity of the region. The Chad-Sudan border
 region is just one small part of a much larger coverage area.
     Salopek has continued to report and contribute cultural geography
 articles to National Geographic on a freelance basis. For a story about the
 land and people of Mexico's remote Sierra Madre (June 2000), Salopek
 trekked 1,300 miles by mule. In February 2003, the magazine published his
 account of Sudan in the midst of civil war and the effect on its people of
 newly tapped oil reserves.
     For the magazine's single-topic issue on Africa (September 2005), he
 documented the plight of the remnant Mbuti people, who inhabit the forests
 of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
     Salopek received a degree in environmental biology from the University
 of California at Santa Barbara in 1984.
     Mary Jeanne Jacobsen
     Heather Riley

SOURCE National Geographic Society