Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards celebrate those who have had significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.

There are four categories: Arts, Campaigning, Journalism and the Trustee award. Winners are honoured at a gala celebration in London and receive financial support.

The 23rd Annual Freedom of Expression Awards were held on Thursday 19 October 2023 in London. This special event seeks to celebrate free expression activists and champions. 



Hear about the 2023 winners of the Freedom of Expression Awards below. Actor Colin Firth attended the ceremony and accepted the Trustee Award on behalf of Sir Salman Rushdie. Click here to find out more about winners in previous years.


Toomaj Salehi


Matiullah Wesa


Mohammed Zubair

Trustee Award

Sir Salman Rushdie


Find out about the nominees in each category by clicking on the panels below. Click here to find out more about winners in previous years


Andrey Kurkov is regarded as Ukraine’s most famous author writing both fiction and non-fiction. He has written 19 novels as well as multiple movie and TV scripts. His work has been translated into more than 35 languages and published in 65 countries.

His most recent novel Grey Bees (2018) is set in the grey zone in eastern Ukraine between separatist and loyalist forces. The novel skilfully dramatises the conflict in Ukraine through the reflections and experiences of a beekeeper.

Kurkov works to preserve Ukrainian culture. Since the launch of the full-scale attack in February 2022, Kurkov continues to write about the war. His work highlights the realities of living in a warzone and celebrates the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

Ben Preston is a British journalist. He is executive editor of The Sunday Times and edits its Culture magazine.

He began his career working on local newspapers (Bristol Evening Post) and Press Association before joining The Times, where he was deputy editor from 2000 to 2008. Subsequently, he was Executive Editor at The Independent before joining Radio Times as editor in 2009. He was awarded Editors' Editor in the 2016 BSME awards. He returned to newspapers at The Sunday Times, running news through Brexit and Covid.

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC is one of Britain's most distinguished lawyers. She has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights. She has conducted many prominent cases of terrorism, official secrets and homicide. She is the founding force behind the establishment of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. In 1997, she was elevated to the House of Lords where she is a Labour peer. She has published a number of books including two on how the justice system is failing women, and has written and broadcasted on many issues over the years. Currently, she has taken on the role of Director to the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. She directs the Institute’s work upholding the rule of law and human rights globally. (Photo: Robert Perry)

Trevor Phillips is a writer and television producer. He is the co-founder of the data analytics consultancy Webber Phillips, and Chairman of Green Park Interim and Executive Search. He is a Times columnist, shortlisted for Comment Writer of the Year in 2020.

He is the Chairman of the global freedom of expression campaign charity Index on Censorship; a Senior Fellow at the Policy Exchange think tank; and a Vice-President of the Royal Television Society.

Trevor is a non-executive director of the AIM-listed behavioural science consultancy Mind Gym; he was the President of the John Lewis Partnership Council until 2018, and founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.


The Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship exists to celebrate individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world. Through the fellowship, Index works with the winners to provide tailored support.

Previous winners include Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida, world renowned Ukrainian author and public intellectual Andrey Kurkov, courageous Honduran investigative journalist Wendy Funes who uncovers corruption and covers the ongoing violations of women’s rights in the country, and anonymous Chinese digital activists GreatFire who have secured significant additional funding since their award.

Click here to find out more about previous winners.

By donating to the Freedom of Expression Awards you help us support individuals and groups at the forefront of tackling censorship.

The 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards are sponsored by YouTube, Edwardian Hotels, SAGE Publishing, The Times and Sunday Times (News UK) and the Hollick Family Foundation.



There are many ways you can sponsor the Awards, and support not only the winners but all the work Index does. Please contact Cathy Parry at [email protected] for more information.


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Artists, activists and journalists from Afghanistan, India, Myanmar and Somalia are among the nominations for this year's awards

Nominees for the 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards – Journalism

Meet the people carrying out courageous, high-impact and determined journalism that exposes censorship and threats to free expression

Nominees for the 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards – Campaigning

Meet the activists and campaigners who have had a marked impact in fighting censorship and promoting freedom of expression

Nominees for the 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards – Arts

Meet the artists and arts producers whose work challenges repression and injustice and celebrates artistic free expression

Winners of Index’s 2022 Freedom of Expression Awards announced

The “bravery and brilliance” of free expression champions from China, Cuba, Russia and Ukraine celebrated at annual awards

Trustee’s Award 2022

Andrey Kurkov is the winner in the 2022 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Trustees Award category

Campaigning 2022

OVD-Info is the winner in the 2022 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Campaigning category

Journalism 2022

Sophia Huang Xueqin is a Chinese activist and journalist and is the winner of the 2022 Freedom of Expression Award in the journalism category

Arts 2022

Hamlet Lavastida is the 2022 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Arts Fellow

Nominees for the 2022 Freedom of Expression Awards – Journalism

Meet the three shortlisted journalists for this year's award

Nominees for the 2022 Freedom of Expression Awards – Campaigning

Meet the three shortlisted campaigners and campaign groups for this year's award

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