Fifty years of Index


An appeal for help

An appeal for help

An appeal is published in The Times from Pavel Litvinov, grandson of the former Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, and his wife Ivy, alongside Larisa Bogoraz, the former wife of writer Yuli Daniel. The appeal is organised by the poet Stephen Spender. It asks the world to condemn the rigged..Read More


Writers and Scholars International is formed

Writers and Scholars International is formed

Stephen Spender takes up Litvinov’s idea first with Stuart Hampshire (the Oxford philosopher), a co-signatory of the telegram, and with David Astor (then editor of the Observer). They set up a committee along the lines suggested by Litvinov. Among its other members are Louis Blom-Cooper, Edward Crankshaw, Lord Gardiner, Elizabeth..Read More


A bulletin of frustration? Index magazine announced

Author and translator Michael Scammel becomes the first director of Index. Under Scammel’s leadership, it is decided that Writers and Scholars International will form a magazine with Scammel as the editor. He acquires writing from Milovan Djilas from Yugoslavia and Greek law professor George Mangakis’ Letter to Europeans, written from..Read More


Index magazine is launched

Index magazine is launched

In March the first ever issue of the magazine is published under the title Index (“on Censorship” is later added). From the beginning, Index declare its mission to stand up for free expression as a fundamental human right for people everywhere. It is particularly vocal in its coverage of the..Read More


Index denounces Iran’s Shah

Index denounces Iran’s Shah

As part of a special report on Iran, Index is one of the first magazines to denounce the Shah. 


Index highlights torture

Index publicises the case of the tortured Iranian poet, Reza Baraheni, whose testimony subsequently appears in the New York Times.


Arthur Miller writes in Index

Arthur Miller writes in Index

US playwright Arthur Miller writes in Index: “The sin of power is to not only distort reality but to convince people that the false is true, and that what is happening is only an invention of enemies.” 


Zapis is published in Index

Zapis is published in Index

The unofficial and banned Polish journal Zapis, mouthpiece of the writers and intellectuals who paved the way for the liberalisation in Poland, is published by Index. A translation of the Czechoslovak Charter 77 manifesto drafted by Václav Havel and others is also published this year. Tom Stoppard’s play, Every Good..Read More


Ernesto Cardenal is published

Ernesto Cardenal is published

At the start of the year Index publishes the Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal before he becomes Minister of Education in the revolutionary government. The winter issue of the magazine reports on a controversy in the USA in which the Public Broadcasting Service has heavily edited a documentary about racism in Britain..Read More


Hugh Lunghi becomes editor

Hugh Lunghi takes over from Scammell as the editor of Index. Prior to Index, Lunghi worked at the BBC World Service for many years, including being their lead commentator during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.  When he left the BBC in 1980, he immediately became director of the Writers..Read More


George Theiner becomes editor

George Theiner becomes editor of Index. Born to Czech-Jewish parents, Theiner served time in a forced labour camp for refusing to join the Communist Party. After his release, he worked as a technical editor in an educational publishing house, Artia, and began translating Czech literary works into English. When the..Read More


Beckett and Havel plays are published

Index is the first to publish Samuel Beckett’s play Catastrophe, which is dedicated to Václav Havel. Václav Havel writes a play in response to Beckett’s, entitled Mistake, also published in Index for the first time that same year. As part of the campaign to raise awareness about persecuted writers in..Read More


Sally Laird becomes editor

Sally Laird becomes editor of Index. Laird had studied Russian and languages at university and prior to Index worked at Amnesty.


A new editor, Tiananmen and the fall of the Berlin Wall

In March, Index publish the World Statement by the International Committee for the Defence of Salman Rushdie in support of “the right of all people to express their ideas and beliefs and to discuss them with their critics on the basis of mutual tolerance, free from censorship, intimidation and violence”...Read More


Urusla Owen joins Index

Urusla Owen joins Index

Ursula Owen appointed as both editor and chief executive. Owen increases the circulation of the magazine threefold and wins several awards. She presides over many important debates, for example on violence, pornography and hate speech.


Judith Vidal-Hall becomes editor

The journalist Judith Vidal-Hall becomes editor of Index. Prior to Index Vidal-Hall had a column in the TLS and had founded the Guardian Third World Review, as well as taught the advanced journalism course at City University.


First ever Freedom of Expression Awards held

The first ever Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards is held on 5 February in London. The event, a sit-down dinner, is hosted by the journalist Jon Snow and introduced by the playwright Harold Pinter. The categories and winners are Defence of Free Expression: Mashallah Shamsolvaezin; Whistleblowing: Grigory Pasko;..Read More


Anna Politkovskaya writes for the magazine

Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya writes in the magazine of the threats made against her life when she began investigating Russia’s war in Chechnya. The article is published four years before she is assassinated in Moscow.


Open Shutters Iraq is launched

Open Shutters Iraq, in which photographs and photographic essays made by women from Baghdad, Basra, Falluja, Kirkuk and Mosul, is launched. Women tell their stories of war, sanctions, intifada, siege, kidnapping, grief, love, happiness, times of resistance, achievements and small triumphs through these images and essays. The project is later..Read More


Imagine art after exhibits at Tate

Imagine art after, an Index programme involving linking artists from refugee and migrant communities in the UK to artists from their country of origin, exhibits at Tate Britain. Former BBC current affairs producer Jo Glanville becomes editor of Index. 


Index wins Amnesty award

Index wins the Amnesty International Media Award, Periodicals Award for the Russia Series.


Free Speech is Not For Sale campaign is launched

Free Speech is Not For Sale campaign is launched in partnership with English PEN. A report done as part of the campaign highlights the problem of so-called libel tourism and English law of defamation’s chilling effect on free speech. As a result of debate following the report’s suggestions, UK Justice..Read More


Nabeel Rajab wins advocacy award

Nabeel Rajab wins advocacy award

The Freedom of Expression Award for advocacy is given to Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. Rajab is later imprisoned, in 2016, convicted of offences including “spreading fake news”. Index are part of several campaigns to free Nabeel, including writing open letters to governments around the world and protesting outside..Read More


New editors for Index

Mirren Gutierrez becomes editor of Index, to be succeeded by Rachael Jolley, an award-winning journalist who had previously edited several magazines.


Index receives praise from TLS and an award

In September the award-winning Turkish journalist Can Dündar calls for German journalists to pick up the investigation he was forced to abandon and more generally for cross-country collaboration amongst journalists. Dündar has been in exile in Germany since 2016 following an arrest warrant against him in Turkey. Index campaign outside..Read More


Daphne Caruana Galizia and Javier Valdez are murdered

Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is murdered. Index join a group of organisations to launch the campaign #JusticeForDaphne. Both the magazine and the website keep up the pressure and focus on Malta through publishing articles about the case and Maltese journalism more broadly. Index campaign regularly outside the Maltese Consulate..Read More


Poems from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe are smuggled out of prison

Poems written by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British national who was imprisoned in 2015 before boarding a plane in Tehran, are smuggled out of jail and published in the magazine, alongside poems from fellow inmate Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, also a political prisoner. Index are told that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s morale is boosted upon..Read More


20th Awards are celebrated

Index celebrate the 20th year of their awards with an online ceremony hosted by BBC journalist Timandra Harkness. The winners are Russian artist Yulia Tsvetkova (arts); Turkish lawyer Veysel Ok and Bahraini activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei (campaigning); Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, also known as 7amleh (digital..Read More