Former Polish dissident, editor wins top Spanish award

MADRID (AP) — A former Polish dissident and human rights activist who is editor-in-chief of one of Eastern Europe’s most popular newspapers has won a prestigious Spanish award.

The jury that decides the Princess of Asturias Awards announced Wednesday that Adam Michnik won its annual prize for communication and humanities.

The jury said that the 75-year-old was honored “for his commitment to quality journalism and for his influence in restoring and defending democracy in Poland.”

The citation noted that Michnik was a prominent figure in Poland’s Solidarity pro-democracy movement and was imprisoned in the 1980s for his efforts to end his country’s repressive communist rule.

After Poland’s communist leaders were toppled in a 1989 election, Michnik took a seat in parliament and was a co-founder of the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

“Michnik, whose idea of Europe helped democratic values take root in his country, is today a symbol of freedom of expression and humanism, as well as a moral example of resistance against authoritarian threats,” the jury citation said.

Poland and the European Union have for years been at odds over issues linked to the respect of democratic standards and the separation of powers in the eastern country.

The 50,000-euro ($53,000) award is one of eight prizes, including in the arts, social sciences and sports, handed out annually by a foundation named for Spanish Crown Princess Leonor.