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Vancouver author Deborah Campbell receives Freedom to Read Award

Acclaimed Vancouver journalist and author Deborah Campbell is the recipient of the Freedom to Read Award.

Acclaimed Vancouver journalist and author Deborah Campbell has won the Freedom to Read Award.

Campbell was the unanimous choice for the honour, which is presented annually by the Writers' Union of Canada in recognition of work that is "passionately supportive of free expression."

Last fall, she was awarded the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for "A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War" (Knopf Canada).

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Campbell's work began with an undercover journey to the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2007 to report on Iraqis flocking into the country after Saddam Hussein was toppled from power.

Her first-hand account also delves into the evolution of her relationship with Ahlam, a refugee working as a "fixer" aiding western media, whom Campbell hires and befriends.

The University of British Columbia lecturer has spent more than a decade reporting from countries including Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Russia.

"There is so much to admire in the work of Deborah Campbell," Writers' Union of Canada chair George Fetherling said in a statement.

"Whether she is writing about war artists, international caregivers, the bafflingly complex politics of nuclear arms, or the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East, she does not shy from controversy, and is devoted to letting all voices find a place on her page."

Last year's Freedom to Read Award recipient was Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.

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