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Playboy Foundation Honors 2008 Winners of Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards

WASHINGTON– The Playboy Foundation honored the winners of the 2008 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards in a ceremony held Tuesday evening in the Newseum in Washington before an audience of elected officials, civil rights advocates and journalists.

“These winners have shown extraordinary commitment to preserving the First Amendment rights of all Americans,” said Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. “Their example is an inspiration to everyone who cares about the fundamental civil rights on which our democracy is based.”

Greg Lukianoff, New York-based attorney and President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), received the new $25,000 Freedom of Expression Award in recognition of his tireless efforts to defend First Amendment rights of students and faculty on college campuses nationwide.

Heather Gillman, 17, now a high school senior in Ponce de Leon, FL, received a $10,000 award for her fearlessness in speaking out on behalf of the rights of gay students. Gillman successfully sued the local school board after her high school principal banned students from wearing t-shirts, stickers, buttons, or symbols showing support of equal rights for gay students.

Mark Klein, of Alameda, CA, a retired AT&T technician, won a $10,000 award for his courage in speaking out against the National Security Agency’s covert, illegal computer spying operation, which used AT&T to intercept billions of private Internet communications sent and received by law-abiding Americans.

This year, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards drew a record group of 60 nominees, ranging from law professors to website creators to student journalists and representing both traditional and digital means of expression.

The winners were chosen by a panel of distinguished judges: David M. Rubin, Professor and former Dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University; Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at University of Chicago Law School, and Nadine Strossen, outgoing President of the American Civil Liberties Union and Professor of Law at New York Law School.

Ms. Hefner created the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards in 1979 to honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the vital effort to protect and enhance First Amendment rights for Americans. Since then, more than 125 valiant advocates for First Amendment freedoms have been recognized with the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards.

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