Thor Halvorssen Mendoza : biography
Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza (born in Caracas 1976)—commonly known as Thor Halvorssen—is a Venezuelan human rights advocate and film producer with contributions in the field of public policy, public interest advocacy, individual rights and civil liberties, and pro-democracy advocacy. The New York Times described Halvorssen in an August 2007 profile as a maverick "who champions the underdog and the powerless." He is a columnist for the left-leaning Huffington Post and also writes for Forbes magazine.
Halvorssen is founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual gathering described by The Economist as a "spectacular human-rights festival... on its way to becoming a human-rights equivalent of the Davos economic forum". Halvorssen is president of the Human Rights Foundation, an organization devoted to protecting liberty in the Americas. He is the Patron of the Czech-based Children's Peace Movement, On Own Feet, and founder of the Moving Picture Institute. Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved on December 1, 2006. Halvorssen bought the traditionally leftist Norwegian news magazine Ny Tid in May 2010. - Ny Tid International
Halvorssen's opinions have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Time magazine, The Nation and National Journal, and he has appeared on television outlets such as al-Jazeera, Fox News Channel’s The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, CNN, and HBO.
Thor Halvorssen was a speaker at TEDx at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2010.
Awards and recognition
University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin honored Halvorssen's achievements by awarding him the Sol Feinstone Award for protecting student speech. PublicEye.org Retrieved 26 August 2006. Halvorssen is a supporter and fellow of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and belongs to the leadership board. American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
In 2010 Romanian leader Emil Constantinescu presented Halvorssen with a presidential silver medal to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. "On behalf of those who fought and died for freedom, I present this medal to the Oslo Freedom Forum founder, and remind those here that even if Romanians live in democracy now, we cannot feel entirely free as long as other people--who live under dictatorial and repressive regimes anywhere in the world--are not also be free."http://thehrf.org/media/042910.html
Halvorssen was born in Venezuela to Hilda Mendoza, a descendant and a relative, respectively, of Venezuela's first two presidents Cristóbal Mendoza and Simón Bolívar. His father is Thor Halvorssen Hellum, who served as a Venezuelan Ambassador for anti-Narcotic Affairs in the administration of Carlos Andrés Pérez and as special overseas investigator of a Venezuelan Senate Commission. His family was prosperous and on his father's side he is the grandson of Øystein Halvorssen, the Norwegian king’s consul who "built a family dynasty as the Venezuelan representative for corporations including Dunlop, Alfa Laval and Ericsson."Strausbaugh, John (August 19, 2007). . New York Times. (Archived by WebCite ) His cousin is Leopoldo Lopez. Halvorssen, Thor (March 14, 2012). Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Halvorssen attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, with concurrent undergraduate and graduate degrees in Political Science and History.
When Halvorssen was a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, his father was arrested while investigating the Medellín cartel for possible money laundering and bank fraud. His father was tortured, beaten, and in danger of being murdered during his 74-day incarceration in a Caracas jail on "trumped-up" charges of terrorism.Hilton, Isabel. "Presumed Guilty". Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ) UK: July 1994.Fonzi, Gaeton. "The Troublemaker". The Pennsylvania Gazette (November 1994) Halvorssen led the campaign for his father’s release, garnering help from Amnesty International which issued protests along with other International organizations. Halvorssen was eventually found innocent of all charges. After his release the United Nations-affiliated International Society for Human Rights appointed him director of their Pan-American Committee. Evidence suggests Thor Halvorssen was framed by Colombian drug lords and their Caracas `friends'; Christian Science Monitor. Boston, Mass.: Dec 20, 1993. Christian Science Monitor. Boston, Mass.: Dec 24, 1993.Halvorssen, Thor. The Americas: The price of vigilance in Venezuela's banking community. Wall Street Journal. New York, N.Y.: Mar 4, 1994. pg. A9
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