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Post top editor Downie to retire

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, is retiring after 17 years at the job, the newspaper announced Tuesday.

Known as unassuming, cautious, and hard working, Downie guided the newspaper's staff to 25 Pulitzer Prizes, including three gold medals for public service, the newspaper said.

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One of the Pulitzers came after the newspaper published accounts of a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe after U.S. President George Bush asked Downie to kill the story, the report said.

Post Publisher Donald Graham said he picked Downie for the top job, because "I knew his day-to-day news judgment was superb … he had a ferocious sense of fairness … great taste in news people, and because he worked incredibly hard."

"He's a really large figure who's accomplished so much, but without any hint of charisma in the wider world," Editor Robert Kaiser said.

Downie started at the Post in 1964 as a summer intern and moved into the Metro Desk editor position, where he supervised much of the newspaper's Watergate coverage. In 1979, he was became the newspaper's London bureau chief, returning to Washington as national editor in 1982.

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