Turkey’s UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize laureate Ahmet Sik on #PressFreedom

Turkish journalist Ahmet Sik has been named the laureate of the 2014 UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. He was honoured for his commitment to the defence of press freedom. Emily Bennett reports from the World Press Freedom Day conference underway at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.


by WAN-IFRA Staff | May 5, 2014

Sik is a freelance investigative journalist, photojournalist and writer who has reported for Turkish newspapers CumhuriyetEverensel, Yeni Yuzyl and Radikal. He has also worked for Nokta magazine and Reuters News Agency. His work focuses primarily on corruption and human rights abuses.

Sik currently faces charges for his unpublished book, The Imam’s Army which explores the work of Islamic opinion leader, Fethullah Gulen and his Gulen movement. Sik was arrested in 2011, prior to the release of his book, on charges being linked to terrorism organisations, Ergenekon. The book was seized and banned and his offices of the book publisher were searched.

Sik was released from detention in March 2012 and continued to pursue his work as an investigative journalist. He is now awaiting trial, and if he is convicted, he will face 15 years imprisonment. This case contributed to serious concern for the state of press freedom in Turkey.

In his address at the World Press Freedom Day Conference today, he spoke about the effects of censorship and a lack of press freedom.

“There are invisible prisons and the whole country has become a prison with an invisible prison,” Mr Sik said.

He also discussed how a lack of press freedom has impacted the ability of both himself and his colleagues to carry out their work as journalists.

“[My colleagues] can’t write a single article which criticises the government. They will lose their jobs or find themselves in prison,” he said.

“We do speak only thanks to our courage and not to the fact that there is courage in journalism today”.

The award ceremony took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on May 2nd.

The award is named after Columbian journalist, Guillermo Cano Isaza, who was assassinated outside of his office in Bogota in 1986. It is is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation and the Helingin Sanomat Foundation.

*Picture: Juan Ochoa

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