Press Freedom Prize Goes To Turkish Daily Cumhuriyet

Above Photo: From

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and TV5Monde are pleased and proud to award the 2015 RSF Press Freedom Prize in the “media” category to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet. Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim and Ethiopian Zone 9 bloggers are awarded in the “journalist” and “citizen-journalist” categories, respectively. The names of the winners were announced during a ceremony yesterday evening in Strasbourg, in presence of Cumhuriyet editor Can Dündar.

This year, the Istanbul-based daily Cumhuriyet has distinguished itself by its defence of media freedom in Turkey but has paid a high price. As the government kept stepping up its harassment of its critics, Cumhuriyet’s independent and courageous journalism triggered one prosecution after the other, a smear campaign and the repeated blocking of its website.

“The person who committed this crime will pay dearly, he won’t get away with it so easily,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in June when announcing on TV that he was bringing a formal charge of “spying” against Cumhuriyet editor Can Dündar. The newspaper had just published photos and a video showing that a convoy of the Syria-bound trucks leased by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in 2014 had indeed been carrying firearms, as suspected at the time. The revelations revived a scandal that had been suppressed in 2014 by means of drastic censorship. And it was an explosive one because, according to many observers, the convoy had been heading for a region controlled by jihadi groups.

But this is just one of many cases for Dündar, who is also being prosecuted (like other media editors) on charges of insulting Erdogan and “terrorism.” Other Cumhuriyet employees are also facing the possibility of long jail sentences on various grounds including the newspaper’s decision to reprint some Charlie Hebdo cartoons after the massacre at the Paris-based magazine’s headquarters in January – a decision that prompted a night-time police raid on its printing press. Other examples of Cumhuriyet’s courage include its coverage of the Kurdish issue and the Armenian genocide.  On April 24, it dedicated its front page to the 100th anniversary of the genocide, with the headline “Never again” in Armenian.

Reporters Without Borders and TV5Monde would also like to pay tribute to all the other nominees for the 2015 prize:

  • In the “journalist” category: Mahmoud Abou Zeid alias Shawkan (Egypt), Ali Anouzla (Marocco), Ahmed Abba (Cameroon), Rauf Mirkadyrov (Azerbaijan), Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca (Pakistan), Julio Ernesto Alvarado (Honduras), Markus Beckedahl and André Meister (Germany), Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand (Iran), Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan).
  • In the “media” category: Azerbaijan Saati and Meydan TV (Azerbaijan), Droit Libre TV (Burkina Faso), Radio Globo and Globo TV (Honduras), Correo del Caroní (Venezuela), Mukto-mona (Bangladesh), Geo News TV (Pakistan), (Tunisia), Iwacu (Burundi), Hablemos Press (Cuba), Bivol (Bulgaria)Anh Ba Sam (Vietnam), Asia Plus (Tajikistan)
  • In the “citizen-journalist” category: Abduljalil Al-Singace (Bahrain), Ussama Aal Najjar (UAE), Atena Farghadani (Iran), Roy Ngerng (Singapour), Charlie Smith (China), Huynh Thuc Vy (Vietnam), Ángel Santiesteban Prats (Cuba)