German daily Die Welt’s Turkey reporter Deniz Yücel and Turkish author and honorary PEN member Aslı Erdoğan have been awarded the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media in Leipzig.
According to Deutsche Welle, the award is given to those who are “committed to the cause of protecting and expanding freedom of the press, and in doing so display a willingness to take risks, great personal commitment, persistence, courage and a firm belief in democracy.”
Yücel, who was detained in Turkey on Feb. 14 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a Turkish court on Feb. 20.
The prosecutor had accused Yücel of “disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization” and “inciting people to hatred and enmity.”
In a similar vein, renowned writer Erdoğan and several other intellectuals, journalists and academics were named in an indictment for serving as editorial board advisers of a pro-Kurdish newspaper. She was released on Dec. 29, 2016 after 132 days in jail. The indictment portrayed Özgür Gündem as a publication of “the terrorist organization,” in reference to the PKK.
After receiving her passport back from the Turkish authorities, Erdoğan accepted the Erich Maria Remarque peace prize in Germany on Sept. 23.
Yücel and Erdoğan follow Leipzig press freedom prize winners Turkish journalists Ahmet Altan (2009), Nedim Şener (2015), Can Dündar and Erdem Gül (2016), who were also imprisoned in Turkey. The choice of award winners is a statement of the solidarity by the Leipzig Media Foundation with all journalists in Turkey who are being suppressed due to their commitment to press freedom.