The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today warmly welcomed the decision of UNESCO to award the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2014 to Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Şik.
In a statement, UNESCO said that Ahmet Şik was selected for the prize by an international jury of independent media professionals for the prize, in recognition of his steadfast denunciations of corruption, violations of press freedom and human rights in Turkey.
Ahmet Şik, an experienced freelance journalist who worked for a number of newspapers (Radikal, Birgün) and member of the EFJ affiliate in Turkey, the Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (Turkish Union of Journalists), was arrested in March 2011 as part of the OdaTV case. The EFJ sent several observers to observe hearings in this case
Ahmet was freed in 2012 but still faces terror-related charges. He was injured while covering as a photojournalist the Gezi Protests at the end of May 2013.
The Unesco Quillermo Cano World Prize, established in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board,honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger, says UNESCO.
"Ahmet Şık is a well-known figure for the European journalists and unionists. His courage, determination and professionalism have always been praised in Europe while being prosecuted in Turkey, " said the EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. ". We now hope that this new international recognition by the UNESCO will help the Turkish authorities to reconsider its understanding of journalism, unionism and freedom of expression principles and drop all the charges against our colleagues under prosecution in this country. We congratulate Ahmet Şık for this prize and thank him for his devotion to defend press freedom."
The $25,000 prize is awarded annually as part of the celebrations for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. It is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation and the Helingin Sanomat Foundation.
This year, the award ceremony will take place at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters on Friday, 2 May. The ceremony will be followed by an international conference on 5 and 6 May, with a focus on journalists’ security, the struggle against impunity and trends in press freedom
For more information, please contact EFJ on +32 2 235 22 25
The EFJ represents 320.000 journalists in 39 countries