Leipzig, 19 February, 2018. The release of the German-Turkish journalist and winner of the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media 2017" Deniz Yücel has also brought relief and joy to the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig.
However, the joy was clouded when it became known a few hours later that Ahmet Altan - laureate of the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" in 2009 - was sentenced to life imprisonment together with his brother and four other defendants.
"The fact that Deniz Yücel has now been released after more than one year in custody and that he has left Turkey shows that the enduring public attention to his fate has worked in this case," said Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of Media Foundation and Director Foundations of Sparkasse Leipzig.
"Unfortunately, the happy outcome for Deniz Yücel does not change anything about the fundamental situation of press freedom in Turkey," Seeger continues, referring to the lifelong prison sentences: "These judgments are proof that the once independent Turkish judiciary has become the command receivers of presidential arbitrariness: We continue to assure Ahmet Altan and all journalists, media professionals and artists imprisoned in Turkey for political reasons our undivided solidarity." In the meantime, it would be more appropriate to talk about abolition as the major threat to the freedom of press in Turkey.
Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent of the World N24 Group, was awarded the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" in 2017 together with the Turkish author and journalist Asli Erdogan. For Yücel his sister Ilkay personally accepted the prize in Leipzig. Ahmet Altan was awarded the prize of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig in 2009.
Following the attempted coup d'etat against President Erdogan in 2016, he was arrested, along with his brother Mehmet Altan, for having been linked to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Güllen, whom the Turkish authorities hold responsible for the attempted coup in July 2016.
Beside Ahmet Altan (2009) and Deniz Yücel (2017), Turkish journalists Nedim Sener (2015) as well as Can Dündar and Erdem Gül (2016) have also been awarded the "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" during the last years.
Note for journalists:
Background information on Ahmet Altan in a video of the award ceremony of 2009 at a Dropbox-Link. (in German language, total time 15 minutes, the award ceremony to Ahmet Altan starts at 9:12).
Here, you can find additional information on the award ceremonies to Ahmet Altan, Deniz Yücel und Asli Erdogan, Nedim Şener sowie Can Dündar und Erdem Gül.
The materials may be used under designation of the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig.