Laureate 2009: Ahmet Altan

Ahmet Altan
Photo: Nihat Odabasi

"You have to be crazy if you want to do something like this", says Ahmet Altan about his work. Until 2012, he has been editor in chief of Taraf (Point of View), a Turkish newspaper founded in 2007 that caused quite a few sensations in Turkey with its revelations. Altan started his career as a journalist and columnist for renowned newspapers such as Hürriyet or Milliyet, but repeatedly came into conflict with the Turkish state. He was sacked by Milliyet due to some journalistic work in which he fictionally laid out a picture of Kurdey, a state populated by a majority of Curds. He was banned and wrote novels.

It was only with Taraf that he was able to return to his work as a journalist. In September 2008, he wrote an article about the genocide of Armenians and got prosecuted for dividing the Turkish nation. Regardless, Taraf continued making enemies within the Turkish government and the military, with an article, for instance, that focussed on a PKK attack which resulted in the death of 17 soldiers of the Turkish army. Taraf claimed, the Turkish army knew about this attack beforehand but did not introduce any measures against it.

Taraf doesn’t get any advertisements, is sued regularly by the authorities and, therefore, suffers from serious economic problems. Foreign correspondents in Turkey consider Taraf as being idealistic and uncompromising.