UNESCO awards Ahmet Şık annual press freedom prize

New York, April 11, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists congratulates Turkish investigative journalist and book author Ahmet Şık on being awarded UNESCO’s prestigious Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The annual prize, named after slain Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, honors a journalist or organization that “has made an outstanding contribution to the defense of press freedom.” Şık will receive the award on May 2 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, as part of the UNESCO celebrations for World Press Freedom Day.

“We are thrilled to congratulate Ahmet Şık on this much-deserved honor,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “But we note that while Şık is being celebrated as a press freedom hero internationally, he is being prosecuted as a criminal at home. We call on Turkish authorities to immediately drop all charges against him and allow him to do his work without reprisal.”

Şık, a defendant in the controversial Odatv case, faces charges that stem from his unpublished book, The Imam’s Army, which was highly critical of a community led by exiled charismatic cleric Fethullah Gülen. In a separate case, the journalist is criminally charged in connection with making critical remarks about the police, judges, and prosecutors involved in the Odatv case. Earlier this week, CPJ sent a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressing concern about the Turkish government’s recent steps to restrict the independent Turkish media.