Nedim Şener, Turkey

International Press Freedom Awards

2013 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee

(Courtesy of Univision)

To read Şener’s acceptance speech, click here.

Nedim Şener, a leading investigative journalist with the Turkish daily Posta, is considered a terrorist by his government, which alleges that his critical reporting contributed to an anti-government plot.

His case is emblematic of Turkey’s widespread application of vague laws to prosecute and imprison journalists and pressure them into self-censorship. The laws equate covering terrorism with aiding terrorism, CPJ has found.

Since being detained in 2011, Şener faces charges of supporting an armed terrorist organization in connection with Ergenekon, an alleged anti-government conspiracy. After more than one year in prison awaiting trial, he is currently free on conditional release pending the outcome. If convicted, Şener faces up to 15 years in prison.

The case, also involving investigative reporter Ahmet Şık and eight staffers of the ultranationalist news website Odatv, has been broadly criticized by press freedom advocates and colleagues as untenable. The Odatv defendants, including Şener, have argued that incriminating files were planted on their computers with viruses. Independent technology experts have confirmed that the Odatv computers have been externally manipulated; their analyses, however, have not been admitted as court evidence.

Şener, the author of several books, investigated the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. In a book about the killing published in 2009, Şener alleged official involvement in Dink’s murder, including a cover-up of police negligence, concealment of evidence, and failure to investigate threats and surveillance of Dink prior to his death. Following the book’s publication, Şener was prosecuted on several charges, including “revealing secrets” and “attempting to influence a trial.” He faced more than 30 years in prison if convicted–longer than the sentence handed to Dink’s killer. Şener was acquitted of those charges in 2010, only to be imprisoned again, as a suspect in the Odatv case, less than a year later.

In 2012, CPJ found Turkey to be the world’s worst jailer of journalists. Authorities are still holding dozens of Kurdish reporters and editors on terror-related charges and other journalists for allegedly plotting against the government. Şener’s sentence is expected near the end of 2013.

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