Turkish journalists Dündar, Gül receive PEN’s Hermann Kesten Award

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The former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet Can Dündar recently presented a book to the German President Joachim Gauck (R) at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin on November 7, 2016.

The German office of PEN International, a worldwide association of writers, has given the Hermann Kesten Award to former Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet daily Can Dündar and Cumhuriyet’s Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül.

Speaking during the award ceremony on Thursday, President of PEN Germany Josef Haslinger said Dündar and Gül set an example for the whole world as brave warriors of democracy and freedom of expression and urged the German government to support the oppressed and not the oppressors.

Dündar, in his acceptance speech, criticized European governments, saying they only were concerned about emerging developments in Turkey and called on them to show solidarity with dissenters in the “other” Turkey.

Gül, who was prohibited from leaving the country, was unable to attend the ceremony.

The Hermann Kesten Award is granted annually to persecuted or imprisoned writers on behalf of German PEN, the German wing of the worldwide writers association, PEN International.

Dündar was sentenced to five years in prison after publishing a story in January 2015 about how Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was allegedly sending weapons to Syria. He was released pending appeal and left Turkey during the appeals process. His wife, Dilek Dündar, was subsequently prevented from visiting him after Turkish authorities revoked her passport.

He recently announced he would not surrender himself to Turkish courts because he had lost faith in the Turkish judiciary after a failed July 15 coup and the subsequent state of emergency declared by the government.

An İstanbul court also accepted an indictment against Dündar on charges of “publishing a terrorist organization’s statements” during a one-day editorial stint undertaken in solidarity with the now-closed daily Özgür Gündem.

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