The One Free Press Coalition, an initiative established during a meeting of the International Media Council at the recent World Economic Forum, has included Turkish reporter Pelin Ünker in its monthly list of “10 Most Urgent” journalists under attack or silenced, the Ahval news website reported, citing a Forbes report published Friday.
“Pelin Unker wrote a piece as part of the Paradise Papers corruption investigation in 2017, revealing offshore holdings of the family of then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. As retribution, authorities charged and sentenced her to 13 months for insulting the prime minister,” the coalition said.
In November 2017 Ünker reported in the Cumhuriyet daily that Yıldırım’s two sons were the main beneficiaries of five shipping companies registered in Malta for tax optimization purposes.
The family did not deny the report but brought a suit against the newspaper, citing its attempt to “create a false and partial perception by public opinion.”
“I did my duty as a journalist. The story was about public figures. I did my job in sharing the incident with the public. He was given the right to respond. I don’t think the story I did constitutes a crime,’’ Ünker said after a Turkish court sentenced her to 13 months in prison in January.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was assassinated inside the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul on Oct. 2, is also among the 10 journalists included in the list.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Turkey 157th among 180 countries on the 2018 World Free Press Index, describing Turkey as “the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based organization promoting press freedom, said on March 8, International Women’s Day, that Turkey was also the world’s top jailer of female journalists with 14 in prison.