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Turkish human rights lawyer to receive Thomas Dehler Medal for work on media freedom

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Lawyer Veysel Ok, who has defended dozens of journalists in Turkey who were prosecuted for their work, is going to receive the Thomas Dehler Medal 2019, the Media and Law Studies Association announced on Wednesday.

The medal is given in honor of the first minister of justice of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Ok is being awarded the medal for his work in advocating free speech and the rule of law in Turkey.

The medal will be presented by German Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in a ceremony to be held in Munich on April 5.

“Human rights lawyer Veysel Ok fights for the rule of law in Turkey like no other. He became known in Germany above all because he represented Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel in court. He also defends many other lesser known journalists,” noted an announcement from the Thomas Dehler Foundation. “Veysel Ok fights fearlessly and also faces consequences, now he himself has been indicted.”

Previously representing many prominent journalists in Turkey, including Ahmet Altan and columnist Şahin Alpay, Ok currently faces charges of “denigrating the Turkish judicial system” in an interview he gave in 2015.

Thomas Dehler was a lawyer who defended in court Jewish citizens during the Nazi regime and later became the first minister of justice of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In light of his legacy, every year this medal is given to an individual who has achieved outstanding success in furthering the rule of law and contributing to the protection of the right to freedom of speech. Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, ranking 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

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