Read the excerpt from the laudatory speech by Cilla Benkö, our Steering Committee President:
‘We are arrested’ – you tweeted on the 26 of November 2015, the day you were detained by the
Turkish police and thrown into prison for espionage and accused of being a member of a terrorist
It is on this day that it became obvious to you – and to the rest of the world – that you have to pay a
price, a personal price, for doing your work.
Your work which consists of searching for the truth as an independent journalist. Of telling the truth
as you find it and of informing the world of your findings.
In 2014 you had found and reported on - secret and presumably illegal weapon deliveries to Syrian
militia by the Turkish secret service MIT, a truth that was - to put it mildly - ‘uncomfortable’ to the
Erdogan regime - and proved life-changing for you.
It is due to this article that you were charged with espionage and sentenced in May 2016 to 5 years
and 10 months imprisonment for ‘revealing state secrets’. It is also in effect due to this article that
you are now in exile here in Berlin.
As you yourself put it: ‘I had the choice between death and exile. I chose exile’.
You are nominally safe - guarded by security - but don’t feel secure when many within the German
Turkish community believe the Erdogan propaganda according to which you are a national traitor.
You have every reason to feel depressed and hopeless, to regret writing that article, to curse your fate
and your countrymen.
But you don’t!
You continue. You campaign. You write and you fight - with a smile on your face!
You wrote a book, you write in newspapers, you write online – and you will not be stopped,
not be stopped in your attempt to reach and enlighten your fellow countrymen - and the rest of the world,
not be stopped in your attempt to change things in Turkey.