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Freedom of Speech Award

DW honors Turkish journalist Sedat Ergin


Sedat Ergin, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily “Hürriyet,” is to receive Deutsche Welle’s Freedom of Speech Award. His attendance at DW’s Global Media Forum in June hinges on legal battles in Istanbul.

Sedat Ergin has been on trial since March for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. DW named him on Thursday as a recipient of its award this year honoring persons who exemplify human rights and free speech.

He shared the fate of hundreds of journalists in Turkey who were exposed to high risks every day in the struggle to maintain independent journalism and press freedoms, said DW Director-General Peter Limbourg.

In his first reaction, Sedat Ergin said he was “honored to receive the prize that stands for preservation of press freedom worldwide.”

The new award went last year to the Saudi blogger Ralf Badawi, who has been held in prison since 2012. His wife Ensaf Haider collected that award on his behalf.

When summoned to court Istanbul in late March, Sedat Ergin drew a somber picture: “Press freedom in Turkey in 2016 is confined to courthouse corridors.”

“Hürriyet,” a leading independent Turkish daily newspaper, endured two attacks on its headquarters last year by pro-government mobs.

One of Erdogan’s lawyers brought the case, allegedly that Ergin in an article in “Hurriyet” had written derisively about a speech given by Erdogan after an attack by the banned Kurdish PKK movement on Turkish soldiers.

Cannot remain silent

Limbourg on Thursday said DW, which began radio broadcasts in the Turkish language in 1962, “felt strongly bound in friendship with the Turkish people.”

“But, we cannot just look the other way and remain silent when journalists, artists and scientists are being systematically intimidated and harassed by authorities,” he said.

Since 1995, DW also provides editorial content in Turkish on its internet website.

Reporters Without Borders in its Press Freedom Index published on Wednesday ranked Turkey as the 151st among 180 nations. The number one ranking went to Finland, followed by the Netherlands.

This article originally appeared at


May 7, 2015

A year on, groups urge blogger Badawi’s release


It has been a year since Saudi Arabian writer and blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Human rights groups have called on Riyadh to release him.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been imprisoned for nearly three years, but Thursday marks a full 365 days since he was convicted of insulting Islam online. Badawi, 31, was sentenced to a decade in jail and 1,000 lashes – receiving 50 in January.

The flogging was supposed to continue weekly, but has been suspended on health grounds. The case has received worldwide attention and harsh criticism from the United Nations, United States and the European Union, including Germany.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel led a business delegation to Saudi Arabia in March, saying the case was testing bilateral ties. The punishment is “unfathomable to us,” #link:18302663:Gabriel said at the time#.

On Thursday, Amnesty International called on the Saudi government to lift Badawi’s sentence. “It is high time the judgment is set aside,” the organization said. It has also taken aim atnew King Salman, saying he had not made progress towards improving the country’s “appalling record” on human rights.

Deutsche Welle awarded Badawi its first Freedom of Expression Award in February (see below) and announced that his wife, Ensaf Haidar, would accept the prize on his behalf.

“Raif was never a criminal, a gangster or drug dealer, but the Saudi authorities dealt with him like a criminal deserving of punishment, floggings and imprisonment for a long unspecified period,” Haidar wrote in a letter to “The Independent” newspaper. “He was dreaming of and aspiring towards a beautiful world. He wanted us, in a country of one opinion, one way of thinking and one religion, to respect difference.”

Saudi Arabia has said in the past it would not accept outside interference in its domestic affairs, and that the media outcry over Badawi’s punishment attacked the independence of its judicial system.

jr/sms (dpa, AFP, epd)

This article originally appeared at


February 25, 2015

DW Freedom of Speech Award for Raif Badawi


raif_badawi_posting_600x240pxImprisoned blogger Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia is to receive Deutsche Welle’s first Freedom of Speech Award. DW is awarding the prize as part of its international online competition The Bobs – Best of Online Activism.

“The Deutsche Welle Executive Board decided unanimously in favor of Raif Badawi,” says DW Director General Peter Limbourg. “He stands, in an exemplary way, for the brave and fearless commitment to the human right of freedom of expression. Our award sends a signal and contributes to bringing his fate into the public spotlight. We hope this will increase pressure on those responsible in Saudi Arabia to release Badawi.”

The 31-year-old blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced by Saudi authorities in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a major fine. The first 50 lashes were administered on January 9.

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, tells Deutsche Welle from Canada: “I am thrilled! The Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award sends a clear message to the Saudi regime. It is a disgrace that Raif is still sitting in prison – especially at a time when Saudi Arabia fights against the ‘Islamic State’ group and its disregard for human rights. I am extremely thankful to Deutsche Welle for its support.”

Prize ceremony at the Global Media Forum

As part of the 11th annual competition The Bobs – Best of Online Activism, Deutsche Welle commends outstanding online activists and projects. This year, DW established the Freedom of Speech Award to honor a person or initiative that promotes freedom of expression in the digital world in an exceptional way.

The winner of the Freedom of Speech Award as well as the winners of The Bobs three jury categories will be recognized on June 23 at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forumin Bonn, Germany.

Fearless for freedom of expression

Raif Badawi has fought for freedom of expression in his country for years. The website he created, Free Saudi Liberals, addresses political and societal grievances in Saudi Arabia. He published, for example, a sarcastic article about the religious police and named a major university in his country a den of terrorists. He also wrote about Valentine’s Day, which is also forbidden in Saudi Arabia. In June 2012, he was again arrested and accused of insulting Islam, religious leaders and politicians. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, fled Saudi Arabia with their three children in 2013 and found political asylum in Canada.