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DW Freedom of Speech Award goes to Turkish 'Hürriyet' 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 on Thursday named him a recipient of this year's award 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.

Peter Limbourg

DW Director-General Limbourg says Ergin is a "worthy prize recipient"

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

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

When summoned to court in 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 had brought the case, alleging that in an article in "Hurriyet," Ergin had written derisively about a speech given by Erdogan after an attack by the banned Kurdish PKK movement on Turkish soldiers.

Cannot remain silent

Sedat Ergin

Hürriyet's Sedat Ergin

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.

Since 2015, the Freedom of Speech Award has been part of

DW's contest "The Bobs - Best of Online Activism,"

honoring personalities or initiatives that promote human rights and freedom of expression.

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.

Watch video 00:26

Peter Limbourg, DW Director-General

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