Can Dundar talked to DW about taking a leave from his duties as editor-in-chief of Turkey's daily Cumhuriyet. The recipient of netzwerk recherche's Lighthouse award offered words of advice for investigative journalists.
DW: As the recipient of numerous honors, what is the difference for you between the Lighthouse award and the others?
Can Dundar: Today I received one of Europe's most prestigious awards, and, according to what I've been told, it has never before been given to someone who is not German. I'm evaluating this in two ways: First, our German colleagues are supporting our efforts and standing behind us; second, they are taking a stance against the policies of pressure that the government is using against us. I find both important, and I see this as a very important message of solidarity.
Rumors have arisen about your leaving your position as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet. Would you like to comment?
We have taken on a serious mission - on one hand by defending our own news reports, and on the other hand by struggling against false news. Unfortunately, this is something that we are frequently up against. For example, something like the sixth news report came out saying that I've fled the country or that I've left my job. No, I did not flee the country, and I did not leave my job. Just like everyone, I need a vacation. For a while I will be on vacation; then I will resume my duties.
There is a great deal of disinformation in Turkey. How can this be prevented?
With true news. First, I try not to pay attention [to the disinformation] because it is a provocative effort meant to wear one down. Second, there's nothing else to do but continue on your own path. If you lose time [minding the disinformation], it will consume all your energy.
What approach do you expect German and EU leaders to take in their relationships with Turkey?
In Turkey you see that there is a struggle for democracy and freedom of the press. On the other hand, there is an oppressive government. During this struggle, to see European leaders on the side of this oppressive government is extremely disappointing. Of course, during all negotiations we want them to bring the Turkish government closer to European criteria, but at the same time we want them to show solidarity with us. At the very least, we want them to see the different face of Turkey and lend an ear to its voice.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that nearly all Syrian refugees in Turkey would receive citizenship. How do you evaluate this plan?
Erdogan wants to be the only leader in a presidential system and is willing to try anything necessary to achieve this. Unfortunately, I think that Syrian refugees in Turkey are being used for a number of political purposes. They were used by Erdogan against Europe in the agreement. Now they are being used in the race for a presidential system. Frankly, I find this ugly.
What are your recommendations for young investigative journalists?
Today I joined a panel on the Panama Papers. Nowadays there is a totally different level of solidarity worldwide. A new era has begun where 100 journalists can work on the same documents and create entirely different stories. To be in this new era requires bravery. One must be an investigator. One must be insistent, patient and determined to protect their profession. There is a major need for journalists like this. May they come quickly.