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Jan 21 2019

Turkish journalism advocate shortlisted for top honour

Turkish journalism platform P24 has been shortlisted by U.S.-based free speech advocate Index on Censorship for its 2019 Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowships.

Drawn from more than 400 nominations, the shortlist includes artists, writers, journalists and activists. Many of the 15 nominees face death threats, criminal prosecution or exile, and some are in prison, said the campaigner.

“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society, and it’s under increasing threat worldwide. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognise the groups and individuals willing to stand up for it,” said Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship CEO.

Founded in 2014 by a group of Turkish journalists led by Hasan Cemal, P24 aims to halt the erosion of journalistic integrity in Turkey, the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Turkey is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Thousands of journalists have been put out of work as more than 175 news outlets have been shuttered by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the July 2016 coup attempt.

The Index on Censorship described P24 as “a civil society organisation with an ambitious goal of neutralising censorship in Turkey - a country in which speaking freely courts fines, arrest and lengthy jail sentences”.

Ahval editor-in-chief Yavuz Baydar is among the founders of P24, which helps build capacity in the Turkish media, encourage good journalistic practices, protect free speech and encourage the transition to online journalism.

“P24’s pro bono legal team defends journalists and academics who are on trial for exercising their right to free expression,” said Index on Censorship. “It also undertakes coordinated social media and public advocacy work that includes live-tweeting from courtrooms and campaigning through an array of websites, newsletters and exhibition spaces. Its latest effort aims to provide spaces for collaboration and free expression in the form of a literature house and a project connecting lawyers and artists.”

P24 runs several specialised news sites, including one on press freedom. P24 recently partnered with the prominent U.S. blogging site Medium, and has won several honours, including Norway’s 2018 Human Rights and Democracy prize, and a 2017 press freedom award.  

Other nominees include a street artist who highlights Saudi Arabia’s repression of women, a Nigerian community radio advocate, and digital activists fighting online hate in Colombia.

The Index on Censorship fellows will be announced in London on April 4 and receive a year of support for their work.