PN MEP David Casa urged his fellow MEPs not to be complacent when facing threats to journalists. Speaking at a European Parliament hearing with journalists and experts about the prosecution of Turkish journalists and the opportunities for action by the European Union, Casa said “We must not be complacent to increasing threats investigative journalists are facing today. You will always find my support in these battles. And like me, that there are many MEPs from across political groups who are ready to do the same.”
As Quaestor of the European Parliament David Casa, was one of the main speakers and he described how he helped a Turkish investigative journalist whose factual reports were inconvenient to people in power.
Pelin Ünker had reported that the Paradise Papers exposed companies that were held by the relatives of Turkish President Erdogan and relatives of the Speaker Yildirim, who at the time was Prime Minister. She simply reported uncontested facts.
Early this year, Pelin Ünker was charged because of these factual stories and was sentenced to prison. She is a young mother of a 2 year old and the sentence would have meant being separated from her son for over a year.
David Casa travelled to Istanbul to meet her as well as meet press organisations on the ground. Together with other MEPs, Casa started a campaign to draw attention to Pelin Ünker’s case. They sent letters, made declarations and issued press releases. Pelin Ünker also went to Malta as Casa’s guest where she spoke at a vigil in honour of Daphne Caruana Galizia. David Casa also held meetings with high level Turkish officials to argue Pelin Ünker’s case.
The charges against Pelin Ünker were eventually dropped by the court in Turkey, and today Pelin Ünker is continuing her stellar work of speaking truth to power. At least for the time being.
“I believe that our work in this House did play an important role in the outcome of this case, and therefore preventing a gross injustice. Like Pelin Ünker there are so many others. There are so many brave journalists in Turkey that are persecuted for doing their job. For holding power to account. For speaking truth.”
“We will not rest on our laurels. We will defend journalists as much as we will defend democracy,” concluded MEP David Casa.