Turkish journalist Pelin Ünker who will be in Malta on Saturday, has seen the visa of her one-year old son rejected by the Maltese authorities. In a statement Head of Delegation and PN MEP David Casa said that it was unbelievable that her family’s visa application was rejected. In a statement the Government said that the visa for Ünker’s family member was denied based on a similar decision taken by another Member State.
Ünker was scheduled to attend the monthly vigil demanding justice for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia with her baby and husband on Saturday.
Casa explained that the Maltese authorities have not given a visa for her toddler, disrupting the visit due to the separation. Notwithstanding the decision by the Maltese authorities, the journalist to attend for just a few hours on Saturday when she will address the vigil at 6.30pm.
Casa calls on EC and CoE to demand that the Turkish authorities drop the charges
While addressing the European Parliament on Tuesday, the Head of Delegation called on the European Commission and Council of Europe to demand that the Turkish authorities drop the charges against the journalist arguing that the European institutions cannot remain silent while such injustice continues.
In his speech Casa also made reference to Turkey’s application for full membership in the European Union saying that under the current administration has moved further away from accession when compared to the time it had applied. Casa underlined that there can be no real democracy without media freedom.
Will the prison sentence be upheld?
Ünker was sentenced to 13 months in prison for “insulting and slandering” the former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and his two children after she reported that his children owned companies in Malta. A report which Yıldırım had accepted as fact after their names came up in the Paradise Papers.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Government confirmed that a visa was issued to the journalist and said that the members of her family were not granted visa “given a previous decision” which was already taken by another member state.
‘De facto act of censorship’
Sarah Clarke, the head of Article 19 (for Europe and Asia), a British human rights organization focusing on defending and promoting freedom of expression and freedom of information, described the denial of visa as an act of de facto censorship saying that it prevented the public’s right to be informed by foreign journalists.
Concerning decision by #Malta to refuse a visa to @pelinunker 's infant child. While Pelin will still travel to Malta, the denial of visas can be a de facto act of censorship, preventing the public's right to be informed by foreign journalists https://t.co/D2Ih0ddnbW [1/3]
— Sarah Clarke (@Sarah_M_Clarke) March 13, 2019