From a list of 18 nominees, the jury awarded this year’s prize to Polish investigative reporter Tomasz Piatek in the “journalist” category, Turkish web TV Medyascopein the “media” category, and imprisoned Iranian photographer Soheil Arabi in the“citizen-journalist” category.
“Journalist” category laureate Tomasz Piatek is an investigative reporter for the Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza who is facing a possible three-year jail termon charges brought by defence minister Antoni Macierewicz before a military court.They were prompted by a book entitled “Macierewicz and his secret” that sheds light on the minister’s relations with persons linked to the Russian intelligence services. Ever since its publication, Piatek has been the target of attacks in the pro-government media and has been getting serious threats.
“Media” category laureate Medyascope is an independent Web TV launched in2015 by leading Turkish journalist Ruşen Çakır with the aim of combining newtechnology with better reporting standards to reopen a public debate now largely suppressed in Turkey, which is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. It uses videos that are broadcast online and are made available as podcasts to give a voice to journalists sidelined by the government’s crackdown, and to citizen-journalists. Its programmes are now quite structured and include sections on a wide range of subjects such as politics, society, culture and sport. Some of its programmes are available in Kurdish, German, French and English. They include a weekly English-language podcast called “This Week in Turkey.”
“Citizen-journalist” category laureate Soheil Arabi is a Tehran-based photographer who was has been imprisoned since December 2013. After his arrest, he was mistreated and subjected to solitary confinement for two months to force him to confess to involvement in creating a Facebook network that “blasphemed” Islam and criticized the government. A long judicial saga ensued in which he was initially sentenced him to three years inprison, 30 lashes and a heavy fine. A few months later, he was retried and sentenced to death, but the death sentence was eventually overturned and in September 2015 he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. In July of this year, his wife was arrested and was held for eight days, and she is still being subjected to threatsand harassment. Soheil Arabi began a hunger strike at the end of August.
Laureates Tomasz Piatek and Ruşen Çakır, RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, Strasbourg mayor Roland Ries and TV5MONDEeditor-in- chief Paul Germain were among those attending these evening’s award ceremony in Strasbourg, whichwas hosted by TV journalist Bernard de la Villardière. The guest of honour was Loup Bureau, a young French freelance reporter who was held for seven weeks in Turkey earlier this year. RSF waged an intensive campaign on his behalf until he was released.