The PEN International Office in Germany has given its Herman Kesten Award to the former editor-in-chief of daily Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, and Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül.
Sascha Feuchert, vice chairman of the PEN Germany Office, said “two brave fighters of freedom” were awarded a prize worth 10,000 euros in his speech at the Thursday award ceremony.
“Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are seeking truth and they are decisive even in high-security jail in Silivri,” said Thomas Roth, the former presenter of the German news program “Tagesthemen.”
The Hermann Kesten Award is given every year on the day of “imprisoned writers” by PEN since 1994.
Dündar became a bête noir for the government after publishing a story in January 2015 about how Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) was allegedly sending weapons to Syria.
He was later sentenced to five years in jail for the story, on the same day that he survived an assassination attempt outside an Istanbul courthouse. He was released pending appeal and left Turkey during the appeals process, and his wife Dilek Dündar was subsequently prevented from visiting him after Turkish authorities revoked her passport.
He said last month that he would not surrender himself to Turkish courts because he had lost faith in the judiciary after the failed July 15 coup and the subsequent state of emergency declared by the government.
In addition to his work at Cumhuriyet, an Istanbul court also accepted an indictment against Dündar on charges of “printing and publishing a terrorist organizations’ statements” during a one-day editorial stint undertaken in solidarity with the now-closed daily Özgür Gündem.