ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–The International Press Institute (IPI) officially declared Turkish journalist Nedim Sener a “World Press Freedom Hero” on Tuesday for his book on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Sener, a journalist for daily Milliyet, wrote the book “The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies” in February 2009. It discusses the intelligence discrepancies before and after the murder of Dink, the editor-in-chief of weekly Agos who was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007.
With the publication of this book, the then-chief of police in Trabzon, an officer of the Police Department’s Intelligence Unit, the Trabzon Police Intelligence Branch Manager and the Deputy Chief of the Istanbul Police all filed criminal complaints against Sener.
The complaints led the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office to charge Sener with publication of secret information and turning anti-terrorism officials into targets. He faced a prison term of 28 years, even though Dink’s suspected murderer might only serve a maximum of 20 years if convicted. Sener was acquitted from all the accusations on July 4.
“Sener’s determination to continue with his investigative reporting, particularly in relation to the Dink murder case and despite the threats he has faced, both inside and outside the courtroom, is to be commended. We are proud to announce him as our 56th World Press Freedom Hero,” said Alison Bethel McKenzie, deputy director of IPI.
Yurdanur Atadan, secretary of the Turkish National Committee said, “He really was a hero to carry out such an investigation and to very openly write about the Dink murder, not only in book form but also in his articles in his newspaper.
“He kept [Dink’s murder] on the agenda, which wasn’t an easy thing to do because of all the problems with all the officials who were involved. It was a very brave thing to do,” he added.
“I am afraid, Sener said. “You cannot feel safe in Turkey — the condition of communications and media freedom is very poor. You can be killed if you write about the Dink murder. It is very dangerous,” the Hurriyet Daily News & Eceonomic Review reported Wednesday.
The IPI’s website quoted Sener as saying, “I chose to write about Hrant Dink’s murder because firstly he was a human and he had the human right to life. He was a very good journalist in Turkey. He wanted to protect minorities’ rights and that is very important. But also, I wrote it because Dink was my friend.”
Sener is the third Turkish journalist to be selected as an IPI World Press Freedom Hero. In 2000, Abdi Ipekci was selected for his role in instigating better relations between Greek and Turkish journalists. Hrant Dink was selected by the IPI Executive Board and honored posthumously as an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in 2007 following his assassination.
The nomination of Nedim Sener was approved by the five-member IPI World Press Freedom Hero jury.