"His investigative work is characterized by a continuous search for credible evidence. He is intrepid and repeatedly takes great risks in his research."

This year's Raif Badawi Award for courageous journalism went to Turkish journalist Alican Uludağ. In doing so, the jury paid tribute not only to the award winner himself but to all journalists in Turkey who, despite all the dangers and risks, refuse to be intimidated and continue to provide factual information to the public.

Alican Uludağ has made a name for himself in recent years primarily as an investigative reporter in Turkey's high courts – his topics are human rights violations by state authorities, abuse of justice and corruption cases in the ranks of the ruling party. At a time when the majority of Turkish citizens no longer trust the media, the work of Alican Uludağ and other independent journalists is of utmost importance. "His investigative work is characterized by a continuous search for credible evidence. He is intrepid and repeatedly takes great risks in his research," it says in the jury's statement for the prize, which was jointly awarded this year for the seventh time by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels.

Even if his articles cause a great stir in Turkey, they hardly have any consequences, said Uludağ - no investigations, no dismissals, no resignations. Turkey's judicial system is too much under the control of the president and his party. The presidential system "a la Turca" allows the president to staff the high courts and the "Council of Judges and Prosecutors" in his favour and thus to significantly steer important decisions. The most important examples of the politicization of the Turkish judiciary are the cases of Kavala and Demirtaş, who for years have been behind bars without a written indictment.

"Journalism requires courage."

In his acceptance speech, Uludağ emphasized the important role of the media and the judiciary for a functioning democracy: "In countries where the media is not free and the judiciary is not independent, citizens cannot participate fully in the democratic processes. But if they are not sufficiently and correctly informed by the media, they cannot possibly assert their true will at the ballot box." He described the judiciary in his country as a tool of the power apparatus to intimidate the media and the opposition. Nevertheless, all this pressure and risk are no reason for Uludağ to stop journalism. In his speech, he pays tribute to prominent journalists in his country who have had to pay for their work with their lives in the past, adding, "Journalism requires courage - courage to investigate, courage to question, and courage to report against all the powerful people of this world."

Alican Uludağ

This year's award winner Alican Uludağ (2nd from right) with the co-founder of the award, Constantin Schreiber (r.), Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife (3rd from right), the Chairman of the Board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Prof. Karl-Heinz Paqué (2nd from left) and Alexander Skipis (l.), Chief Executive Officer of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

Award Ceremony of the Raif Badawi Award 2021