Updated 4.15pm with PL reaction

Attempts to silence journalists and activists should not go unnoticed, a Turkish journalist who is currently facing a prison term of 13 months, urged the Maltese public on Saturday.

Addressing journalists alongside Nationalist MEP David Casa, Pelin Ünker said: “My message to you is that we must not allow ourselves to be silenced. Journalists and civil society activists must work together, even across borders. Those of us who paid the ultimate price must never be forgotten."

Ms Ünker is currently facing a prison term after reporting on the Paradise Papers that exposed people at the levels of power in the Turkish government. She was recently found to have defamed her country's former prime minister and two of his sons.

The journalist, who is part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, said politicians play a fundamental role in ensuring that laws are in place to protect journalists but they also help when they create pressure for action to counter attacks on journalists and activists. 

Mr Casa said that without true media freedom, without free press, there can no be democracy. Journalists are facing increasing pressure that can take many forms. When all efforts are exhausted they are jailed or even assassinated.

He said politicians must show due respect to the role of the investigative journalist. Public officials must also do so, and understand that the role of the media is after all to hold power to account.

The Labour Party said Mr Casa can never be taken seriously when speaking about the role and freedom of the media.

Only on Friday, Mr Casa’s lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, tried to press a journalist in court to reveal his source, the PL said in a statement. 

"Casa continuously calls for the protection of whistleblowers in Turkey and worldwide, but in the case of Malta, he expects to know the whistleblowers so he could personally attack them."

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