MEP David Casa has said that more respect should be paid to investigative journalists and the wider media’s role in holding public officials to account.

He explained that this was part of a change of mentality which should come hand in hand with new measures namely the anti-SLAPP legislation aimed at protecting journalists.

Casa was making the comments during a meeting with civil society organizations and the Turkish investigative journalist Pelin Ünker.

Ünker is currently facing the prospect of 13 months in a Turkish jail for reporting on details from the Paradise Papers regarding key figures in the Turkish government.

Casa said, ‘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. This is unacceptable everywhere, but is particularly condemnable when it happens in a supposedly modern European country. I will not accept it, and I will not rest before the state of affairs that made this possible are addressed.’

Ünker, who is here without her one year old baby due to visa issues said, ‘My message to you is that we must not allow ourselves to be silenced, and we must not allow efforts to silence journalists and activists to go unnoticed. Journalists and civil society activists must work together, even across borders. Those of us who paid the ultimate price must never be forgotten.’