GENEVA (Reuters) – A Turkish caricaturist facing more than three years in jail won the International Press Drawing Prize on Thursday, an award given every two years to leading cartoonists, especially those working under authoritarian regimes.
Musa Kart of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet was one of 14 staff handed sentences last month ranging from 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 years on charges of supporting Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric that Ankara blames for a 2016 attempted coup. They have denied the charges.
Kart, 64, was sentenced to three years and nine months and is banned from travel pending his appeal. After the coup attempt, he spent nine months in prison.
“My beloved newspaper is currently surrounded by those who are uncomfortable with its journalism and want to silence it completely by threatening heavy punishments,” Kart said in a message read out by his daughter, Seran Uney, to a ceremony in Geneva on Thursday, marking World Press Freedom Day.
The staff of the Istanbul newspaper, long seen as a thorn in the side of President Tayyip Erdogan, is one of the few remaining voices critical of the government.