The government has clarified why it refused to issue a visa to a baby and the husband of a Turkish investigative journalist set to visit Malta, saying it followed what another member state had previously done.
Pelin Ünker, known for her work in the Paradise Papers, was recently invited to Malta by PN MEP David Casa, along with her family. However, she will now be coming to Malta alone after the government refused her family visas, citing “a previous decision” by another European country.
“Mr David Casa’s allegations that the Maltese Government in any way discriminated against Turkish journalist Pelin Ünker by not granting her a visa to travel to Malta are totally false,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
“Ms Ünker was in fact granted a visa and can visit Malta for the activity she is scheduled to address. Members of the family of Ms Ünker were not granted a visa given a previous decision which was already taken by another Schengen member state, whose authorities rejected similar applications by the same individuals. The application was treated in accordance with standard procedures,” they continued.
David Casa took to social media to call out Malta’s government for not allowing the family of a journalist to visit Malta
Investigative journalist @pelinunker‘s family has had their #visa application rejected by Maltese authorities. @MaltaGov had no difficulty in granting thousands of visas to Algerian / Libyan / Turkish people – but finds issue with a journalist’s family.#MediaFreedom @ICIJorg pic.twitter.com/2PQleEvO3p
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) March 13, 2019
“This government had no difficulty in granting thousands of visas to Algerian and Libyan citizens, amidst serious allegations of wrongdoing and to hundreds of Turkish construction workers,” he said. “It is with a journalist’s baby that they have taken issue. This is simply not on.”
Ünker is facing 13 months in prison in Turkey after being found guilty of defamation and insult after reporting on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and companies he used to own.
David Casa has appealed to the European Commission and the European Council, urging Turkish authorities to reconsider Ünker’s sentence.