World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd was a fitting occasion for the premiere of “Guardians of Truth,” which I was honoured to moderate for DW Documentaries in Berlin. The first in a new series, the film follows Turkish journalist-in-exile Can Dündar as he meets Anabel Hernández, a Mexican investigative journalist whose fearless reporting on drug-trafficking and collusion between drug cartels and the Mexican government has won her accolades – and forced her into exile. Co-directed by Can and my colleague DW Journalist Linda Vierecke – the film details the impact of drug clan violence and had many in the audience close to tears.

Panel discussion with Anabel Hernández, Can Dündar and Linda Vierecke

The discussion after the screening was equally riveting, with both Can and Anabel calling out western governments for tolerating and profiting from criminal structures elsewhere. And they know what they’re talking about: after he uncovered illegal Turkish arms shipments to Syria in 2015, Can Dündar was branded a terrorist by the Erdogan regime, imprisoned and put on trial for espionage and treason. After an attempt was made on his life during the trial he fled to Germany in 2016. He now faces 27 years in prison should he ever return to Turkey, but continues to criticise oppression in his homeland and promote freedom of speech from exile.

Anabel’s relentless research over more than 20 years has also afforded her some close calls. Visibly moved by the screening, she remarked how lucky she is to still be alive, while so many of her colleagues in Mexico have been murdered. She therefore sees it as her duty to expose the truth. A memorable evening with two journalists whose courage and commitment to their work are awe-inspiring.

Turkish journalist Can Dündar

Photos: © DW / Jan Röhl