French magazine that accused Erdogan of ethnic cleansing wins Grand Prize

France’s Foreign Press Association on Monday awarded Le Point magazine the 2019 International Press Grand Prize for its coverage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey’s latest offensive in northern Syria.

Le Point ran a front page headline calling Erdoğan “the eradicator”, referring to a military operation the Turkish president launched against Kurdish-led groups in northeast Syria in October. The subheading read “ethnic cleansing, Erdoğan’s method”.

Erdoğan filed his criminal complaint against editor-in-chief Etienne Gernelle and journalist Romain Gubert at a Turkish court, saying that the magazine had insulted him. In Turkey, insulting the president carries a jail sentence of between one and four years.

Turkey launched an offensive in northeast Syria on Oct. 9 to clear Syrian Kurdish forces which Ankara sees as affiliates of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the planned safe zone. Turkey said it would resettle some two million Syrian refugees in the area, which has raised accusations that they will be settled in areas from which the region’s Kurdish inhabitants have been forcibly displaced.

Several Western politicians, including European lawmakers and U.S. senators, condemned Turkey’s plan saying that it would mean ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds from the proposed safe zone.