The International Federation of Journalists and its European organisation the European Federation of Journalists today condemned new legal action against Sener Levent, a leading journalist in northern Cyprus, accusing the authorities of continuing a victimisation campaign against him.
"This latest action against Levent, the Editor of Afrika, is fresh evidence of a profound press freedom crisis in the north of the island," said Aidan White, IFJ and EFJ General Secretary. "While it continues, the Turkish Cypriot community will remain outside the mainstream of European and international affairs and normal relations will be impossible."
The IFJ and EFJ affiliate in Cyprus, the Union of Cyprus Journalists, says that Levent is accused of “insulting” the military. On 25th and 26th October he appeared in front of a military court for articles published in 1999 in a case that was opened against him five years ago.
The accusations, some 77 in total, alleged that articles “insulted and humiliated the dignity and the personality of the security forces of the so-called Turkish Republic of North Cyprus”. Although they were dropped during the hearings, the prosecuting authorities reserved the right to bring them again before a civilian court.
With some 100 accusations already made against Levent, if these were sustained in a civilian hearing the Union claims the total jail term he faces could add up to 2000 years in prison.
European Federation of Journalists leaders meeting in Brussels on Monday this week gave their backing to the Union of Cyprus Journalists over this case and pledged to continue protests over attacks on press freedom by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
"The journalists’ unions of Europe and around the world find this continuing persecution intolerable," said the European Federation of Journalists Chair Arne Konig, yesterday. "We are in no doubt that this flows from a complete disregard for the rights of journalists and the need for a free and independent press".
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The EFJ represents more than 200,000 journalists in over 40 countries