On 12 May 2014, the Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court has decided to release seven Kurdish journalists kept in jail for the last 29 months in the framework of the "KCK Press" case. The released journalists are Ramazan Pekgöz, Nurettin Fırat, Turabi Kişin, Yüksel Genç, Davut Uçar, Ertuş Bozkurt and Mikail Barut who were working for several pro-Kurdish media outlets like DİHA press agency, Özgür Gündem daily, Azadiya Welat daily, Demokratik Modernite periodical.
The « KCK » (for "Group of Communities of Kurdistan" in Kurdish ) is considered by the Turkish authorities to be the urban umbrella organization of the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and accused of terror-related activities.
The suspected 44 journalists and media workers in this case were accused of doing propaganda work on behalf of this illegal terrorist organisation called "KCK". The prosecutor's indictment paper were based on a collection of articles, interviews, phone calls and meetings made by the suspected journalists. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have regularly sent European observers and colleagues to monitor the court hearings in Silivri (near Istanbul) and gave support to press freedom and human rights defenders.
"I hope this decision will mark the end of the pressures, censorship and violence on press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey. All we expect as journalists is an atmosphere where our colleagues will be totally free to exercice their role as actors of information. Let's hope that the Turkish government will not repeat its mistakes about the press in Turkey", said Sedat Yilmaz, journalist for Özgür Gündem and TGS (Journalists' Union of Turkey) board member, who went to Kandira detention center to welcome his colleagues yesterday.
"Of course we are happy with the release but they could have released them one month, one year or even before the arrests. Since those people have been put in jail, not a single document has been added to the indictment. Hence, they were excluded from their freedom rights. Please note that our clients have been released pending trial, so they remained under prosecution », told the lawyer Ramazan Demir in an interview to the local.
All 44 journalists and media workers prosecuted in the framework of KCK Press trial have been released but pending trial.
For more information about the EFJ campaign on Turkey: Set Journalists Free, please visit: http://www.ifj.org/campaigns/turkey-set-journalists-free/
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest journalists' organisation in Europe representing more than 320,000 journalists in 60 journalists' associations across 40 countries in Europe. You can follow us on Facebook andTwitter or subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter EFJ FOCUS for updated news.