Ali Kişmir, a columnist for the newspaper Özgür Gazete Kıbrıs, faces up to 10 years in prison for "insulting and mocking the security forces" in an opinion piece he wrote over a year ago. Kişmir is expected to appear in court on Monday 28 February on charges of violating article 26 of the Military Crime and Penalty Law.
The police informed him about the charges against him on 22 February, which carry a risk of a ban on travelling abroad, as well.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Board of Basin-Sen strongly criticised bringing criminal prosecutions against journalists for reasons linked to freedom of thought and expression.
"These criminal proceedings initiated by the security forces are a threat to all Cypriot journalists. This is an intolerable act of intimidation, which we strongly denounce," said the IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.
"With these totally disproportionate criminal proceedings, the Turkish Cypriot authorities are violating European legal standards of press freedom and freedom of expression. Together with members of our affiliate Basin-Sen , we demand the immediate withdrawal of the charges against Ali Kişmir," added the EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.
"This lawsuit should be seen as an operation to oppress critical voices. We know that this is the practice of authoritarian regimes. These efforts to intimidate and silence critical journalists and media outlets in Northern Cyprus are gaining momentum under the guidance of the Erdogan government," said Mustafa Kuleli, General Secretary of the Turkey’s Journalists’ Union (TGS). "We have stood up against those who intimidated us in the past through solidarity. We shall do it again, whenever necessary."