EFJ Condemns Harassment of Turkish Cypriot Journalist

The European Federation of Journalists, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today condemned the Turkish government’s decision to sue the Turkish Cypriot journalist Serhat Incirli for criticizing Turkey.

“This is the first time Turkey has attempted to sue a Turkish Cypriot journalist for insulting the Turkish nation”, said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “It is a deliberate attempt to intimidate independent journalists and to muzzle free public debate.”

Turkish Cypriot authorities declared that the Attorney General of Turkey would sue Serhat Incirli, who currently lives in London and writes in “Afrika” daily, published in the northern part of Cyprus, which is under Turkish military control.

Serhat Incirli will be sued for two of his articles criticizing Turkey. The disclosure came after Ferdi Sabit Soyer, the head of the authorities in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, told Turkish Cypriot journalists’ associations that “The police had interviewed Serhat Incirli’s parents in order to discover his current address.” the news has provoked anger among Turkish Cypriot media and journalists.

Sener Levent, the editor of “Afrika” newspaper, stressed in and editorial that this case shows that “there has been absolutely no change in the operation of intimidation and threats by the regime against political opponents” and he wondered if Turkish authorities were going to treat Serhat Incirli in the same way as the writer Orhan Pamuk.

Sener Levent himself was arrested in 2001 for allegedly “spying for Greek Cypriots” and was set free shortly afterwards following reactions of the international and domestic media organizations. The newspaper’s printing premises have also been bombed twice and the newspaper’s journalists have had hundreds of legal suits filed against them.

“In view of past events, we cannot understand the current behaviour of the Turkish government and the regime in the northern part of Cyprus and we ask them to drop the charges against Mr. Incirli”, said Aidan White, “We are further concerned over Mr. Incirli’s security if he leaves London and chooses to return home”.

The EFJ says that the Turkish authorities need to respect basic principles of press freedom and to provide guarantees that Mr. Incirli will not be prosecuted, either in Turkey or in the northern part of Cyprus and it supports the Cyprus Union of Journalists, which asks for respect of press freedom on the island.

For further information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 22 00
The EFJ represents over 160,000 journalists in more than 30 countries