EFJ urges authorities to free journalists in Ergenekon court hearing

This week at high-security prison Silivri outside Istanbul the hearing is expected to be read against journalists indicted in the Ergenekon trial. Among them is founder and owner of Kanal Biz television and journalist, Tunkay Özkan, who has been in prison since September 2008, a total of 1680 days.

The European Federation of Journalist (EFJ), regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, has urged the Turkish authorities to free journalists in the Ergenekon court hearing.

"Tunkay Özkan will make his final speech in court this week facing a life sentence. For us this is a test case if the Turkish authorities will apply the just demands of international organisations including the European Parliament to ‘fully narrowing the broad definition of criminal offences, namely of the act of terrorism, shortening excessively long pre-trial detention periods and curbing the role of special courts in practice' (EP resolution on Turkey)," said EFJ President Arne König.

Özkan and other defendants in the Ergenekon trial maintain that the case was an excuse to bully independent and critical journalists and an attack on press freedom.

He faces a double fold life sentence in solitary confinement without parole and is charged with "membership to the alleged Ergenekon organization", "abolishing or preventing the national assembly and the government from fulfilling its duty", "supplying classified documents", and "having a rifle".

Since 28 February 2011, Özkan has been in solidarity confinement. His lawyer Ahmet Çörtoglu complained as his client cannot see other prisoners and because he is alone during his family visit and cannot see other people.

"We hope that justice will be given to Özkan and that he will be released after 4 ½ years in prison," said König. "Such long detention terms for journalists are unacceptable. We urge the authorities to free Özkan and the other accused journalists at once, and to drop the charges."

Alongside Özkan, 65 other journalists are currently imprisoned in Turkey as part of the Ergenekon, KCK, MLKP and OdaTV cases. EFJ has campaigned for several years to set Turkish journalists free. It regularly sends observers to the trials and runs a scheme where affiliate unions "adopt" and support a journalist.


You can find more information about the "Set Turkish Journalists Free" campaign at http://europe.ifj.org/en/pages/turkey-campaign-set-journalists-free

For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 02
The European Federation of Journalists is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists. It represents over 300,000 journalists in 37 countries.