Turkey: more than 1500 days of preventive detention amount to punishment, says EFJ ahead of hearing in “Ergenekon” case

As the so-called "Ergenekon" trial is about to resume in Istanbul, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Turkish affiliate the Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (TGS) are concerned about the fairness in the case of two Turkish journalists who have been in detention for more than 1500 days . The EFJ says their trial has been marked by lack of due process and procedural violations.

"Today more than ever before, the EFJ is determined to continue defending the journalists' right to a fair trial ," said EFJ President Arne König. "After more than 1.500 days behind bars, it is now obvious that detention is not used as a means of precaution by the Turkish authorities, but as a punishment for critical journalists".

The "Ergenekon" trial will resume tomorrow 13 December 2012 and the EFJ strongly condemns the open-ended detentions pending court verdicts of prominent professional journalists like Mustafa Balbay and Tuncay Özkan who have spent respectively 1377 and 1537 days in prison. Both journalists, like many others, have been in detention since the beginning of investigations into the Ergenekon case. Several national and international requests to release them or to end their solitary confinement have been rejected.

The two journalists have recently been banned 16 times in a row from attending their own trial. Given the grave situation of press freedom in Turkey, a broad national and international support to denounce the systematic violation of journalists' rights is now desperately needed, according to the EFJ.

The Brussels-based Federation has systematically expressed support for Mustafa Balbay and Tuncay Özkan during demonstrations organised in Turkey. Mustafa Balbay and Tuncay Özkan have also been adopted by their European colleagues' organisations as part of the adoption program launched by the European Federation of Journalists.

There are 7 journalists in prison at the Ergenekon case: Deniz Y?ld?r?m, Hikmet Çiçek, Mehmet Haberal, Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Özkan, Turhan Özlü and Yalç?n Küçük. In addition to these, several journalists were detained and released in relation with the same Ergenekon case.

Today, the EFJ has also urged the European Union institutions (Parliament, Commission and Council) and the Council of Europe to put pressure on the Turkish authorities in order to ensure the respect of the rule of law and press freedom standards in the country.
More information on the EFJ campaign pages :
The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists
The EFJ represents over 300,000 journalists in 37 countries

For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200