The European Federation of Journalists, Europe’s largest journalists’ group, today condemned the action of Turkish-Cypriot police who arrested and detained for several hours three Greek Cypriot journalists of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation who were arrested while covering a beach festival in Famagusta.
This action by the police force of the occupied northern part of the island had outraged journalists because the beach festival is normally a non-political event in which traditionally people from both communities gather together for an evening of song and dance which is far removed from the tension created by the continuing division of the island.
“This was a political act of intimidation without any justification at all,” said Arne König, European Federation of Journalists Chair. “We strongly support the protests of our colleagues in the Union of Cyprus Journalists calling for an explanation for their arrest, and we condemn what is a blatant interference in the normal work of journalists.”
Turkish-cypriot police, dressed in civilian clothes, arrested reporter Stelios Kreouzos and the cameramen Andreas Dimitriou and Christos Hasikos under the pretext that they were filming at a banned military zone and confiscated the material.
The three (and the fiance of Christos Hasikos) were held overnight in a police station and today they were brought in front of a military court. Journalists were angry that the authorities refused a demand by UNFICYP (UN force in Cyprus) to send a doctor to the prisoners, particularly concerning the health of Stelios Kreouzos, who suffers from thalassamia, a blood disorder. The journalists were finally released at 5pm, Cyprus time, after Northern Cyprus journalists’ union Basin Sen paid a guarantee of 133 Cyprus pounds.
The Union of Cyprus Journalists strongly protested over the arrest to the United Nations, which is responsible for policing the divided island. They also alerted Turkish Cypriot journalists groups and they appeared at a hearing on Monday morning to seek the release of the journalists.
Basin Sen also condemned the bomb attempts against a journalist from Africa, Ali Osman Tabak, on 24th May. Dynamite was found under his car, which shows that attack against press freedom continue whereas authorities seem not to have fulfilled their duty to find out the ‘authors’.
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The IFJ represents more than 260,000 journalists in over 30 countries