A mission of international journalists and media organisations -
including the European Federation of Journalists and its affiliate, the Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikas? (TGS -
Journalists' Union of Turkey), and a delegation of the German Deutscher Journalisten Verband (DJV), the
International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the
European Association of Journalists (AEJ) - on a visit to Turkey from 22-24
November to witness the deteriorating state of press freedom in the country
today denounced the fact that 64 journalists are still in jail.
"We are impressed by the fact that the journalistic community in
Turkey is now joining forces to fight for media freedom and the release of
their jailed colleagues," the delegation said. "The solution of the problem lies in Turkey. As representatives of
international organisations, we strongly support our colleagues and urge the
authorities to talk to them and find democratic solutions on the issue of press
freedom. The climate of fear and self-censorship that we observed must be put
to an end."
Demonstration and process
On Tuesday, mission participants took part in a demonstration in
front of the Caglayan Justice Palace, Istanbul, where the trial of 10
imprisoned Turkish journalists was to start. The demonstration took place
without any incident, despite a massive police presence. However, the
conditions of the hearing left the observers deeply concerned. In a much-too-narrow and
overcrowded court room, which some delegates could only reach after more than
two hours queue, the journalists' lawyers demanded the recusal of one of the
three judges for alleged bias and sought the release of their clients, who
remain under indictment. The court refused the demand for release and postponed
the case until 26 December, when a higher court is expected to make a decision on the recusal request.
Meeting with families
On Wednesday, the mission's members met with families of detained
journalists at the headquarters of the Freedom for Journalists Platform. After
numerous and moving testimonies of facts, fear and courage, the participants
voiced a number of recommendations, including the establishment of an
organization to help the imprisoned journalists' families, the production of an
"information kit" for foreign journalists who are unfamiliar with the poor
situation of press freedom in Turkey and legal training for young Turkish
journalists to allow them to better report on judicial cases.
Meetings in Parliament
On Thursday, the delegation, whose request to meet the Turkish
minister of Justice was declined, met in Ankara with vice-presidents of the
parliamentary groups of all political parties in the Turkish Parliament.
The three opposition parties promised to support a special session
in the Turkish Parliament on press freedom and also to send MPs as observers to
the trials of journalists. The ruling AKP party declared it would "take into
consideration" the first proposal, as well as the possible monitoring of
conditions of detention of journalists "and other detainees". They also
promised to involve NGOs, non-governmental organisations, in future legislation
on press issues.
Following the meetings, the international journalists and media
repeat their concern and their anger over the worsening situation
of press freedom in Turkey, which currently has the highest number of
imprisoned journalists in Europe;
demand a change in legislation to drop cases opened against
journalists under the umbrella of the anti-terror law and the Turkish penal
- maintain their request for the immediate release of imprisoned
For more information,
please contact Arne König at + 46 705 177 530 or the EFJ at +32 2 2352200
is the regional organisation in Europe of the International Federation of
Journalists and represents over 260.000 journalists in 32 European countries.