Turkey: International Journalists and Media Organisations Renew Demand to Release Imprisoned Journalists

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

organisations:

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

code;
- maintain their request for the immediate release of imprisoned

Turkish journalists.

 

(Visit our photo gallery to see the delegation in action)

 

For more information,

please contact Arne König at + 46 705 177 530 or the EFJ at +32 2 2352200
The EFJ

is the regional organisation in Europe of the International Federation of

Journalists and represents over 260.000 journalists in 32 European countries.