Austrian journalist Max Zirngast was detained together with two other Turkish citizens, in the early hours of 11 September by anti-terror authorities in his apartment in Ankara, Turkey. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) backed its affiliate in Austria the Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, Druck, Journalismus, Papier (GPA-djp) in demanding the release of Max Zirngast from custody.
The reason for detention has not been published yet, but, according to media reports, he could have been detained on charges of “support for a terrorist organization” and because of his “political publications”. Allegations might be related to his civil and political activism against the Turkish government.
Max Zirngast, a political science student at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), was a contributor to a number of left-wing publications, such as Austrian magazine re:volt, US left-wing publication Jacobin, Turkish socialist monthly Toplumsal Özgürlük.
He was publishing content often critical to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as covering topics of Kurdish affairs. Max Zirngast was also known of being politically active in the election campaign of pro-kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party).
The Austrian government demanded the immediate release of the journalist.
Eike Kullmann, the chairperson of the journalists' union in the GPA-djp, said :
The arrest of the Austrian is not the first case of political arbitrariness of the Turkish government against regime critics. We have been witnessing massive repression of journalists and the media for years. Turkey is moving more and more away from the standards of a free and democratic society.