IFJ demands immediate release of jailed Turkish journalists

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) have strongly condemned the arrest of Şebnem Korur Fincancı (President of Turkey Human Rights Foundation), Erol Önderoğlu (journalist at Bianet and RSF Turkey correspondent) and Ahmet Nesin (journalist and author). They were arrested for “making terror propaganda ”after having edited the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem . The three are among 44 journalists and activists who have served as co-editor of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper for a day to protest at the authorities’ repeated judicial harassment of the newspaper and its staff. Since May 3, 2016, World Press Freedom Day, 37 of the 44 Turkish journalists and activists who have taken turns to symbolically act as co-editor of the newspaper as a show of solidarity are facing criminal investigations. Prosecutors regularly charge Özgür Gündem’s staff with making propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey classes as a terrorist organization, and related charges for the newspaper’s coverage of fighting between ethnic-Kurds and security forces in Turkey’s southeast. Many other journalists, including trade unionists from DISK-Basin (supported by IFJ-EFJ) are currently facing prosecution for the same accusations. “Journalism is not a crime, we do not accept those arrests. They went to the court to answer the questions, we cannot accept that the court decides to jail them”, said TGS(Journalists Union of Turkey) in a statement. Philippe Leruth, IFJ President, said: “The three should be released immediately and all charges dropped. Their only ‘’crime” is to stand up for press freedom and show solidarity with the staff of a newspaper facing continual harassment, intimidation and threat. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in opposing this latest attack on press freedom”. “Showing solidarity by working as journalist or editor-in-chief cannot be considered as making terror propaganda. The Turkish authorities are clearly misusing the legislation to silence critics and human rights defenders. Those people arrested must immediately be released, Turkey is working against itself by jailing press freedom activists”, said Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, EFJ President.

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