Release of Journalist Tuncay Özkan

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has today welcomed the release of journalist Tuncay Özkan who has been accused of leading a terrorist organisation and prosecuted in the Ergenekon case since 2008.

Upon his release, Özkan thanked the EFJ and its affiliates, especially the Norwegian Union of Journalists (which adopted his case), for their tireless campaigning for his release. 

Özkan, founder and owner of Kanal Biz television, had been in prison since 27 September 2008. He had been detained since the beginning of investigations into the Ergenekon case. Several national and international requests to release him or to end his solitary confinement had been rejected.

The release of Özkan came after the recent changes in Turkish law that has made the long-time detention of Özkan illegal. According to the new law, the accused can be detained for up to a maximum of five years. If the court fails to reach a verdict during this period, the accused shall be released. Otherwise the continuous detention will be considered as a human right violation.

‘‘While we welcome the release of Özkan, we are seriously concerned about the justice system in Turkey where journalists can face up to five years imprisonment without being convicted,'' said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.

‘‘The judicial principle of ‘you are innocent until you have proven guilty' is clearly not relevant in Turkey's judicial system, '' added Blicher Bjerregård, ‘‘Turkey must comply with international and European standards when it comes to justice, media freedom and human rights.''

At present, fifty-two journalists are still behind bars. Most of them are accused of committing terrorist acts.

The EFJ has launched an online petition calling for the released of the imprisoned journalists, including Füsun Erdogans, who was given a life sentence for a crime she did not commit. The son of Erdogans will launch a three-day hunger strike from today with the support of the EFJ affiliates in Denmark (DJ) and the Netherlands (NVJ).