TURKEY: EFJ Welcomes Release of Journalists, but Denounces YouTube Blocking

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has welcomed the release of eight journalists in Turkey, but has called on the country’s government to immediately lift the latest social media ban on Youtube.

According to media reports, eight Kurdish journalists, arrested in the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) press case on 20 Dec 2011, were released from prison in the early hours of yesterday morning, Wednesday, 27 March, 2014.   

Information provided by lawyers says the names of the journalists released are: Semiha Alankuş and Nevin Erdemir (released from Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison) Kenan Kırkaya, Mazlum Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Yıldırım, Hüseyin Deniz, Haydar Tekin and Şehmus Fidan (released from Kandıra F Type Closed Prison).

The EFJ has welcomed the release of the journalists, commending their courage and the strength of everyone who fought for their freedom. The Federation has appealed for Turkish authorities to continue the positive steps taken in recent weeks and release the 42 journalists that remain in prison in the country.  

But the positive news of the journalists’ release has been followed by reports that the Turkish government has today, Thursday, 27 March, blocked access to the video sharing website, YouTube.

Media reports say the ban was ordered hours after leaked recordings of a key security meeting were published on the video sharing website. The decision to block access is said to have been taken by Turkey’s telecommunications authority (TİB) as a “precautionary administrative measure,” adopted without a court order.

It comes just one day after a court in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, issued a stay of execution ruling on the decision to block Twitter after a number of complaints were filed to courts to revoke the ban. Following the ruling, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arınç, said that the government will “implement the court’s decision.”

EFJ believes that the court’s decision in the Twitter case is a victory for freedom of expression in Turkey, and has called on the government to make good on its promises and uphold the rights of its citizens by lifting the block on Youtube with immediate effect.   

For more information, please contact EFJ on +32 2 235 22 02
The EFJ represents more than 320 000 journalists in 39 countries