Four Turkish journalists released pending trial on terrorism charges
(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 17 September 2012 - Representatives of the International Press Institute (IPI), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), IPI's Turkish National Committee, EFJ affiliate the Journalists' Union of Turkey (Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi - TGS) and the Freedom for Journalists Platform (Gazetecilere Özgürlük Platformu - GÖP) today condemned Turkey's continued detention of 76 journalists on what appear to be politically-motivated terrorism charges. The groups also expressed deep concern over ongoing pressure on independent, critical journalists that has led to an ever-growing climate of fear and an alarming deterioration in media freedom.
The observations followed monitoring this week by the groups' representatives of criminal court proceedings in Turkey in which journalists face dubious charges of support for or membership in armed terrorist organisations, and visits in prison with journalists who remain detained on those allegations, as well as consultation with the journalists' attorneys and families.
While the groups welcomed the release, pending trial, of two defendants each in the OdaTV and KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Press Committee cases, the groups were disappointed that more defendants were not released, especially given the weak nature of the evidence against them. The groups were further disappointed by a Diyarbakir court's decision not to release journalist/publisher Bedri Adanir.
They further noted that the ongoing trials and detentions of journalists demonstrated that the Third Judicial Package enacted by Parliament this summer, which purported to remedy the situation of imprisoned journalists, did not go nearly as far as necessary in making real structural reforms that would guarantee media freedom in Turkey. The groups also expressed deep concern over the lack of fair treatment and due process afforded to journalists and many others in trials overseen by special courts that have applied overly-restrictive and, in some cases, apparently arbitrary procedural rules.
"The growing gulf between the picture of Turkey as a model of democracy and the reality on the ground that Turkish journalists face is distressing, and it seems only to be worsening," IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. "We urge Turkey's leaders to take real steps to improve media freedom and to end the climate of fear independent journalists must live under every day. We also call on all media in Turkey to stand up with one another in solidarity to fight the forces that would deny the Turkish people the right to vital information they need to make the decisions that affect their lives and to hold those in power to account for their actions."
MORE INFORMATION: Kurdish journalist and deputy mayor released (BIANET, 20 September 2012)