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Turkey: Austrian journalist Max Zirngast arrested on terrorism-related charges

Turkish police officers march during the 94th Republic Day parade, in Ankara, 29 October 2017
Turkish police officers march during the 94th Republic Day parade, in Ankara, 29 October 2017


This statement was originally published on on 12 September 2018.

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists, unequivocally condemns the arrest of Austrian journalist Max Zirngast by the Turkish authorities and demands that he be released immediately.

"This high-handed action of the Turkish government is an assault on press freedom and a gross violation of all international norms on freedom of expression," IPI Head of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. "It shows once again Turkey's willingness to abuse anti-terror law to silence journalists who report critically on the government or who cover sensitive issues."

Zirngast, who reports for the leftist magazine Re:volt, was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday, September 12 in the Turkish capital of Ankara on suspicion of support for terrorist groups. It is unclear what precisely may have prompted the arrest, but Zirngast has reportedly previously written critically about the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well on sensitive Turkish-Kurdish issues, including a recent contribution to a book called The Fight for Kobanê.

Around 180 journalists have been arrested in Turkey since the July 2016 coup attempt, of whom 164 remain in prisons around the country, according to IPI's comprehensive Free Turkey Journalists database. Nearly all face or have been convicted on terror-related charges that IPI views as a politically motivated attempt to crack down on dissent. The Turkish government has also forcibily closed nearly 200 media organizations, including 53 newspapers, in a bid to silence independent journalism in the country.

IPI is actively campaigning for the release of all jailed journalists and media workers imprisoned in Turkey and regularly monitors journalist trials across the country.

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