ARRESTED JOURNALISTS – Press Freedom Associations Call for Journalists’ Release

13.9.2012 – BIANET – The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement calling for the release of imprisoned journalists in Turkey, while the Brussels-based European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) also said they were closely monitoring the press trials in Turkey. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement calling for the release of 36 journalists arrested pending trial in the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) probe.

“This mass trial recalls darker times that we had hoped were a thing of the past,” the RSF said. Some 44 journalists are currently standing trial in connection with terrorism related charges in the KCK probe. 36 of them are under arrest pending trial.

“Despite all the promises and some marginal improvements, the judicial system is persisting with the serious abuses that we have been condemning for years – criminalization of critical and activist journalism, articles treated as acts of terrorism and systemmatic abuses of the anti-terrorism law and pre-trial detention,” the statement said. The RSF called for the release of all reporters who remain under arrest in relation to their journalistic activities and demanded a fair trial for them. “This repressive approach to the media and civil society not only threatens the freedom of information and violates Turkey’s international obligations but also makes it more unlikely that a peaceful solution will be found to the Kurdish problem in the near future and undermines the credibility of Turkey’s attempts to play the role of a regional model,” the RSF added in its statement.

The RSF said journalists implicated in the ongoing OdaTV trial were also accused in connection with their publications, their relation to their news sources and their daily communication, just like in the KCK trial. The RSF also highlighted the case of journalist and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate nominee, and three other journalists facing charges under a separate section of the KCK probe.

The statement stressed the high frequency of suits filed against journalists and provided a brief schedule of upcoming trials:

The Diyarbakır specially authorized High Criminal Court in southeastern Turkey will oversee the trial of journalist and publisher Bedri Adanır from the Kurdish daily Hawar on Sept 13. Adanır has remained locked up behind bars since Jan. 2010.

The Van High Criminal Court in eastern Turkey will also proceed with a hearing on the case of Murat Aydın, a reporter from the Dicle news agency (DİHA,) on Sept. 18. Meanwhile, the Brussels-based European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) also announced they were closely monitoring the developments pertaining to the OdaTV trial whose next hearing will be held at the Istanbul specially authorized 16th High Criminal Court on Sept. 14. Soner Yalçın, Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu and Yalçın Küçük are currently under arrest pending trial in the OdaTV case. German journalists have also lent their backing to DİHA reporter Ömer Çelik, while the Santiago de Compostella Journalists Association made a decision to show their solidarity with daily BirGün reporter Zeynep Kuray, who is also under arrest within the scope of the KCK press trial, the EFJ’s statement added. (EÖ/AS)