7 September 2015
Turkey: DI Raises Concerns About Erosion of Press Freedom
(Oslo) – Defend International welcomes the release of two British journalists who were charged earlier this week with “aiding a terrorist organisation.” Yet, DI raises concerns about the erosion of press freedom in Turkey. With the latest wave of arrests and firing of journalists, DI continues to call on Turkey to allow freedom of expression and the right of media to operate without restrictions.
Turkey’s tightened grip on the press sparks new concerns about press freedom in the country. DI representatives in Turkey reported on 23 July 2015 that the Istanbul-based Milliyet had unilaterally terminated its contract with prominent journalist Mr. Kadri Gursel for implying that the policy of Turkey’s President was “partly responsible for ISIS suicide bombing of Suruc cultural centre, in which 32 Kobane-aid-volunteers were killed.” In addition, Milliyet also fired the following journalists last week for allegedly being critical of the government: Ms. Mehveş Evin, Ms. Meral Tamer, Mr. Kemal Göktaş, Ms. Evin Demirtaş, Mr. Sertaç Koç, Ms. Semra Pelek and Mr. Alper İzbul.
On 27 August 2015, two Vice News journalists, Mr. Jake Hanrahan and Mr. Philip Pendlebury, and a Turkey-based colleague, Mr. Mohammed Ismael Rasool, were detained while filming clashes between police and Kurdish youth groups. On 1 September 2015, a Turkish court charged them with “working on behalf of a terrorist organisation.” While their colleague Mr. Rasool remains in custody, the two British journalists were released and arrived back in the UK on 6 September.
On 2 September 2015, Turkish police raided the Ankara-based offices of Koza-Ipek shortly after publishing photos of a Syrian-Turkish border where allegedly hardware equipment for rocket launchers and armored vehicles was being sent across to ISIS militants. Six people were arrested and a warrant was issued for its chief executive, Mr. Akin Ipek.
On 6 September 2015, Ms. Frederike Geerdink (see photo above), the only foreign journalist based in Diyarbakir/Amed, was jailed on controversial terror charges. She has been prosecuted earlier this year, accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda.” She was acquitted by a court in April.
Defend International calls on the Turkish government to respect the right to freedom of expression in all cases. We are relieved to hear that Vice News journalists had returned to Britain, but we are very concerned about the safety and well-being of those who are still in custody and those who have been fired. As a founding member of the Council of Europe and a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights, the Turkish authorities should uphold the obligations enshrined in this agreement.
For more information or to request interviews, please contact:
- Photo of Ms. Frederike Geerdink borrowed from her twitter account
- Artwork by DI member Mr. Kane Alan