Turkish court orders detention of RSF journalist on terrorism charge

Turkish court orders detention of RSF journalist on terrorism charge

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Newspaper stand (Photo: Yukiko Matsuoka)

Turkey ranks 151st out of 180 countries in the RSF 2016 press freedom index.

WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – A Turkish judge has ordered the arrest and pre-trial detention of two journalists, including the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative, and an academic on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, according the RSF and Turkish media reports.

RSF representative Erol Önderoglu, journalist Ahmet Nesin and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci participated in a campaign in support of a Kurdish media outlet, regarded by the Turkish government as having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Both Turkey and the U.S. regard the PKK as a terrorist group. It has fought a three- decade insurgency against the Turkish state.

The three served symbolically as editor-in-chief of the Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem for a day, along with 41 other journalists, writers and activists, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Turkish authorities have opened 37 criminal investigations into those involved in the campaign, according to HRW.

“Önderoglu is being prosecuted on the basis of three articles published by Özgür Gündem on 18 May about power struggles within the various Turkish security forces and about the ongoing operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in southeastern Anatolia,” RSF said in a statement.

“Erol Önderoglu is known all over the world as a leading free speech defender in Turkey,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, in a statement.

“It is absurd and utterly disgraceful that he is now accused of terrorism, that he is now a victim of the abuses he has always denounced. We reiterate our call for the immediate withdrawal of the proceedings against him and the other participants in the Özgür Gündem solidarity campaign.”

RSF and HRW called for the three to be released and the investigation dropped.

The international community, including the United Nations, the U.S. and the European Union, have condemned Turkey’s crackdown on journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech under President Tayyip Erdogan.

“I think that the approach they’ve been taking toward the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling,” President Barack Obama said from Washington in April while Erdogan was in town. Obama included that he had voiced the concern with Erdogan himself.

Numerous journalists have been arrested in Turkey in recent months and the government took over the popular daily Zaman in March. Erdogan has said the arrested are tied to the PKK and other terror groups.

Turkey ranks 151st out of 180 countries in the RSF 2016 press freedom index.

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