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Delegation meets Turkish ambassador to discuss attacks on press freedom

15 August 2016

A delegation led by the National Union of Journalists has met Turkey's ambassador in London, Abdurrahman Bilgiç, to discuss concerns about the crack down on press freedom following the failed coup in the country.

The ambassador was previously a journalist in Turkey and the director general at the Directorate General for Press and Information of the Prime Ministry between 2003 and 2005.

The union delegation included Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, and Jim Boumelha, NUJ NEC member and treasurer of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

They raised a range of concerns with the ambassador, including the withdrawal of press cards, the arrest and detention of journalists and the closure of newspapers, broadcasters and websites in Turkey. The delegation also highlighted that the NUJ and IFJ have been supporting sister unions in Turkey for decades and solidarity work has included attending the trials of jailed journalists in country.

The Turkish government issued a decree ordering the closure of 131 media organisations, including three news agencies, 16 television channels, 23 radio stations, 45 daily newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses.  Journalists are being issued with arrest warrants. Under the country's state of emergency, the authorities can hold suspects in detention without charge for 30 days.

The Ambassador said that press freedom in Turkey was essential and agreed to continue to have a dialogue with the NUJ and IFJ about individual cases of journalists in the country. The IFJ has a list of 70-plus journalists who have been detained on its website.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"We welcome the opportunity to raise our concerns directly with the ambassador and will continue to keep in contact on a range of issues.  We remain deeply concerned about the plight of our colleagues in Turkey. Journalism is not a crime. We recognise the difficult circumstances in Turkey but the government should not continue with its harsh crackdown on the media."

The NUJ, together with the IFJ and European Federation of Journalists, has reported the press freedom violations to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.

Tags: , international, turkey, press freedom, delegation, Abdurrahman Bilgiç, journalists detained, journalists association of turkey