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EFJ Turkey campaign update

6 February 2013

On Monday 4 February, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) was represented by Arne König, its president, and by Ercan Ipekci, the president of the Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS),  at the trial of 46 journalists and media workers held at the special security prison Silivri, outside of Istanbul.

The Journalists are accused of being members, or working on behalf of KCK, the so-called “city organisation” of the illegal and armed PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party.

Arne König said:

"It was shocking for us to hear that normal journalistic activity can be considered illegal and an act of terror."

The trial is scheduled to last all week as the prosecutor is presenting his evidence running into 800 pages of indictment.

Using tapped telephone talks with activists, the prosecutor claims for example that Ömer Celik, the editor of the Dicle News Agency, is close to the KCK and PKK, and uses his journalistic profession as a cover for terror activities. Yet, the accused makes it clear on the recordings that decisions to cover political issues had to be taken in an editorial meeting.

Referring to the more than 300 000 journalists represented by the EFJ. Arne König said:

"If all talks of this sort in a newsroom are preparation for terroristic activities, then there would be several hundred thousands of terrorists all over Europe."

The EFJ has from the beginning tried to attend the trial of Turkish journalists.

Currently, there are around 75 of them standing trial, down from 100 who were behind bars last year at the height of the media crackdown.

Ercan Ipekci said:

"But we do not see any real change of attitude from the Turkish authorities."

In fact, there was a big operation the last week against the lawyers of the accused journalists. As a result, many lawyers and six other journalists were arrested and accused of being members of an illegal terrorist organization (DHKP-C).

The EFJ warns of a new threat from provisions of a draft bill which is before Parliament designed to ban Turkish organisations or individuals from receiving financial support from foreign sources.

The EFJ and the TGS call on the international community to help put an end to violations of freedom of expression in Turkey.

Tags: , efj, pkk, tgs, turkey, detention