STATEMENT
Turkey arrests journalists who showed support for press freedom
20 Jun 2016
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

UPDATE: 30 June, Erol Onderoglu and Şebnem Korur have been released from prison.

Index on Censorship calls for the immediate and unconditional release of journalists Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin, who were arrested by Turkish authorities on 20 June.

“These individuals have committed no crime. Their transgression was to exercise freedom of speech to show their support for a free and pluralistic media. It shows the depths to which Turkey’s authorities have sunk to silence any and all narratives that differ with the government’s,” Melody Patry, senior advocacy officer for Index, said.

In May, Turkish authorities began investigations for “terrorist propaganda” against journalists that participated in a solidarity campaign with the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem. The campaign, which involved editors-in-chief, was launched on 3 May 2016 — World Press Freedom Day. On 25 May, Önderoglu – a representative for Reporters Without Borders and member of the governing council of international free expression group IFEX, as well as a correspondent for Bianet – was added to the list under investigation. Korur Fincancı is president of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) and acting as editor-in-chief ad interim of Özgür Gündem. Nesin is a journalist and author.

Index reiterates its call for Turkey to review its terrorism legislation and to end the abusive practice of prosecuting journalists under anti-terror laws.

Press freedom in Turkey has rapidly declined in the last six months with over 60 verified incidents reported to Index’s project Mapping Media Freedom. Since 1 January 2016, three journalists have been killed, with attempts made on the lives of two others.  Mapping Media Freedom has recorded 31 incidents of arrest and detention since the start of 2016.

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