RSF launches international appeal for release of Cumhuriyet journalists
Dec 8, Ankara: At a press conference held in partnership with the Turkish Association of Journalists (TGC) in Istanbul, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched an international appeal for the release of Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül and all their fellow journalists unjustly detained in Turkey.
The list of initial signatories, consisting of NGOs and international public figures, has been posted on RSF's website. The general public can support the appeal by signing the petition in English, Turkish and French at this address: http://rsf.org/petitions/turquie/petition.php?lang=en
The signatories accuse the Turkish authorities of “persecuting journalists of all colours in an increasingly ferocious manner” and urge them “to free Can Dündar and Erdem Gül without delay, to drop all charges against them, and to free all other journalists who are currently detained in connection with their journalism or the opinions they have expressed.”
They also condemn this spiral of oppression in “a country that is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.”
“The Turkish authorities are targeting the wrong enemy,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said. “The judicial system seems to prosecute journalists more often than the accomplices of Daesh (Islamic State). Turkey is a great country, with democratic institutions and a very open civil society. We appeal to the government, as a matter of honour, to restore all the conditions of pluralism, starting with freedom for journalists.”
TGC president Turgay Olcayto added: “With globalization, the Turkish media's problems could one day become the problems of western journalists. It is vital that we join forces to defend free journalism before it is too late.”
Cumhuriyet lawyer Bülent Utku spoke of the appeal that has been filed for the provisional release of Dündar and Gül. Kadri Gürsel of IPI, Ugur Güç of TGS/IFJ, Faruk Eren of DISK Basinİş and Ceren Sözeri of the Ethical Journalism Network also spoke. A video message recorded by OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic was broadcasted.
Public figures already supporting the appeal for the release of Cumhuriyet's journalists and their jailed colleagues include German journalist Günter Wallraff, Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem, French philosopher Edgar Morin, US intellectual Noam Chomsky, Swedish writer Per Wästberg, Turkish pianist Fazil Say, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, German politician Cem Özdemir and French economist Thomas Piketty. The full list is posted on the RSF website.
The many NGOs that have signed the RSF appeal include the Committee to Project Journalists, (CPJ), PEN International, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA), Index on Censorship, the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Global Editors Network (GEN).
RSF awarded its 2015 Press Freedom Prize to Cumhuriyet at the inaugural ceremony of the Council of Europe's World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg on 17 November.
President Erdogan, free Cumhuriyet's editors and all other detained journalists!
First as prime minister and now as president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been waging a methodical crackdown on the media in Turkey for years. Erdogan is persecuting journalists of all colours in an increasingly ferocious manner in the name of combatting terrorism and defending state security. The Erdogan regime's arrests, threats and intimidation are unworthy of a democracy.
Can Dündar, the editorinchief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, have been held since the evening of 26 November. They are charged with spying and terrorism because last May they published evidence of arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence services to Islamist groups in Syria. Both are exemplars of journalism, the search for truth and the defence of freedoms. President Erdogan publicly said that Dündar “will pay for this.” But Cumhuriyet's journalists just did their job, publishing information that was in the public interest.
At a time when international terrorism is at the centre of everyone's concerns, it is unacceptable that political prosecutions are used to suppress investigative reporting and exposés. The arrest of these two journalists is the latest extreme to which political use of the Turkish judicial system has been taken. Many journalists have been detained on spurious charges of terrorist propaganda and insulting President Erdogan. The regime has also been using economic levers to put growing pressure on the media, while draconian laws have been passed.
We, public figures, media freedom NGOs and unions, reject the blatant erosion of media freedom in Turkey. The country is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
We appeal to the Turkish authorities to free Can Dündar and Erdem Gül without delay, to drop all charges against them, and to free all other journalists who are currently detained in connection with their journalism or the opinions they have expressed.
We also urge the institutions and governments of democratic countries to face up to their responsibilities to respond to President Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian excesses.
The Oslo Times/Ifex