Journalists detained in Turkey… again !


People in Istanbul demonstrate against the arrests of Zaman newspaper journalists (photo : TGS)

Police forces in Turkey have today (14/12/2014) raided media outlets (Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu Television) known to be close to a US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

At least 23 people, including journalists and television producers, have been detained so far in Istanbul and elsewhere in the country and are apparently being accused of forming a criminal organization.

Commenting this new operation, the Secretary General of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS, an EFJ affiliate) Mustafa Kuleli reminded that “this operation is performed just a few days before the first anniversary of the bribery and corruption scandal (known as “17 December” scandal) that shocked the country a year ago, so this new move against our colleagues is in fact an operation against freedom and democracy in Turkey”.

Indicating that “14 December” operation will be remembered as a “black day” in the history of Turkey Mustafa Kuleli added : “Although the journalists detained today may not have reacted when other colleagues were detained in the recent past, we cannot approve any of those arrests. What we experience today, like in the Ergenekon, OdaTV or KCK Press cases, is not the rule of law. We should know by now that no matter which group is targetted by the persecution, nobody must stay silent. The principles of our profession matter for us. We will continue to defend the journalists who are being punished because of their reporting“. 

The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, strongly backed the TGS standing and expressed serious concern about the situation in Turkey. “The European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other intergovernmental institutions should take action in relation to Turkey. Only 10 days ago we together with the Council of Europe have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new platform about early warnings on attacks on journalist, journalism and media. This is a such example, and we need the international community to send a very clear and firm message to the authorities in Turkey.”

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320. 000 journalists in 60 journalists’ organisations across 39 countries.