Europe shocked by life sentences demanded against journalists in Turkey

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The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have been shocked by the indictment of a Turkish prosecutor demanding on 27/01/2016 during a court hearing in Istanbul “aggravated life imprisonment and imprisonment up to 30 years” for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, two prominent journalists working for the daily Cumhuriyet in Turkey. According to Turkish media reports, the 473-page indicment against journalists read by the prosecutor İrfan Fidan was solely based on opinions and articles published by the newspaper.

Can Dündar, editor in chief of Cumhuriyet and Erdem Gül, the newspaper’s bureau chief in Ankara have been accused of aiding a terrorist organisation and disclosure of classified documents, which showed that Turkey’s intelligence agency secretly armed rebel Islamist groups in Syria. The two journalists are arrested since 26 November 2015 and detained in Silivri detention camp, Europe’s biggest jail for journalists.

Together with a coalition of leading international free expression and press freedom groups, the EFJ is repeatedly calling on authorities in Turkey to immediately release Dündar and Gül and drop all charges against them.The case has been reported several times to the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection and safety of journalists and to the Mapping Media Freedom project. “Europe and the international community must send a strong signal to Turkey who continue to ignore all our efforts to protect press freedom, to show solidarity with journalists, defend media pluralism and investigative work. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are in jail because they did their work for the public interest. They must be immediately set free”, said the EFJ.

The EFJ welcomes also the reaction of Johannes Hahn, the European Union Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations regarding the case of two Turkish journalists facing life imprisonment indictments. “Equality and proportionality before the law are a must. Everyone has the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation. These rights must be respected. Turkey negotiating EU membership must ensure full respect of human rights including freedom of expression according to the European Convention on Human Rights” EU Commissioner Hahn has stated.

(Photo Credit : Screenshot of “suspicious” columns written by Can Dündar)

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