European Union pressuring Turkey to release jailed journalists

The European Union and Turkey will see no progress in their relations as long as Turkey holds journalists in prison, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday (12/01/2018) at a news conference in Bulgaria. The president of the European Commission made this comment following the news that a Criminal Court in Istanbul defied the Turkish Constitutional Court’s decision ruling that the journalists’ rights had been violated and subsequently to release imprisoned journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay.   “Turkey is moving away from its European ambitions of the past and we are going to have to see…

Turkey: implement Constitutional Court decision to free journalists

A High Criminal Court of Istanbul has defied a Constitutional Court’s ruling that the rights of journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay to liberty and freedom of expression have been violated and the two journalists should be released from custody. The lower court said the judgment was a “usurpation of authority” and therefore could not be accepted. Initially, the lower courts impacted by the ruling said the detentions would be reviewed after the top court’s reasoned decisions were formally communicated. In turn, the Turkish Constitutional Court then released its judgments and posted notes on social media saying that they are…

Turkey: Four Cumhuriyet journalists ordered to remain in prison

At a hearing on 25 December 2017, a Turkish judge ordered four journalists and senior staff from the newspaper Cumhuriyet to remain in prison for at least two more months during their trial. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, attorney Akin Atalay, correspondent Ahmet Şık and accountant Emre Iper, are charged with supporting through their coverage three outlawed groups: The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the Gülen network. They face up to 43 years in prison if convicted. The newspaper and staff have denied the charges, and argue that they are being targeted to silence…

Omar Aourtilane Prize in solidarity with journalists in Turkey

The Algerian Arabic-language daily El Khabar has decided to award this year its prestigious Omar Aourtilane International Prize for Press Freedom to the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS, an EFJ-IFJ affiliate) in solidarity with imprisoned and prosecuted journalists in Turkey for their journalistic activities. The eighteenth edition of the ceremony was held in Algiers on December 7, 2017 at the headquarters of the KBC television channel, owned by the Algerian private group El Khabar, in the presence of journalist Zoubir Souissi who chaired the jury assisted by journalist Kaddour Hamlaoui (France 3) and Zakia Aourtilane , Secretary General of this prize. “The…

Joint Statement on Turkey to the European Union

PEN International, PEN Belgium/Flanders, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Article 19, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Global Editors Network (GEN), Index on Censorship, the International Press Institute (IPI), American PEN, Danish PEN, English PEN, Norwegian PEN, Wales PEN Cymru, Reporters without Borders (RSF), and the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), welcome the opportunity to deliver this statement :  Working collectively, both jointly and separately, we have an established body of work on freedom of expression in Turkey, in part predating the…

EU should push Turkey to reform the judiciary and the rule of law

Turkey: How the EU Can Support Press Freedom ? was the subject of discussion at the European Parliament on 6 December 2017, where three journalists from Turkey spoke about press freedom in the country and how the European Union can help to tackle the situation. The event was organised by the International Press Institute (IPI) in partnership with the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) and supported by the Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul. As more and more journalists are being imprisoned, the support is needed and it has been clearly voiced by the Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Progressive…

Journalists in Turkey facing more and more imprisonment

November was a difficult month again for imprisoned and prosecuted journalists in Turkey. More and more professional journalists and media workers are facing imprisonment or threats for reporting information or simply for being affiliated to specific media outlets, wrongly considered by Turkish authorities as criminal acts. On 21 November 2017, journalist Oğuz Güven, editor-in-chief of the online version of Cumhuriyet daily newspaper, was sentenced to 3 years and 1 month of imprisonment due to a temporary tweet which Mr Güven had sent and quickly deleted regarding the accidental death of a public prosecutor. Mustafa Alper, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Denizli, died…

Incentivising media rights and plurality by supporting good practices in Western Balkans and Turkey

“How to improve the precarious state of journalism in South East Europe and Turkey” was the topic of a press conference held by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) on 14th November 2017 at the Press Club Brussels. The press conference took place in the framework of the EFJ project, Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey – a project supported financially by UNESCO and the European Union. Andris Kesteris, principal advisor at DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) at the European Commission and Tarja Turtia, UNESCO Programme Specialist, attended the event to hear representatives of…

There can be no press freedom where journalists work in fear, end impunity!

Impunity is when threats, attacks and crimes against journalists go unpunished. It results in a high level of fear, intimidation, censorship and self-censorship that undermines press freedom, the public right to know and leaves victims and their relatives powerless. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins the International Federation of Journalists’ (IFJ) campaign to #endimpunity, which aims at holding governments and de facto governments accountable for their impunity records and denouncing any crimes targeting journalists that remain unpunished. Murder is the highest form of these crimes but all attacks targeting journalists that remain unpunished must be denounced. In Europe, the EFJ…

13 organisations intervene on cases of detained Turkish journalists before the European Court of Human Rights

Leading freedom of expression organisations have submitted third-party interventions in ten cases against jailed Turkish journalists to which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given priority status. The interventions offer detailed legal analyses of the principles at stake in the cases of the detained journalists. The cases before the ECtHR concern the detention of journalists and board members from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, along with the cases of journalists Murat Aksoy, Şahin Alpay, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ali Bulaç, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Şık, Deniz Yücel and Atilla Taş. The separate interventions include submissions from the Media Legal Defence Initiative, PEN International, ARTICLE 19, the…

Safety protocol with 16 points for journalists covering conflict zones

The Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) in partnership with the European and International Federation of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) successfully organised a 2-day Safety Workshop in Diyarbakir (Southeast of Turkey) on 03-04 October 2017 for local and visiting journalists regularly covering conflict zones in the region. This workshop was organised in the framework of the IFJ-EFJ-TGS project called #GazetecilikSuçDegildir / #JournalismisNOTaCrime, a campaign to set journalism free, develop trade union rights and defend freedom of expression in Turkey which receives the financial support of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) Program managed by the European Commission. 30 journalists and media workers…

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